When thinking of tropical places you probably will picture bright blue oceans, but Mexico is even more exotic. The Yucatán Peninsula has bright orange and pink lakes with equally pink flamingos. And to be honest: is the water really that pink? Yes, it is! In our mini travel guide about Las Coloradas we will tell you how to get to the Mexican pink lakes, where to find them and how to spot the best lakes. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about a trip to this pretty pink and relatively undiscovered spot.
The pink lakes: Maya and salt factories
The pink lakes are located in the tiny town of Las Coloradas, right in the Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve. The town is right next to the coast and this location is where the story of the Pink Lakes begins.
The salty seawater is collected here in basins to extract salt. The Maya already did so at this exact location, though the Mexicans nowadays extract salt here on a much larger scale. The water is pumped into the basins, where the water then evaporates. What remains are huge salt crusts with deep cracks. If you drive to Las Coloradas, you’ll have the dunes to the left side of the road with the sea behind it and to the right you’ll see the salt factory. The huge, white salt mountains are an impressive sight.
How to visit the Pink Lakes in Mexico for free
At the entrance of the town you immediately turn right to reach the entrance of the largest lakes. You can then only continue there with a local guide. We chose to skip this. There were quite a few cars and even a tour bus, while all guides buzzed around us like insects. We always get nervous about that, so we got back in our car and drove on.
If you continue from Las Coloradas along the coast, you will see many more pink lakes. With hordes of flamingos, but without guides and other travelers. We stopped in many places to look at this special sight.
Did you know that the flamingos and the lakes are pink for the same reason? Specific algae and plankton color the water so pink, certainly when the water evaporates more and more and the concentration of algae becomes higher. The same algae are part of the diet of the flamingos.
The sea turtle beaches
I already mentioned a few times how close the sea is. The pink lakes will be on your right, while the dunes and sea will be on your left. The beaches here are usually empty and the water is beautiful blue. So we highly recommend you to explore this piece of bounty beach as well. You are not allowed to swim in the pink and orange lakes, but you can take a dip in the sea here.
And pay attention to where you’re walking on this beach. Along the beach are information signs telling you this is the habitat of the sea turtles burying their eggs. We weren’t lucky to see any turtles, but the beach was beautiful anyways.
How to the pink lakes at Rio Lagartos?
The lakes are therefore located at the mini town of Las Coloradas, in the northern tip of the Yucatan peninsula. This place is unfortunately not close to any other must-visit on the peninsula, so you have to make a detour to get here. The colorful city of Valladolid is the best base. From this town it is about 2 hours to the north on a straight road. On your route you’ll pass the villages of Tizimín and Rio Lagartos, but they are not very interesting.
You could go to the lakes by public transport, but it would take a lot of patience and time. The easiest way is your own rental car. After picking up our rental car in Tulum we drove straight to Las Coloradas, after which we ended our day in Valladolid.
Tip: read everything about renting a car in Mexico in this blog. From prices and sales tricks to safety and traffic rules.