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A top highlight of any beach vacation: seeing the sunrise or sunset over the water. Due to its location on Mexico’s eastern coast, the entire Cancun and Riviera Maya region offers ocean sunrises, not sunsets… with the exception of local islands like Isla Mujeres. Here, the island’s famous North Beach faces northwest towards dramatic sunsets over the Caribbean Sea, and tourists and locals come by every evening to watch the sunset. Some people lay out blankets on the sand, others hang out at beach clubs with some drinks, some wade into the water, and even yachts and boats line up just off the coast to get the best view of that moment when the sun hits the Caribbean Sea.

Palenque has been described as the New York City of the Mayan ruins and I am inclined to agree. With its dramatic rain forest backdrop and such structures as the Aqueduct, the Palace and Pakal’s Tomb it is arguably the most impressive site. I visited Palenque on an overcast July morning which turned out to be a most fortuitous day weather-wise. While the clouds kept the sun from beating me all day, the mist hanging in the early air added to the mysterious feel of the ruins. Howler monkeys sounding off in the distance were almost eerie. Palenque is an amazing place to add to your “bucket list.”