The Legend of Lago Santa Maria Del Oro in Nayarit


Santa María del Oro (the lake) located in the municipality with the same name.

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The latter in turn is named in honor of the patron saint of the place and the three gold mines that are in the vicinity of the town.

The crater of the Santa María del Oro lake was formed by the fall of an aerolite in the Sierra Madre Occidental. Locals for years claimed that the bottom of the lagoon had never been found. History told that in the center of the lagoon, perhaps, because it is a crater, the orifice that had been formed into a channel that would probably cross deep layers of the Earth. A recent UNAM study, however, has shown that the bottom of the lake is 60 m. This study of  the Paleolimnology Laboratory of the Institute of Geophysics, under the UNAM, determined that the lake measures in its diameter 2. 25

However, this lake, surrounded by forest, has a special composition that does not affect the people who bathe in it.

In its deepest part, the water of the lagoon lacks oxygen, contains high levels of nitrogen and high concentrations of phosphorus, which gives it blue tones other than water at different times of the year. Its waters are between five and six meters wide.

The oldest and most known legend of the site tells that this lagoon was born as a result of forbidden love. There was a city called Michiztlán where the beautiful daughter of King  Tepozilama lived. One day she went out for a walk with her ladies. He caught sight of a wounded deer, approached him to take care of him and suddenly Pintontli, a young warrior, questioned him what he was doing. When they saw each other, they were enormously in love even though their cities were enemies. When  Tepozilama’s father discovered that his daughter was secretly seeing Prince Pintontli, he ordered both of them tied up without eating. Then the tears of the two lovers filled the current lake.

The beauty of the lake is framed by pine forests that cover the slopes as you reach its margins where the flora becomes tropical.

Here you will find the ideal place to forget the stress and even the cell phone since the satellite signal is almost nil.

How to take advantage of your visit to the exuberant lake of Santa María del Oro.

What to do?

  • Admire the landscape

Among the first things we recommend you do is stop for a moment at the lookout on the way to the lake. From this point, you can take the best panoramic photos of the area and contemplate the mountainous system that surrounds the crater.

  • Boat Rides

Once you get to the lake, hire a boat ride. During the tour, the guide of the boat will tell you fantastic stories about the myths and legends that revolve around the lake, such as those that speak of the appearance of a creature similar to Loch Ness or the supposed connection that exists between this site and other gaps in the world.

  • Water activities

In the lake of Santa María del Oro, you can practice sports such as water skiing and windsurfing. You can also take advantage of the opportunity to swim on the shallow shores of the lagoon, where the different tonalities of its crystalline waters are better appreciated.

Do not miss the opportunity to take a bath in the pools of thermal waters that are in their margins, which are said to possess medicinal properties.

  • Nearby Attractions

15 minutes away is the old mining town of Santa María del Oro, from which the lake itself takes its name.

Among its main attractions are its religious buildings, such as the Temple of the Lord of the Assumption, founded between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well as the magnificent crafts made by the Huichol ethnic group.

Near Santa María you can also visit the hot springs Acuña and El Agua Caliente. Other nearby towns, although a little less accessible by their dirt roads, are La Cofradía and Buruato

What to eat?

Many visitors come to this site attracted by the delicious food offered at local restaurants overlooking the lagoon. We recommend you to try typical dishes such as fish cracklings and Santa María style ceviche.

Where to sleep?

The options for spending the night range from renting a cabin or choose a camping area in Bungalows Koala, to sleep in a couple of luxury boutique hotels such as Lago Escondido and  Santa Maria Resort . Another very attractive alternative is the hotel Yemaya , which offers its guests rent of sailboats, kayaks, bicycles and pedal boats.


During most of the year, an average climate of 25ºc is recorded, so it can be visited practically in any season.

Due to the geographical conditions of the lagoon, in the hills that surround it, you will find tropical and wooded vegetation.

How to get?

The lagoon of Santa María el Oro is an hour and a half from Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara, and thirty minutes from the city of Tepic. Both Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta have an international airport; if you travel from any of these two points, take a bus to Tepic and from there a taxi that will take you to the lagoon for 300 pesos.

Another cheaper option is to take one of the buses that depart every 20 minutes from the center of Tepic to the town of Santa María del Oro, where you must take a second bus that goes down to the lagoon. If you decide to arrive by car, plan your route from here.

From Mazatlan (316.6 km) por Lib. de Mazatlán/México 15D y México 15D

Mapa de Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México a Santa María del Oro, Nayarit, México

Source: Gente Nayarit, About Español

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