Ready to experience all of the very best lakes in Mexico? If so then this is the post for you.
After all, Mexico is the single largest country in Latin America and the sixth most visited place in the world.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that this incredible nation is positively brimming over with natural beauty – best exemplified by some of the best lakes Mexico has to offer.
And I want to share those lakes with you since I’ve been to Mexico more times than I can count.
Yup, I can’t get enough of the incredible natural beauty found in the best Mexico lakes of them all.
Heck, there’s even a super handy Mexico lakes map at the end of this post to help you plan the best Mexico trip ever.
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What are the main lakes in Mexico?
All the best lakes in Mexico are on this list!
From old lakes like Lake Xochimilco to large lakes like Lake Chapala and beautiful lakes like Lake Avandaro – these are the main lakes in Mexico.
What is Mexico’s largest lake?
The largest lake in Mexico is Lake Chapala. It’s 50 miles long and almost 8 miles wide, but only about 34 feet deep at its lowest point.
What is the 2nd largest lake in Mexico?
Mexico’s 2nd largest lake is Lake Cuitzeo, with an area of between 120- and 150-sq-miles. I can’t be more specific, because the level of the lake changes frequently!
Does Mexico have lakes and rivers?
Mexico has many lakes and rivers, and some of them are even world-famous.
In particular, the Rio Grande (known locally as the Río Bravo del Norte) runs along the Mexico/USA border, and is almost 1,900 miles long, beginning in Colorado and ending in the Gulf of Mexico.
1. Lake Avandaro
Nestled among wooded mountains that are less than a two-hour drive from Mexico City, to the west of nearby Toluca, you can find one of the best-kept secrets in Mexico: Lake Avandaro.
This place is a natural paradise, literally. The name Avandaro means “fantasy place” – and that means it’s one of the best Lakes in Mexico for your next vacay!
Plus, around 37,000 acres of land make up the lake, which is great because there’s plenty of room for all the water sports you can imagine.
Visitors can even rent a range of jet skis and boats to take out onto the water, and there are opportunities for water-skiing, sailing, and fishing for mojarra, carp, and even catfish.
However, the fun doesn’t stop at the water’s edge, either. Because nearby are plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails that are easily navigable even without a guide.
Lake Avandaro is also known to some as Valle de Bravo, which is the name of the town that sits on the shores of the lake.
And Valle de Bravo itself is one of Mexico’s “Pueblos Magicos”. There you can find cobbled streets and buildings straight out of a fairytale, in keeping with the paradise theme!
Lake Avandaro is also super popular with local tourists for weekend trips. Therefore, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best lakes in Mexico!
2. Lake Pátzcuaro
Sometimes you just have to see a place to believe it. And Lake Pátzcuaro is one of those places.
After all, this lake lies in a volcanic basin in the Michoacán region, and the whole place is over a mile above sea level. That makes it one of the highest of all the best lakes in Mexico on this list!
And because of its volcanic origins, the area surrounding Lake Pátzcuaro is full of lush wetlands teeming with wildlife.
There are also a huge variety of bird and animal species to be seen here.
In fact, Lake Pátzcuaro is home to some species that are almost entirely local to this region only, including the appropriately named Lake Pátzcuaro salamander, the rough-footed mud turtle, and the Pátzcuaro chub fish.
The lake even has a few small islands, some of which – like the island of Pacanda – have cabanas for rent so that you can enjoy a slice of the island life.
In particular, though, Janitzio is the lake’s main island. And its name roughly translates to “where it rains”, which might sound pessimistic but it’s actually super accurate!
It’s also a densely populated place with houses running uphill to a small summit. It’s also here that you’ll find a huge 40m statue of José Maria Morelos, a hero of Mexico’s independence.
3. Laguna Milagros
The best lakes in Mexico don’t often get more tropical and exotic than this one!
But, to enjoy this thin slice of paradise, you need to head almost to the very end tip of Mexico, just above the border with Belize.
Here, near the city of Chetumal, you can find some of the most beautiful turquoise-blue water you’ve ever seen!
So, it’s no small wonder that swimming and sailing are the most popular activities here, as well as kayaking and some of the best snorkeling in Mexico.
Plus, the entire southern side of the lake is made up of unspoiled Mexican jungle, with plenty of exotic birds for birdwatchers to get excited about.
Therefore, Laguna Milagros is fast becoming a popular tourist destination, and it’s even starting to build up a large expat community filled with retirees.
Yeah, they must have heard about the gorgeous sunsets and delicious seafood cuisine you can get while at one of the top lakes in Mexico!
