There’s party cities, and then there’s party islands. Because nothing is much better than being semi-stranded in a tropical oasis dancing, drinking and eating local food in the most remote parts of the world. From Texas to the wild islands of South East Asia, we’ve rounded up the world’s most badass party islands that are worth checking off your bucket list. This week we’re fixated on a city in Puerto Rico that has just as much culture as it does partying.
Where you need to party: San Juan, Puerto Rico
What it’s known for: New world architecture, San Sebastian Street Festival, beach parties
Where you should stay: Get a trendy condo right above the beach with HomeAway, or stay at historic San Juan staple Hotel El Convento. If you stay there, make it a point to dine at its Patio del Nispero restaurant, which has a legendary breakfast reputation
Music you can expect to hear: Latin rock, salsa and house music
What you should eat: Prepare to be in a total food overload in San Juan. Traditional dishes like, Lechón, Mofongo, Arroz con gandules and tostones (the island’s version of french fries) are must tries while you’re there.
What you should drink: RUM! No, seriously drink the rum. The island is packed with distilleries that you can tour (for free), including big names like Bacardi. Want something more local? Try Don Q. Then get rid of that rum hangover with a cup of joe from Finca Cialitos, because Puerto Rico doesn’t mess around when it comes to their coffee, either. Still hungover? Grab some fresh coconut juice from the local market and nurse that pounding headache.
Why you need to go: Besides the fact that it is hella cheap to get there (and you don’t need a passport), San Juan has a little bit of everything for every person in your crew. Foodies can flock to open air markets and famous restaurants like 1919, Marmalade and El El Jibarito while culture junkies can do things like visit San Cristobal Fort or check out the famous Cathedral for its architecture. But the island’s annual San Sebastián Festival in Old San Juan is what has turned the travel haven into the ultimate party island. The 4-day event is filled with food, booze and music. The festival brings locals and tourists to the streets of Old San Juan to party all night long among music groups and local artisans. It’s basically Mardi Gras on steroids, minus the trashy college kids. And hey, not advocating drug use or anything, but if you were going to do shrooms, this is a festival to consider doing them at. Think Cirque Du Soleil in Knocked Up, but replace Seth Rogan with neon-clad dancers, guys on giant stilts, and performers wearing giant paper machete faces. End the night in one of the city’s many dive bars (try the funky, always packed El Batey) or if you want to dance, go to one of the many nightclubs in the city like Club Lazer. You’ll never look at street festivals the same again.
Nicole Theodore is an editorial assistant at Playboy. Follow her on Twitter.