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Hidden away in a paradisiacal corner of the Yucatan Peninsula are the stunning pink lakes in Mexico, formally called Las Coloradas. The mesmerizing landscape is famous for its cotton candy colored waters, pastel blue skies, and soft white sand beaches. The lakes are part of the Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve which is a protected UNESCO Biosphere and home to an array of exotic and beautiful animals including flamingos, crocodiles, jaguars, sea turtles, and all different types of bird.
As well as being aesthetically stunning and a dreamy backdrop for vacation photos, there is also a great deal of fun to be had at Las Coloradas! We have created a useful guide on visiting the pink lakes and answering the most frequently asked questions!
Where are the Pink Lakes Located?
The pink lakes in Mexico are located in the northeast of the Yucatan Peninsula, next to the quaint fishing village of Las Coloradas. The pink lakes are a destination spot that are perfect for a day trip or to spend the night – it’s not an area that you stumble across.
Las Coloradas is approximately a 3 hour and 30 minute drive from the city of Cancun and a 3 hour and 15 minute drive from Playa del Carmen. Although a reasonably far distance, you can arrange transportation to the lakes easily, as most tour guides offer fantastic Las Coloradas experiences.
How do the Pink Lakes get their Incredible Color?
People usually wonder what makes the lakes so vibrantly pink. The water and surrounding environment are incredibly salty, which attracts brine shrimp, plankton and red-colored algae. As the water evaporates in the glimmering Mexican sunlight, these organisms become more concentrated and ultimately create the famous bright pink water!
And here’s a fun fact to share: did you know that flamingos are pink because they eat the red-colored algae, plankton, and shrimp from the water? Their feathers are naturally white!
Are the Pink Lakes used for Anything?
There are two main industries that operate the pink lakes: fishing and sea salt harvesting. Sea salt harvesting is the biggest of the two businesses, with part of the lakes being private property that’s owned by a salt factory.
Interestingly, sea salt harvesting in the pink lakes was actually first discovered by ancient Mayans who worshipped the area and utilized the highly valuable salt! It was important for both the preservation of food and nutritional needs. The Mayan’s would cleverly mine the salt from the shallow lagoons caused by nearby floods in mangroves and then ship it by canoe to parts of the large Mayan empire.
As the years passed, sea salt harvesting in the area continued to grow and now the sea salt is shipped internationally to countries all over the world!
What Can I do at the Pink Lakes?
The pink lakes of Las Coloradas are not abundant in activity and adventure like other touristic areas of the Yucatan Peninsula. You won’t find theme parks, ATV tours, or parasailing there.
Instead, the dreamy area embraces the exclusivity and tranquility. The prime focus is admiring the romantic lakes, picturesque scenes, and wildlife. There is a small, yet idyllic beach area located in the Las Coloradas town that offers the ideal opportunity to sit back and embrace the ambiance.
There are a few restaurants located in the town that serve traditional Mexican cuisine, including shrimp tacos and quesadillas, as well as a range of thirst-quenching beverages.
There are guides within the area who can give you an exciting tour of the pink lakes on the back of a motorbike! You’ll have the opportunity to see the famous pink flamingos and stunning wildlife. You can meet the tour guides in the parking lot, from where you’ll depart and begin your unique adventure!
The most popular tour in the area is the Rio Lagartos natural reserve boat tour, which is designed to observe the stunning pink flamingos in their natural habitat, as well as experiencing the white clay bath and cruise the Las Coloradas pink lakes! It’s the perfect opportunity to connect and marvel at nature in close proximity and admire breathtaking views. It’s a memorable experience that cannot be missed. If you decide to book a tour to visit the pink lakes, ensure that the Rio Lagartos boat tour is included in the price of the package.
Can I Swim in the Pink Lakes?
Swimming in the pink lakes has been prohibited for many years. This rule was put in place to preserve the purity, the wildlife, and salt quality of the lakes. You must remember that it’s a protected UNESCO biosphere reserve.
Is there an Entrance Fee?
Yes. There is an entrance fee of 75 pesos per person.
Does the Color of the Lakes Change based on the Weather?
Yes. Although the lakes are beautifully pink, the visibility of color can be altered by the weather. If it happens to be a cloudy day then the lakes may appear slightly dulled. If it’s a wonderfully sunny day, the lakes will be vibrant in color. Sometimes they can even have a uniquely orange shine!
There are several ways in which you can travel to the pink lakes. The most popular method is by booking a tour with a guide who offers transportation from the hotel and a tour when you arrive.
If you decide to take the journey independently, it’s easily accessible by renting a car, taking a taxi, or catching a bus that departs from the area that you’re staying. You can find out more information on these forms of transport by contacting the concierge desk at the resort you are staying in.
The pink lakes are a truly magnificent sight! There may not be an abundance of adventure offered but the scenes, the wildlife, and the area are incredibly beautiful! The pink lakes of Las Coloradas are definitely worth the trip.