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The Complete Guide to Las Coloradas Yucatan Pink Salt lakes [2022]

You might have heard about or seen pictures of a pink lake in Mexico. Those are from the municipality of Las Coloradas Yucatan, a tiny off-the-radar place in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Besides the pink lakes, another breathtaking aspect of Las Coloradas Yucatan is the species of pink flamingos that are found here and get the same colors from the same source, that you will know about in a bit if you continue reading. 🙂

Of course, those basically sum up the reasons why most people visit this small town.

There is much to be said about why these lakes and the flamingos are pink, but first, let’s cover some of the history behind these pink lakes and the community around them.

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👉 Book your tour to Las Coloradas Yucatan NOW!


LAS COLORADAS YUCATAN

Where is Las Coloradas Yucatan located?

Las Coloradas Yucatan
Las Coloradas Yucatan in a sunny day

Las Coloradas pink salt pond and village are located on the Yucatan coast right between the Rio Lagartos Reserve and El Cuyo Yucatan.

Keep in mind though, that although it’s very easy to reach from Rio Lagartos, to which it’s connected by a 30 km paved road, it can be challenging to get there along the coastal road from El Cuyo.

In fact, it’s that road is not paved and it can be either very sandy or muddy. In fact, if you love adventure there are incredible tours from El Cuyo either by ATV or by jeep.

El cuyo aerial view
El Cuyo Aerial view

LAS COLORADAS YUCATAN

The history behind the Mexico pink lakes: Las Coloradas in Yucatan

The pink lakes of Las Coloradas are definitely a sensation on Instagram and other social media platforms.

However, it comes as a surprise for many to find out that they aren’t a natural phenomenon, but only a side-effect of industrial salt extraction from the seawater.

The industry was started by a Mexican family back in the 1940s, and after so many decades, it’s still very prosperous.

The company is working with the local communities of the region to preserve the environment and reduce the industry’s impact on the planet.

However, the history behind salt extraction goes even further back. In fact, all the way back to the Mayan era.

The indigenous people of the region started extracting salt from Los Coloradas almost two thousand years ago, back when the place was known as “Emal” by the Mayans.

Back then, it was the hub for salt for the entire Mayan kingdom, and the case is similar for Mexico nowadays as well.

Las Coloradas lakes
Las Coloradas in a cloudy day

The salt lakes of Los Coloradas have been producing thousands of tons of world-class salt for decades now.

The entire community of the region has been living in a kind of harmony with the salt-extraction industry, making not only their livelihoods but also a peaceful sanctuary for the population.

What’s more, both the salt industry and the community are thriving. The company that extracts salt from Las Coloradas, called ISYSA, produces grain salt using solar evaporation and is one of the top suppliers for the salt companies of Mexico.

The fact that makes the industry even more impressive is its dedication to preserving the environment. The famous pink flamingos found here are one of the best examples of that.

Almost 25,000 of these exotic birds made their nests in the production zone of Las Coloradas, and the company has teams of workers to keep watch on their community and protect them.

Similarly, volunteers from Las Coloradas and even Rio Lagartos come together to participate in ISYSA’s bird care programs and eco protection efforts.

The company also has a laboratory in place to study and improve the microbiological components of the salt lakes, especially the artemia salina organisms, the real stars of this environment.

Las Coloradas yucatan

LAS COLORADAS YUCATAN

What makes the pink lakes of Las Coloradas pink?

Without getting into too much scientific detail, the micro-organisms living in the salt lakes called “artemia salina” lend the water the bright pink color that these lakes are so famous for.

These organisms eat up the residual stuff that is produced while processing the salt, so they don’t only make the lakes more aesthetic but also keep them clean.

The pink flamingos feed on these organisms, which in turn gives them their pink color as well.

There you are, secret revealed!

LAS COLORADAS YUCATAN

How to visit Las Coloradas

Visiting Las Coloradas means either getting there on your own with a car rental, bus, or taxi or signing up for a tour to take you there.

Whether you get there by yourself or with a tour, you will need to pick one of the packages offered by the management of these pink lakes.

The packages offer different experiences, but you can also observe the pink lake from a distance even without paying the entrance fee.

It’s surprising how long it took the community to introduce touristy stuff like safaris, bike rides, and viewing spots overlooking the entire field of lakes, considering how popular Las Coloradas has been for years.

Just keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to purchase a package, the road offers a decent view of the lakes as well.

Las coloradas ticket offices

You can take pictures from the road as well, but the different packages offered here have some perks of their own, and you can pick one of them depending on your budget.

The package will include entrance regardless of the price, and the view of the lake from inside is definitely stunning.

The best time of the day is to visit between noon and afternoon in clear, sunny weather. That’s when the pink color of the lakes is its brightest shade.

Also, there is a dirt road going south from these lakes that leads to the small beach in Las Coloradas.

