pink artificial pools and beige sand

The most complete guide to Las Coloradas, the pink salt ponds in Yucatan

In MEXICO, YUCATAN by Isabella BiavaLeave a Comment

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History and facts about las coloradas

You will be surprised to know that the pink ponds that became so famous with Instagram and videos for their unusual bright pink color, are have in fact been create with a mere industrial purpose, which is to process and extract salt from the sea.

It’s a realy industry, a business that a visionary Mexican family started in 1940 when they discovered that this area had a great potential for the production of sea salt and the company is now still thriving, while working with local communities to create awareness on environmental friendly practices and the importance on the respect for the natural environment.

But they were not the first to create this kind of industry in the area. In fact  in that very same saline estuary that is located in the reserve of Rio Lagartos,  the ancient Maya extracted the mineral for more than 2,000 years.

It was exactly in Las Coloradas, that was then called in  Mayan “Emal”, where large quantities of salt were harvested that gave life to the towns and businesses of Central America. Chichén Itzá, Cobá, Uxmal, Edzná and Tikal, as well as more distant places like Copán, Izabal and the Caribbean islands, were the places where the Mayan culture dominated with their commerce.

pink lakes and  board with warnings

Today, the population of Las Coloradas lives and works dedicated to the exploitation of the mineral maintaining the ancestral harmony with the environment that guarantees high quality of life and a source of well-being for their families and their community.

In the eighties, the production reached 500 thousand tons per year of bulk salt and a variety of finished and packaged products. All of them, with the highest quality of world standards.

Currently, in Mexico, the salt company, called ISYSA, occupies the second place in the companies producing sea salt by solar evaporation and is a national leader in the production of grain salts for the industry and commerce of Mexico, thus being a supplier of many of the main companies in the country.

ISYSA  have reached incredible production results without compromising the natural environment.

The support and care of the environment have been in fact reflected in the establishment of one of the most important flamingo colonies in the Mexican Caribbean.

Approximately 25,000 birds built their nests within the salt production zone and las Coloradas operations staff monitors the communities.

A non-governmental organization governed by different institutions responsible for studying the behavior of flamingos and for the past 10 years, Industria Salinera de Yucatán S.A. from C.V. sponsors bird care programs. This activity involves the communities of Ría Lagartos, as well as volunteer children and specialists in bird management.

The Biology and Aquaculture Laboratory in Las Coloradas carries out work related to the evaluation and management of the microbiological component of salt lagoons through the use of “artemia salina” culture and its live food which is the element that gives the bright pink color to the ponds.

Where does the pink color of the salt ponds come from?

The population of “artemia salina” a microorganism species that serve to improve the quality of the production ponds since they feed on particles suspended in the water, leaving the salt ponds “clean”.

Pin of las coloradas- picture with pink flamingoes and blue lakes

HOW TO VISIT LAS COLORADAS 

Once you get to the entrance of the famous bright pink ponds you can either take a picture from the road, where it’s very visible or you can pay 50 pesos (worth it) to sustain the local guides who will take you inside for a 10 minutes walk and give you a short talk about the ponds, their history and formation.

The view is mesmerizing indeed, especially during the peak hours from 12 to 15 where the sun is high and the colors more intense. If you go early morning or evening colors tend to be less intense.

If you have time you can head towards the beach and enjoy the white deserted sand and the turquoise blue water.

Very few people know that those beaches have been declared a protected area and Sanctuary of Sea Turtles, by the federal governament,  since three species of turtles come every year on the beach to lay their eggs from May to November.

pink lakes

How to get to Las Coloradas

You would go to Las Coloradas just to see the ponds and take your picture there is nothing else there besides the village where the workers stay and a couple of beaches.

To put it on the map ( which you can see here below) Las coloradas is located at 280  km from Cancun, 130 from Valladolid, 240 from Merida, 200 km from Holbox, 80 km from Tizimin, 120 km from El Cuyo

BY BUS There is a bus that leaves either from Tizimin at 10.30 or 12.30 and the last to go back from Las Coloradas is at 3 pm. If you miss that. you will have either to call a taxi from Rio Lagartos, the closest village or get a ride, or in the worst-case scenario, to find accommodation. I am not sure about that one as tourists never stop there.

BY TAXI from Rio Lagartos you can find a taxi that will take you there and wait for you for 500 MXN ( 25USD)

BY TOUR – My best recommendation is to take the full experience tour of Rio Lagartos by the most knowledgeable guide in the area William Canto. The full tour which lasts about 4 or 5 hours includes also the transportation to Las Coloradas.

BY CAR – If you rent a car, which you could do either from Cancun, or anywhere in the Riviera Maya or Merida, you can easily drive from Rio Lagarto to Las coloradas and you can also keep driving to El Cuyo from the same road that connects the two villages. Bear in mind though, that from Las Coloradas to El Cuyo is not a paved road, it’s dirt road and very narrow, sometimes sandy, so you really need to have a good 4 wheel drive. Forget it, if it has recently rained. The views are spectacular though.

a dirt road in the middle of the pink salt lakes ponds

How to get to Las Coloradas

You would go to Las Coloradas just to see the ponds and take your picture there is nothing else there besides the village where the workers stay.

BY BUS There is a bus that leaves either from Tizimin at 10.30 or 12.30 and the last to go back from Las Coloradas is at 3 pm. If you miss that. you will have either to call a taxi from Rio Lagartos, the closest village or get a ride, or in the worst-case scenario, to find accommodation. I am not sure about that one as tourists never stop there. From Valladolid to Tizimin you will find very frequent busses from the main Bus Terminal or “colectivos”

BY TAXI from Rio Lagartos you can find a taxi that will take you there and wait for you for 500 MXN ( 25USD)

BY TOUR – My best recommendation is to take the full experience tour of Rio Lagartos by the most expert guide in the area William Canto. The full tour which lasts about 4 or 5 hours includes also the transportation to Las Coloradas.

BY CAR – If you rent a car, which you could do either from Cancun, or anywhere in the Riviera Maya or Merida, you can easily drive from Rio Lagarto to Las coloradas and you can also keep driving to El Cuyo from the same road that connects the two villages. Bear in mind though, that from Las Coloradas to El Cuyo is not a paved road, it’s dirt road and very narrow, sometimes sandy, so you really need to have a good 4 wheel drive. Forget it, if it has recently rained. The views are spectacular though.

las coloradas map

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