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Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has spectacular caves and ruins

Donald Trump may (or may not) want to build a wall to keep Mexicans out of the United States, but his fellow citizens go on vacation across the border en masse. And for good reason.

For Mexico there is no lack of variety. In addition to the beach and golf, it offers culture, wildlife and adventure. You can zipline through the jungle, swim with dolphins, learn about ancient civilizations, go to a show (Cirque du Soleil is a big hit) or drive miles along its long and beautiful coastline.

The Yucatan Peninsula juts out into the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, and most of its hotels open onto beautiful white-sand beaches. I chose two in Playa del Carmen: one an all-inclusive resort, the other a boutique hotel.

Exciting: Sue explores Rio Secreto, where she swam through caves of moulting stalactites and stalagmites

The sprawling resort, Grand Velas Riviera Maya, is three hotels in one: an adults-only section, another for families, and a third, called ZEN, separated from the beach, for those looking for a more intimate experience.

You can eat, drink and swim in any. There is only one rule: children under 12 are not allowed in the adult part.

Its size is overwhelming at first, but it grows on you. People may be anxious about all-inclusive deals, but there really aren’t any extras here – meals, drinks, and activities are all in the price. The kids’ club and teen hangout are open all day.

There are eight restaurants, including a French, an Italian, two Mexican and Asian. I ate in most (this wasn’t a diet vacation) and all were good.

The all-inclusive Grand Velas Riviera Maya is three hotels in one: an adults-only section, another for families, and a third, called ZEN, separate from the beach, for those looking for a more intimate experience

The all-inclusive Grand Velas Riviera Maya is three hotels in one: an adults-only section, another for families, and a third, called ZEN, separate from the beach, for those looking for a more intimate experience

The hotel overlooks its large stretch of beach, the rooms are huge, the staff attentive. It’s like a luxury cruise ship that never goes out to sea.

If you can drag yourself away, there is a lot to explore beyond its walls.

Here are my top three choices: First, go underground. The Yucatan has no surface rivers. All of its water lies below. It is reached through cenotes, sinkholes, where the earth has sunk to create pools.

I explored the beautiful blues and greens of the Rio Secreto, swimming through caves of stalactites and stalagmites in wetsuit with a lamp on my head. Turn it off and you are immersed in total darkness – a disturbing, yet exhilarating experience.

Visit Valladolid, an ancient city dotted with extravagant colonial-era churches, elegant boutiques, a delightful craft museum, and restaurants with secluded gardens.

Not Seen: Visit Valladolid, an ancient city dotted with extravagant colonial-era churches and elegant boutiques

Not Seen: Visit Valladolid, an ancient city dotted with extravagant colonial-era churches and elegant boutiques

And go broke. Yucatan is a Mayan country, home to a sophisticated ancient civilization that disappeared after the Spanish conquest.

The remains of their settlements can be seen all over the peninsula.

Visit Sian Ka’an where, after an archaeological tour, you can explore the immense nature reserve, walk in a rainforest (jaguar and lemur advertised, but never seen); take a boat across two lagoons and swim along the narrow freshwater channel that connects them (crocodiles mentioned but luckily never showed up).

My second stop was the Hotel Esencia, a hacienda-style palace with only 29 rooms, set in a beautiful garden shaded by trees, birds and iguanas. The main house was once the private retreat of an Italian duchess and is fronted by over half a mile of beach. Is enchanting.

The hotel belongs to an American, Kevin Wendle, who bought it two years ago. Thanks to its relentless attention to detail, it enjoys an atmosphere of relaxed charm.

Immerse yourself: Visit Sian Ka'an, where, after an archaeological tour, you can explore the huge nature reserve

Immerse yourself: Visit Sian Ka’an, where, after an archaeological tour, you can explore the huge nature reserve

It is sophisticated without being elegant. Children splash around happily in one of the pools and guests relax in bathing suits. The rooms are spacious and quiet; white painted stone, wooden doors and windows with lovely shaded terraces.

If you plan to travel (which you should) then rent a car. Taxis are clean and safe, but expensive.

Mexico is still learning about tourism. This means that the locals go about their business with a genuinely friendly purpose and attitude.

With US presidential hope Trump trumpeting his hostile views, you might think they’d be a little touchy. Not even a little. I have always found them kind and proud of their country. And they have a lot to be proud of.

Travel Information: Plan your trip to Mexico

Virgin (virgin-atlantic.com, 03448 747747) flies from Gatwick to Cancun from £ 647 round trip.

All inclusive stays at Grand Velas Riviera Maya (rivieramaya.grandvelas.com, 0052 1877 418 2963) from £ 256 per person per night.

Double rooms a Esencia hotels (hotelesencia.com, 0052 984 873 4835) from £ 440 B&B per night, plus tax.

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