Do you want to visit Las Coloradas Yucatan? You’ve come to the right guide!
On the northern coast of the Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula lay several natural attractions, but none as colorful or attention-catching as Las Coloradas.
During my stay in El Cuyo, I drove up to the Las Coloradas pink lakes to check out the brightly bubble-gum colored phenomena and find out what made them so unique.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about visiting Las Coloradas Yucatan including how to get there, visitor info, entrance fees, tour recommendations, and top tips for visiting.
First, let’s start with some of the basics on Yucatan’s Las Coloradas:
Las Coloradas, Yucatán, are unique pink lakes in Mexico that have gained much attention in recent years. Cotton-candy pink and reflective, they’re well-loved as both a local attraction and Instagram backdrop.
Mexico’s pink lakes are massive pools of color, and fun fact: they weren’t meant to be tourist attractions at all. The site is actually home to a large sea salt harvesting industry.
Where is Las Coloradas Mexico?
Located near the town of Rio Lagartos, Las Coloradas sits on the tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. As part of the Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, Las Coloradas Mexico sits on a protected wetlands area.
Las Coloradas Mexico Map
What most people don’t know is the Las Coloradas pink lakes are filled with salt. While visiting, you can learn about the fascinating history behind the Yucatan’s salt production industry, capture beautiful photos, and spot rare wildlife.
The Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve that houses Las Coloradas spans a whopping 150,000 acres and is teeming with animals like flamingos and crocodiles.
While visitors are no longer allowed to swim in the pink lakes, you’ll still be able to experience a totally unique natural attraction.
Why is Las Coloradas pink?
The pink coloring of Las Coloradas comes from the red-colored algae, plankton, and brine shrimp that thrive in water with high salt content.
Belonging to a major salt production company, the majority of Las Coloradas lakes are actually shallow man-made pools.
As these pools evaporate under the roasting sun, the marine life becomes highly concentrated. Sunlight then reflects off the water surface to make the pink hue of these organisms obvious.
Aside from these massive pink lakes in Mexico, you’ll see plenty of piles of pure white salt. You’ll get to see how salt gets harvested by the Las Coloradas factory, then cast your eyes towards the flora and fauna within the reserve.
Las Coloradas is also famous for its pink flamingos. After feeding on the algae, plankton, and brine shrimp that give these waters its color, the originally white-feathered Las Coloradas flamingos turned pink to match!
There are a few different ways to get to Las Coloradas depending on your comfort level:
Drive to Las Coloradas
Driving or renting a car is by far the easiest option to get to Las Coloradas and gives you the most freedom to explore the site on your own.
I drove from El Cuyo to Las Coloradas, which is a little less than a 2 hour drive, and there is free parking on site.
It’s best to drive with an SUV or four-wheel drive vehicle as the roads can be bad after heavy rains. You can even make a road trip out of it and stop to see the sights (and flamingos!) between various tourist towns.
Driving times from nearby destinations are as follows:
- El Cuyo to Las Coloradas: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Cancun to Las Coloradas: 3.5 hours
- Playa del Carmen to Las Coloradas: 3.5 hours
- Tulum to Las Coloradas: 3.5 hours
- Valladolid to Las Coloradas: 2 hours
- Merida to Las Coloradas: 2 hours 50 minutes
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Take a Taxi to Las Coloradas
You can hire a taxi or private driver to drive you to Las Coloradas Yucatán, but it will be expensive. The pink lakes Mexico aren’t close to any of the major tourist towns.
If you’re based around Rio Lagartos however, you can find taxis that will take you there and wait for around $25 USD.
Book a Tour to Las Coloradas
If you’re staying in Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Tulum, or Merida and don’t have a car, then booking a tour is the easiest option to visit Las Coloradas.
Not only will it save you the cost and hassle of arranging transportation, but you also get to experience Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas fully.
With the driving time, these are usually full day tours that include a visit to Las Coloradas and a boat tour at Rio Lagartos.
Las Coloradas Tour from Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or Tulum
Join a Las Coloradas tour from the Riviera Maya (Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or Tulum) where you can sit back and save 7 hours of self-driving.
Upon arriving at Rio Lagartos, you’ll immediately do a sweep of the salt lakes and commemorate with photos.
A native guide walks you through the salt production process, after which you’ll take a boat ride through mangroves to spot crocodiles and nesting flamingos.
Breakfast, lunch at a local restaurant, and roundtrip transportation is included.
👉 Book the best Las Coloradas tour from Riviera Maya by clicking here!
Las Coloradas Tour from Merida
Starting with a stop at Chichen Itza (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), this Las Coloradas Merida tour begins with an outdoor lesson in the history, customs, and culture of ancient Mayans.
After a short swim at a cenote, you conclude your Las Coloradas Yucatan Mexico tour at the pink lagoon. Enjoy an activity-filled day out without the hassle of planning transportation and buying admission fees.
The licensed tour guide is a bonus, bringing you to an unspoiled beach within the biosphere reserve.
👉 Book the best Las Coloradas tour from Merida by clicking here!
Public Transportation to Las Coloradas
You could take the local ADO bus to Rio Lagartos from Cancun, which takes 7 hours one way due to multiple stops and changes. From there, you can sign up for tours or hire private rides.
There is also a limited bus that leaves Tizimin at either 10:30 or 12:30 and the return bus is at 3PM. I haven’t done this personally though so I’m not sure how reliable this would be.