But, compared to some of the other Mexican lakes on this list, Laguna Milagros is a quiet, out-of-the-way kind of place, with a very chill vibe and slow pace when it comes to life.
But, as I said, it’s getting more popular every year. So, make sure you don’t miss your chance to enjoy this secluded lake before it becomes inundated with selfie stick-wielding tourists.
4. Lake Chapala
It’s time to talk about Mexico’s largest freshwater lake!
So, head straight down highway 23 from nearby Guadalajara for one hour and you’ll find yourself at Lake Chapala, one of the best lakes in Mexico.
I hope you brought your suntan lotion and a towel, because this place is all about that beach, baby! And there are so many to choose from. Plus, each one has something unique and enticing to offer visitors.
So, if you’re looking for a laid-back beach sesh then head to El Chante Beach in the northwest corner of the lake.
What, feel like engaging in some lively local activities? Well, then hit up Chapala Beach with its regular ongoing festivals, local street vendors, and delicious restaurants.
Or if you want a good mix of everything then head to Christina Beach (also in Chapala) since it has something for everyone.
However, if you’re looking to get a little more active, there are fun things to do in and around Lake Chapala as well.
See, this lake features three islands and the largest of them is called Isla Mezcala. Then, once on it, you can find both an old Spanish fort and an old Mexican prison to explore.
Hikers can also get their teeth (and boots) into the many mountains that surround Lake Chapala, and nature lovers will find more than 200 different indigenous species of plants and animals thriving in the area.
5. Baccarac Lake
Technically, the official name of this lake is Lic Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, or Lake Bacurato. However, most people call it Lake Baccarac due to the popular fishing lodge of the same name here.
So, if you’re a fan of fishing, then Lake Baccarac will definitely be one of the best lakes in Mexico for you! In fact, it’s one of the best lakes in the WORLD for fishing!
Situated near the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains in the western coastal state of Sinaloa, Lake Baccarac is approximately 25 miles long and covers nearly 33,000 acres.
And in 1978, the lake was filled with Florida Strain Bass, a favorite for many fishers – especially big bass fishers. Because of this, people from all over the world come year-round to fish.
And it pays off because, over the past 30 years, there have been more catches of 10+ pounders in Lake Baccarac than any other bass lake in the world. But the biggest catch of them all was a 191 lb fish in 1993.
You’ll also love that Lake Baccarac is one of the safest lakes in Mexico. Yup, there is less criminal activity here than at any other bass fishing lake in Mexico.
However, if fishing doesn’t interest you, there’s honestly not much point in visiting Lake Baccarac as most of the tourism surrounding the lake is geared toward this activity.
6. Laguna Bacalar
This freshwater lake is hands down one of the best lakes in Mexico thanks to its stunning sea-through water.
In fact, the local nickname of the lake is ‘La Laguna de los Siete Colores’ – or, the 7 color lagoon. And as soon as you arrive, you’ll see why.
Now, Laguna Bacalar is popular with tourists and locals alike, with the lake being exceptionally popular among honeymooners.
There’s also quite a bit to do on Laguna Bacalar and the surrounding area. So, you could easily spend a few days basking in the natural beauty of one of the best Mexico lakes of them all.
And in addition to swimming, you’ll want to make time for snorkeling, scuba diving, and paddle boarding.
Now, for experienced scuba divers, Cenote Azul is a must since visiting this 90-meter well within Lake Laguna is a truly unique experience.
I also recommend taking a boat tour around the lake – especially through El Canal De Los Piratas Bacalar – to try and scope see the birds and other local wildlife.
Plus, all of the boat tours are eco-friendly. So, you can sit back and enjoy without stressing about your carbon footprint.
7. Lake Amistad
Also known as Amistad Reservoir, Lake Amistad was founded in 1969 and is the third largest lake in Mexico.
The reservoir is also part of the Rio Grande and is located along the USA-Mexico border near Del Rio, Texas and Acuña, Coahuila.
So, it is actually owned by both the American and Mexican governments. Therefore, it was named Amistad – the Spanish word for friendship – to signify this partnership.
Believe it or not though, Lake Amistad actually took 5 years to build and was created with the intent of building a dam that would benefit both countries.
After all, on both sides of the border, Lake Amistad provides locals with water sanitation, hydroelectric power, and flood control.
However, it is also one of the best lakes in Mexico for recreational use as it is a popular year-round destination.
Fishing is particularly popular at Lake Amistad, and avid fishers will find several species of bass and catfish that they can catch.
In fact, the fishing here is so good that a nationally televised fishing tournament is actually hosted here annually.
