Every time I go to Mexico, which has been quite a few times during the last couple of years, it always strikes me how different each of my trips has been. And I'm only talking about the Yucatan Peninsula part of Mexico, which includes everything from Cancun and Cozumel to the Maya Riviera and Costa Maya. It's not a massive space of country, but when you can go from the lights and energy and dash of Cancun to thick silence, untrammeled jungles and the unexplored reefs of Mahahual in less than a three-hour drive, that's what we like to call the ultimate escape. Name your poison or lack of poison or combination of the two, and you can dial it up here. Here's a short compendium of experiences in my last three trips: Exploring and discovering and naming new dive sites off Mahahual in the south; slipping through the shadows and dancing light beams of the freshwater cenotes; effortlessly drifting reefs that exceed the maximum capacity for reef colors off the diver hub of Cozumel; exploring a brand-new underwater museum and a wreck with a thick cloud of spotted eagle rays off the bright lights of Cancun. Stack that on top of snorkeling with whale sharks off Holbox, rubbing elbows with bull sharks and sea turtles off Playa del Carmen, and having the reef all to myself in the remote and legendary Chinchorro Banks, and I'm a happy fellow just to keep on enjoying that 60-minute flight until I'm older and crotchety-er. And that's just the diving. The history, natural heritage and 50 shades of party that exist here make Yucatan, Mexico, kinda that quintessential (I know, I know, cliché) next-door escape. It's certainly one of my favorite neighbors.