The beach is really nice, and it’s also a federally protected zone for three different species of sea turtles that come here every year between May and November to lay eggs.

Las coloradas playa cancuncito
Las Coloradas playa Cancuncito on a cloudy and windy day

Las Coloradas doesn’t have much besides the pink lakes and the small beach going for it. But the nearby Rio Lagartos is a nice aspect of a trip to the region.

The town is small, charming, and very close to Las Coloradas, which makes it the perfect break from the pink lake for a bit.

Visit Las Coloradas from Valladolid or Tizimin on a clear, sunny day and get there by noon so the color of the lakes is the most radiant and awe-inspiring.

Spend the afternoon there and then head to the small beach on the other side for a refreshing detour.

If you took the bus to Las Coloradas, make sure not to stay for longer than 3 pm.

Las coloradas beach

Because the bus leaves from Rio Lagartos by that time, and if you miss it, you will have to call a cab from there to get back home or spend the night here.

On the other hand, if you drove here, I recommend staying for a while longer and then heading to Rio Lagartos.

Book a tour of the Rio Lagartos Reserve in advance and once you come back from your visit to the pink lakes, go see flamingos, alligators, and lots of bird species thriving in the reserve to enhance the overall experience.

LAS COLORADAS YUCATAN MEXICO

How to get to Las Coloradas

As I mentioned before getting to Las Coloradas is fairly easy, and you can do it using plenty of different options.

Just keep in mind that once you’re there, you won’t have much to do or see besides the pink lakes, a couple of beaches, and the small village.

Distances from Las Coloradas.

Cancun – 280 km / 173 miles

Merida – 240 km / 149 miles

✔ Holbox – 200 km / 124 miles

Valladolid 130 km / 80 miles

El Cuyo 120 km / 74 miles

✔ Tizimin 80 km / 49 miles

Getting to Las Coloradas Yucatan by guided tour

I have to admit sometimes, I also love joining an organized tour because it comes with a guide which is useful to know about the place your visiting, but also because you don’t have to spend time organizing everything.

Keep in mind that all tours to Las Coloradas combine the pink lakes to Rio Lagartos

It’s just easier. If you are on that mood here are a few tours from different destinations that you could join.

► Guided tour to Las Coloradas (+ Rio Lagartos) from MeridaBook NOW!

► Guided tour to Las Coloradas (+ Rio Lagartos) from Cancun Book NOW!

► Guided tour to Las Coloradas (+ Rio Lagartos) from Playa del Carmen or TulumBOOK NOW!

How to get to Las Coloradas Yucatan by bus

If you’re going to Las Coloradas from Tizimin, you can take a bus to get there. But do remember that only one bus goes there every day, and the departure time of the bus is usually between 10 am and 1 pm.

The same bus returns to Tizimin, leaving Las Coloradas at 3 pm.

The bus timings change, so inquire about them first and keep these timings in mind, because it’s the only bus and if you miss it, you have to either take a taxi or a car rental from Rio Lagartos to get back.

Sometimes it’s hard to find those, so you might even end up having to spend the night in Las Coloradas.

Make sure you check the bus schedule as they may change. The bus company is called NORESTE.

SCHEDULE BUS TIZIMIN LAS COLORADAS
PHOTO © NORESTE BUSSES

How to get to Las Coloradas Yucatan by taxi

Taking a taxi to Las Coloradas from one of the nearby places is the best way to ensure convenience without breaking the bank.

Just get to the nearby town of Rio Lagartos on a bus and then hire a cab to visit Las Coloradas.

The cab should cost around 600 MXN, which is roughly 30 USD, but make sure you agree on the fare beforehand.

RIO LAGARTOS

How to get to Las Coloradas by car

Driving to Las Coloradas on your own can be a very adventurous way to visit it. On the plus side, it’s very convenient as well.

You can rent a car from anywhere in Cancun, Merida, or Riviera Maya.

Once you make your way to Rio Lagartos, driving to the pink lake in Las Coloradas is a piece of cake. Just make sure you buy a local sim card so you can use Google Map to find your way around.

But convenience isn’t the only reason a car rental would be ideal. You can visit so many other places on the way and make the most of your journey.


car rental

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In case you find some time on your hands, I recommend hitting San Filipe and El Cuyo on the way.

San Filipe is a 20-minute drive from Rio Lagartos, so it’s easy to visit, but visiting El Cuyo from Las Coloradas might be a bit more challenging.

The road isn’t paved, which means plenty of driving issues unless you have a sturdy 4-wheel vehicle, and even then rains make it impossible to drive on the coastal road, so make sure to choose a sunny day for it.

LAS COLORADAS

Where to stay in Las Coloradas

The lodging options have only recently popped up in Las Coloradas.

Since it was formerly a salt mining town with almost no tourism, there were no hotels or rooms to rent if anyone came to see the pink lake.

Luckily, now there are a couple of options in case you wish to spend the night here.

