Image by Clifton Wilkinson Lonely Planet
Surrounded by forested mountains, this idyllic lake fills a volcanic crater that's over 100m deep and 2km in diameter. The clean water takes on colors ranging from turquoise to slate. It’s a pleasure to walk around the lake and in the surrounding mountains, spotting birds (some 250 species) and butterflies along the way. You can also climb to an abandoned gold mine, cycle, swim, kayak or fish for black bass and perch. A number of restaurants serve fresh lake fish.
If driving, take the Santa María del Oro turnoff about 40km from Tepic along the Guadalajara road. From the turnoff it’s about 9km to Santa María del Oro village, then another 8km to the lake. By bus, catch a ‘Santa María del Oro’ colectivo (M$30, 45 minutes) on Avenida México in Tepic, then change to a colectivo marked ‘Laguna’ at Santa María’s town square or take a private taxi.