Other popular water sports on Lake Amistad include swimming, water skiing, and scuba diving – just in case fishing ain’t your thing.
8. Lake Xochimilco
One of the oldest lakes in Mexico, modern-day Lake Xochimilco was first created in the 13th or 14th century by the Aztecs.
However, the lake itself dates back to ancient times and was once part of a much larger Lake Texcoco, which no longer exists (it is now present-day Mexico City).
But that’s not the only reason that Lake Xochimilco is noteworthy or listed as one of the best lakes in Mexico.
Lake Xochimilco is also the ONLY place in the world where you can still find axolotls in the wild – though sadly only a few remain here as their habitat is being destroyed.
As a result, Lake Xochimilco was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997 due to its incredible biodiversity.
So, if you want to visit for yourself you can find this lake in Xochimilco, a borough in southern Mexico City.
And while you’re here, you can even take a trajinera (wooden raft) down the river and enjoy the scenery.
9. Laguna de Atexcac
For those in search of something unique and off the beaten path then one of the best lakes in Mexico for you is Laguna de Atexcac, a crater lake in Puebla, Mexico.
This beautiful turquoise lake is situated in the crater of an extinct volcano, which is referred to locally as either axalapascos or maars).
Additionally, Laguna de Atexcac is fairly remote and can be enjoyed after a short hike. Don’t worry though because the hike is less than a mile long and super easy! And it’s absolutely worth it too.
Plus, you’ll probably have the entire place to yourself to explore. It’ll also make for a pretty eye-catching background for your insta photos.
Although the lake is usually a bright turquoise, don’t be surprised – or disappointed – if it’s a dark green or blue when you visit. The lake tends to change shade slightly due to its high salinity and sulfur content.
Also, despite Mexico’s warm climate, don’t be fooled: the waters of Laguna de Atexcac are COLD. So, if you go for a swim, you’ll be met with quite a shock from the brisk waters.
And be careful if you do go swimming because legend has it that a mermaid lives here and heads to the surface in the moonlight to drag men into the lake’s cavernous depths below.
10. Laguna de Alchichica
Like nearby Laguna de Atexcac, Laguna de Alchichica is a lake that formed in the crater of an inactive volcano.
And while they are close to each other, Laguna de Alchichica is much more well-known and popular with tourists as it’s one of the best lakes in Mexico for diving.
In fact, the lake has had many famous visitors over the years, including oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.
Yeah, he was likely just as interested in diving as he was in marine life. However, this lake is home to the super cool Alchichica silverside, which is an iteroparous fish that is now on the critically endangered list.
You’ll also love that Laguna de Alchichica is one of many cenotes (sinkholes) found throughout Mexico, making it a popular place for divers. Though it is recommended that only experienced or supervised divers dive here.
11. Laguna Catemaco
This 28-sq-mile freshwater lake is located in south central Veracruz, and is well known for its non-native Stumptail Macaque monkey population.
See, these macaques were brought over as part of a research project with the University of Veracruz, and live on the volcanic islands scattered throughout the lake.
So, if you want to see these marvelous creatures you can take a boat tour out to one of the islands and watch them swing happily through the trees.
Additionally, Laguna Catemaco is one of the best lakes in Mexico for fishing due to its high concentration of nutrients.
In particular, Threadfin shad and snail Tegogolo are the most common catches within the lake. But, if you’re lucky you might get an African blue tilapia too.
It’s also worth noting that a visit to Laguna Catemaco is usually paired with trips to Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve, Eyipantla Waterfall, and Nanciyaga Ecological Reserve.
12. Lake Cuitzeo
If you take a four-hour drive northwest from Mexico City, you’ll eventually come across Lake Cuitzeo – Mexico’s 2nd largest lake.
I know, it’s only the 2nd largest. But what Lake Cuitzeo doesn’t have in size it more than makes up for in great Insta-locations!
See, a lot of farming happens at Lake Cuitzeo. In fact, almost 40% of the immediate surrounding area is agricultural fields, and a further 15% is pasture land.
Therefore, anyone looking to capture some traditional Mexican landscapes should try to make their way to this lush green paradise.
But, what also makes this lake special is that it almost feels like it was made for fun water activities.
Because fishing, sailing, and swimming are all available here. And if you’re planning on bringing your own boat then it is super easy to get out onto the lake when using the road coming from the nearby town of San Bernardo.
Fans of kayaking should also make their way to the southeastern shore – it’s a super popular spot for kayak-ing it up!
Lake Cuitzeo is also one of the best lakes in Mexico for bird watching too. So, don’t forget your binoculars.
Map of the Best Lakes in Mexico
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