I haven’t stayed in either of them, because there’s not a lot of stuff to do in Las Coloradas besides the pink lakes, but I’ll still put them here just in case you wish to experience the tranquillity of this village.

Casa Jade Eco Bungalows Las Coloradas

Casa Jade is a neat little property a few minutes of walk from the beach and only a short distance from the pink lakes as well.

It’s also a really gorgeous place to stay because you will be surrounded by nature and peace.

Book your stay on Booking.com


Pina Coloradas Eco Lodge

Another great lodging option in Las Coloradas, the Pina Coloradas Eco Lodge offers rich immersion in nature within its cute little bungalow-style apartment.

The ambiance, lodgings, and service are all excellent, so you will definitely love the stay.

Book your stay on Booking.com

Suggested itinerary to Las Coloradas Yucatan

Driving to Las Coloradas is one of the best ways to visit the place. If you’re doing that, I recommend following an itinerary to make the most of your trip, because there are plenty of things that you can explore on the way.

Don’t worry about having to research the places worth visiting on your way to Las Coloradas, here’s an itinerary from Valladolid to Las Coloradas that you can use, of course you will need a car.

If you are still concerned about Driving in Mexico or renting a car in Mexico, worry not, I’ve got you covered!

Now you are ready for an adventure on the road in Mexico. Here is my 2 days itinerary from Valladolid to Las Colodadas.

Day 1 – Las Coloradas Yucatan Itinerary

From Valladolid to Ek Balam

Located only 45 minutes from Valladolid is the stunning archeological site of Ek Balam. The site is known for being the seat of the Mayan Kingdom.

If you leave from Valladolid at around 8 in the morning, you will arrive in Ek Balam with enough time on your hands to explore the archeological site and even take a bonus trip to the cenote nearby.

The site has bike rentals that you can take to get to the cenote.

PRO TIP – if you take a little detour when you leave Valladolid towards Cancun, you will find Cenote Choj-ha (see it on the map), also called the cathedral, one of the most spectacular cenotes in Mexico.

From Ek Balam to Las Coloradas is just a couple of hours away from the archeological site, so leaving for it by 1 pm will give you plenty of time to explore the pink-lake municipality.

Having made it to Las Coloradas, you can spend the rest of the day exploring the pink lake and taking lots of stunning pictures to bring back with you.

After the sunset, make your way to Rio Lagartos, which is close by.

Rio Lagartos is only half an hour’s drive from Las Coloradas, so you can get acquainted with the place for a while and spend the night here.

Day two – Las Coloradas Yucatan Itinerary

Early morning

Rio Lagartos has plenty of great things to do. For this itinerary, a boat tour is just perfect to kick off the day.

You can take one in the morning and be back by noon. Read my post about Rio Lagartos to learn about the best guide in town!

Afternoon: Once you’re back from your adventure on the boat tour, you can grab a delicious meal for lunch in Rio Lagartos and move on to your next destination!

Rio Lagartos Flamingoes
Rio Lagartos – Pink Flamingos

More places in Mexico with pink flamingos

Seeing the pink flamingos of the Yucatan is pretty amazing. Luckily, these flamingos aren’t exclusively found in Las Coloradas although this part of the Yucatan peninsula is the are with the highest concentration.

You can spot flocks of pink flamingos in plenty of other destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula. I’ll tell you about some of those below.

Rio Lagartos

You already know about Rio Lagartos. The town is one of the closest places to Las Coloradas, so it’s no surprise that pink flamingos are commonly found here.

Rio Lagartos pink flamingos

El Cuyo

El Cuyo is a town in the Yucatan known as a paradise kite surfers but for any one who loves nature, really! It’s one of those places that are very close to my heart.

The town is only a couple of hours by car from Valladolid, and the pink flamingos will welcome you as you enter the road that crosses the lagoons on the way to the beach.

El Cuyo aerial

Yucatan north coast

Speaking of lagoons, the entire northern region of the Yucatan Peninsula is rich with lagoons where thousands of pink flamingos make their habitats.

These lagoons run alongside the road going from Progreso to Chicxulub and then all the way to Dzibichaltun. You will easily find tours for this region as well.

Isla Holbox

Holbox beach

Isla Holbox is another great place to find the pink flamingos of the Yucatan. From my own experience, I can tell you that they are seen on the horizon of Coco Beach, where the water is shallow enough to get you very near the flamingos.

However, I wouldn’t advise going too close. It’ll only startle the flamingos and spoil the fun of seeing them in their natural zone. Just keep a bit of distance and enjoy the spectacular view.

Celestun

The Celestun Biosphere might not be very well-renowned, but it’s definitely one of the best places to find lots of bird species and it’s located at only 1.5 hours drive from Merida

The Mexican pink flamingos are also one of the species living here. The biosphere has plenty of organized tours to watch pink flamingo colonies that you can take.