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Isla Pan de Azucar, Chile

Where the Atacama Desert meets the sea, small “Sugar Loaf Island” sits just offshore of the sprawling National Park named for it. The region is a unique ecosystem where flora and fauna are sustained by the Camanchaca mists from the sea. A variety of cactuses thrive here, and dramatic rocky outcrops are interspersed with wide sandy beaches. On the island, breeding colonies of sea lions, sea otters, pelicans and Humboldt penguins lounge in protected peace, fussing, chattering and cavorting as you float just offshore. (Landing is forbidden.)