College girl Merritt Andrews (Dolores Hart) hits the road and drives down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for Spring Break with her girlfriends – smart Tuggle (Paula Prentiss), vulnerable Melanie (Yvette Mimieux) and funny Angie (Connie Francis, who also sang the hit theme song).
On the way, they pick up hitchhiker TV Thompson (Jim Hutton), a lanky eccentric who is happy to talk all the way to the beach, and beyond. When they reach their destination, the girls settle down to find somewhere to stay (they all sleep in the same one-room apartment) and then commence their search for a good time.
Tuggle and TV (so-called because he wants to work in TV) hit it off almost immediately, but like all the girls Tuggle is reticent about committing to a sexual relationship and like all the boys, TV is keen on starting one.
This becomes the theme, set against a background of youthful sun-seeking and partying; it’s not that the girls aren’t interested, it’s just that they don’t want to get into trouble, and Merritt for one is keen to settle down with the boy she gives her virginity to.
Her beau turns out to be Ryder Smith (George Hamilton), a dashing millionaire who respects her decision not to end an evening in the way he wants – he’s obviously safe marriageable material.
It’s good-natured, nostalgic stuff and the movie never pretends to be anything other than what it is – a teenage beach movie.
The storyline isn’t a strong one, but the appealing characters make up for it, with Angie taking a liking to jazz band leader Basil (Frank Gorshin), who wears Coke-bottle lensed spectacles.
Poor Melanie winds up with the wrong crowd and events take a grim turn when she is raped which is quite jarring in such a light-hearted film, but it’s made clear that not every male is like the ones who Melanie encountered – so there is a happy ending of sorts.