by Barbara Ann Weibel at Hole In The Donut Travel
Say the words ‘full moon beach party’ and most people will automatically think of the world’s most famous full moon party in Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand. Each month, when the moon reaches its full phase, more than 10,000 people gather at Hat Rin Beach on the southernmost tip of this island paradise to celebrate with abandon. Over the years the event has become world class, attracting international DJ’s who pump up the crowd into a near frenzied state with techno, trance, Goa, D&B, dub, reggae, and house tunes. Booze is sold by the bucket, tattoo artists apply neon ‘flash’ throughout the night, and sunrise reveals a beach littered with partiers who were too drunk or tired to make it back to their hotels.
Thailand has long been considered the best place to party under the full moon. However, other full moon beach parties have emerged as alternatives to Koh Pha Ngan, which is now seen by some as a bit too crazy. Some of these new events mimic the pure revelry of Thailand’s famous event while others are more sedate, but each is unique in its own right:
Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is the newest entry into the full moon party scene. On April 9th an inaugural event, hosted by Atlantis, The Palm, was held on Nasimi Beach. With private tables and tents, bars, shisha and the fire-dancers, and requisite DJ’s and performers provided by Atlantis, the premier event was a smashing success. The resort anticipates making this an ongoing event, with the next party planned for June 5, 2009, however since the dress code is described as “beach glamor” it hardly has the potential for drawing the backpacker crowd away from Thailand.
The city of Zadar, Croatia, hosts Night of the Full Moon each year in early August. The festival is held along Zadar’s sea promenade (Riva), which is lit by torch and candlelight. Since the festival celebrates the country’s culinary traditions, visitors can buy tuna and sardines from the famous fishermen of Kali, Pasman clams, and Novigrad mussels from boats that have been turned into floating markets. Up and down the beach, temporary taverns serve local spirits, figs, cheese, and rakia; restaurants cook gigantic fish for the feast; and revelers dance to traditional Croatian music until dawn. The 2009 festival will take place on August 6th.
Full moon parties in Goa, India are a common occurrence. Beginning in the 1960′s, Goa was a favorite destination for hippies, many of whom visited and never left. Today the area is a magnet for anyone looking for fun. Anjuna Beach is a focal point; people gather at reasonably priced bars and nightclubs to enjoy unique Goan music and the pulsating rhythms of trance music. As in Thailand, this scene is popular with the young, backpacker crowd and the parties are often all-nighters.
For years, Benirras Beach on the tiny Spanish island of Ibiza was the scene of all-night drumming ceremonies, impromptu jazz, and general debauchery during full moons. Though the drumming festivals have now been banned and parties are tamer than those held during the legendary hippie era, musicians, dancers, fire-eaters, sand-sculptors still celebrate during full moons, as well as every Sunday afternoon, with jam sessions on the beach. One of the main attractions are the drummers and guitarists who give an ‘unplugged’ concert, building up their volume into a crescendo as the sun sets.
With a strong history of tourism between Australia and Thailand, it comes as little surprise that the land down under has its own famous full moon party. Since 2004, Base Magnetic Isand hostel has been sponsoring monthly parties on the beach at Magnetic Island, located in the northeast corner of the continent. Each event attracts up to 2000 people, who groove to tunes on the beautiful island beach until dawn. In addition to featuring international and local DJ’s, Magnetic Island has attracted some huge music acts.
Those who consider the above to be too far away from home or too exotic will find a ready alternative in Miami, Florida. The Ritz Carlton is holding full moon parties each month through the end of 2009 at its DeLido Club, the only restaurant on the beach in South Beach. Sip specially priced cocktails, dine on a mouthwatering Mediterranean cuisine, lie back on elegant couches and enjoy live entertainment and lovely ocean breezes, or peer at the moon through an observatory telescope. Best of all the Ritz – which is normally associated with glitz and glamor – is encouraging guests to dress in their favorite comfy jeans.
Regardless of whether you’re bound for an international destination or sticking to the States, these days there are plenty of opportunities for getting wild and howling at the moon.