Río Secreto - thousands of years in the making
Next time you come on vacation to the Riviera Maya don't forget to pack your sense of adventure. You really need to get out and explore some of the area's natural wonders, and I'm not talking about the beaches. While they certainly are a treasure, the beaches are not the most unique part of this amazing peninsula. Underground are wonders that will blow your mind and the pictures, as pretty as they are, really don't do them justice. You need to see this to believe it and one place to do precisely that is Río Secreto, where the caves are partially dry. Here you walk and swim through a maze of chambers that are encrusted with delicate stalactites and stalagmites. Below read what people are saying about Río Secreto. You'll never forget this place.
"You must experience a cenote"
If you've never been in a cenote, you should check it out. Río Secreto gives a nice tour of a large cenote system. The tour takes you inside the underground caves. Guides were well versed in several languages. A more detailed scientific explanation of the many aspects of the cenotes would have been nice, but may have bored others. They provide all the gear and make the tour an event Río Secreto is a $10-$15 taxi ride from Playa (confirm price with Taxi driver before getting in the taxi).
-DKTravler, Vancouver, Mar 1, 2010 - Tripadvisor
Superb - a "must do"
A fabulous experience - spoiled only by the rather lukewarm "meet and greet" service but once we had met up with our guide Mariana things went from great to excellent. Other reviewers rightly sing her praises so I will not duplicate - suffice to say she was FAB!! The photo "scam" is not a scam really - taking photos would have distracted from actually looking at the fantastic scenery in the cave system and other people's flash photography would have been irritating - also without a water tight casing the camera would probably have been damaged. The photo CD is $55 which includes all the photos wth you and your party PLUS about 100 other pictures taken in and around the cave system. Some superb shots which I think are worth every cent! Alltournatives - the parent company I believe has a genuine interest in conservation of both the natural wonders and the Maya peoples livelihoods and I would wholeheartedly recommend this and the other trips they do. See my review of Maya Encounter! :o)
-DF, Hurghada, Egypt, Feb 25, 2010- TripAdvisor
"Mother Nature offers the best excursion"
We just returned to Atlanta after spending a wonderful week in Playa del Carmen, and cannot say enough good things about the time we spent underground in the amazing nature reserve of Río Secreto. This is a spiritual setting -- not a water park -- and if you want to experience the beauty of this area, spend some time here. We selected this as one of our excursions based on the reviews on TripAdvisor, and had prearranged the day/time of our trip there before we left the states. A driver from the site picked us up, took us to there, and returned us to the hotel -- no problemo! I do recommend that you not wear ANY sunscreen when you come to this site. A woman in our group felt bad about the potential of her leaving some of the lotion in the river since she had loaded up before coming. There is no need since you are underground the whole time! Our guide was a very spiritual person, who shared the history and science of this underground treasure. And it is a treasure. Take some time out of your busy vacation schedule to get back to what really matters and go to Río Secreto!
-Al, Atlanta, Dec 29,2009- Tripadvisor.
"5 stars is an understatement"
Stepping down into the caves, was like entering into a different underworld, dazzling, serene, and creepy all at the same time. Untouched by humans, the caverns seem to swallow you whole, and it's almost like you don't know where to look first to take it all in. The stalactites dangling precariously, the stalagmites, the crystal water.....ok I'm being dramatic, but it blew my mind. Practically, we took a bus from our resort and really didn't know what to expect. The staff greeted us and took us (7 of us) in an air conditioned van, deep into the 'jungle' until we reached the base. There they have lockers where you can store your stuff, washrooms, and after showering off you can don one of their wetsuits, a life jacket, a helmet with a light and you're off! The caves are all inter-connected and marked off with rope. The tour guides took us through...walking, wading, and swimming from cave to cave, explaining the way the different rock formations formed over time. It was spectacular. A photographer takes pictures, as you are not allowed to bring your own equipment. They emphasize not touching or disturbing the rock formations...after travelling underground for 1.5 hours, you resurface and climb out. By the time you return your gear they have processed the pics, and you may choose to buy any number of packages of photo/DVD. They serve you a shot of some honey/anis liquor (deliciously like sambucca) and then you go and have a sandwich/salad....and you've earned it!! Cost was 89$ US and worth every penny. Service was excellent. Guide was knowledgeable, friendly, and spoke English. The caves, breathtaking. Not touristy AT ALL. From departure from hotel, to Río Secreto and back again, it took 4.5 hours. All equipment is provided, including water shoes. Not a place for toddlers or babies.
