Where to go for non-touristy, gay-friendly, warm-beachy spring break?
January 18, 2009 4:22 PM   Subscribe

Four women want to spend the week of March 14-22nd on a warm beach. We also don't want to spend any time with thousands of drunk co-eds and frat boys. Have any advice on where to go for a non-touristy, gay friendly spring break?

Some friends of mine and I have never made the spring pilgrimage south, so we decided this is the year. We’re all grad students, and we all have off from March 14-22nd, and we’d like to travel within these dates. We’re not looking for anything fancy, but we do have a few catches. I’m looking for some advice on specific towns that you think might work within our criteria, or, even better, specific places we could rent. Or, if you know of good places to search for places to rent, I’d love to hear about that, too. The catches are as follows:

1. There are four women going, and three of us are queer (and rather obviously so). We want to feel safe where we are, and we don’t want to get gay-bashed.
2. One of us is vegan, so we’d really like to have a kitchen included in our accommodations so we can cook our own meals.
3. We don’t want to go anywhere touristy. Not that we’re against going snorkeling or to awesome ruins or other amazing things that people tend to want to check out, but we would rather stay in Wisconsin than hang out with hordes of obnoxious, drunk jackasses. Basically, we’re not at all interested in going somewhere that tons of people are going to for spring break (i.e. Cancun, South Padre, etc.). We want to go somewhere that is still a happy place for locals, and not that frequented by tourists (especially ones who are just looking to get drunk, sunburned and laid).
4. We’d really like to go somewhere very warm, sunny, and on a beach that is not crowded. We’d love to feel like we’re in our own tropical paradise. We realize it’s probably out of the question for us to have a beach to ourselves, but then again, if that’s possible, that’s our ideal. But, again, we realize this probably won’t happen.
5. We’re on a budget, so we’re hoping to stay somewhere that is more exemplary of local prices than tourist ones.
6. Ideally, we’d love to be somewhat close to a cool town that would offer us some sort of fun cultural experience, or at least a place we can walk around at night and have a few beers.

We’d be happy to stay in the states, but I have a feeling that it’ll be warmer and more fun if we go south. So we’re looking at Mexico, mainly, but if we could find an inexpensive and exciting option somewhere else, we’d certainly consider it. We’ll be flying out of either Milwaukee or Chicago, so plane fair is going to be a bit of a concern, as well.

I really appreciate any suggestions you could make. To break it down one last time, we’re horrified that we’re going to arrive at our destination and it’s going to be filled with frat boys and an entire sorority. Please tell me where I can go where this won’t happen! Thanks so much, everyone. Also, for the record, I’ve already read all of the threads here and also this post. Thanks again!
posted by binocularfight to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You can't get much more gay-friendly than Key West. If that's too touristy for you, really anywhere along the Florida Keys is good, Islamorada in particular. There are plenty of rent-by-the week (or less) cottages with kitchenettes where you can do your own cooking.

If you want to fly into a major airport like Tampa or Sarasota International, or Fort Myers, look into any of the Florida barrier islands in those areas. For a real island experience, check into Cayo Costa or Little Gaspirilla Island. They're only accessible by boat.
posted by _Mona_ at 5:50 PM on January 18, 2009

Pensacola, FL is the home of the Memorial Day Gay festival every year. I know you aren't traveling over that particular holiday, but I think it fits the bill as being gay-friendly. It's a known beach destination, but probably won't be too crowded in March. I don't have any specific recommendations as far as condos, but I know there are tons of vacation rentals in the area.

I vacationed there a few years ago and had a great time - lots of yummy restaurants, a decent beach, and a much hipper vibe than I expected.
posted by tryniti at 6:05 PM on January 18, 2009

Several years ago I drove with a bunch of friends to a small town called Bahia Kino in Sonora, Mexico. It was about two hours from the city of Hermosillo and four or five hours from the US border. I can't tell if you're willing/able to make that kind of trip, but it was worth it for a bunch of poor students. The town was very quiet and nice. we stayed at a place on the beach that rented very basic houses (ours included a very basic kitchen) for somewhere around $50/day total. I don't have a name or phone number for this place; the way we found it was by driving around after the place we did research before leaving turned out not to exist or something. The only catch with this town was to avoid the hordes during Easter Week, but that should be fine for you this year.

Another set of friends of mine randomly ended up in the same town a few years later and also really enjoyed it. Both of these groups were completely hetero, but I felt like the town was a safe place where no one would bother you. Sorry if this doesn't help, but it's the best I can do!
posted by mustard seeds at 6:15 PM on January 18, 2009

Response by poster: thanks so much for the suggestions in florida! if anyone thinks of any others, please post, but i'm also very interested in a mexican vacation, or even somewhere in central america. so if anyone can think of anyplace there, i'd love to hear about that, too. thanks again, everyone!
posted by binocularfight at 6:18 PM on January 18, 2009

Pensacola is about 20 minutes down the road from us. We haven't been here for a March just yet, but I know along this part of the coast the lifeguards start on March 1. Really, we just moved here but this is a SPECTACULAR stretch of white sand beach, all the way from Pensacola east through Navarre and into Fort Walton Beach, Destin is amazing too. Miles and miles of public beaches. From Pensacola you could pop over to Gulf Port or Biloxi or New Orleans for a day trip w/o much issue.

Prices are pretty low too, the snowbird season is kind of nonexistent this year w/ the economy the way it is.

Airfare is generally ~<>
Or so I'm told. I've been here 2 months. :)
posted by TomMelee at 6:32 PM on January 18, 2009

I live in Miami and haven't ever been to Mexico, so I'm continuing with the Florida recommendations.

