Hotel Maraica in San Pancho, Mexico (officially known as San Francisco) looks like a tropical laptop screensaver but IRL. While its pristine, palm tree-lined beach, off-the-grid vibes, and picturesque jungle views are that of a classic relaxation oasis, the seaside hotel has much more to offer than just that. Hotel Maraica is a 100 percent sustainable property where nature, harmony, and sophistication collide. The eco-friendly hotel makes for a dreamy tropical getaway for eco-tourists, health-conscious foodies, and anyone looking to totally unplug for a few days as WiFi here is scarce.
I’d argue that this colorfully eccentric combination beats the over-touristed beach resorts in Cabo San Lucas any day (although I love those too). The area of San Pancho is an under-the-radar destination that more young travelers should know about. The low-key beach town is along the Pacific coast of Nayarit, just over an hour outside of Puerto Vallarta and 15 minutes from the surfer’s party destination of Sayulita.
As one of Nayarit’s best-kept secrets, San Pancho is the ideal spot for anyone wanting to break away from the busyness that has unequivocally returned to our everyday lives over the past year. It’s the kind of place I picture myself going to write a book one day. San Pancho is packed with heavenly stretches of sand complete with nearby beach bars, artistic cultural traditions, and environmentally conscious community efforts that make it well worth a visit.
Hotel Maraica is walking distance to the heart of town yet still off the beaten path enough to feel like you’re worlds away. If you’re not convinced yet, my review of the property below might persuade you to book your flight sometime soon.
WHY IT’S AWESOME:
What I loved most about Hotel Maraica is the eco-tourism aspect of the property. When they say 100 percent sustainable, they mean it. Rather than uprooting nature, the property is built within nature to inspire guests to, “walk the path towards reconnection with the earth.” You’ll notice the property’s earthy architecture created out of palm ceilings, Parota furniture, and other natural resources, creating an open-air ambiance from the guest rooms to the dining area.
From Hotel Maraica’s water refill stations and healthy food menu to its renewable energy sources, eco-travelers can feel good about booking a stay here. In fact, the hotel generates its own energy with solar panels, recycles waste, and it even reuses wastewater as an irrigation system for its ornamental gardens.
With the ocean on one side and a mountainous jungle on the other, the hotel truly reminded me to respect and connect with nature. Spending only a couple of days here was enough to feel like I was letting out one big “ahhh…” exhale.
IN-HOUSE FOOD + DRINK:
The hotel’s sustainable lifestyle extends to its food options, too. The restaurant, Muvieri, offers a variety of fresh and organic meals that are made with local ingredients, many of which are grown on the property’s own garden. The upstairs dining area has a stunning ocean view, an undeniably romantic spot to watch the sunset. Of course, chips and fresh guacamole are a must for every meal, but the restaurant’s menu offers more than just classic dishes.
For breakfast, order the blended açaí bowl for a refreshing start to your day. Muvieri’s healthy lunch and dinner items pack tons of veggies into every dish. My go-to option was the shrimp bowl with rice, which came with a heaping of zucchini noodles and perfectly spiced prawns. As far as cocktails, you can’t go wrong, but my favorite was the blueberry margarita. The sweetness of the fruit combined with the strong kick of tequila is the ultimate post-beach day pick-me-up.
- Saltwater pool
- Renewable energy
- Tropical fruit orchard
- Ocean views
- WiFi in restaurant and pool area
- Water refill stations
- Yoga retreats
- Balancing activities (at an additional cost), such as yoga, surf lessons, paddle boarding, canopy tours, boat tours, horseback riding, or an in-room massage
The rooms at Hotel Maraica are designed to create an atmosphere of wellness and reconnection with nature. I almost felt like I was sleeping in a luxury treehouse, and it was awesome. The rooms are effortlessly minimalist and come with a hammock on the balcony that overlooks both the jungle and ocean (it was serene, to say the least). Basically, Hotel Maraica executes the outdoor-indoor aesthetic tenfold.
There are three different lodging options to choose from: Bed and View (king-size bed with an ocean view), Bed and View Plus (king-size bed plus a divan or extra space with ocean view), and 2 Bed and View (two double beds, plus a divan or extra space with ocean view).
THE BEST THING TO DO WITHIN A 15-MINUTE WALK:
Of course, spending time lounging on the beach with a margarita or two is a must throughout your stay. A short walk down the beach leads you to a few classic resort-style hotels with bars and restaurants right on the sand. This is a good place to hang out on weekends when you want to get a little tipsy and socialize in the sun.
If you find yourself in San Pancho on a Tuesday, the best thing to do is hit the weekly Tuesday market in the Plaza del Sol. Here, you’ll find a slew of authentic local artisan crafts, organically-grown produce, live music, and a lively crowd of both locals and visitors enjoying each others’ company. You can walk to the market on the main streets or by way of the beach. Make sure to come with cash (and make room in your luggage) for all the souveniers you’ll want to take home.
THE BEST THING TO DO WITHIN A 15-MINUTE CAB RIDE:
Hotel Maraica is like a wellness retreat meant to help you unplug. However, sometimes a day of downright fun is just as essential. San Pancho is only a short cab ride away from Sayulita, a colorful beach city where surfers, partiers, and tourists of all kinds gather. This is where all the action happens, and you’re sure to find your dose of adventure. There are a variety of boating tours (whale watching is a must!), packed beachside bars, diverse shopping, and restaurants all within walking distance of each other. If you really wanted to, you could even walk all the way down the beach from San Pancho to Sayulita. But a quick cab ride is your best bet.
Even though Hotel Maraica’s decor makes it feel like you’re sleeping outside in the jungle, the beds certainly don’t feel like it. Maybe it was just the sunburn and heat exhaustion, but I fell right to sleep the second my head hit the pillow each night of my stay. The king-size beds give you plenty of room to spread out, and the mattress is that perfect combination of firm yet comfortable. My bed at Hotel Maraica was a luxurious haven for every mid-afternoon nap.
I mean, what’s not sexy about a secluded beachside hotel? The property basically screams romance but in a sweet understated way. The calming, nature-infused essence at Hotel Maraica creates the most quintessential setting for a steamy make-out sesh while you watch (or don’t watch) the sunset from your oceanview balcony hammock.
THE VIEWS AND PHOTO SPOTS:
I would rate Hotel Maraica’s Instagrammability a 10/10 if it weren’t for the harsh sun-in-your-face lighting. Contrary to the hotel’s goal of helping its guests disconnect, every corner of the property looks like it was made for a bikini calendar photoshoot. I’m no Sports Illustrated model, but I sure as hell took advantage of the endless photo ops. Gorgeous beach sunsets, giant palm leaves, a boho-chic aesthetic, a saltwater pool with a view? It’s every basic Instagram b*tch’s dream come true (myself included).
BEST SEASON TO VISIT:
I’d argue that the best time to visit is in early spring (February through April). It’s going to be hot, but the high temperatures will still be bearable compared to the thick of summer. Plus, if you make it to San Pancho in early spring, you’re likely to see whales on any boating excursions.
IF I HAD TO COMPLAIN ABOUT ONE THING:
Although Hotel Maraica is located near the sand, the beach isn’t technically a part of the resort’s property. Therefore, there are no lounge chairs to chill out on, and there’s no beachside service. You have to bring a towel down to lay out on the sand or walk to one of the other resorts if you want a seaside cocktail and bite to eat.
Expect to pay anywhere between $200 to $515 per night (more on weekends) depending on the type of room you select and the time of year you visit.