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Isla Mujeres is a laid back island just a short 15-minute ferry ride from Cancun. In town, there are two fabulous beaches, a pedestrian walkway lined with restaurants and bars, and lots of little shops here and there. If you want to explore a bit, you can rent a golf cart for the day ($50-60) and head to beach clubs, a turtle sanctuary, and even a small Maya ruin at the easternmost tip of the island.
Xcalak is way off the beaten track--a Caribbean fishing village just north of Belize. It's a pretty basic place--no banks, no public phones, no gas stations--but it's known for its spectacular snorkeling and diving (if you can, don't miss a dive trip out to Banco Chinchorro), as well as world-class fly fishing. There are a small number of hotels just north of town--most fall within the $100-150 per night in the high season; in the low season, you can find some great deals.
Th capital of the state of Quintana Roo, Chetumal is a typical border town--not really a place you want to spend tons of time (or any time) but it'll work if you need a decent hotel, good eats, a couple attractions, and/or a place to stock up on souvenirs at the flea market.
Tulum Ruins is, without a doubt, a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind setting--Maya ruins set on dramatic cliffs that overlook the Caribbean Sea (and even a small beach that you can swim at on-site)--but the structures themselves do not begin to compare with the inland archaeological ruins, like nearby Coba, Chichen Itza, or Uxmal in terms of their grandeur. (The Tulum ruins, in fact, are pretty small in size and scope.) It also is the most visited archeological site in the Yucatan, which means it can get packed fast. If you go, go early to avoid the crowds (it opens at 8am). That way you'll get to enjoy wandering about the site, get that perfect photo opp, and even have a chance to swim on your own a bit.
Tulum town itself is not much to write home about but its beaches are spectacular--I think they're the best in the Riviera Maya. Plus, the beachfront hotels are mostly bungalow/thatch-roof style--some super high end, others totally basic--but most have a bohemian, laid back vibe to them. All that, about 90 minutes south of Cancun International Airport.
Travelling by bus is the easiest way to get to Belize from Playa del Carmen. The gateway is through Chetumal, about 4 to 5 hours south of Playa. Once there, you can either bus or boat into Belize. If you just want a ride to the border, catching a cab is easy too.
There are two bus stations in Playa--be sure you go to the long distance terminal, Terminal Alterna, which is located on Avenida 20 between Calle 12 and Calle 12 Bis.
Also, if you aren't pinching pennies/pesos, opt for a first class bus. Tickets cost only slightly more but the service is significantly better (expect non-stop service, A/C, movies, and bathrooms).
Mexico's Riviera Maya and the Yucatan Peninsula are a great option for a Caribbean or colonial Mexico vacation. There are fabulous beaches, great reef diving/snorkeling, and the underwater world of cenotes; amazing Maya archaeological ruins; a huge and pristine Biosphere Reserve (Sian Ka'an) that's perfect for kayaking, bird watching, and animal spotting as well as two major flamingo reserves, which are home to the largest and pinkest flamingos in the world; big cities, traditional villages, gorgeous colonial towns; good food, discotheques, and bars; resorts, B&Bs, and hostels--you name it, it's almost all there. Plus, it's a quick flight from the US and Canada and, once you're there is easy to navigate by public transportation or rental car. All that plus it's considered one of the safest places to travel in Mexico. I love the area--definitely one of my favorite places to travel in the world.
In Mexico, addresses almost always include (1) a 'colonia' (abbreviated 'Col.')--the neighborhood in which a home is located in any given city, and (2) a 'codigo postal' (abbreviated 'C.P.)--the zip code. For example: Calle Magdalena 321, Col. El Cid, C.P. 64390, Mazatlan, Sin.).
For some reason, Google maps often can't search for a location in Mexico if you add either the colonia or the codigo postal. If you added them, try the search again without either (ie search using just the street address, city, and full state name: Calle Magdalena 321, Mazatlan, Sinaloa).
If that still doesn't work, try searching by just listing the street name and the nearest cross street (plus the city and state). Bucerias is a big enough town that that should work. Obviously it won't be exact, but at least it'll give you an idea where you'll be living!
Cancun is incredibly safe, day or night. I travel there and the surrounding region a lot, many times solo, and have never had any problems with crime in over a decade's time. (I co-author a guidebook to the region.) The only caveat: though I'm not aware of any cartel activity it's best to stay away from drugs. Buying/selling/using them not only puts you in a potentially dangerous situation but if you're caught by authorities, you're pretty much guaranteed a stay in jail with very little the U.S.,or any foreign, government can do to help you.