When thinking of tropical places you probably will picture bright blue oceans, but in Mexico it becomes even more exotic. Here you have bright orange and pink lakes with equally pink flamingos. Is the water really that pink? Yes! Our first destination of our road trip through Yucatan was this special place. We’ll tell you everything you need to know for a trip to this pretty pink and relatively undiscovered spot.
Maya and salt factories
The pink lakes are located in the tiny town of Las Coloradas. This place is right on the coast and this is where the story of the Pink Lakes begins. The salty seawater is collected here in basins to extract salt. That was previously done by the Maya at this location, but nowadays it is a lot larger. 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 have dunes to the left of the road with the sea behind it and to the right this salt factory. The huge, white salt mountains are an impressive sight.
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 encounter many more pink lakes. With hordes of flamingos, but without guides and visitors. We got out in many places to look at this special view. 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.
I mentioned a few times how close the sea is. On your right you will see the pink lakes and on the left the dunes with the sea behind them. The beach there is usually deserted and the water deep blue. So don’t forget to walk that way to explore this piece of bounty beach. You are not allowed to swim in the pink and orange lakes, but you can take a dip in the water here. Pay attention to where you walk on this beach. Along the beach are information boards about the sea turtles that bury their eggs here. Unfortunately we did not see sea turtles, but the beach was beautiful.
How do you get to the pink lakes?
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.