Living in paradise has it's perks! Beach sunsets everyday, surf's usually up. Coconut water direct from the coconut and I never have to wear socks, year-round. But every once in awhile we get the itch to do something different. Laguna Santa Maria del Oro is the perfect spot to cure the need for a new outlook
Its located about 3 hours northeast from Sayulita, and the view is breathtaking throughout the entire drive. You really get to see the landscape across the state of Nayarit, and there are lots of street food stands along the way. We always stop in Chapalilla at our favorite birreria, Birria al Horno El Chapalilla.
As you get close to the lake there is a lookout with a beautiful view of the lake in the distance. The road from there winds down into the volcanic crater that formed the lake. The town was named Santa María de Acuitapílco by Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán in 1530! In 1594 it was given its new name, Santa Maria del Oro, because of the three gold mines located at the tail end of the laguna. Today they have their very first female municipal representative, elected in 2017.
There is an ancient myth surrounding how the lake was formed. Back then the city was called Michiztlán, and the beautiful daughter of King Tepozilama lived there. One day she went out for a walk with other women. She glimpsed a wounded deer, approached it to care for it, and suddenly Pintontli, a young warrior, asked her what she was doing. When they saw each other they fell instantly in love even though their villages were enemies. When Tepozilama's father discovered that his daughter was secretly seeing Prince Pintontli, he ordered them to be tied to separate posts without food. The ensuing tears of the two lovers filled the current lake.
Where to stay and what to eat? If you make the drive to the lake it really is worth it to stay the night. There are lots of options, from the budget camping Koala with cabins and campgrounds, private villas rented on Airbnb, or the Santa Maria Resort. There are lots of lakefront restaurants to choose from, all offer the regional specialty, chicharron de pescado. We always pack our own food (and drink) and rent a villa with kitchen amenities.
The highlight of any trip to Santa Maria del Oro is swimming in the lake. The water is a balmy 25 degrees year round and its such a treat to swim in freshwater as opposed to the ocean. Legend has it that the lake is bottomless, but recently UNAM discovered the bottom to be around 60 meters. It has high levels or oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus which give it a beautiful turquoise color.
Let us know if you plan a trip here!