17. Mexico’s best place for a delicious nap – The beaches at the Si’aan Kaan Biosphere offer white sand beaches and crystal clear blue water. This nature preserve, located on the Yucatan peninsula-just outside Tulum-is also home to iguanas and exotic sea birds. Chances are, it’ll just be you, a good book and the animals here. Should you nod off, the only thing likely to wake you will be the roar of the surf.
18. Nicaragua’s best sunset views – Rancho Santana, a 1,700-acre reserve along the southern coast of Nicaragua, consists of two miles of coastline and three secluded beaches: Playa Rosada (Rose Beach), Playa Dorada (Golden Beach) and Playa Escondida (Hidden Beach). Set on a hillside, the reserve affords spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to leave after sunbathing-sunset here is unbelievably beautiful.
19. Panama’s shimmering secret – Less than 25 miles from Panama City, Contadora Island boasts white-sand beaches, clear turquoise water, hidden coves and wildlife viewing. The beaches here are far less crowded than at the country’s tourist resort areas. However, for a truly private experience, you can visit the beaches of other islands by boat or jet ski.
20. Argentina’s best chill-out session – The Atlantic Coast of Argentina-just 200 miles from Buenos Aires-offers beautiful scenery, numerous sports activities, as well as a fair amount of solitude. The beaches in the small resort town of Pinamar are pristine and comparatively uncrowded. Located adjacent to a natural pine forest, this area is one of the most beautiful in the country. What’s more, the seafood restaurants here are excellent.
21. Brazil’s best place for gliders and voyeurs – São Conrado beach, while not too far from the center of Rio de Janeiro, is far less crowded than Ipanema or Copacabana-and the water is cleaner. What’s more, the conditions here are perfect for hang gliding. If you’re not up for the experience of hovering in the air for hours, watching the gliders is a particularly satisfying leisure activity.
22. Brazil’s best reason to drive 90 miles – Cabo Frio, located some 90 miles north of Rio, offers even more seclusion than São Conrado. The beach here is practically deserted and is adjacent to a 17th-century convent and forts, which lend a gothic sense of drama to the experience. Beachgoers are cautioned to leave valuables in their hotel safes as thieves from nearby favelas (slums) are known to target the area.
23. Ecuador’s best of both worlds – For fans of natural beaches (as opposed to theme parks), Salinas offers white sand, clear turquoise water and excellent whale watching. While this area is technically on the Pacific “Route of the Sun”, (known for its numerous tourists resorts), it tends to be less crowded and more friendly. On the other hand, if you need a bit of excitement, the main road here offers relaxed strolls, shops, restaurants and even a few discos.
24. Uruguay’s best place to go when you “vant to be alone” – Punta del Este is widely known for its outstanding resorts and, as such, tends to be rather touristy. The good news is that you don’t have to charter a flight to get to more secluded environs. Just 52 miles from the crowds of Punta del Este, Bahía Grande boasts beautiful beaches (wider, in fact, than their Punta del Este counterparts), a mere smattering of people and blue-green water. Visit the beachfront town of La Paloma, which is known for its remarkable lighthouse.