Rio Lagartos, Yucatan – A Naturalist’s Place of Worship

Posted September 4, 2013 by Kay Walten in Enviroment,Riviera Maya Activities,Riviera Maya Destinations,Sustainable Tourism


Rio Lagartos is a small fishing village located on the north end of the peninsula in the state of Yucatan. With a population of 3,000, life here is pretty much lived the way it has been for hundreds of years, in tune with and dependent on nature. In 1979, the Mexican government established this area as a bio-reserve that protects over 60,000 hectares of beach, mangrove, forest and lagoons. Over 380 bird species have been identified in this reserve along with 59 species of mammals and 80 species of reptiles. The tropical flora here is so diverse and lush it seems impossible to count. If nature is religion then Rio Lagartos is a sacred cathedral.


The undeniable big draw to this biosphere is the spectacular Caribbean flamingo colony that has made the mangrove-lined estuaries of Rio Lagartos their home. Birders from around the world flock here to witness the pink mass of over 40,000 flamingos as they mate, nest and raise their young. However, flamingos are just the beginning. In any given day, one can see up to 70 different species of birds in this avian sanctuary.


With over 90 species of fish swimming these waters, Rio Lagartos is a world class fishing destination. Both lagoon fly fishing and deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico are available.

Boat Tours

The wide variety of habitats and the amazing number of wildlife make Rio Lagartos a nature photographer’s heaven. Rio Lagartos Adventures will customize a slow boat trip just for shutter bugs. Boat guides will even take you to the best places to get shots of the species you are looking for. Sunrise and sunset tours are magical for photo taking.

Imagine floating through the mysterious lagoons listening to eery nocturnal sounds with only the light of the stars to see by. This is a Rio Lagartos boat tour at night. What is there to see at night? Crocodiles, bio-luminescence, owls, feeding fish…the reserve is just as active in the middle of the night as it is during the day.

crocodile seen on a Rio Lagartos boat tour

crocodile at Rio Lagartos


Kayaking along the shores of the estuaries is a fabulous way to get up close and personal to the many animals that inhabit this area. Floating quietly along the coast, just you and your kayak, is really getting back to nature. Because you are so quiet and so close to the shore, who knows what kind of nature experience you may encounter.

Salt Lagoons

The nearby salt ponds in Los Colorados are a rose-colored sight to behold! The pink color of the water is caused by tiny marine micro organisms and a high concentration of salt. The Maya have been extracting salt from these ponds for centuries. Here you can take a Mayan bath and body scrub with the white colored mud at the bottom of the lake. The mud is very rich in minerals and will leave your skin very soft – nature’s spa!

Salt ponds in the Rio Lagartos Biosphere

Salt ponds in Los Colorados, Yucatan

If exploring the natural beauty of the Yucatan is an eco-vacation you have been dreaming of, email us and let us turn your nature vacation dreams into memories!

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