In my younger days I backpacked around the world and stayed in some fun guesthouses with funky hangout areas, ate at restaurants with food using local ingredients, and napped in hammocks. I recently got to experience a more upscale version of that experience on San Pancho Beach in Mexico at Maraica Sustainable Hotel.
Maraica, in combo with its restaurant Muvieri, really does live up to the “sustainable” part of its name and feels worlds away from the corporate hotels handing out single-use plastic without a care and plating up dishes with food that traveled 12 hours by plane to reach your mouth. I went for days without seeing any plastic to throw away and we ate meals that sometimes included items grown on the grounds, or at least somewhere within driving distance.
Toiletries and staff cleaning products are in reusable bottles, much of the energy comes from a large bank of solar panels, and what’s not made of concrete or glass is usually made from thatch and a local hardwood called parota. Wastewater is recycled for irrigation. As you walk the grounds, you see fruit hanging from a banana tree or a papaya tree and there’s an herb garden right next to the kitchen.
This is a laid-back beach resort above the water in San Pancho, officially known as San Francisco, a small beach community north of Sayulita in the Nayarit state of Mexico. You don’t come here to work all day on your laptop or hit the clubs at night. This is a place to relax at the pool or beach, eat well, and have a few colorful cocktails while enjoying the cool decor.
None of the sustainability steps (or the iffy internet) feel like a sacrifice when you’re at Maraica Sustainable Resort though because the place is so comfortable and downright pretty. The rooms aren’t air-conditioned, but they’re beautiful to look at and have fans and screen windows to add to the sea breeze. Most of the time, guests are hanging out in the common areas anyway, which are even closer to the sea.
Muvieri Restaurant, San Pancho
The centerpiece of this small resort is Muvieri Restaurant, which is open to locals in the know but mostly serves the guests. There’s a downstairs area by the big lawn, under a thatch covering, that puts you steps from the kitchen, eating at polished wood tables made from cross-cuts of tree trunks. The other section is upstairs, where similar tables and a couple swinging chairs are on interesting Mexican tile floors. This part has a view of the water and presents a nice show at sunset.
The menu is one of the healthiest I’ve seen at a Mexican hotel. Sure, you can get your pancakes or huevos rancheros at breakfast in the morning, but they also have a smoothie bowl with ingredients like berries, amaranth, granola, and chia seeds. Or you can order avocado toast with poached eggs that will come out like this:
When you order coffee you get your own French press with course-ground Mexican beans. Juices are fresh-squeezed and delicious.
I had some excellent fish tacos for lunch that were downright pretty to look at as well and there are some real salad options–not always easy to find in Mexican restaurants. At night the menu includes an array of seafood options and burgers, but also a beet carpaccio starter and grilled cauliflower.
Prices are in line with restaurants for travelers in town and are reasonable overall. Menu prices range from a few dollars to $17 (seafood at dinner) and most of the well-crafted cocktails are in the $6 to $8 range, with a few good local craft beers available for $4. So it doesn’t break the bank to be lazy and eat most of your meals here while on vacation.
Otherwise, it’s a 10 to 15-minute walk to coffee shops, a taproom, and many restaurants in San Pancho itself, either via the cobblestone road or by walking down the beach.
Swimming Pool and San Pancho Beach
The circular swimming pool at Maraica is the centerpiece of the resort, an attractive stone-covered pool with an infinity edge and some shade provided by trees and umbrellas. There are a few sets of lounge chairs and you don’t have to go far to order drinks.
Otherwise, grab your provided beach towel and head down to the uncrowded northern end of San Pancho Beach, a golden-sand stretch that has plenty of room to stake out and waves that won’t knock you over. The sunsets are gorgeous here and the beach is long enough to get some real exercise on for morning walks.
Maraica also hosts yoga retreats on a regular basis and they can set up yoga classes, massages, surf lessons, or private events.
Rooms at Maraica, Riviera Nayarit
The 12 rooms at this sustainable hotel have polished concrete floors, thatched roofs, custom hardwood furniture, and a subdued style meant for relaxation. All of them have some kind of outdoor space or furnished balcony. Our Xurave detached bungalow featured in this video tour had its own small lawn and hammock.
You get a better view if you’re willing to climb up more stairs, but all of the rooms at least look out at some vegetation if not the ocean. They have organic toiletries in refillable bottles, hot showers, and comfortable beds with charging outlets and individual reading lamps on each side. Each has some kind of comfy chair or armless sofa and some include a desk. Storage space was rather minimal in ours, but others have a full wardrobe.
Parking is complimentary in a secure lot. WiFi is complimentary too, but only works in the restaurant area and it’s not much better in town, so don’t come here to make this your temporary office. Relax on vacation instead.
Rates generally run $120 to $250 double including taxes depending on which room and the season. See more information and book direct at the official website here. Maraica is also listed on Hotels.com.
Hotel Scoop editor Tim Leffel was a hosted guest at Maraica Sustainable Hotel to research it for review purposes. As always, all opinions are his own.