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Cancun Mexico

A Week at the Beach in Cancun Mexico

We’ve talked extensively in past posts about Cancun Mexico being a haven for all-inclusive resorts and perfect white-sand beaches. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love putting their feet up on postcard-worthy stretches of sand? In this post, we’d like to take some time to examine a few different options for getting the most out of your time in this exotic locale. Here are some insider tips on how to enjoy a week at the beach in Cancun, Mexico.

Where to Stay in Cancun Mexico

Resting in the northeast corner of the Mexican Caribbean, there are many all-inclusive resorts in Cancun. Several of these resorts are actually located on The Island of Cancun, which is connected to the mainland by two bridges, with one each in the North and South. Though it’s worth noting that many of these 3 to 5-star all-inclusive resorts can be quite pricey. As an alternative, there are more affordable hotels in the city center, surrounded by shops and restaurants.

While there is accommodation available for all tastes, for us nothing matches the convenience of a Cancun timeshare. Not only can one save a significant amount of money, but these luxurious properties have more space, full bathrooms, and private kitchens, which allow you to eat in–undoubtedly a welcome break from the bustle of the restaurants in town. This is the best way to avoid worrying about booking reservations at pricey, cramped hotels and overcrowding during peak seasons. Timeshares offer the best of both worlds with affordability and plenty of space.

What to Do in Cancun Mexico

Let’s not beat around the bush: Most people desire time away in Cancun because of its reputation as paradise. We’ve said before that the immaculate beaches of Cancun and the white carpets of Caribbean bliss were the original draw for tourism to be developed in this beautiful land. And it’s still true. If you’re ready to make all your friends green with envy, post a few shots to your Instagram of your time on the sand here, and watch the likes roll in like the tide. Some of our favorite (and most picturesque) Cancun beaches include Playa Nizuc and Playa Caracol.

Hawksbill Turtle near Cancun Mexico

An even more exotic alternative to the white beaches is to visit the Isla Contoy, which is only about 25 miles off the coast of Cancun. But know that, following progressive conservation efforts, the Mexican government has required visitors to work with locally-supervised ecotourism companies to visit this wildlife haven. Still, it’s sure to be worth it. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by four species of turtle that find a safe haven for nesting on the beaches of the island, and the reserve is also a sanctuary to approximately 152 tropical marine birds. The Isla Contoy is considered the most crucial nesting place for birds in the Mexican Caribbean.

If world-class archaeological sites are on your radar, you won’t want to miss the short day trip from Cancun to the stunning Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. The crown jewel of this pre-Columbian city is the Kukulkan pyramid. Officially Designated by UNESCO as one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World,” Chichen Itza is one of those special places that doesn’t disappoint even those with the highest of expectations.

From the sands of pristine beaches to the ruins of Chichen Itza, where you’ll get in touch with your inner Indiana Jones, Cancun Mexico offers an adventurous and luxurious place to spend a week at the beach.

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BestbeachLosAngeles

A Guide to the Best Beaches in Los Angeles

The beaches in Los Angeles are almost as famous as the theme parks. And who doesn’t like spending a few days relaxing on the sand? You can find more than 20 different beaches across the city that attract locals and tourists alike. Some are better for surfing, and others are more secluded and private. There are also several luxury homes in Los Angeles that line the coastline and have impressive views of the Pacific Ocean. Here are some of the best beaches in Los Angeles.

Santa Monica Beach:

Santa Monica is the most famous stretch in Los Angeles that extends for more than 3 miles with a long pier in the middle. The sand is soft and it’s just a few minutes away from many hotels and restaurants, which join to the sand by sets of stairs. Popular activities include sunbathing and water sports. Some attend Surf School to learn the basics of surfing or paddleboarding. In the evening, locals come to use the exercise machines and jog along the walkways. A quick word of warning, this is a popular beach and it gets very crowded, especially during the weekends.
One of the best things to do at Santa Monica Beach is to rent a bicycle and cycle along the South Bay Bicycle Trail, which stretches for 21 miles. Lots of rental shops are along the coastline.