The Northern end of Palm Beach County and Martin County have some really lovely, quiet beaches. The beaches in Juno and Jupiter are particularly calm when I've visited them. Bathtub Reef up near Stuart, FL has some great, non-over populated snorkeling. Stuart or Tequesta would probably be the cheapest area to stay, but the further South you go the more gay positive the area would be. There were a few "yes on 2" bumper stickers and signs around Stuart, where there were none near me.

If you're willing to get a rental car to drive to the more secluded beaches, I'd highly recommend staying in Delray Beach. It's a cute, little artsy neighborhood. The beaches wouldn't seem private, but they're not Spring Break territory either.

Also, the Keys are awesome.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 7:20 PM on January 18, 2009

Response by poster: all this advice is wonderful, thank you guys so much. i probably should have stressed that the cost of this trip is one of the biggest factors, and i'm concerned that anything on the keys is going to be really expensive. i'll start looking into these suggestions in the hopes that it won't be.

also, am i wrong in thinking that all of coastal florida turns into a drunken spring break hell during march and early april? because i really am terrified of having to share a beach with lots of frat boys. if i am wrong about this, please let me know.
posted by binocularfight at 7:43 PM on January 18, 2009

If you are looking in California, where the weather has been amazing for the beach the past couple of weeks, I would suggest the smaller beach communities of Sunset and Seal Beach. Neither are very touristy and the beaches are pretty quiet unlike Huntington or Newport, plus there is free parking to be found. Seal Beach is also quite close to, shares a border with actually, Long Beach which has a very vibrant LGBT community and several vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants. The beaches in Long Beach aren't as nice as the ones in Sunset or Seal Beach, but the night life is great! So you could spend the day in one place and the evenings in the other. Given that it is off season you might be able to rent a beach house for a decent price, which would provide you with a kitchen and there is a nice big Whole Foods on Pacific Coast Highway in that area and a great little farmer's market in Long Beach on Sundays.

I'm not sure this meets your tropical locale, but I'm a local and I love these beaches! I'm also a veg myself and have a number of close friends in the local LGBT community so feel free to drop me a line if you want any more info on this part of So Cal.

Good luck and happy Spring Break!
posted by Palmcorder Yajna at 8:01 PM on January 18, 2009

Not all of coastal Florida turns into frat boy land during March and April. There are large portions of the treasure coast and the space coast that are basically rural areas on the beach. Some of those places aren't very nice, and wouldn't be gay friendly, but they wouldn't be home to frat boys either. They're sleepy, bedroom communities. (And sometimes they have inferiority complexes about that. Port St. Lucie is on an epic quest to acquire some tall buildings.)

Vero Beach might also be a good place to look into. I've not been to the beach there, but the town is charming and has an awesome independent bookstore.

And speaking as a South Floridian (though one who does not spend a lot of time on the beach), I don't notice an upswing in stupid 20 somethings during the spring break season. I'm sure there's a reason the stereotype exists, but I spent a lot more time being annoyed at my fellow 20 somethings when I lived in Chicago than I do now. Instead, my ire is directed at snowbirds, who are mostly older. Wikipedia backs up my observation with numbers. Back in 1985, over 350,000 kids went to Ft. Lauderdale for spring break, and by 2006 that number dropped to under 10,000.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 9:07 PM on January 18, 2009

My father and three sisters just got back from Acapulco. They said it was very quiet, more of a family scene. Apparently all the spring break chaos is on the Caribbean side where the sandy beaches are. Prices are cheaper there than in Cancun too. So that would be a decent Mexico alternative.
posted by BinGregory at 12:03 AM on January 19, 2009

I'd say Playa del Carmen. You can fly into Cancun (cheap flights) and drive south. There are a bunch of cute cabana places there and it doesn't turn into mega frat scene. This place is cute but probably too expensive. Look at these bungalows and casitas. These bungalows are awesome too. $2k for a week - but you can fit all four people in. It's basically a little private beach with kayaks and hammocks. This place is cute too. This place too - not right in Playa but in another town nearby.

I'd also suggest Huatulco, but it's harder to get to and thus more expensive.

Finally - look into flights to the Dominican Republic. Lots of weekly rental houses and there's lots of hikes and beautiful beaches, and it's not a frat scene. This place is about $1300 a week and sleeps four.

Finally - check Purpleroofs.com - it's a listing for gay-owned and gay-friendly vacation rentals. Lots of cute places to stay that won't bat an eye at the group.

Keywords to use when searching DR, CR or Playa del Carmen: bungalow and casita. Those are the likely types of places that you'd find in your price range and tastes! Finally - travel is WAY down this year. Contact the places you like and see if they have a break for a weekly rate for you!
posted by barnone at 7:40 AM on January 19, 2009

In Mexico, I'd suggest flying into Cancun and then taking a bus to Tulum, which is really low-key and beautiful. Or look at Yelapa, a fishing village about an hour south of Puerto Vallarta -- you get there by boat, there are no roads & no cars, and only two hotels, maybe, but lots of palapas (w/kitchens) to rent for around $100/night.

But if you're serious about off-the-beaten-track Mexico, I'd worry more about vegan-friendliness than gay-friendliness. Even the beans and rice are made w/meat, and I think (but am far from positive) that even if you do your own cooking, you'll have to be careful about veggies. To me, the food is half the reason you go to Mexico. (disclaimer: to me, food is half the reason you go anywhere.)
posted by janet lynn at 8:51 AM on January 19, 2009

St. George Island or Mexico Beach, FL
Provincetown, MA
Fire Island, NY

None of these spots are guaranteed to be warm during spring break... The Florida spots are way quieter than P-town or Fire Island, but those spots are definitely gay-oriented.
posted by FergieBelle at 11:36 AM on January 20, 2009

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