From Las Coloradas To El Cuyo

Last Updated Oct 18, 2023

Las Coloradas has become one of the spectacular Yucatan Peninsula biggest tourist attractions. If you visit Cancun or the Riviera Maya, odds are that you’ll embark on a day trip to these amazing pink lakes that guarantee you one of the best images on your Instagram feed.

Las Coloradas is a saline estuary that is located inside the natural reserve of Ría Lagartos (also known as Río Lagartos), which is worth a visit in itself.

👉 If you are an ecotourism enthusiast learn more abou it here!

Las Coloradas get the distinctive pink color of their waters from the chemicals used to extract salt by a company based in the area. which is also a natural destination spot for pink flamingos that make a stop here during the annual migration journeys.

This colorful lake is also a natural destination spot for pink flamingos that make a stop here during the annual migration journeys.

Las Coloradas

However, this isn’t a blog about Las Coloradas (which is pretty cool and definitely deserves all the attention it has garnered in recent years), but about an adventure that I would classify as the best road trip in the Riviera Maya and the whole Yucatan Peninsula.

And, if you know the area, you know those are no small words.

The thing is that from Las Coloradas, there’s this small, barely used sandy road that seems taken from a Super Mario Kart race circuit.

This unusual road is a true piece of beauty for those who really appreciate an original road trip.

Our recommendation would be for you to visit Las Coloradas first.

Once there, get your sought after photograph in the pink lakes with the amazing colors of the morning light.

Then, do the motorboat tour around Ría Lagartos and come back to have lunch in one of the several restaurants overlooking the ría.

When you finish having your lunch, ask your waiter about la costera al Cuyo or “the coastal road to El Cuyo”.

Pay attention!
It’s important that you refer to the coastal road, as there are two ways to go to El Cuyo from Las Coloradas, but only one is worth writing about it. Once your waiter points you in the right direction, hop on your car and drive to your departing point which is near Las Coloradas pink lakes.

You can also follow this guide From El Cuyo to Las Coloradas.

Once you have the right direction, hop on your car and drive to your departing point which is near Las Coloradas pink lakes.

From that spot, all that separates you from El Cuyo is a 90-minute drive through a narrow, mostly one-way, sandy road.

On the right side, you will have the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and, on the left side, the waters of Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve. This reserve was recongized by UNESCO in 2004.

Now that we are talking about this reserve, it is important to point out the difference between a ría and a río, and why the Lagartos reserve shouldn’t be called Río Lagartos, because that would mean this area is a river and that’s simply not true.

According to the the dictionary, a ria is “a long narrow inlet of the seacoast, being a former valley that was submerged by a rise in the level of the sea."

That’s exactly what Ría Lagartos is, and you can see it in all its magnificence from the almost secret coastal road I’m introducing you today.

On this road trip, what you see on the right side of your car, is the Ría Lagartos biosphere reserve, and the road is actually the only stretch of land that wasn’t submerged by the sea water that filled the ría.

One can easily imagine that if sea levels rise even by a minimum amount in the coming decades, this gorgeous road will quickly be just a memory in the minds of the few adventurers that drove it once.

At some point in the middle of the road, you’ll get a humbling feeling of smallness and loneliness. As you won’t see a single car, no houses, buildings, road signs, or any sign of civilized life around. Just the Gulf of Mexico’s waters on one side, and the Ría Lagartos’ waters on the other.

If you’re lucky, you may get a glimpse of the pink flamingos in their natural habitat. Just be careful, as crocodiles also call these waters their home.

After one of the most enjoyable drives of your life, you’ll see El Cuyo appearing on the horizon.

El Cuyo

A small, fishing village, with a few sandy streets, a couple of picturesque restaurants, and an old run-down hotel. However, as most things in Mexico, El Cuyo has a few secrets on its own that it’s up to you to discover… or you can wait for a future post that I’m sure to write about this quaint little town blessed with one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico.

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