Venice Beach:

Venice Beach combines picturesque views with a range of other activities and entertainment along the Ocean Front Walk. Performers hang out along the boardwalk doing a range of things from playing guitar to magic tricks. And there’s also the famous Muscle Beach Venice, an outdoor weightlifting area popular with the local body builders. A trip to Venice beach isn’t just for sunbathing or swimming. There are several other things to keep you engaged for an afternoon or evening. If you’re driving, parking is free but the limited spaces tend to fill up quickly.

Malibu Lagoon State Beach:

This is one of the prettiest stretches of coastline in Los Angeles and is characterized by long beaches with white sand and a small lagoon. When the tide goes out, you can walk out and see lots of marine life in the rock pools. The area itself is near Surfriders Beach and is a great place to come to relax after a few hours in the waves. One of the highlights of Malibu Lagoon State Beach is the nearby Adamson House that’s a large building with a Spanish-Moorish design. You can also visit the Malibu Lagoon Museum where exhibits explain the history of the region.

Malibu Surfrider Beach:

As the name suggests, this is one of the hottest beaches in Los Angeles for surfers. The waves are typically good, and you’ll see masses of local surfers heading down to catch the perfect wave. Board rentals are available if you want to give it a go and spend the day in the water. If you can’t surf, paddleboarding is also popular on this stretch of beach. The local surfers are also friendlier towards outsiders and tourists.

El Matador Beach:

El Matador is on the western end of Malibu Beach and an ideal spot for an evening stroll with your special someone. The beach is small and is relatively hidden by the surrounding sea caves. This gives it a special vibe compared to some of the other ones. The water is very clear and it’s a pleasant place for a swim or bodyboarding in the light waves. During the summer months, it does get quite crowded but you’ll probably be the only person there during the low season.
Hermosa Beach:
If you’re looking for a place with the stereotypical laid-back atmosphere and beach-bums lounging around throughout the day, Hermosa Beach is the place for you. Local hipsters and hippies come here to relax on the sand and are friendly and welcoming to tourists. In fact, it’s very easy to make a few new friends along here. You can play volleyball, go jogging or rent a bike and cycle along the walkway.

Manhattan Beach:

This beach is famous for being the “Wimbledon of beach volleyball” and is one of the more popular stretches in Los Angeles. The urban location makes it easy to find a restaurant or coffee shop. Why not enjoy the sunset from one of the beach side bars whilst sipping a cocktail or a cold beer? If you’re tired of the beach, the shopping area is a few blocks away. People come here for surfing, swimming, and fishing a little further up.
The only downside about Manhattan Beach is that it gets busy on weekends and during the summer. This, in turn, makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to find a parking space.

Zuma Beach:

This is one of the favorite beaches in Los Angeles for locals on the northern side of the city. The beach has white sand and plenty of places to sunbathe or go swimming. Water sports are less popular here due to the colder water and softer surf. This beach has something more special and unique that visitors love. And that’s the dolphins. Sometimes you can see them swimming in the distance.

The Bottom Line:  Best Beaches in Los Angeles

You have more than 20 beaches to choose from in Los Angeles. Some are more active and attract a surfing crowd whereas others are better suited for a romantic walk. Don’t just go to the nearest beach, do a little research to find which ones you can claim as the best beaches in Los Angeles.

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Best Miami Beaches

Best Miami Beaches to Visit in 2017

With their white sands and electric blue waters, many of the Miami beaches are among the finest in the world. But with so many bays to choose from, how do you decide where the best ones are? Whether you are a resident of Miami or just visiting for a holiday, our list of the best beaches will help you find what you are looking for.

Miami Beaches

Image by Ricardo’s Photography, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

Five Best Miami Beaches

Hobie Beach

For solo riders or families, beginners and professionals, Hobie Beach is the ideal spot for surfing, sailing, windsurfing, jet-skiing, and just about any other water adventure or activity you can think of. Named after Hobart “Hobie” Alter, the legendary surf and sailing pioneer, this beach provides plenty of water-based action.

Matheson Hammock Park Beach

Ideal for families with young children, Matheson Hammock Park Beach features a manmade atoll pool and several scenic nature trails. The atoll pool makes it a great spot for younger children as there are no waves other than the gentle tidal movement of Biscayne Bay.

