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Home » Rio Secreto: A Guide to Playa del Carmen’s Magical Caves

Rio Secreto: A Guide to Playa del Carmen’s Magical Caves

The Rio Secreto Nature Reserve was without doubt one of my favorite experiences I had during the three months that I was there. Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Within this amazing reserve There are five caves that are filled with incredible stalactites in the thousands and an energizing underground river.

Visiting Rio Secreto is a great family activity for those with kids who want to take a day excursion out of Playa del Carmen, Tulum or Cancun. If you don’t have children with you You might feel like one exploring this underground river.

In this quick guide and review of Rio Secreto, I’ll go over the reason why you should consider adding this tour to the top of you list of attractions in Mexico and offer the essential details to ensure you have an unforgettable trip.

What is Rio Secreto?

Rio Secreto is an underground natural reserve in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, near Playa del Carmen. It consists of five caverns which form part of an enormous underground cave network.

I have to admit that prior visiting Rio Secreto, I was a bit confused about what it actually was. It’s located along the highway directly next to Xcaret and Xplor that led me to suppose it was an adventure theme park similar to those two parks.

The caves are filled with incredible mineral formations , and are home to an amazing variety of animals. In the event that, as I mentioned my admission ticket was offered gratis by the park I would have happily paid admission to enjoy this awesome and memorable experience.

How to Go to Rio Secreto

Visiting Rio Secreto can only be made through guided tours provided by the reserve. The excursions will involve for a hike and swimming around a one kilometer stretch of one of the caves (meaning your visit will represent only a fraction of this huge reserve).

The majority of tours at Rio Secreto start at the park’s entrance located just from the highway. There’s a short film to watch while you wait for the group to be there and take a liability release (that’s why you must ensure that you have travel insurance coverage for Mexico). Then , you and group of friends will load into an SUV for the seven-kilometer trip deep into the jungle , where caverns are located.

At the entrance you’ll meet your guide and receive a short orientation about the parks. There are lockers available for free, where you can change your clothes and store your belongings (you need nothing but your swimming suit) In addition, you’ll be provided with water shoes, a required life jacket, as well as an illuminated helmet. Wet suits are provided and are also available, but they’re optional (I have a wet suit however, in the end I thought it wasn’t essential). Also, you’ll need to wash off in order to prevent the infiltration of foreign substances into the delicate water of the reserve.

After that, your guide will take you to observe a brief Mayan ceremony, before returning to the cave.

The actual excursion to the cave will take about an hour but it’s an experience that you won’t soon forget.

The tours are conducted with small groups of 10 of so, and you don’t have other groups to join during the tour, meaning that you will truly feel at one with the cave.

Your guide will inform you about the past and cave’s history, and explain how the magical minerals created, and reveal animals on the way (there are two types of fish that inhabit the river, as well as numerous bats, insects, and other species).

The majority of the time , you’ll be walking through the dry cave bedrock, and the rest of the time you’ll either be wading or swimming in an underground stream. The water is cool and refreshing temperature, however, you’ll get familiar with it in no time!

My favorite part of the tour, though?

At one point , the guide asked us to shut off our flashlights and sit in pitch black silence for a while to relax and enjoy the dark sounds in the cave. This is quite the sensory experience!

Once the tour has ended the tour, you’ll be able get a bathroom and freshen and then enjoy an included lunch before taking the van back to the entrance.

Tips for Visiting Rio Secreto

If you’re thinking about a excursion in Rio Secreto, here’s a few tips to consider:

How to reach Rio Secreto from Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or Tulum

Rio Secreto lies just a few miles south of Playa del Carmen. The reserve offers transportation-inclusive packages that will pick you up and drop you off in your hotel anywhere in the Riviera Maya for about $129 per adult. It’s roughly $50 more than the cost for a regular ticket without transportation ($79 cost per adult).

It is also possible to arrange your own transport to the reserve. Any taxi driver will know its location. A taxi ride one-way from Cancun or Tulum is likely to cost between 500 and 1000 pesos ($25-$50 USD) subject to negotiation capabilities, while a taxi ride in the direction of Playa del Carmen should be about 120-150 Pesos ($6-$8 US dollars).

You can also take the colectivos (public mini-buses) from any of those towns. They will cost only a couple dollars per person .

What Should You Bring to Rio Secreto?

Honestly, the only thing you’ll need to bring for your excursion in Rio Secreto is your swimsuit and maybe a towel to dry. Everything else will be supplied to you. There’s no need to bother with sunscreen or insect repellent, since there’s no sun and you’d have to wash those off at some point.

It’s not necessary to take cameras, either, as there’s not enough light in the caves to take pictures (don’t worry, each group is accompanying by a photographer and you can buy their photos later).

What Else is There to Do at Rio Secreto?

The standard admission package includes the tour of the cave and the underground river as mentioned above. While this is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the reserve, the park also has another “Admission Plus” package which starts at $99 for adults. It also includes a light show in the underground that is projected onto the mineral formations. While I didn’t see the show myself, it definitely is awe-inspiring!

Other Tips to Travel Rio Secreto

Here’s some other tips for getting the most out of your visit to Rio Secreto:

It is important to wash your hands before entering the cavessince there’s no bathroom inside and the guides are extremely strict about not contaminating the underground by dumping your waste.
There is the option of wearing a wetsuit, I did and in retrospect would advise to give the option a pass. I found it a bit warm and humid and the water wasn’t sufficient cold to warrant one.
It isn’t possible to bring your camera along, but there is a photographer that will take lots of awesome pictures of your group and then put them up for sale to you on USB. USB following the tour.