Dollar-Friendly Destinations 2008

by Danielle Pergament

The place: Isle Holbox, Mexico

It's a poor man's: Anguilla

The financial analysis: The Yucatán Peninsula has long attracted frat boys, package tourists, and people looking for their third eye—in other words, cheapskates. The Riviera Maya is chockablock with luxury resorts now, but there are still bargain secrets like Holbox, a wisp of an island in the Caribbean, north of Cancún.

Price of a beer: $3 for a Corona

What to do: Getting to Holbox takes a bit more than three hours after landing in Cancún. But it's a universe away from Cancún's loud nightclubs and bead necklace hawkers. Your main task will be to lie on the talcum-soft sand and marvel at the flamingos, who come in the summer and fall. If you're one of those people who get bored on the beach, there's also kayaking, fishing, biking, snorkeling, and kite surfing. Now go play and let us read our book.

Hotel: Villas Paraíso del Mar Hotel has 36 rooms with air conditioning (not something you take for granted here), palapa roofs, terraces, and ocean views, all on a quiet stretch of white sand. How much would you pay for this? Folks staying at Maroma, a couple hundred miles down the coast, are easily coughing up a thou a night. Here, it's only $170.

Cheap eats: The choices are limited—there are only a handful of restaurants on Holbox—but lucky for you, one of them is Viva Zapata. Open only for dinner, it's Mexican by way of an Italian chef and has live music every week. The specialty of the house is grilled fresh catch, whatever that happens to be, usually for less than $10.

How to get there: You'll find nonstop flights to Cancún from most major U.S. gateways, and the competition means they come cheap. From the airport, the hotel will arrange your transfer to Holbox, including the 30-minute ferry ride to the island.

Villas Paraíso del Mar Hotel
Tel: 52 984 875 2062

Viva Zapata
Tel: 52 984 875 2204

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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