Cozumel, Mexico

Photo: Grupo Posadas

How much beach time do you really need on vacation? A few hours soaking up the sun first thing in the morning? An hour in the water after you digest lunch? A walk along the sand when the daylight starts to fade from the sky? That leaves a lot of extra time for the pool, the spa, the restaurant, and excursions. You might not need the beach as much as you thought you did.

The Explorean Cozumel isn’t far from the beach. It’s just a three-minute walk from a long stretch of white sand at Fiesta Americana, its sister resort. It even has its own Beach Club, which serves fish tacos, margaritas, and scuba lessons. But the actual resort is tucked away in the jungle.

A dramatic lobby is the first thing you notice when you arrive at the Explorean Cozumel. The open-air space is filled with concrete support poles, a wood-beamed ceiling, and simple wooden furniture. You can see Lool K’an from there. The airy restaurant is dotted with wicker light fixtures and bright red chairs. It smells like it has a wood-burning pizza oven, too. The bar, on the other side of the restaurant, is self-serve. Plus a wooden deck and double-wide sun loungers line the long pool.

The rooms are beyond the pool. There are only 56 of them, so the resort feels small and intimate. Each one is spare and streamlined with neutral colors and more wooden furniture. The sitting areas don’t have televisions, but there are excursion guides. Horseback rides to nearby ruins, dune-buggy drives, snorkeling trips, and sunset kayaking are all part of the all-inclusive rate. While the rooms’ balconies overlook green foliage; Cozumel vireos sit in the tree branches.

Eventually, you’ll need some sun. You’ll go find the beach, sit in the sand, and people-watch. But it’s quiet, peaceful, and, dare you say it, almost zenlike back here in the jungle. The beach was just an excuse for an escape.

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