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The Riviera Maya: Chill without freezing

Gorgeous tropical scenery. White–sand beaches and clear, warm waters begging for swimmers and snorkelers. Mysterious ancient ruins. Mexico’s Riviera Maya is the ideal place for a grownup winter getaway.

Some folks actually love urban winters. Dressing in multiple layers of clothes every morning until they look like the Michelin Man in the Hood. Being able to see their neighbors’ breath from a block away. Navigating roads and sidewalks slick with ice.

And who needs the gym when you can work on your cardio every morning, just by shoveling a path from your front door to the outside world, right?

No?

Well, if frostbite is not your idea of a good time, consider taking a break from Old Man Winter’s grip. You might not be able to escape his grasp for the whole season, but you can slip away for a few days when he’s not looking.

One great place to do that is Mexico’s Riviera Maya on the Yucatan Peninsula, which sticks out like an upraised thumb from the Mexican mainland, jutting into the Gulf of Mexico. Think tropical breezes. White–sand beaches. Clear, snorkel-ready waters. And not a snow shovel in sight.

These are the welcoming conditions that helped turn Cancun from a sleepy little fishing village into a world-class resort city. But Cancun is not the only game in the Yucatan.

One very popular alternative to crowded and pricey Cancun lies just to the south in Playa del Carmen. In English, Carmen’s Beach. The same white sand. The same comforting climate and welcoming waters of the Gulf. Great restos, bars and nightlife, just like Cancun.

Only not as big, not as crowded and not as pricey.

WHO WERE THE MAYA?
The Riviera Maya gets its name from the Mayan people, whose empire was centered in Guatemala, but extended from Yucatan south to cover most of Central America. They were great architects, mathematicians, farmers, potters. These were the people who created the famed Mayan calendar.

From 1800BC to about 800AD, the Mayans had it going on in Central America. Then, they abruptly started abandoning their great cities and disappeared into the rainforest.

To this day, no one knows exactly why.

If you want to get an idea of what they so suddenly left behind, the Mayan ruins at Tulum are right on the coast, about 48 miles south of Playa del Carmen, easily reached by bus, taxi or rental car.

It’s not all about that beach life, either. If stalking bargains is your thing, Playa del Carmen has its own 5th Avenue. Lots of shops and boutiques to go along with the eateries and the watering holes.

All this, and no frozen sidewalks.

You can’t fly directly into Playa del Carmen from the United States, but you have a couple of options to get there. The most common is to fly into Cancun, then take ground transportation or your own rental car for an easy hour-long drive south along the Gulf coast to Playa.

Flight times to Cancun are a shade over four hours non–stop from New York City, a little under four hours from Chicago and about three hours and change from Washington DC.

If the “morning fog that chills the air” has you thinking about leaving your heart in San Francisco, but warming your bones elsewhere for a few days, your flight to Cancun will take between eight and 11 hours, but you have the added potential benefit of a day or two layover in Mexico City, one of the world’s great capitals.

If you’d rather not drive from Cancun, you could always fly instead to the island of Cozumel, a popular cruise ship port, and take a ferry over to Playa del Carmen. The crossing takes about 45 minutes or slightly less, and depending on which ferry company you choose, leave every hour to every 30 from 5:30AM to 11PM.

A swing south into the Riviera Maya could be just the thing to boost your morale to keep you going until spring. And if Old Man Winter asks where you went, I’m not telling.

The Christmas holidays are over. The kids are back in school. It’s time for the grownups to kick back and have an adult playdate.

IBIT is teaming up with Cap’n Paul Mixon, founder of the Black Boaters Summit, to put together a week–long winter escape for singles and couples age 50 and up, Jan. 23–30, 2016 in Playa del Carmen.

You’ll be staying at the Aventura Mexicana, an award-winning hotel and restaurant just two blocks from the beaches. It’s TripAdvisor’s top–rated hotel in Playa del Carmen. See for yourself.

Among its really cool features is that is comes with two pools and lounge areas — one kid–friendly zone for families, and one that’s strictly Adults Only.

But the best part just might be the price. One week at Aventura Mexicana in Playa del Carmen, starting at $700 per person. Airfare not included.

To register, click here.

Your deposit — $345 for a deluxe King or deluxe Double Queen room, or $385.25 for a Junior Suite — instantly reserves your room. When you’re ready to book, log onto the Aventura Mexicana website and check out their rooms. (WARNING: The no-view rooms are noisy at night from all the partying going on — but you weren’t planning to sleep all night anyway, right?).

When you’re ready to book, fill out this form. Be sure to use the promo code HONEY.

You have until Oct. 31 to register and lock in these incredible rates before the price goes up. There are 40 rooms available for this trip — and at these prices, they won’t be around long.

Getting there is easy, too: Just fly into Cancun, the gateway to the Riviera Maya. From there, ground transportation is readily available. Round-trips flights from most major US airports are about $400 or less. You can book your flights yourself, or we can handle that for you — and your ground transfers, too.

For more information, send an email to IBIT or to Cap’n Paul. And watch for more posts here on IBIT about this great winter getaway!

Greg Gross is Publisher/Senior Editor of “I’m Black and I Travel! and owner of Trips by Greg LLC, a travel agency specializing in cultural travel and tours.

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