Plunge into cool, Caribbean waters.

Float above the world's largest underwater sculpture museum. An hour's sail from Cancun, the newest attraction at Manchones Reef is the collection of 400 life-size statues by artist Jason deCaires Taylor, sunk to a depth of 13 to 30 feet. Divers and snorkelers can enjoy this eerily beautiful setting that's rebuilding coral and fish populations.

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Relax along 17 miles of white-sand beach.

Snap up an oceanfront hotel deal, and enjoy ahhh-inspiring views like this. All beaches in Cancun are public, so walking freely up and down the "7"-shaped coast, where most hotels reside, is no problem. And thanks to a $71 million beach restoration project in 2010, visitors can relax on beaches restored to their white-sand glory.

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Day trip to magnificent temples of times past.

Go ahead, pretend you're Indiana Jones. Three major Mayan ruins reside within a few hours from Cancun: Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum (left). Check off experiencing one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World" with a journey to the most popular of the three, Chichen Itza -- also an important setting related to 2012 Mayan prophesies.

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Sample authentic Mexican moles and salsas.

This is not Taco Bell. Savor fresh-from-the-ocean fish tacos and made-to-order salsas and guacamole. All-inclusive resorts, which bundle food and drinks into one price, are a budget-friendly way to save on food. For the "chefs" on vacation, consider a cooking class or two -- and bring the flavors of Mexico back to your own kitchen.

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Explore the area's jungles, rivers and caves.

Think beyond the resorts and nightclubs of Cancun; challenge your inner adventurer. Zip over jungle treetops with a canopy tour. Cruise the beach on horseback at sunset. Or, swim area "cenotes" -- enchanting underground rivers and caves unique to the Yucatan and a welcome respite from the hot summer sun.

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