Isla Espiritu Santo, Mexico
Deserted white sand beaches, red cliffs studded with cacti, and jade-colored water so impossibly clear it doesn't quite seem real: Of all the magical places in Mexico's Baja California Sur, Isla Espiritu Santo in the Sea of Cortez might be the most enchanting of all.
The name means Holy Spirit, and it's hard to deny the mystical energy radiating from the sun-dappled water and salt-misted air. The island is totally uninhabitated, and because of it's designation as a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, the land is heavily protected. It's so deserted that at certain times of the year it's possible to be there and not see anyone else at all—like you're the last people on earth ever. The whole time we were there, I kept rubbing my eyes and blinking. It was so beautiful I felt like a cartoon character who couldn't quite believe her eyes. Sea lions clung to rocky outcroppings and swam belly-up to meet us at our boat, a massive colony of a thousand red-breasted frigate birds soared in swooping circles above our heads, and when we finally flung ourselves into the sea with snorkel gear, we saw so many different kinds of neon fish that we felt like we'd dove into a psychedelic aquarium of dreams.
Isla Espiritu Santo is twenty miles off the coast of La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur. There are many guided tours that depart from there and from nearby Cabo in which you can sea kayak and hike around the 31 square mile island for about $100/day. Or, better yet, you can camp. Andrea Tamagnini has been running the only safari-style camp on the island for the last decade and a half, and it looks super incredible and amazing. Since we visited during the off-season it was too chilly to stay overnight, but Andrea took us around on his boat to give us a sense of what the camp's like. He was so gracious and knowledgeable and cool, that we can only imagine how ridiculously memorable it would be to spend a few nights on the deserted island eating lobster and swimming in the bay at midnight while millions of stars twinkle above. #Goals.