The crisis in the fishing sector due to overexploitation and illegal fishing, combined with the natural richness of the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, has gradually led tourism to displace fishing as the main economic activity, representing 40 percent of employment opportunities for its residents.
The primary activity in this port, like other coastal towns in Yucatán, has traditionally been fishing for marine species. However, 10 years ago, the first steps were taken to promote Río Lagartos as a tourist destination.
While it is true that fishing for species such as grouper, octopus, and lobster, among others, still accounts for 60 percent of the population’s income, fishing bans and decreased catches caused by illegal fishing and weather phenomena have led fishermen to consider tourism as a viable alternative.
One advantage is that visitors arrive in this port consistently throughout the year, with periods of higher influx such as the summer holidays in July and August, as well as Easter and Passover, when international tourism also increases.
Furthermore, the Ría Lagartos Reserve is a paradisiacal place, recognized as a destination for rest, harmony, peace, and tranquility. Its natural environment is one of the main attractions for visitors from all over the world.
Not to mention Las Coloradas, which is part of the municipality and offers tourists a salt mine with pink pools and the surrounding natural wealth. This has greatly contributed to the place being taken into account by tourism, as mentioned by the guide, Samuel Conrado.
In Río Lagartos, there is a tourism association that brings together all service providers responsible for welcoming visitors and offering the best tours to ensure they have an unforgettable vacation.
In the last decade, the number of visitors has significantly increased, especially national and foreign tourists, mostly from Europe and Asia, although visitors from all over the world can be seen, as they seek direct contact with nature.
In this port, tourism is focused on being a destination for rest, harmony, peace, gastronomic pleasure, and proximity to nature in the enjoyment of the Biosphere Reserve.
The residents and service providers, aware that their natural resources generate wealth, take special care and carry out awareness campaigns among the local population with the aim of keeping the place in optimal conditions for many more years.
There is a wide range of activities available, including:
- Tours to the Reserve, where visitors can admire and photograph pink flamingos in their natural habitat.
- Birdwatching with over 333 bird species to observe.
- Enjoying a refreshing swim in Chiquilá’s freshwater spring.
- Exploring the trails deep within the mangroves.
- Engaging in sport fishing.
- Delighting in beautiful sunsets.
- Venturing on a night tour to spot crocodiles.
- Biking along the promenade.
- Taking photos with the iconic letters.
- Indulging in a variety of dishes made from fish and seafood.
- Enjoying the salt pools and visiting the crocodile farm.
Currently, Río Lagartos offers 200 rooms, ranging from boutique hotels to guesthouses, and has over 10 restaurants offering the best of gastronomy to satisfy even the most demanding palates.