Everything you need to know for your trip to Rio Lagartos

Aerial view of Rio Lagartos

If you are a nature-lover, then a trip to Rio Lagartos is one of the best things to do while in Yucatan, Mexico. This small fishing village is in the heart of Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, a 60.000-hectar site protected by UNESCO since 2004.

Whether you love to explore nature, or if you're just looking for some peace and tranquility, Rio Lagartos is a great place to visit. Read more to find out how to get there, what to visit, where to eat and stay, and more.

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What to see during your trip to Rio Lagartos

This nature reserve is very popular for birdwatchers, as there are around 400 different species of birds that you can find on the site. You will also get the chance to see crocodiles, flamingos, and the amazing mangroves. Rio Lagartos is also a great option if you plan to visit the pink lakes of the neighboring fishing village of Las Coloradas.

Rio Lagartos tours

The only way to explore the nature reserve of Rio Lagartos is by taking a tour with a local company. There are plenty of tours available, and the cost in September 2020 is around 1500 MXN per boat. We have chosen Rio Lagartos Tours, and had a great experience.

The tour takes about 2-3 hours and usually starts early in the morning. At that time it is not too hot, and there is a better chance to explore more of the fauna.

What to expect from the tour


Your captain will either meet you at your hotel or at the docks. Once you make yourself comfortable in the boat, the first stop will be to see the flamingo flocks. Flamingos are so pink because they eat artemia salina, a type of crustacean.

Flora and fauna

The tour will then continue south through the mangrove canals, towards Las Coloradas. Your captain will stop the boat to show you different types of birds and crocodiles on the way. He will take time to explain everything and give you the chance to take pictures.

Take a natural mud bath

You will then get closer to Las Coloradas. There, you may be able to get off the boat to collect the mud for your mud bath. If the water levels are too high, the captain will have the mud prepared for you, so that you can still enjoy this experience. The mud is very refreshing and acts like a sunblock and mosquito repellent, all in one. It also dries out in about 6 to 10 minutes.


The pink lakes of Las Coloradas

Next, you will get to see the pink lakes of Las Coloradas. Note that you can no longer float in them, but you can admire them from afar and take pictures. Drones are prohibited in the entire area due to past failures when drones or batteries fell into the lakes and contaminated the water.


Take a swim

Finally, your captain will take you to a secluded beach, where you can apply your mud (if you haven't yet). After 6-10 minutes the mud will dry out, and then you will be able to take it off it in the crystal-clear waters. We were able to swim a little with puffer fish and other spectacular types of fish.

What to take with you on the tour

We comprised a list below with the items you should take with you on the tour.

  • Sunscreen (preferably SPF 30+), as the sun is very strong, even early in the morning.
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Water bottle
  • Towel
  • Swimsuit
  • Phone or camera (careful not to drop them in the water)

How to get to Rio Lagartos

The town is easily accessible by road from any of the main cities like Merida or Cancun. The ride takes approximately 3 hours and it offers some scenic views along the way.

From MeridaFrom Cancun

You may choose to rent a car, go by public transport, or get a tour that starts in the city where you are located. We rented a car, as we could explore the place on our own terms. However, if you choose to go by public transport, it will likely take longer, and you may need to change busses (collectivos) several times. An organized tour is the most hassle-free option, but you will need to stick to a set schedule.

How long to stay in Rio Lagartos

Although there are day trips from Cancun or Merida, we recommend spending at least one night in the village. This will give you enough time to visit during the best times, enjoy the nature and great food.

Where to stay during your trip to Rio Lagartos

After doing some extensive research on the village, we looked for the best accommodation option, that was both comfortable and accessible. We decided on Posada El Perico Marinero, and it was a great choice.


This place has everything you need in order to have the best time in the village. The rooms are large and comfortable, and include Wi-Fi. The posada also offers a swimming pool, where you can relax after your tour. Furthermore, the personal was very friendly, attentive, and helpful throughout our stay.

Where to eat in Rio Lagartos

We enjoyed the best food at El Perico Marinero restaurant, which has the same owner as the posada. The restaurant is a 5-minute walk from the posada. We suggest going to the first floor, so that you can enjoy Rio Lagartos in its entire splendor, especially at sunset. As it is a fishing village, we tried two different types of shrimps, the coconut shrimps and the shrimps A La Diabla. The portions are huge, and the food is delicious!

As the food was amazing, we returned for breakfast in the morning. We tried the delicious Club Sandwich and the Eggs Motulenos, which were similar to Chillaquiles, but better.

To sum up

Rio Lagartos is a wonderful place to visit during your stay in Mexico. You will experience an amazing tour through the mangroves and see some spectacular animals. Even more, the food is varied and absolutely delicious. What more could you wish for?

If you're planning a trip to Mexico, you can also check out our article on Cozumel.

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