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This Way to Nowhere

Yelepa, Mexico  

Yelapa, Mexico
Far, far off Mexico’s well-worn tourist path lies the tiny fishing town of Yelapa, a carfree haven on the country’s Pacific coast. The journey there is not for the impatient, however: After a flight to Puerto Vallarta, a short drive to Boca de Tomatlán, a 30-minute boat cruise along the coast to Yelapa, and an uphill hike (mules carry your luggage), you arrive at Verana (from $175; The nine bungalows scattered around the property’s five acres share one impressive feature: a mind-blowing view of the postcard-perfect ocean and surrounding jungle. Spend your days hopping from one watery retreat to another: the swimming hole at Quimixto, the rushing waterfalls at Tecumata, or the nearby Marietas Islands, where you may spot sea turtles, giant manta rays, and the elusive blue-footed booby.
Verana has intermittent cell service, but no TV. For a Wi-Fi fix, the property’s restaurant and bar offers a connection.

Petit St. Vincent
Those with fantasies of escaping to a private isle adore Petit St. Vincent, which is as far from the mega-resorts of the Caribbean as you can get (both literally and figuratively). To reach the 115-acre island cum resort (from $1,100; in the Grenadines archipelago, fly to Barbados, take a 50-minute flight to Union Island, and then a 20-minute boat ride. The island has strict policies to keep the ambience idyllic: that means no TVs, Wi-Fi, or even room keys. The 22 cottages are plush and airy, some with outdoor daybeds overlooking the water, perfect for sunbathing or enjoying a private yoga session. Even the communication here is old-school. Raise the yellow flag up your cottage’s bamboo flagpole, and a staff member suddenly materializes; raise the red one, and no one will dare disrupt your alone time. Book a tropics-inspired Island Haze massage at the tiny spa; have a sailboat carry you to the nearby islands of Mayreau, Carriacou, and the Tobago Cays for lunch and snorkeling; or just park it beachside and revel in your seclusion.
For those desperate for a tech fix, there is a Balinese carved-wood daybed near the main office where you can pick up a wireless signal.

Fafá Island, Tonga
This unspoiled archipelago (170-odd islets in total) in the South Pacific is isolation embodied—its coral atolls, palm forests, and cerulean waters are the stuff of dreams. Start your Blue Lagoon fantasy on Tonga’s Fafá Island, which takes three flights, plus a 30-minute sailboat ride, to access. Just north of Nuku’alofa, Tonga’s capital, awaits the Instagram-perfect Fafá Island Resort (from $235;—and nothing else. Check into one of the thirteen traditional fales (thatched-roof huts), each with its own outdoor shower and private flower garden. Paddleboard around the perimeter, snorkel close to shore or at one of the neighboring uninhabited islands, or arrange a fishing tour, after which the resort’s chef will prepare your catch.
There are no TVs or cell service, but there is an Internet connection (albeit a very slow one) available in the bar.

Three Camel Lodge, Mongolia  

Tourism has never been a big industry in Mongolia, but the government aims to attract one million visitors annually by 2015. And while the capital of Ulaanbaatar has seen some new fashionable hotels—a Shangri-La will break ground this year—it’s the remote grasslands of the countryside and vast Gobi Desert that are the real draws for those seeking sublime detachment. The Three Camel Lodge (from $180 per person; is a cluster of 50 rustic gers (traditional felt-and-canvas nomad tents; spring for a deluxe version to get a private bathroom), nestled beside the Gobi Altai Mountains in the desert’s Gurvan Saikhan National Park. Each has a south-facing door (a Mongolian practice) and wood-burning stove. Spend daylight hours taking in the Gobi’s natural marvels—examine ancient petroglyphs or dinosaur fossils at Flaming Cliffs, hike the mountain’s peaks and valleys, go on a trek by horse or camel, or get schooled in Mongolian cooking techniques at the lodge’s Bulagtai restaurant, which uses produce grown in the on-site greenhouse. Evenings are reserved for quiet stargazing: The solar-powered property’s lights are turned out at 11 p.m. sharp.
This is as off-the-grid as you can get—no TVs, Wi-Fi, cell service, or even phones (only satellite). The closest place to reconnect is at the Dalanzadgad Hotel, which is 90 minutes away by car.

Negev Desert
This massive Israeli dust bowl contains little more than the odd military base, camel, Bedouin village, and … a burgeoning wine country? Retreat amid the grapevines and olive trees at the Boker Valley Vineyard Farm (from $150; Built fifteen years ago along an old incense-trade route, the B&B (which serves a traditional Israeli breakfast) comprises four simple honeymooner cabins, each with views of the surrounding valley and hammock-strewn patios. Hike or bike the desert, take a dip in the nearby Zin Valley springs, and contemplate the staggering natural wonder that is Makhtesh Ramon, one of the world’s largest erosion craters. The on-site wine shop offers ample opportunity to pick up local varietals.
There are no TVs, and cell service is spotty at Boker Valley, but there’s Wi-Fi in the wine shop. Cabins have iPod docking stations for in-room music.


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