Las Coloradas Visitor Info
Here is the detailed information on visiting Las Coloradas:
Las Coloradas Opening Hours
Las Coloradas hours are everyday from 9AM-5PM.
Entrance Fee for Las Coloradas
You don’t have to pay to see the pink lakes, but if you want to get a closer view, you’ll have to pay the Las Coloradas entrance fee which includes a brief guided tour.
Here are the 2022 Las Coloradas entrance fees:
- Access to the Pink Lakes (National): $250 MXN (~$12.50 USD)
- Access to the Pink Lakes (Foreigner): $300 MXN (~$15 USD)
Note there are also added fees if you want to go on the lookout or need an English-speaking guide.
For Mexican nationals and residents, you must be able to show official identification. Note the discount does NOT apply to temporary residents, only permanent residents.
I personally just paid for the access to the pink lakes without the lookout, which is a structure that is a few stories tall that you can climb for a better view.
Travelista Tip: If you don’t speak Spanish, be sure to request an English-speaking tour guide, which I believe is an additional $20 pesos.
Best Time to Visit Las Coloradas
The best time to visit Las Coloradas is around 12PM. This is when the pink color reflects the most brightly against the midday sun.
It’s also best to check the weather forecast and aim to visit on a sunny day. If it’s cloudy, it’s possible the water will be more brown or orange in color.
Las Coloradas Parking
A free parking lot is available just outside of the entrance to Las Coloradas. While parked, it’s always best to leave valuables out of sight and in the trunk of you car to deter theft.
Las Coloradas Restrooms
Restrooms are available near the parking lot and can be used for a small fee.
Arriving to Las Coloradas
Once you arrive to Las Coloradas, you’ll be greeted by a welcome attendant who will direct you to the right side of the site.
Right past the welcome sign, there is a long stretch of road where you’ll get your first glimpse of the pink lakes and where you can get out and take some photos.
From there, proceed further down the road to the main entrance where free parking is available on site. This is where you’ll pay the entrance fee to a closer view of the lakes.
Las Coloradas Guided Tour
There really isn’t much to do at Las Coloradas besides walking along the lakes and taking pictures.
Those traveling by themselves usually find a few aesthetic spots and linger for a while before hitting up the rest of the reserve or heading back to Rio Lagartos town.
If you opt for the tour access, you are assigned to a guide who walks with you along the path and explains the history of the lakes. You also have the opportunity to ask questions about Las Coloradas, like the science behind their unique color.
Since tourism increased over the years and caused the salt production company to fence off most of their property, visitors can no longer swim in the Mexico pink lakes.
However, if visiting on a tour, you can ask your tour provider to show you areas of Rio Lagartos Lagoon that aren’t restricted. Some tours may even let you paddle board in the water.
In total, a Las Coloradas guided tour lasts about 20-25 minutes. Most of the guides do not speak English, so you’ll have to pay an additional fee for an English-speaking guide.
FAQs about Las Coloradas
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Las Coloradas:
Can you swim in Las Coloradas?
Swimming is not allowed in Las Coloradas. Visitors used to be able to swim in Mexico’s pink beaches and lagoons but it is now prohibited.
Is it worth visiting Las Coloradas?
Las Coloradas is definitely worth visiting! As one of the few pink lakes around the world, this famous site in Mexico offers a totally unique experience and brightly colored photo opportunities.
How do you see Las Coloradas?
The best way to see Las Coloradas is by driving on your own to the site, which gives you the freedom to explore the site at your own pace.
If you’re not comfortable driving in Mexico, the easiest way to see Las Coloradas is by booking a guided tour from nearby destinations such as Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Tulum, the Riviera Maya, or Merida.
Are there flamingos in Las Coloradas?
Yes, there are many pink flamingos near Las Coloradas, which get their pink color from feeding on the algae, plankton, and brine shrimp in the pink lagoons.
Follow these tips to make the most of your experience to Mexico’s pink beaches:
- Aim to arrive around midday: The colors of the famous Mexico pink lagoon are brightest under the noonday sun! Check the weather and aim for a sunny day.
- Bring a face mask: Fask masks are required for entry and can only be removed when taking pictures.
- Combine the experience with a visit to Rio Lagartos: Make the most of the commute by combining it with a visit to nearby Rio Lagartos Nature Reserve. When I visited, we headed to Rio Lagartos right afterwards for a boat tour and wildlife expedition. You can find more info in this post!
- Bring biodegradable sunscreen: Be sure to bring biodegradable sunscreen as there is no shade and the reflective glare can make the sun much more intense.
- Don’t forget sunglasses: Be sure to bring sunglasses as the sun reflects off the lakes and can be very bright. UV-protective sunglasses are recommended and offer the best eye protection.
- Bring cash: Make sure to bring some cash along for the entrance fee and in case of extra spending (pesos are best). There are no ATMs there and those are hard to come by even in Rio Lagartos.
Final Thoughts: Las Coloradas Yucatan
Are you ready to visit this famous pink lake in Mexico?! I hope this guide was helpful in planning your visit to Las Coloradas.
With its brightly colored hues, Las Coloradas is a must-visit experience if you’re traveling in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. And if you’re looking to save money, you don’t even need to pay for the guided tour to get a good view.
While the flood of tourists has led to more protective measures put in place, you’ll still get to experience a unique attraction that can only be found in a few places around the world.
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