Crandon Park Beach

Lined with palm trees, Crandon Park Beach, located in Key Biscayne, has lovely shallow waters making it a popular destination for families. It also has sand as soft and white as flour, making it popular for romantic getaways.

Surfside

Surfside is not only a beautiful beach, it is a beautiful experience. Here, community is the word and the first Friday of every month sees residents and tourists alike gathering for a community get together and picnic.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Beach

Frequently listed as one of the top ten Miami beaches, this State Park offers much more than most beaches and provides visitors with the opportunity to go quad riding, kayaking and snorkeling. The beach is overlooked by the county’s oldest historical landmark, a lighthouse built in 1825.

Lighthouse Miami Beach

Image by Kent Wang, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Very Worthy Mentions

  • South Beach
  • Sunny Isles Beach
  • 46th–63rd Street Beach
  • Haulover Beach Park
  • Orlando

OK, so Orlando is clearly not a beach in Miami… BUT, at a mere three hours’ drive away this city is too good to be missed. Especially when you consider Orlando is the home of Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and a wealth of other waterparks and amusement parks.

Where will you visit?

What are your favorite Miami beaches and where else would you recommend?

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Best Cheap Summer Family Vacations at the Beach

Ahhhh summer vacation.

To my family, this means lazy days on the water, relaxing and enjoying the company of family and friends. Pools, beaches and lakes all get the job done!

Summer is a great time to escape together as a family. And this year, there are plenty of amazing deals out there, making a fabulous and important family getaway more accessible than ever before.

After consulting my travel industry friends and scouring the web for the best deals, I’ve discovered some amazingly cheap options for summer beach vacations this year.

The good news is it’s not too late to plan and book your family’s summer getaway. If you’re looking to book a family beach vacation this summer, consider heading to the southern United States, or even Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America, for the best off-peak season deals. Airline travel packages are also very inexpensive right now, and a good way to stretch your vacation dollar. Or stick close to home and explore regional lakes.

Do you represent a destination or hotel with a cheap summer vacation package that would appeal to families? I’d love to know about it!

Here are the 20 best cheap summer family vacations at the beach for 2015. 

St John, US Virgin Islands from $93 per night

Flying to the U.S. Virgin Islands is always a little pricey, but flights are at their cheapest during the summer months. Between May and December, Cinnamon Bay Campground on St. John is a screaming deal for families. Kids under 16 stay free with paying adults. Kids love this eco-resort camp with platform tents connected by a series of wooden walkways. The beach alone offers enough fun to keep the kids busy with swimming, sailing and snorkeling in the waters protected by the US Virgin Islands National Park.  Read more about camping on St John.

Camping on St John

Book it! Cinnamon Bay Campground is considered the best campground in the Virgin Islands, and perhaps in all of the Caribbean.

Key Largo, Florida from $169 per night

Consider booking a vacation rental in the Florida Keys. Key Largo, the first and northernmost of the Florida Keys, is only about a one-hour drive from the Miami airport but feels like a world away. All you’ll need here is a rental car and some sand toys for a relaxing, inexpensive family beach vacation this summer.

cheap family summer vacation

Book it! Book an ocean front condo at Home Away.

Or, consider Hawks Cay Resort, a family favorite located on Duck Key with beautiful rooms and family suites starting at $229 per night.

Placencia, Belize

With 22 acres of soft white sand, family-friendly accommodations, onsite water sports, four restaurants and more, Roberts Grove Beach Resort in Placencia, Belize, is a perfect family beach getaway. Kids love the three fresh water pools as well as the private beach, but don’t miss out on local tours of the Mayan Ruins and nearby towns and villages. Rooms have mini-fridges and plenty of room to spread out. Plus, kids 12 and under always stay free!

cheap summer family beach vacation

Book it! Get 1 night free for every 5 nights booked through November 30th.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic from $204 per night (including flights!)

