How to Get to the Pink Sea!
Just a three-hour drive from Cancun, Mexico, there’s an off-the-beaten path, otherworldly place called the Pink Sea. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, & is so photogenic you’ll weep. Since so many people have asked me how to get there, I knew I had to write a post about this amazing place. And I’ll kick it off immediately with detailed directions on how to get to the Pink Sea ~ since we couldn’t find the exact location with our Google maps!
Detailed Directions to the Pink Sea!
Directions to the Pink Sea & Where to Stay
Where: Las Coloradas, Yucatan, Mexico
Driving Directions, from Cancun: Take Highway 180D west towards Valladolid for 160 kilometers. At Valladolid, turn right onto 295. Take 295 towards Rio Lagartos for approx. 110 kilometers. Just before you enter the town of Rio Lagartos, watch for a sign to San Felipe. San Felipe is to the left ~ but you need to turn RIGHT here, onto Ctra Rio Lagartos-Las Coloradas, towards Las Coloradas. (If you get to Rio Lagartos ~ you’ve gone too far. Turn around!) Now you just have a few miles left. After the road bends to the left, start looking for big mounds of salt, & you’ll know you’re close! The Pink Sea will be a couple more miles ahead on your right-hand side. Look for several tour guides hanging out on a corner!
Best Way to Get There: Rent a car. You could take a bus, but it would likely take you over 6 hours from Cancun. We rented a car through Hertz, & it cost us a whopping $25/day. That’s the fastest way to get there.
Where to Stay near the Pink Sea: The closest town to the Pink Sea is Rio Lagartos (about 15 miles). Check hotels in Rio Lagartos here. A good hotel choice in Rio Lagartos is El Perico Marinero, which is directly on the beach & under $50/night. If you’re looking for something more luxurious & also wish to visit Chichen Itza, try the Lodge at Chichen Itza. The Lodge is a stunning hotel set on beautiful grounds, & is about a two-hour drive to Rio Lagartos.
8:00-10AM = Sunrise photo shoot at nearby Chichen Itza (which opens at 8:00AM) ~ one of the Wonders of the World.
10:00-12:30PM = Driving up 295 towards Rio Lagartos (2-hour drive). We got a little confused, so we lost about 30 minutes. Follow the driving directions above & you won’t make the same mistake we did.
12:30PM-2PM = Photo shoots at Pink Sea & swimming at turquoise beach across from it. You are not allowed to swim in the Pink Sea anymore ~ but you can & absolutely should swim in the beautiful, warm waters directly across from it! Stunning.
3:00-4:00PM = Lunch at a pizza place in Tizimin. Terrible salad ~ great pizza.
4:00-7PM = Drive to Tulum (3-hour drive). Tulum is personally my favorite beach in the Yucatan ~ much more beautiful & laid-back than Playa del Carmen. There are good roads from Rio Lagartos to Tulum, but watch for terrible speed bumps!
Overall, a long, event-filled day with lots of driving ~ but SOOO worth it!!
Why is the Sea Pink?
The crazy pink color you see in these lakes comes from red-colored algae, brine shrimp, & plankton who all manage to survive in this super salty environment! When the water evaporates, the red color of these animals becomes even more concentrated ~ thus creating pink waters. Don’t be worried when you first drive up if the water doesn’t look pink. To us, at first, the water looked lavender-grey. Then, from a different angle, it looked startlingly pink! The time of day you visit, how blue the sky is ~ all of these factors will influence how “pink” the water looks.
Advice from Locals: the best time to visit the Pink Sea is in the morning ~ before noon. Though I imagine sunset here would be insane (& my friend did capture a gorgeous one), locals say that the water does not look as pink in the afternoons.
Did I Use a Filter?
Ha! Good question. And the answer is: no, I did not use a filter on these pictures. What I did do was darken them slightly, using the “Edit” feature directly on my Iphone. Lightening the picture in any way will actually “wash out” the pink ~ but darkening it slightly will make the pink pop even more. (It will also make you & your friends look slightly tanner ; ). I would not recommend using a filter on your Pink Sea pictures ~ the colors are already so saturated here, if you try to filter them, you may actually reduce the clarity of the image & make it look too grainy or fake.
Other Helpful Hints!
Helpful Tips: Watch for the turn-off & sign for San Felipe! That is your major marker that tells you when to turn right. You aren’t allowed to swim in the pink seas anymore ~ but even if you break the rules, the water is so salty it stings! Also, check out the ocean to your left while driving into the Pink Sea (Gulf of Mexico) ~ the water is SO turquoise that we actually screamed out loud when we saw it. Bring your swimsuit & go take a dip!
Watch Out For: SPEED BUMPS!!!! The roads all throughout the Yucatan Peninsula have the most HORRENDOUS speed bumps imaginable. I’m pretty sure we ruined the (already terrible) alignment of our rental car. Some are painted & some blend in with the road (genius idea), & a few times we actually hit our heads on the roof of the car! Consider yourself warned.
And Don’t Forget….
Don’t forget to swim in the beautiful turquoise waters directly across from the Pink Sea ~ the water is so beautiful, & you’ll likely have the entire beach to yourself! Bring your suit, or do like we did & go day-time skinny dipping! When there’s no one around on a beach this beautiful, you simply have to take advantage of it. Skinny-dipping mid-day is what I call….FREEDOM!!
Nearby Attractions: Wonder of the World, Chichen Itza (2-hour drive); Cancun (3-hour drive); hundreds of cenotes (secret, underground swimming holes) ~ including Cenote XCanche (2-hour drive) and Cenote Dzitnup (2-hour drive); Ek Balam, ancient Mayan ruins, near Tizimin (1-hour+ drive); beach resorts of Playa del Carmen & Tulum (2-3+ hour drive).
Resources for Your Pink Sea Trip!
Watch Video of the Pink Sea Here!
Enjoy the Pink Sea!
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever been to the Pink Sea, or if you went there with our directions! How did it work out for you ~ any problems? Let me know below & happy adventuring!
Follow Me on Instagram!
Join 6,500+ Followers
Why I Use World Nomads Travel Insurance
Whenever I travel ~ especially if I’m traveling solo, I always get travel insurance. It gives me the peace of mind to go out and have all kinds of adventures, because I know someone’s got my back. Who do I use? World Nomads. They cover you whether you’re sky-diving, spelunking, or swimming in cenotes: they’re not your average insurance company. Read more about travel insurance here.