Where to Eat, Drink, and Stay in Riviera Maya

A coastal haven where visitors are fully immersed in nature.

the Riviera Maya
(Image credit: Getty)

While Cancún is a popular destination for spring breakers looking to flee the cold, the Riviera Maya, located about 30 miles south of Cancún’s airport, offers travelers a peaceful respite along the Caribbean Sea. Home to an array of exotic bird species, lush mangrove fields, rich Mayan culture, and a new artisanal boutique from designer Carolina Kleinman, the area should be a top contender for your next warm weather getaway.

Where to Stay

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(Image credit: Courtesy of Etéreo)

Levitating above the area’s protected mangrove forests, the newly opened Etéreo resort provides a zen-filled ambiance, honoring the area’s rich Mayan history. The property has a sustainable ethos, designed alongside the late Mexican artist, Manuel Felguérez. 

Rooms embrace indoor-outdoor living with floor-to-ceiling windows, terrace plunge pools, and vast ocean and mangrove views. Interiors celebrate Mexican artistry via custom furnishings, artisan textiles, and intricate wooden-carved walls. With a focus on the natural surroundings, guests are encouraged to keep phones and other modern distractions stowed away.

Book It

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(Image credit: Courtesy of Carolina Kleinman)

Inside Etéreo's courtyard, sustainably-minded designer Carolina Kleinman has thoughtfully created a boutique that embraces the soul of Mayan art and tradition.

Furniture is handcrafted by local wood workers, displaying ceramics and hand-embroidered clothing from artists hand-picked by Kleinman on her travels throughout Mexico and through her partnership with Ensemble Artasano—an organization established during the pandemic to support artisan groups from 36 different countries, including the the Riviera Maya.

Guests are invited to experience residencies and workshops alongside artists that live nearby, some of whom are the inspiration for Kleinman’s own creativity.

What to Do

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(Image credit: Courtesy of Etéreo)

Start your day with a sunrise meditation, said to help recharge and attract positive energies. Surrounded by water, follow your practice with a dip in the pool or a swim in the turquoise sea. A clear, calm day will offer a chance to explore the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the world’s second largest coral reef, located just off of Etéreo’s beaches. Alternatively, explore the area’s renowned Cenotes and one (or several) of the area’s five ancient ruins.

For a serene afternoon activity, head to the spa. Indulge in a massage using sacred Mayan stones that heal and calm, or embark on a do-it-yourself “cleansing” ritual that leads you through saunas and plunge pools. The provided clays and oils are said to contain transformative ingredients from the Riviera Maya.

For happy hour, mezcal and Mexican spirit lovers can take part in the tasting of seven ceremonial spirits from locations across Mexico. Later, soothe your sweet tooth with a cacao tasting, led by Pasión de Cacao, a family-run chocolate factory headquartered in the nearby city of Playa del Carmen.

Where to Eat & Drink

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(Image credit: Courtesy of Etéreo)

Using local ingredients from both the land and the sea, traditional Yucatán cuisine is chock full of rich flavor profiles and bright, refreshing citruses. On your beach day, head to Alberca for tacos and ceviches, and, of course, mezcal margaritas. For dinner, Itzam’s menu focuses on sustainable organic ingredients, inspired by traditional Mayan cooking— from fresh tortillas made with wood-fired corn to savory dishes featuring traditional Mole sauces. 

For foodies who want to venture off of the property, head into Playa del Carmen for options that span beyond Mexican cuisine. Romeo has fresh Italian pizzas and pastas, while La Brocherie, specializing in French roasted chicken, is a favorite amongst locals and expats.

Sara Holzman
Sara Holzman

Sara Holzman is the Style Editor at Marie Claire, covering runway trends and tracking down the latest finds to buy and wear. When she’s not writing about fashion, she pens about the best places to jet-off to.