The Dominican Republic is an up-and-coming beach destination know for easy access and affordable prices year round. Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic. At the heart of the city is the Zona Colonial, where you’ll find one of the oldest churches, charming cobblestone streets and the oldest surviving European fortress among other New World firsts.

For many vacations, airfare is the largest expense. Consider booking a package through an airline, who often subsidize the price of the airfare in combination with ground services like hotels and tours.

Malecon-Santo-Domingo

Book it! The Be Live Experience Hamaca Beach offers excellent value for money. Superior rooms start at only $167 per night.

 

For an amazing deal, book a vacation through American Airlines vacations and stay at The Hilton Santo Domingo, a luxury hotel right in Santo Domingo with a pool on site. Beaches are about 30km away, and day excursions can be booked via the hotel’s concierge. 

San Juan, Puerto Rico from $133 per night (including flights!)

Americans don’t need a passport to escape to this tropical island that is a territory of the U.S. Thanks to the addition of new and increased services from airports around the U.S. in recent months, flights to Puerto Rico are now among the cheapest to the Caribbean. Expect to find deals on flights and hotels during the summer months, when the Spring Break crowds have left and the deep sea fisherman have not yet arrived.

cheap summer family beach vacation

Book it! Book flights and a stay at The Condado Plaza Hilton in San Juan (Condado), you’ll be close to Condado Beach and San Juan Cathedral. This 4-star resort is close to La Fortaleza , Palacio de Santa Catalina and Puerta de San Juan. 

Nicaragua from $147 per person per night 

Skip Costa Rica, Nicaragua’s more expensive neighbor, and instead spend a week or two exploring this up and coming destination.

Today, Nicaragua is safe, friendly and affordable. You’ll find access to high-quality health care with several highly specialized hospitals, especially in the greater Managua area, and self-driving in Nicaragua is easy. This is a destination best explored when you can take your time.

nicaragua pacific coast beach

Book it! I love the team at Vapues, an in-country Nicaraguan tour operator, for their great prices and fast, friendly correspondence. 

Also check out Luxury Link for hot deals on luxury hotels in Central America here!

Lake McConaughy, Nebraska from $145 per night

Nebraska’s largest reservoir at 35,700 acres, Lake McConaughy is a surprisingly large lake in the heartland of the United States. Camp right on the lake’s white sandy beaches, and rent a pontoon boat and spend a full day exploring the shores of this largely uninhabited area. Located 9 miles north of Ogallala, the lake offers excellent fishing, boating, and camping.
cheap summer family beach vacation

Book it! Book one of these fully-furnished cabins for a comfortable place to sleep for the whole family, including a full kitchen and an escape from the wind, which can be pretty intense here from time to time.  

Clear Lake, Iowa from $125 per night

Travel to Clear Lake, Iowa for a good, old-fashioned Midwestern lake experience. Rent a condo or cabin in Clear Lake and spend the days swimming and boating in the calm, clear waters.

cheap summer family beach vacation

Book it! Your best bet in Clear Lake is to book a vacation rental, like this one from VRBO.

Lake Tahoe, California from $108 per night

Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America, making it an ideal destination for a summertime beach vacation. With 72 miles of tranquil sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains and crystal-clear water, these beaches provide a breathtaking backdrop for beach lovers.

Enjoy the soft sandy beaches at Zephyr Cove or the beautiful backdrop of Emerald Bay. If you’re keen to get off the beaten path, check out one of the boat-only-access campgrounds offer a camping experience. Large outdoor pavilions with covered seating create the perfect venue for barbecues, corporate events, weddings and receptions.

cheap summer family beach vacations

Book it! Families love the Aston Lakeland Village Beach and Mountain Resort for their full schedule of kids programming and an on-site kids club.

Charleston, South Carolina from $99 per night

Wild Dunes is an island resort near Charleston, South Carolina. Relax with your family along the serene Isle of Palms, South Carolina beach or one of the resort’s pools. Choose from vacation homes and condo rentals with a variety of views and locations along the resort, the AAA Four Diamond Village at Wild Dunes guest suites or AAA Four Diamond Boardwalk Inn guestrooms both located in the heart of the resort  for your summer family beach vacation.

cheap summer family beach vacation

Book it! Select dates this summer are available for only $99 per night.

