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If the fact that I misplaced my shoes only about three minutes after arriving at Camp Cecil was any indication, the next few days of glamping in Mexico were going to be just about as relaxing as it gets.
Only moments earlier, our group of 10 intrepid travellers had hopped off the speed boat that shuttled us from La Paz through crystal clear, blue waters, and sunk our feet into the powdery soft sand on Gallo Beach in Isla Espiritu Santo. The protected area in the Baja Peninsula is mecca for wildlife watchers and sun seekers alike, thanks to its deserted beaches set against red limestone cliffs, activities like kayaking, hiking and diving, and an underwater world teeming with marine life including whales, sea lions, manta rays, dolphins and turtles.
While cruises around the Sea of Cortez are popular with day trippers from Los Cabos and Todos Santos, the best way to experience the magic of the so-called Holy Spirit Island is to spend the night. And unless you’re lucky enough to have a yacht at your disposal, one of the only ways to do it is to stay at Camp Cecil, which is run by the fantastic folks from Todos Santos Eco Adventures (TOSEA).
For those not familiar with the concept of glamping, it’s essentially luxury camping; think white canvas tents with daily housekeeping instead of pitching your own tent, chandeliers over flashlights, a full staff to cater to your every need, and chef-prepared meals in lieu of cooking around a campfire. Oh, and this is the view from your bed:
Camp Cecil’s spacious, beachfront tents are nestled into a peaceful bay, perfectly located just steps from the calm water which makes it easy to head out for a sunrise paddle or sunset SUP session at a moment’s notice. Each one is beautifully decorated, and outfitted with comfortable queen or twin beds, crisp white towels and linens, multiple chairs for lounging, a fan, mirror and wicker side tables, and plenty of space to store suitcases.
As as our boat pulled up to shore we were greeted by enthusiastic waves from the smiling staff, who directed us to select which tent would be our home for the next few days and take a few minutes to settle in before starting the orientation. Our guide Jose then gave us a rundown of all the activities we could enjoy on the island, shared details about meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner are included) and the nightly happy hour (which I made sure to pay extra special attention to, obvs), then answered the most important question that was on everyone’s mind: “So, what’s the bathroom situation like?”
Well the good news is, there are some! Since Camp Cecil is located in a UNESCO World Heritage Site there’s a huge emphasis on being eco-friendly, so TOSEA had to get creative about how to add washrooms without plumbing. This means the setup takes a bit of getting used to, with pedal-powered sinks and toilets similar to an outhouse which require sprinkling sawdust over waste to keep the stalls fresh and hygienic.
There are also solar-powered showers, but as the fresh water needs to be brought in by boat guests are encouraged to limit their time inside, and also shouldn’t expect the water to be very hot. If any of that sounds like a bit too much work…well, there’s always an entire sea just steps away!
Isla Espiritu Santo tours
Once Jose finished giving us the Camp Cecil 411, he announced that the first activity in our Mexico glamping adventure was about to get started; with calm waters being reported, the conditions were perfect to tour Isla Espiritu Santo and head over to Los Islotes where we could swim with sea lions.
Snorkeling with the playful, energetic animals is considered one of the best things to do in La Paz, Mexico, and being only a short boat ride away from the the colony meant we could go there in late afternoon long after the crowds of day-trippers had returned to the mainland, and enjoy the magical spot all to ourselves.
WATCH: Swimming with sea lions in Isla Espiritu Santo
Over the next couple days we were encouraged to be as adventurous or laid-back as we wanted–this is a vacation, after all. For some that meant hopping on paddleboards at sunrise to marvel at the Sea of Cortez bathed in enchanting gold and rose hues, while others slept soundly in their beds or curled up on the cozy, beachfront loungers to tuck into a birding book with a steaming mug of coffee in hand.
Kayaks and SUPs were available to use any time, and excursions included boat rides out to the cerulean waters of El Candelero bay, and guided hikes with a naturalist to the secluded, volcanic El Cardonal island where we spotted the likes of a whiptail snake, jack rabbit and even the elusive golden eagle. Come nightfall the dark skies revealed a galaxy of stars, and being miles away from bright city lights meant we could quietly soak in the scene in all its glory, the way nature intended.
With only eight tents at Camp Cecil meaning a maximum guest capacity of 16, the community vibe was strong from the get-go. Our glamping crew was made up of a handful of couples and a gaggle of girlfriends representing Canada, all corners of the USA and Mexico, and it only took one afternoon, some stiff margaritas and a seemingly endless supply of wine at the dinner table to turn us into what felt like old friends. On day two, our shared meal culminated into a night of shenanigans under the soft glow of lanterns, complete with ridiculous-yet-impressive party tricks, howls of laughter…and wicked hangovers the next morning. Totally worth it.
Despite long days spent paddling around the best spots in Isla Espiritu Santo, snorkeling through brilliant turquoise waters and relaxing on its pristine white sand beaches with a cool cocktail in hand, when the time came a few days later to pack up and hop back on the boat bound for La Paz it felt like we’d still barely scratched the surface of everything Camp Cecil has to offer.
With sun-kissed skin and my head overflowing with fond memories from our once-in-a-lifetime experience, I slipped my shoes back on for the first time in days as we set off for the mainland, bringing an end to an unforgettable glamping adventure in Mexico.
What you to know about staying at Camp Cecil:
- Rates: Prices for Camp Cecil start at $375 per person per night, and there’s a two-night minimum. The all-inclusive package includes pickup from La Paz or Todos Santos with boat transfers to the island, water sports, guided Isla Espiritu Santo tours, all meals and nightly happy hour.
- When to go: Camp Cecil is open from November through April, and with only eight tents and being one of the only Espiritu Santo accommodation options they can book up fast.
- What to bring: A headlamp is handy to have for those late-night bathroom runs, as is a solar-powered charger for electronics. Be sure to pack loads of sunscreen, bug spray and After Bite–the island’s No-See-Um flies are a force to be reckoned with!
- Internet access: There’s no service here, so guests can put that smartphone away and enjoy a few days off the grid and unplugged.
Globe Guide enjoyed Camp Cecil as a guest of Todos Santos Eco Adventures. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.
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