Spacious safari-style tents feature real beds. // © 2017 Todos Santos Eco Adventures
Feature image (above): Guests can swim with whale sharks in the Sea of Cortez. // © 2017 Colin Ruggiero
In literature, a rainstorm drips with symbolism.
The storm in William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” for example, is a catalyst for turmoil, conflict and change in the lives of the play’s shipwrecked characters.
I found myself recalling this amidst a symbolic — and literal — tempest of my own during a recent trip to Mexico.
But unlike Shakespeare’s characters, I wasn’t shipwrecked. In fact, our catamaran was securely tied just a few steps from the tent that was sheltering me from the deluge. And I wasn’t on the banks of the Mediterranean, but rather at “Camp Cecil,” a glamping campground operated by family-owned local operator Todos Santos Eco Adventures (TOSEA) on Isla Espiritu Santo, a national park located just off the coast of Baja California Sur along the Sea of Cortez.
Despite the threat raised by wind whipping against the watertight canvas of my safari-style tent, I remembered an alternate, and much more fitting, representation for rain: rebirth and renewal.
My own sense of renewal began a few days earlier, when I first set foot on the isolated island. Our group of 12 had voluntarily left wireless signals, electricity and indoor plumbing back on the mainland; nature had our full attention. Apart from our grouping of eight tents, the surrounding foliage was dense and undisturbed, and the only human interaction we’d had so far was a friendly wave to a far-off fisherman’s boat.
And as difficult as I anticipated this off-the-grid lifestyle to be, I quickly found it to be anything but. In fact, I felt liberated.
Sure, there were the typical camping grievances, such as using wooden compost toilet cabanas or occasionally hearing the scurrying of a babisuri (a small endemic ring-tailed cat) searching for a snack inside our tents at night. But, for the most part, it was as if we’d been set up at our own private-island resort.
Each of the eight tents at TOSEA’s Camp Cecil are lined with a mosquito net and feature either two twin beds or one queen-size bed topped with brightly colored throw pillows and soft linens (and two tents are large enough to accommodate a family of four). Inside each are a vanity, a mirror, a chair, a straw rug and a nightstand — all underneath a flickering, battery-operated chandelier.
In addition to our accommodations, the camp has a couple of outdoor sun showers and a fully equipped kitchen, dubbed “Espiritu Xantus Cafe,” in addition to a shaded dining area; a couch and reading nook; and a library stocked with games and guidebooks.
Our schedules were flexible and based on island time, and our group spent the days stargazing, relaxing on the beach, snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters off the shore or taking out a paddleboard or a kayak with one of our five local naturalist guides (all of whom were fantastic). Hiking and birdwatching excursions allowed us to explore by foot, while swimming excursions brought us face to face with whale sharks and playful baby sea lions. (The Sea of Cortez is home to 39 percent of the world’s total number of marine mammal species and 891 species of fish).
And after working up an appetite, Ivan, our camp’s private chef, kept our bellies full with healthful homemade meals, made from locally sourced ingredients, which we happily washed down with fresh hibiscus juice or, if we preferred, a frozen margarita.
TOSEA’s 2018 rates for this all-inclusive experience are, shockingly, only $350 per person, per night, for a minimum of two nights. The camp operates from late October through June to bypass the rainy season. But, if you’re as lucky as I was, you might just get caught up in a thoroughly refreshing downpour anyway.