SAGA ECO CAMP
Chilika Lake, India
Established in 2002, the Saga Eco Camp is still so new that even most locals don't know where it is. That's what happens when you build your tiny beach resort among a handful of fishing families on a tropical island in India's largest lagoon425-square-mile Chilika Lake, tucked beneath the 1,500-foot Eastern Ghats hills of Orissa and draining into the Bay of Bengal.
Room & Board: Lodging matches the Robinson Crusoe vibe, as guests stay in 11 spacious and breezy wall tents (with finished floors and flush toilets) that sleep four, scattered among palms and cashew trees. In an open-air, thatch-roofed dining hall, chef Raju serves up fresh seafood dishes, including crab masala and local prawns, as well as island-grown organic veggies. Purists may complain about the diesel generator, which runs for three hours each evening, but hey, it keeps the beer cold.
Out the Back Door: Take a motorboat 20 minutes to the mainland town of Barakul and rent a sea kayak from Orissa Tourism's Water Sports Complex ($5 an hour) to explore Nalaban Island, a bird sanctuary. Paddle alongside rare Irrawaddy dolphins while keeping an eye out for Siberian cranes. Or head for the narrow spit of land that divides the lagoon from the ocean, park your kayak, then hike a half-mile through the jungle, until you arrive at an empty white-sand beach that stretches a dozen miles in both directions. What next? Bodysurf endless breakers, then lie in the sand and play dead.