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Playa del Carmen or Isla Mujeres -- or somewhere else?

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Hi all --

Okay, first off, I know I STILL haven't completed my trip report for our Costa Rica trip at the end of May. I've been a bad forum member! I'm sorry, and I will *try* to finish it eventually, but I can't make any promises...

So, for our next trip -- probably next March -- we're thinking we want an easy beachy vacation, with turquoise water, white sand, etc. The whole bit. To be honest, we've yet to do this kind of trip really, and I think we're deserving. I'm starting grad school in the fall, in addition to working f/t, so I'm sure by next March I will just want to go somewhere and chill out.

Now, neither one of us are total beach bums. It's really more about the water for us, playing and floating around. We tend to like to go to the beach for a few hours in the morning and then that's basically it for the beach for the rest of the day. But, if we were staying ON the beach, I'm thinking we might make more use of it? Maybe go back in the afternoon.

I'm looking strongly at Playa del Carmen and Isla Mujeres. I just can't decide, and each day I flip from one to the other. I know there are at least three other threads on here weighing the differences between Playa and IM, but I thought I'd try to get some more recent responses.

What I like about both of them are: 1. they are no more than an hour from the Cancun airport, give or take; 2. they both have seemingly beautiful water to play in; and 3. they both allow you to stay ON the beach yet be close enough to walk to a town with restaurants, wondering, etc.

I'm probably leaning more toward Playa simply because it seems a bit easier to get to, and I'm liking the hotel choices better (I think I've narrowed it down to Playa Maya, Mahekal, or Mimi del Mar -- among a couple of other options).

Isla is appealing because it's obviously less built up and busy -- and Playa Norte seems to win the battle of the beaches hands down. I'm just having a more difficult time finding a hotel that is clicking for us. I think we'd want to be on Playa Norte proper.

Anyway, if anyone has any recent experiences with either, I'd love to hear.

I've also looked at Puerto Morelos and Akumal, but I don't think either is clicking with me. Tulum looks nice, but we couldn't stay on the beach and walk to town, I don't think.

Thanks!

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