After what felt like the coldest summer in a long time (especially in Southern Marin), we wanted to offer up some guaranteed sun-filled R&R. Here are four, easy(ish)-to-get-to destinations in Mexico and Hawaii.
Take a Siesta in Mexico
Italian-born Gian Franco Brignone dreamt up Careyes, a seaside Mediterranean village on the Mexican Pacific, with architectural gems like ocean castles; sprawling private villas; and colorful, Positano, Italy-style casitas set into the cliffs. Sprinkle in fishing boat-dotted coves, swimmable beaches, mind-bending art, fresh seafood, polo fields, sacred healing rituals and sea turtle nesting beaches, and you’ve got the ultimate magical escape.
The jungle-meets-the-sea playground attracts a boho-chic, multilingual international set who embrace Careyes’ union/celebration of art, design, culture, conservation, community, wellness and natural wonders.
This off-the-beaten-path hideaway (two and a half hours south of Puerto Vallarta) offers up empty beaches, soulful experiences and a chance to reset. A portal to wellness and the mystical, La Copa de Sol is a giant meditation bowl (35 feet high by 88 feet wide) with transcendent acoustics on a seaside cliff that you can bliss out in during a sound healing, or try a purifying Temazcal steam ritual with a shamanic guide. Their new yoga program welcomes top wellness instructors from around the globe like Cayley Alyssa and Kishan Shah for month-long sabbaticals, so you can downward dog with the world’s finest in a gentle sea breeze.
Pool hopping through the five infinity pools at El Car- eyes Club + Residences, nibbling calamari and sipping a passion fruit margarita at the newly renovated beachfront restaurant Playa Rosa, releasing baby sea turtles at Playa Teopa, or horseback riding on the golden sands. Enjoy a leisurely boat cruise to Paraiso Beach, home to emerald water, stellar snorkeling and sea caves.
Baja’s 70-mile East Cape is a low-key, rugged coastal arc, known for its dirt roads, one-cantina villages, secret fishing spots and hidden beaches. A new, shimmering desert oasis sits at the edge of the Sea of Cortez, deemed the aquarium of the world for its warm, calmer waters and abundance of marine life. Thankfully, the low-lying architecture, monochromatic tones and natural elements of the Four Seasons complement this stunning seaside scenery rather than dominate the natural setting. All 141 of the tasteful guestrooms have Sea of Cortez views, and the resort’s six pools, five restaurants, myriad watering holes and incredible off-site adventures means there is plenty to do.
Baja’s undiscovered East Cape is a blissful alternative to the madness of Cabo San Lucas. The 1,000-acre community of Costa Palmas, home to the Four Seasons, is an easy 45-minute drive from the Los Cabos airport yet a grand sense of remoteness and peacefulness pervades the senses — think desert landscape, mazes of sand dunes, dramatic mountain views and miles of swimmable, uncrowded beaches. And while you will truly feel like you have checked out, there’s no shortage of that Four Seasons luxury and authentic Mexican hospitality.
Play 18 holes of golf on the Robert Trent Jones II desert-scaped course or get fit at celeb personal trainer Haley Pasternak’s new Baja Body Reset, a curated weekend program that includes waterfall hikes, guided mediations, fitness and spa sessions, food prep classes and more. After a flat-tire beach bike ride, head to the pool to try the new craze — BOGAFIT floating fitness mat class, an aqua yoga-meets-bootcamp core workout. Hop aboard the resort’s 65-foot yacht for a swanky, full-day excursion to Cabo Pulmo, the spectacular underwater national park to the south. Once there, a private dive guide escorts you through this turquoise wonderland of colorful fish, sea turtles, mantas, eels, sea lions and more. A champagne and caviar sunset cruise home caps off the adventure.
Get on Island Time in Hawaii
After a huge mudslide in March of 2021, the road to Hanalei on the island of Kauai was closed for repair throughout the day. Now, it opens for a few hours at a time to allow what the locals call “the convoy” to pass through on a single lane. While it seems this would be a deterrent to visitors, au contraire — it’s created an ideal situation, making Hanalei an island within an island. Despite the closures, most of the restaurants, food trucks and bars, as well as surf schools, are open and ready to transport you to that elusive state of deep relaxation. There is a rhythm that happens when the road opens, as an influx of people pours in, lines form, and then recede. So don’t worry about the lines, there’s nowhere else to go anyway.
Where to stay:
Since finding a home to rent is nearly impossible these days, the neighboring condo community, Princeville, is the easiest option. And for those on a budget, consider The Cliffs at Princeville. It is centrally located within Princeville’s miles of paths and perched above the cliffs overlooking the ocean. General Manager Jim Braman describes the resort as an ideal choice for visitors coming to Kauai’s North Shore. “Not only are we the only independently-owned and -managed property in Princeville — considered the gateway to Hanalei — but we’re well positioned for exploring Kilauea, Kapaa and beyond to the South Shore.” Rooms start at $289 a night, and you can usually expect a garden view, since the ocean-view units are reserved for the timeshare owners.
Make reservations ahead of time to park at Ha’ena State Park, located at the northwestern extent of Kuhio Highway on Kauai’s North Shore. The park offers viewing of restored lo’i kalo (taro fields) and ancient sea caves [aka wet caves] formed during a higher stand of the sea, probably 4,000 years ago, as well as the spectacular Napali Coast State Wilderness Park. There is also access to the trailhead of the world-famous 11-mile Kalalau Trail, as well as the more popular 4-mile journey to Hanakāpī’ai Falls trail. Both can be dangerous— talk to the locals for tips before heading out.
After years of thoughtful planning and precision design work, the überluxe, over-the-top, one-stop wellness shop, aka Four Seasons Sensei Lanai, opened at the end of 2019, but then closed last spring due to Covid-19 before reopening this summer. The up-country sister property to oceanfront Manale Bay on the island of Lanai, Sensei is an attraction on its own, with 96 rooms and a wellness center, Sensei Way, offering an evidence-led approach integrating healthy living practices into three simple paths: move, nourish and rest. Guided by practitioners highly trained in areas such as exercise physiology, nutrition, stress management, yoga and mindfulness, each stay is unique; itineraries feature a selection of wellness activities, spa treatments, a range of island activities and world-class golf and tennis facilities complemented by innovative dining, all set amidst a serene and luxurious setting.
Time to reset after the pandemic? Traveling to Hawaii is finally getting easier, however the car rental shortage is real.
Fortunately, you won’t need a car on Lanai. Oh, and the flight from Honolulu to Lanai is complimentary.
While Nobu is always a “don’t miss,” the chefs at Nobu Lanai work in conjunction with Sensei nutritionists to create some especially healthy options without compromising the taste.
More from Better:
- Santa Barbara’s Unexpected Hospitality History — Plus, Where to Stay on America’s Riviera
- Summer in Breckenridge: What to Do, Where to Eat and Where to Stay
- Napa and Sonoma Are Open Again: The Top New Destinations for Tastings, Dining and Wellness
Mimi Towle is the Editor at Large of Marin Magazine. She’s also started a new venture focusing on travel content for both Hawaii and California. In her spare time, she can be found on the trails, in the ocean or typing “sushi near me” into her phone.