Located in the very top part of the Yucatán Peninsula lies a small fishing village named Las Coloradas. What makes this place so special is the existence of large and very pink-colored lakes that cover the landscape – known as pink lakes Mexico.. A truly magical and colorful spot! The entire region is part of the Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, a protected area home to numerous animals including the famous Flamingos.
Visiting Las Coloradas
UPDATE! Entering the pink lakes is no longer allowed by the local authorities. You can still visit the place and book tours around the area but there is no more swimming (not that fun anyhow) or entering into the pink lakes.
We took a car from Merida and drove all the way up here to experience this place after seeing so much about it on numerous Instagram pictures. It is roughly a 1.5-hour drive from the next big town of Valladolid or around 3 hours away from Cancún. It’s highly recommended to take a car if you want to see this place. Alternatively, there are also tours that take you there directly from Rio Lagartos. This is probably the best place to stay if you want to explore the area, it’s a 30-minute drive away from Las Coloradas. We found some nice restaurants here and also a great place to stay called Hotel Tabasco Rio, which is one of the most-known accommodations in town.
If you decide to drive here, there will be some guys from the village who will offer you a small tour of the area. You can either jump on the back of their motorbikes or get a guy to join you in the car and show you around. Either way, it’s not actually a real tour but more like a person guiding you to some nice spots. You can also drive around yourself but we had no idea where to go so it was helpful to have a local with us.
The Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas
So what makes these lakes so pink? The main industry in this region is the production of salt. It has been for thousands of years, as already the ancients Mayans have produced it here. Today, a large company owns this area and produces salt on a very big scale. The process is fairly simple: The salty ocean water from the nearby mangroves flood the dry plains, creating large, shallow lakes. The sun then evaporates the water, leaving behind the salt. So while the actual process of gaining salt is a very natural one, the numerous lakes that you will find here are created by a company and are man-made. The company here is the second largest producer of salt in all of Mexico!
The vibrant, pink color of these lakes is because of the red and pink-colored algae and invertebrates that live in these salty waters. As the water starts to evaporate, these small organisms get highly concentrated, creating a very intense pink color – hence creating small, pink lakes.
The Pink water is incredibly salty and thick, not really a great place to take a swim! Actually, unlike you may have seen on numerous pictures on the web, swimming in the lakes is no longer allowed! But you can still explore the area and have a look at Flamingos which pass by Las Coloradas. Also, you can enjoy an ‘el Barro Maya’, a Mayan mud treatment which is supposed to be great for your skin.
Road tripping to Las Coloradas is definitely a great day tour. You can spend a few hours here, exploring the lakes and surrounding area and then continue to Rio Lagartos! Visiting the pink lakes here in Mexico is definitely a must-do when discovering Yucatán.
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