Riviera Maya, Mexico from $261 per adult per night

The area known as the Riviera Maya stretches along the Eastern coast of Mexico, starting in Cancun and extending South through Playa del Carmen almost all the way to Tulum. Mexico’s Riviera Maya is super easy to access, safe, and offers a wide range of accommodations, including plenty of comfortable vacation rentals perfect for families and multi-generational groups.

Paradisus Playa del Carmen

Book it! I loved the Paradisus Esmerelda for families. Kids love the on site cultural activities and unique classes ranging from tango lessons to sushi-making classes. This summer, kids stay free at this amazing all-inclusive resort. Consider booking one of the swim up rooms for the best experience!

San Diego, California from $112 per person per night (including flights!)

Consistent sunny weather and 70 miles of magnificent coastline are what draw active families to San Diego. Mission Beach, La Jolla and Coronado are all perfect places to spend a leisurely day with the family.

cheap summer family vacations

Book it! Expedia has excellent flight + hotel packages this summer. This package includes 7 nights at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort offers amenities for the whole family.

Ixtapa, Mexico from $119 per person per night

Ixtapa and the sister-city of Zihuatanejo both offer some of the best beaches on the Western Pacific coast of Mexico. Here you’ll find soft, golden sand and amazing sunsets. This health-concious region is also a great place to stay active by surfing, hiking or joining a fabulous yoga class on the beach.

cheap family beach vacation

Book it! If you’re looking for a larger resort with plenty of family-friendly amenities, The Club Med Ixtapa has continuously high marks among traveling families. 

Los Cabos, Mexico from $159 per night 

The Mexican beach towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, commonly referred to as one combined destination of Los Cabos, is a popular family destination. From getting up close and personal with wildlife, to pirate-themed boat rides, there is plenty for kids to do in Los Cabos.

yoga in los cabos mexico

Book it! Many hotels in this area have been closed since the hurricane in 2014 and are offering some amazing “re-opening” specials during the summer of 2015, like this package at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos Resort.

Ocean City, Maryland

If miles of beach and a famous wooden boardwalk lined with shops and restaurants are calling, Ocean City is the spot for you and your family.  From fishing charters to kayaking to jet-skis, the options of this great destination seem endless.

Book it!  The Princess Royale offers direct access to Ocean City MD beachfront and has a 4 story indoor atrium. This hotel has been around for a long time and has 4 star+ ratings on TripAdvisor and Google.

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Port St. Joe, Florida from $24 per night

A little-known beach on the Florida Panhandle with 10 miles of white sand and spectacular sunsets. St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is a fun, inexpensive beach getaway. If your family is into camping, this is an ideal spot to pitch a tent and enjoy an extremely cheap beach vacation this summer.

cheap family beach vacation

Book it! If you would prefer not to camp, the El Governor Motel, in the nearby town of Mexico Beach, is a 50-minute drive from St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. All 120 guest rooms include balconies and sweeping views of the Gulf; amenities include a beach-side pool and a tiki bar. The motel runs a campground directly across the street.

Oval Beach, Michigan from $120 per night for a cottage 

Surprisingly, the state of Michigan boasts some of the longest stretches of white sandy beach anywhere in America. The state’s Western shore bordering Lake Michigan is home to gems like Saugatuck Michigan’s Oval Beach.  Here you’ll find lovely sand dunes and beautiful sunsets that set the stage for a perfect family beach vacation.

cheap family beach vacation

Book it! The Beachway Resort is the closest hotel to Lake Michigan’s Oval Beach. Situated between downtown Saugatuck and Lake Michigan overlooking the Saugatuck Harbor, this family-friendly hotel is a great option.

Have you discovered a great summer family beach vacation deal? I’d love to know about it! Leave me a comment below. Happy travels!

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riviera maya best cenote

Riviera Maya Best Cenotes: Take the Plunge

Wondering which are the Riviera Maya best cenotes? It can be hard to choose because there are literally thousands of the natural caves filled with fresh water in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. These underwater sinkholes were are formed millions of years ago when limestone caves collapse, revealing underground pools.

