Mexico's Riviera Maya: Fly South for Sun in Cancun and Playa del Carmen
The undeniable nip in the air this morning triggered a warning in our minds: Winter is coming. After a semi-successful search for wooly socks (why is there only ever one in the draw?), we took refuge in researching sunny vacations and up popped Mexico. Besides the pictures of pristine white beaches and palm trees, our interest was piqued when we learned that Mexico's climate stays above 75°F year-round. And thanks to the price tag provided by these deals, we won't have to sell any more of our children to get there.
Make your way south to Cancun between December 4 and December 13 on an American Airlines roundtrip flight (from $256.56, a low by $232; expires November 6). Cancun, situated in the south east tip of Mexico, is full of culture and excitement and is a great starting point for an adventure into the Riviera Maya. This deal for 2-night stays for two at the Fiesta Americana Condesa (from $312, a low by $96; expires October 16) offers a great base for exploring the "Gateway to the Mayan World", as Cancun is sometimes called because of the abundance of Mayan temples in close vicinity.
If you want to inject a little more romance into the trip, opt for a 3-night stay for two at the Dreams Cancun All-Inclusive Resort Spa (from $648, a low by $36; expires October 15). This resort offers several private dining enclaves on the beach (pictured, right), as well as jacuzzis, spa treatments, and even a swim with the dolphins. And for those who'd prefer a boutique resort, head to north Cancun and book a stay for two in a junior suite at The Beloved Hotel (from $362 per night, a low by $8; expires October 15). Located on Playa Mujeres, this 5-star hotel offers a secluded break from the hustle and bustle of the world, so that you can completely unplug and succumb to the rhythm of the Caribbean.
If you'd rather book your flight and hotel together, then why not take advantage of this all-inclusive Grand Oasis Palm 3-night flight and hotel package for two (from $1,058, a low by $400; expires October 31)? The hotel is located right next to the pier, where you can take a 20 minute boat ride out to nearby Isla Mujeres. Isla Mujeres (Island of Women) was originally a sanctuary to the Mayan goddess Ixchel, and it was not until the mid-nineteenth century that the first modern village was established on the island. Today visitors can enjoy shark tours, visits to an old-style hacienda, and, above all, miles of sandy white beaches.
South of Cancun is the Riviera Maya, a coastal corridor of picturesque beach towns and resort hotels. Of these beach towns, Playa del Carmen is probably the most famous. Steep yourself in this old fishing town's European charm by choosing a 3-night stay for two at the all-inclusive Grand Sunset Princess Resort (from $444.15, a low by $25; expires October 12). This resort hotel is situated on the beach, but downtown Playa is only 15 minutes away, so it's an ideal base for sunning yourself on the sand or taking in some of the town's attractions like the cobblestone-lined pedestrian street Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue).
Further down Playa's shore you can check in for a 3-night stays for two at the Aventura Spa Palace with a $300 credit (from $630, a low by $282 if you use the credit; expires October 15). This adults-only resort is set amidst an 85-acre expanse of virgin jungle and botanical gardens. It's also close to Xel-Ha, where the world's longest underground river has carved a unique landscape of inlets and lagoons.
The final stop on our tour of the Riviera Maya is Xcaret Eco Park, a Mayan archeological theme park. The area was once an important Mayan port, and the theme park incorporates some of the original Mayan structures found there. Choose the Occidental Grand Xcaret 4-night hotel stay and flight package for two (from $1,061.12, a low by $799; expires October 21) to be within walking distance of the park.Mexico's Riviera Maya offers you sun, sea, and sand without demanding too much from your wallet in return. While we can't wait to ditch the wooly socks for flip flops, some people might have a deeply repressed and unmentionable episode with tequila in their past that renders them unable to even think about heading down to Mexico; if that applies to you, then take a look at our weekly roundup of the top travel deals for additional discounted flights, hotels, and vacation packages.
At the time of publication, these travel deals offered the lowest prices we could find. Deals may include blackout dates, additional taxes, and fees. Some of our prices may be based on mandatory double occupancy. Note that select deals were less earlier in the week before publication, but all are still current price lows.