The Sea of Cortez is a 62,000-square-mile expanse of aqua water, craggy desert islands, and the kind of wildlife rarely seen outside the Discovery Channel. The best way to explore it? Get off the tourist-clogged mainland around the town of Loreto and set up base camp on Isla Espíritu Santo, an uninhabited archipelago 20 miles offshore. Fly into the sleepy coastal town of La Paz (Horizon Air flies direct from LAX for about $500). From here, local outfitter Baja Expeditions ferries guests out to their luxe tent camp on Espíritu Santo, a pink-and-ocher chunk of desert wilderness. Once there, a private guide lets you choose your own adventure: Kayak the tranquil lagoon; hike the cactus-studded canyons; or snorkel with playful sea lions. The island's a protected nature reserve, so your only company will be a grumpy-looking chuckwalla lizard or two. $260 per night; bajaex.com
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