Photograph courtesy Rainer Jahns/Photoshelter
The ocean breeze hits your face as you reach the top of the limestone steps leading to the Tulum ruins. The Mayan city is now occupied by tourists and feral kittens, but standing beside a pyramid, gazing over the Caribbean Sea, you feel like a warrior. Until hunger kicks in. Time to seek out El Tabano, in Tulum proper. Part restaurant, part enchanted garden, the hippie-chic spot serves simple organic food like chilled avocado-cucumber soup and whole fish with red beet sauce. This leg of the Yucatán is lousy with all-inclusive mega-resorts; drive on by as you follow the 307 highway to the discreet Viceroy Riviera Maya. Once you can pry yourself from your thatched-roof casita, which has a hammock and heated plunge pool, follow the jungle path past playful spider monkeys to the white-sand beach for a tequila sipper at sunset—like the Mayans used to do.