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The Incredible Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas

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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, 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 birds.

As well as being aesthetically stunning and a dreamy backdrop for vacation photos, there is a great deal of fun to be had at Las Coloradas! We have created a helpful 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 northeast of the Yucatan Peninsula, next to the quaint fishing village of Las Coloradas. The pink lakes are a destination spot perfect for a day trip or to spend the night – it’s not an area you stumble across.

Las Coloradas is approximately a 3-hour and 30-minute drive from the city of Cancun and a 3-hour and a 15-minute drive from Playa del Carmen. Although a reasonably far distance, you can easily arrange transportation to the lakes, as most tour guides offer fantastic Las Coloradas experiences.

How do the Pink Lakes get their Incredible Color?

pink lakes in mexico
Flamingos in Las Coloradas Pink Lakes

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, creating 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?

impressive pink lakes in yucatan
Las Coloradas Pink Lakes in Mexico

Two primary industries 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 a salt factory owns.

Interestingly, ancient Mayans first discovered sea salt harvesting in the pink lakes, who worshipped the area and utilized the precious salt! It was necessary for both the preservation of food and nutritional needs. The Mayans 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 worldwide!

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 exclusivity and tranquility. The prime focus is admiring the romantic lakes, picturesque scenes, and wildlife. An idyllic beach area in the Las Coloradas town offers the ideal opportunity to sit back and embrace the ambiance.

activities at the pink lakes
Las Coloradas Pink Lakes

There are a few restaurants in the town serving traditional Mexican cuisine, including shrimp tacos, quesadillas, and exquisite beverages.

There are guides in the area who give exciting tours 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, designed to observe the stunning pink flamingos in their natural habitat and experience the white clay bath and cruise the Las Coloradas pink lakes! It’s the perfect opportunity to connect, marvel at nature nearby, 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?

pink lakes in yucatan mexico
Salt formations in Las Coloradas Pink Lakes

Swimming in the pink lakes has been prohibited for many years. This rule was put in place to preserve the lakes’ purity, wildlife, and salt quality. 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. The lakes will be vibrant in color if it’s a wonderfully sunny day. 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 booking a tour with a guide who offers transportation and a tour from the hotel.

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 where 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 at.

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.


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