Laguna Rosada: The Yucatan’s Lesser-Known Pink Lake

You might remember that a couple of years ago, the bright pink cotton candy-looking lakes of the Yucatan state went somewhat viral on social media and everyone wanted to visit and get photos. Most people that visit southeastern Mexico head to Las Coloradas but Laguna Rosada is an equally pretty, lesser-known pink lake with tons of interesting stuff nearby. 

You are in good hands because I live in the Yucatan (in the state capital of Merida) and have visited the lakes a couple of times. In this post, we will look at everything you need to know about getting to Laguna Rosada and making the most out of your trip.

The water at Laguna Rosada is not always bright pink...
The water at Laguna Rosada is not always bright pink…

Laguna Rosada Yucatan

Laguna Rosada (translation: pink lagoon) is a naturally pink lake in the northern part of the Yucatan state. It’s easy enough to visit the lake on a day trip from Merida, and it is close to the beach towns of Telchac Puerto and San Bruno, which are both well worth visiting.

The off-the-beaten-path Mayan ruins of Xcambo are less than 10 minutes from the lake and are also very worthy of your attention if you are a fellow ancient history nerd. 

Unlike Las Coloradas, you don’t get crowds at Laguna Rosada. Las Coloradas are so crowded these days that even if you arrive at 8 am, you will be met with tour buses full of people coming to change outfits 15 times for Instagram. 

There are not currently any tours that run to Laguna Rosada and there is seldom anyone here, aside from perhaps a few local families at weekends.

Locals hanging out on the road beside Laguna Rosada’s entrance

Why are the pink lakes pink? 

If you have seen photos of Las Coloradas, Laguna Rosada, and other bright pink lakes in the Yucatan on social media, you might be wondering if this ethereal-looking scene is real or some kind of trick of the light. The lakes are naturally pink thanks to specific types of red brine shrimp and algae that live in the water here. 

(Fun fact: you might also see a couple of North American flamingos hanging out here in the spring. Flamingos are actually born white and get their pink color because they eat the red brine shrimp!) 

Unfortunately, the water isn’t always super pink and its exact color depends on when you visit, how the sun bounces off of it, etc. The same can be said of Las Coloradas so basically, if you are visiting any pink lakes in the Yucatan, it’s a good idea to plan a schedule filled with other fun activities nearby so that you don’t feel disappointed if you travel all the way to the area and don’t get the photos you want. 

Visiting Laguna Rosada in 2024 and beyond 

Laguna Rosada is actually set within private property and the entrance is not completely obvious. The lake functions as a salt mine and if you stop by during the week, you will see locals hard at work sieving the salt from the water which is an interesting thing to see in itself. 

Admission to the site is 20 pesos, payable at the little wooden shack in the parking lot. You can also buy pink rock salt here which makes a great souvenir from Mexico if you like to cook. 

Parking is free, and there are a few trails that weave around the complex where you can take photos of the water and the mangroves, and see a number of tropical birds in their natural habitats. In all, you only really need 30 minutes here so that’s why I would recommend also visiting the Xcambo ruins and perhaps a couple of Yucatan beaches in the area too, as part of your day. 

If you can speak a little Spanish, the workers who sieve the salt from the lake are generally happy to explain the process of their work to you. Even the Ancient Mayans once mined salt here and it was one of the main objects of trade for Xcambo! 

A local man mining salt
A local man mining salt

How to Get to Laguna Rosada, Yucatan

It is a little tricky to get to Laguna Rosada unless you have access to a vehicle. If you are renting a car in Mexico, you can drive to the site in about an hour. 

There is a distance of 62km between Merida and Laguna Rosada and it’s a pleasant drive along México 176 Merida-Motul. 

If you do not have a car, your best option is perhaps to take a bus to Telchac Puerto and then take a moto-taxi from there. Since the lake is still relatively off the beaten path, it isnt really included in any guided tours. 

You may be able to organize an excursion and agree on a price with a private driver in Merida and have them bring you to the lake along with a couple of other nearby attractions. 

Xcambo ruins

Other points of interest nearby

As mentioned, since the Laguna Rosada site can be seen in less than an hour, a visit here is best tied in with exploration of other points of interest in the area. 

  • Xcambo ruins – An off-the-beaten-path Mayan city that dates back to around 350BCE and thrived as an important trade port for the export of dyewood and salt

  • Telchac Puerto – Charming beach town with a local feel with a waterfront malecon and a selection of seafood restaurants

  • Grand Marina Kinuh – Elegant property with a private section of pristine coastline and an excellent restaurant serving elevated Yucatecan and Mexican cuisine overlooking the Sayachaltun nature reserve

  • San Bruno – Gorgeous secluded beach. Treat yourself to a day pass at Kokomo Beach Club, enjoy the pool and facilities and rent water sports equipment, or head for a delicious lunch at Casa Ku

  • San Crisanto – Beautiful, more seldom visited beach surrounded by coconut groves 

Final thoughts on visiting Laguna Rosada Yucatan

Laguna Rosada makes a nice inclusion to any Yucatan road trip and is a quieter alternative to the better-known pink lakes at Los Coloradas.

As you can see in the photos in this article when we stopped by recently, we were not so fortunate as to see Laguna Rosada at its best so do manage your expectations. If you are not traveling miles specifically to see the pink water and you are also going to visit nearby beaches and ruins, it can still be a fun day out even if the water looks murky. 

Also do keep in mind that some social media photos use filters to make the water look brighter than it actually is. They are not always an accurate representation of the site!

If you are traveling to Mexico for the first time, you may be interested in reading these travel tips before you go or this post on Mexico safety. Have a wonderful time here!

Buen Viaje! Melissa Xo

Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico and the Editor-in-Chief of Mexico Travel Secrets. She has over seven years worth of experience in working in travel media and has travelled to 57 countries, mostly solo. Throughout her career, Melissa has produced written content for several high-profile publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, the Huffington Post, Rough Guides, and Matador Network.

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