Today, you can explore Cenotes in a number of ways. Some Cenotes are unmarked and people just stumble across them while exploring the jungle, and others, like Rio Secreto, are massively developed and include tours and meals.

Snorkeling in a Cenote is a fun and unique way to see underwater life. It would be impossible to list them all, so I’ve put together a list of the Riviera Maya Best Cenotes for families.

Most of the Cenotes have a small entrance fee, ranging from US $5 to $10 per person per day. While some do have restaurant facilities, it’s always a good idea to pack a cooler with food and drinks when you head out for the day. water shoes (as opposed to flip flops) are a very good idea for safety and comfort. Also, it’s best to bring your own snorkel gear so you don’t have to rent it on site.

When visiting the Cenotes, be sure to respect the posted signs. Most Cenotes do not allow sunscreen, creams or lotions of any kind in the water as it causes massive damage to the natural underwater ecosystem. Bugs, especially mosquitoes, can be bad around some of the Cenotes, yet most don’t allow insect repellent to be worn in the water. Again, please respect this. You can spray yourself once you exit the water.

Here are the Riviera Maya Best Cenotes:

Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote is one of the Riviera Maya Best Cenotes and simply a must-see. Located just outside of Tulum, it is well marked and easy to find. Head into Tulum town on the 307 highway and take a right at the second stop light (this is the main road to Coba). After about 2 miles you will see the Gran Cenote on your right. Here you will find changing facilities, bathrooms and a small restaurant on site.

The water here is crystal clear and you’ll find impressive stalactites under water along with fish and sea turtles.

Dos Ojos Cenote

Located across the street from the Xel-ha water park, Dos Ojos consists of two connected sinkholes with a large cavern between them (accessible only if you’re scuba diving here.) If you plan on snorkeling, enter the 2nd Cenote (the one on the right) and take an immediate left at the bottom of the stairs. Walk until you find a nice entrance point for snorkeling, one of two wooden decks with stairs.

Dos Ojos Cenote in the Riviera Maya

It does get crowded to try to get here early in the day if possible. After you’ve explored the Dos Ojos Cenote, relax in one of the hammocks on site (or bring your own) and enjoy a picnic lunch.

Ponderosa El Eden

This beautiful Cenote is located about 3km south of Puerto Aventuras. After arriving at the Ponderosa El Eden Cenote, you’ll walk on a short path that takes you to the Cenote. Be sure to bring your own cooler for food and drink as there is no restaurant on site.

Ponderosa El Eden has a large island in the center of it. Kids love climbing up the large tree in the middle of this island and jumping into the water. Enjoy unlimited visibility under the water, and a wide variety of fish, eels, turtles and plant life. It’s easy to see what makes it one of the Riviera Maya best cenotes.

Chaak Tun

Located across the 307 highway across from Playa del Carmen (at Av. Juarez). To reach Chaak Tun, head past the guard and continue about 5 km to where the bumpy dirt road begins.

Chaak Tun is best visited after 1pm, when all the large tour groups have finished their morning tours.

Included in the price of admission is a safety helmet and life jacket. Walk down a few hundred feet through a well-kept wooden walkaway to where the cave opens to a small courtyard with tall trees that rise into the jungle and with a variety of birds, singing and making different sounds. While snorkeling keep your eyes peeled for a stone replica of the famous Virgin of Guadeloupe at the bottom of the water of the Cenote.

Rio Secreto 

Rio Secreto is actually a series of Centoes connected by an underground river. Simply look for the highway signs that mark the turn off about 5km south of Playa del Carmen.

Rio Secreto Cenotes in the Riviera Maya

If you are keen to learn more about the geology of Cenotes on an organized tour, you may want to consider Rio Secreto. While this option is more pricey than the do-it-yourself options listed above (adults are US $80 and children are half price) the 3 ½ hour tour offers a bilingual guide, equipment and they even serve you lunch after! Children must be at least 4 years old to visit Rio Secreto.

Want more? Check out our Riviera Maya Family Travel Guide.

Have you been to a Cenote in the Riviera Maya? What did you think?

 

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