What does a 'getaway' truly mean to you? Does it involve becoming one with nature and spending hours getting lost outdoors? Or maybe it's sampling a different cuisine and spending time unwinding in bed. For me, a true getaway consists of a few things: the ocean, good food and no wifi.
I had been coming to Mexico quite a bit over the last few years, but I had never ventured down to Baja California Sur. First off, the beaches here are INSANE. Yeah, the Yucatan is nice and all, but for the true beach worshippers, Baja is Mexico's hidden gem. There are hours of untouched cactus studded coastline, with warm welcoming waters as blue as the sky. Not to mention the pristine islands off the coast, including the protected National Marine Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Isla Espíritu Santo.
As if that isn't enough to spark some curiosity and wanderlust in your mind, there just so happens to be one of the most amazing experiences awaiting your arrival on Espíritu Santo. Imagine being on an uninhabited island, but with all the perks of a luxury hotel, where you don't need to leave the beach to do a single thing! EVERYTHING is taken care of. Lucky for us, this place exists and goes by the name of Camp Cecil.
Let's start from the beginning. We arrived at a cove where we'd be camping for the next two nights and were greeted by the most cheerful staff, so excited to see us that I felt as if we were coming home. We were shown the campgrounds and then to our individual tents where we were met with the beautiful reality that we're off-the-grid and on vacation. I honestly didn't know what my dream bedroom consisted of until I stayed a night at the beautiful Camp Cecil. The linens, the candle light, the ocean breeze!
Within the first hour we sat down at a communal table for lunch and quickly became acquainted with the guides and other campers. Of course you can choose to have your solidarity and alone time, but we're friendly! Or at least I'd like to think so. We were soon happily adopted by an endearing Cuban couple from San Francisco and befriended a lovely Bostonian couple who were enjoying their second trip to the camp.
The staff at Camp Cecil is consistently going the extra mile to make sure you're always comfortable and having the perfect holiday. The magic that chef Ivan Almici and his staff create from the kitchen tent is renowned, and they will cater to any food allergy or dietary restriction imaginable. I personally think it is the best food you will find in all of Mexico. In addition to the food, there is a long list of activities to choose from, with the most personable guides, including snorkeling the cove, swimming with sea lion pups, hiking the island, boat rides to the fisherman village, sunset happy hours, a chance to swim with whale sharks...the list goes on and on! You can ultimately design the trip to be however active or mellow you'd like it to be.
My favorite activities, however, all happened within a time span of 4 hours. It started off with a sunset paddle board into a silent world of orange and pink, where the air felt like summer and a mist of warm salt water hugged my skin. Dozens of sea turtles began swimming past us, popping their heads above the water to catch a breath before they dove back below the surface. The only thing that brought us back to shore was the setting of the sun and our excitement for a guaranteed delicious meal. After our dinner, mezcal, chocolate and laughs were shared around the table, until we decided to take a walk to the shore. Stepping out from under the main tent, I was instantly memorized by the spectacular light of the stars. My gaze remained to the sky, but as soon as I looked down I realized something beautiful at my feet. My footsteps were glowing. There was bioluminescent plankton! Even our new Cuban father, a chemical engineer professor at Berkeley, was impressed!
Honestly, after this night I was pretty set on never leaving that island. I had everything I could ever need since I needed nothing more than a bathing suit and some sunscreen. Plus, the camp is 100% run by solar energy, practicing a leave no trace principle to make sure you can fully enjoy the beauty of the island without altering it in any way. Aside from the unforgettable experiences had at Camp Cecil, the ultimate gift comes from the ability to simplify and disconnect. It's a retreat from this alternate digital reality we've created and a complete break from the real world. A true vacation for the mind, body, and soul.
Even if you don't trust my judgement on what's cool, maybe the fact that Camp Cecil is rated #1 in luxury camping by National Geographic is enough proof that Camp Cecil is the adventure of a lifetime.