Sunny Caribbean Escape: A Tropical Haven Away from Winter

Hop a direct flight, and soak in the warmth of sunny Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Wanda McKinney
Caribbean Getaway (PROMO)
When you need a break, take a brief siesta at Xel-Ha.
Gary Clark

This time of year, sunshine, sea, and sand beckon. So why not grab your passport and answer the call?

Playa del Carmen, Mexico, about an hour south of Cancún, offers everything you'd want in the sunshine, sea, and sand department--minus the wild reputation. Easily reachable by way of direct flights to Cancún from Atlanta, Houston, and other Southern hubs, this area promises a fun vacation with a Spanish accent and temperatures in the low 80s. Take note: This isn't Disney. Leave the little ones at home.

Where To Stay
Upon arrival in Cancún, it's best to get a cab to Playa del Carmen, which will cost about $60. This wonderful and walkable town offers many lodging options, but our favorite is Blue Parrot Hotel ( Located just off Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida), which is the main shopping street, you can get a one-bedroom suite for $187 per night. Most rooms have ocean views, kitchenettes, and all the modern amenities.

Where To Dine
This one-time fishing village still features some of the best seafood you'll find anywhere. Stop in at Palapa Hemingway, located on Fifth Avenue, for the freshest fish imaginable. Lunch costs around $15. Breakfast at Media Luna includes tropical fruit and potato-zucchini pancakes ($6) as well as terrific fruit drinks. If you want to branch out internationally, then hit Yaxche (www.mayacuisine. com), for authentic Mayan cuisine. Be sure to ask for Cafe Maya; this flaming finale offers quite a show.