Isla Holbox, Mexico
You have to fly to Cancún, drive two hours north to Chiquila, and take a 20-minute ferry to reach Isla Holbox, a lush, untouched island eight miles off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula—but those who do will find the kind of undisturbed sanctuary that’s long since left Tulum. Much of the island is an unspoiled ecological preserve, where shallow lagoons and protected shores remain a refuge for resident flamingoes, white pelicans, and whale sharks. Not that you’d consider the rest of Holbox anything less than peaceful: roads are made of sand, visitors get around by bike (or walk barefoot), beaches are empty, there’s only one ATM (that we know of), and villages are made up of thatched-roof houses occupied by creative entrepreneurs who’ve fallen under the island’s spell. Such is the case at Casa Las Tortugas, a palapa-style oceanfront hotel owned by an expat couple (she’s Italian, he’s Dutch—they met here) as well as Casa Sandra, a boutique stay next door run by a Cuban artist. Don’t miss the island breakfast of banana bread and hibiscus tea.