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Guide to the Riviera Maya: Stay, Eat, Do

The sun-soaked Riviera Maya coastline along Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula has beckoned thrill-seeking travellers for decades.

Host to a multitude of varied landscapes, historical sites, and an impressive breadth of activities to get stuck into, today this Mexican coastline is also home to a smattering of chic hotels and a burgeoning restaurant scene.

Whether partying or wellness is more your idea of a good holiday, discover the unsullied beaches of Maroma or the hypnotic pulse of Tulum’s nightlife. These are the very best places to eat, sleep, and visit during your trip to Mexico’s Riviera Maya.


Chablé Maroma

Only a handful of luxury hotels are secreted away in Maroma, a secluded stretch of the coastline south of Cancún. By the oceanfront, you’ll find Chablé Maroma, a hushed hideaway that is equal parts chic as contemporary. Bed down just steps away from the beach in sleek bedrooms, each of which feature private pools and generous, marble-clad bathrooms. Guests are kept well fed, with three restaurants to choose from: dine on tacos and Mexican-Japanese fare at the open-air Raw Bar, let yourself be serenaded over dinner at all-day restaurant Kaban, and indulge in the spectacular tasting menu at Bu’ul. Days are spent splayed out by the pool, enjoying the secluded beach, and feeling renewed at the spa, while a calendar of complimentary activities (from sunrise yoga to cooking lessons) will help you while away the day. While Cancún and Tulum play host to hundreds of tourists each year, Maroma is a protected patch of the coastline, meaning that you can only access it if you are staying at one of the verified hotels, guaranteeing guests the ultimate privacy. 


La Valise

La Valise by Affyrm Studio

About an hour and a half south of Maroma, you’ll reach Tulum, a tourist hotspot that beckons partygoers and wellness junkies alike with its mix of boujie boutique hotels, and thriving restaurant scene. Easily one of the most luxe hotels along Tulum Beach, and situated on the whitest stretch of sand, La Valise strikes a chord with its trio of vaulted palapa roofs sitting neck and neck with the swaying palms. Airy, castaway-chic bedrooms face the ocean or are tucked among the tropical tangle – in each, expect generous four-posters, and a melange of rattan, wooden accents, and linen swathes, with some suites even boasting beds that roll onto private terraces for a sleepover under the stars. Days here are spent spread-eagled on buttery-yellow loungers by the pool or sprawled across the beach; guests at La Valise also have access to the hotel’s sister properties during their stay, whether you fancy a dip in the pool at Radhoo (the largest in Tulum) or strewing yourself across the cabanas at Encantada, which is located just next door.



Named the 29th best restaurant in Latin America, ARCA is somewhat of a household name in Tulum. Set amidst the jungle, and shrouded in candlelight and Copal incense, this open-air restaurant offers an experimental menu of delicious, theatrical dishes. Expect inventive twists on traditional Mexican fare, each of which are beautifully plated. Make sure to book your table well in advance and arrive on time, as the restaurant fills up quickly every night and guests are alotted a strict two-hour dining slot.



An American transplant well known for its year-round party atmosphere, Gitano is nestled deep within the jungle, and encompasses a maze of bars and restaurants that unfold as you wind your way through the thicket. Head here for post-dinner drinks at Gitano Jungle on Fridays, when the dance floor comes alive with a resident DJ, and guests sip margaritas under the rotating disco ball. There’s also an upscale Greek restaurant on site, serving a mix of Mediterranean dishes in case you’ve had one too many tacos and fancy something a little different.



You’ll find homely family-style feasting at Hartwood, where the daily-changing menu revolves around freshly-fished Caribbean catches. Expect tasty ceviches, crispy tuna tostadas, and whole sea bass drowned in lime juice, all made to be shared and washed down with excellent cocktails.


Moro by Habitas

Situated at the northernmost point of the ‘hotel zone’ in Tulum, MORO is the excellent in-house restaurant at laidback luxe pad Habitas. Well worth a visit on your way to Tulum Ruins, the restaurant is a stunning, double-storied glasshouse where palms shoot through the roof, and guests dine with their toes in the sand. Head here for lunch, when you can feast on fresh guacamole and zingy fish tacos – and their breakfast offering is just as appealing, with açai bowls, tropical smoothies and Mayan-inspired dishes on the menu.


NÜ, Leandro Bulzzano

A candlelit, open-air restaurant set amidst the jungle, guests here dine on modern Mexican fare with an international twist. The succinct but delicious menu encompasses fresh Caribbean seafood, roasted vegetables served with creamy yuca, and cooling, hand-churned ice creams for dessert.

NÜ, Leandro Bulzzano


Tulum Ruins

Chichén Itzá

This particular corner of Mexico is rife with Mayan heritage, and a visit to the ancient Mayan ruins across the Yucatán Peninsula is a must for history buffs. Tulum Ruins are located north of the buzzy area of town, and are in easy reach if you’re staying there. It’s a short taxi ride over to the ruins – or hop on a bicycle and peddle over. For those looking to trek further afield, the Mayan complex at Cobá is even more impressive (and can easily take an entire day’s worth of exploring – we recommend making a pit stop for lunch at the ultra-chic Coqui Coqui nearby), or a trip to Chichén Itzá won’t fail to amaze if you’re keen to tick off one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.



This patch of the peninsula is littered with hundreds of cenotes: natural underwater cave pools that provide the perfect territory for exploring. Once considered gateways to the underworld, cenotes were sacred places for the Mayans – and there is an unlimited bounty of them to explore across the Yucatán Peninsula, meaning that wherever you are staying along the coast, there will be plenty within easy reach.

 Lead image credit: Chablé Maroma

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