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Welcome to Mexico
Our neighbor to the south is a time-honored honeymoon favorite -- and for good reason. A quick flight is all it takes to experience the country's amazing climate, varied culture, and welcoming locals. And don't even get us started on the food: the fresh fish, the roadside taco stands, and, of course, the margaritas. Couples often flock to Los Cabos, Cancun, and Cozumel, where they find sun, sand, and swank hotels. But Mexico's lesser-known treasures -- like San Miguel de Allende, a beautiful inland town, and Riviera Nayarit, a quaint strip of coastal fishing villages--are every bit as intoxicating.
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Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Los Cabos
This hacienda-style hotel, right on the water, has a dreamy infinity pool, open-air palapa lobby, and meandering sand pathways. Suites are seaside refuges with terraces open to the warm breeze and extras like telescopes. lasventanas.com
What not to miss: Experiencing "Cinema al Paraiso," essentially a private movie theater the resort will set up for you with a screen and viewing lounge right on the beach.
How to get there: Fly into San Jose del Cabo International Airport. Then grab a cab at the airport, or splurge and pre-arrange a transfer with the hotel in a Mercedes G-Class 500.
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Imanta, Punta de Mita
Carved out of the jungle above a turquoise bay, Imanta is, in a word, breathtaking. The boutique hotel's striking stone architecture, cut from boulders found on the property, is accented with Asian-inspired decor, and every villa has views for days. imantaresorts.com
What not to miss: Seeing humpback whales and their brand-new babies during the months of December through April. You can even board a small boat with a guide for a closer look.
How to get there: Fly into Puerto Vallarta's airport, which is 27 miles away from Imanta. The hotel can have transportation waiting for you, or you can rent a car if you plan on exploring.
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You'll love everything about this funky seaside escape on the Gulf of Mexico. Its 20 thatched bungalows have private terraces outfitted with locally made hammocks, and budget-friendly rates mean you'll be living la vida buena guiltlessly. hotelazucar.com
What not to miss: Spending some time at the pre-Columbian ruins of El Tajin. The well-preserved site is about an hour away and holds amazing pyramids. Just ask the hotel to arrange a tour for you.
How to get there: Fly into the Veracruz airport, where you'll be met by a hotel-arranged driver. He'll take you on a scenery-filled two-and-a-half hour cruise to the property.
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Banyan Tree Cabo Marques, Acapulco
This sophisticated resort trails down a hillside above Acapulco Bay. Each of its 47 stand-alone villas was designed with amor in mind; all have personal infinity pools, sun decks, and day beds for afternoon naps. banyantree.com
What not to miss: Embibing a sunset Coco Loco cocktail (tequila and rum muddled with fruit) at Hotel Los Flamingos, where John Wayne and Cary Grant often relaxed.
How to get there: Fly to Acapulco International, then hail a taxi for the 20-minute ride to Banyan Tree.
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The Tides Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen
Nestled between the forest and the sea, this world-class hideaway combines indigenous accents with utter luxury. There are only 30 villas, and each boasts a pool, outdoor showers, and a private terrace, plus amenities like 500-thread-count Egyptian-cotton sheets and Bose DVD players. tidesrivieramaya.com
What not to miss: Learning all about -- and, of course, drinking -- tequila during a tasting class. You'll experience the difference between anejos (aged in an oak barrel) and blancos (bottled right after distillation) and more.
How to get there: Fly into Cancun, then take a taxi or arrange for a hotel-arranged transfer to the resort.
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Petit Hotel D'Hafa, Riviera Nayarit
The tiny hideaway in Sayulita, with its boho-chic decor, rooftop deck, and surfboard storage, is beautiful, eclectic, and affordable. And though it's in the middle of town, it's only two blocks from the beach. hotelhafasayulita.com
What not to miss: A pit stop at Sayulita Fish Taco to sample what may just be the freshest, most flavorful plate of Mexican food you'll ever have.
How to get there: Fly into Puerto Vallarta's airport, then flag a taxi. If they don't know the hotel, ask them to take you to the Sayulita plaza -- it's right across the street.