One of our favourite adventures from 2018 was our trip to Valladolid, which included a drive north towards the Gulf of Mexico to see the Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas and the Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve. This protected area is home to a variety of local wildlife, including flamingos and crocodiles. Located about 2 hours north of Valladolid, these two amazing natural sites are located side by side, making them easy to visit on the same day.
Rio Lagartos was poorly named by a Spanish Conquistador (Francisco Hernandez) who discovered it in 1517 as it is neither a river (Rio) or home to any alligators (Lagartos). Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve is today a protected area due to the importance of the mangrove ecosystem for local wildlife and general health of the surrounding areas. Here it is easy to see flamingos and crocodiles, as well as an abundance of different bird species.
Rio Lagartos is the best place to begin your exploration of the area, as there is a small fishing village that has morphed into a tourist hub for people hoping to explore the reserve.
Located just down the road from Rio Lagartos is Las Coloradas, on a small piece of land that sits between the Gulf of Mexico and the Ria Lagartos lagoon.
Las Coloradas is where the famous pink lakes are located. This is one of those world-famous Instagram worthy destinations that you have to visit to get the perfect profile picture. It is much more glamorous in photos than it actually is, but still a worthwhile stopover if you’re visiting Rio Lagartos.
The pink water is actually a thick brine caused by microorganisms and part of a natural process from the evaporation of the saltwater ponds. The salt is harvested and the natural process is aided by humans now, allowing the water to be recycled back into the ocean.
Both of these destinations are so close to each other and together, will make the perfect day trip from Valladolid. We timed our day perfectly, visiting the lakes in the afternoon and finished the day on the lagoon, where we got to watch an incredible sunset over the lagoon. If you’re ever in the Yucatan, this is a can’t miss combo.
Rio Lagartos & Las Coloradas
When we visited Valladolid last fall, one of our main desires was to travel north to the Gulf of Mexico to visit the Pink Lakes of Los Coloradas and the Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve. You could say it was a huge success.
We had the perfect day of exploring, first visiting the pink lakes of Las Coloradas, which are massive salt evaporation ponds where microorganisms change the colour of the lake and the perfect place to acquire the perfect Instagram worthy post.
The Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve is located just up the road from Las Coloradas and is a massive mangrove lagoon home to flamingos and crocodiles. We timed our day perfectly, visiting the pink lakes in the afternoon and finishing with a boat trip on the lagoon, timed perfectly to include an incredible sunset.