Concierge - Conde Nast Traveler
The 2008 It List
By Ondine Cohane
Call it travel evolution. While some vacationers always turn to the Same Old year after year (Mickey!), the ever-curious vanguard are on the hunt for the Next. Sometimes their discoveries are exotic and far-flung, other times they are the once-beloved places seeing a renaissance. The 10 places you'll be hearing about this year share a few common denominators: a new crop of hotels provides creature comforts; the natural appeal is preserved and protected; the buzz has enough substance to make a journey worthwhile. From a low-key Latin beauty to an African gem with spectacular beaches to a couple of resurging cities, these are the places to head next.
Puerto Escondido and the Oaxaca Coast
It's a traveler's truism: Where surfers go, other tourists eventually follow. Wave-riders sniff out the best beaches before the mainstream discovers them, and board culture has the effect of turning sleepy towns into enclaves of board-short-wearing hipdom. Witness Sayulita, near Puerto Vallarta, and Troncones, a stone's throw from Zihuatanejo. The next frontier? Puerto Escondido, Puerto Angel, and the beaches south of Huatulco. The future of this unmanicured stretch of nirvana is much more secure now that FONATUR (the Mexican agency responsible for the development of Cancùn, Cabo, and Acapulco) seems to have run out of steam in its attempt to make it the country's next big thing. For now, the beaches are home to fishing villages, quiet lagoons, and coconut plantations-if you need a visual reference, the idyllic beach ending of Y Tu Mamà Tambièn was shot here. Check into the Santa Fe hotel in Puerto Escondido and take day-trips to Playa Manzanillo, Playa Carrizalillo, and Zipolite (one of the most beautiful beaches around); consider adding a sojourn inland to the city of Oaxaca, one of the country's colonial gems. For expert surfers, Playa Zicatela is one of the best pipelines in the world. Further south, nine small bays are a quick jump from the more built-up resorts of Huatulco. If you're looking for upscale digs with, say, an on-site pool and restaurant, check into the Camino Real Zaashila on nearby Tangolunda Bay.