-Syl, Montreal- Nov 16, 2009, Tripadvisor
"Río Secreto - the best experience in Mexico"
My name is Gloria and I am 66 years of age. I have been on a fantastic 2 month vacation to Mexico. Of all the places I have experienced my most memorable experience was my trip to Río Secreto in Playa del Carmen. We look at the galaxies and are amazed at the intricacies above us. We look at the nature all around us and are fascinated - but to have discovered the absolute wonder underground as I did when touring Río Secreto where I saw the beauty of thousands of years of formation was awe inspiring. The amazing underground, crystal clear, fresh, pure water pools (cenotes) which we floated through in our life jackets were beautiful and refreshing - but the sights revealed above and below us as we entered chamber after chamber was breathtaking! - an orchestra of organs where the stalactites and stalagmites formed masterpieces in harmony creating a magnificence - which left one feeling for hours after the experience that was mystical as well as spiritual. Definitely an experience not to be missed!
-Gloria, Cape Town - 26 Oct 2009, Tripadvisor
This is a must see if you are anywhere near Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. It's less than 1 mile south of Xcaret heading towards Tulum. There is a small sign that reads Río Secreto. The tours are booked for 9am, 11am, or 1pm. It was $49 USD per person if you book on site. This is my favorite place that I've seen in the 15 countries that I've visited. AMAZING! You take a bumpy ride on a dirt road for a couple of miles and then an reach an oasis in the middle of the jungle where you prepare to see the secret river in an underground water filled cave (cenote). You will love it! Worth every minute and every dollar.
-socaljeffrey, Los Angeles -, 15 Sep 2008, Tripadvisor
"Best excursion in Playa del Carmen in my opinion"
I can't say enough good things about my experience at Río Secreto. the caves were overwhelming...i kept wondering if i'd stumbled into another world because it was so quiet and serene yet exciting because the surroundings were so different than anything i've ever seen. The entire adventure was beautiful and informative. Please don't miss this if you get anywhere near playa del carmen, it was worth every penny (and i would have paid double the price knowing what i know now about its magnificence!)
-Wichita, Kansas - 23 Sep 2008, Tripadvisor
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Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the minimum age for being able to participate?
- Six years old.
- Do minors have to be accompanied by an adult?
- Yes, they must be accompanied by an adult. Even though we have a tour guide, an adult must be personally responsible for any minors. However, if you wish to have a tour with a group of children, there can be a ratio of five children for every adult.
- Do you sell videos taken of each tour group?
- We do not sell videos, but we do take photographs of your tour. You can purchase these photos individually and we also sell CDs featuring many photos of your expedition including a few classic pictures of the nature reserve.
- Can I take a camera with me on the tour?
- In order to protect the safety of individuals, the group and the cave, you are not allowed to bring photography or video equipment into the caves, since you can slip or damage a natural structure while inside. However, you may use them outside the cave. During the expedition, we have professional photographic equipment and lighting inside the cave, which allows us to safely capture your adventure on film and deliver high quality photographs. Common cameras are barely able to generate a bright enough flash inside Río Secreto and they are unable to capture and illuminate the beauty and scope of the entire cave.
- Are there lockers available?
- Yes, we have lockers with keys, available to you at no extra cost.
- Can pregnant women participate in the tours? programs?
- Since this tour takes place inside caverns, the path is windy and the ground is hard limestone rock that can be a little slippery in some areas. Although it is not high impact, risky or arduous, for the safety of individual visitors as well as the group, we do not recommend the tour for pregnant women, nor for persons with claustrophobia, heart problems, difficulty walking.
- Is there a route that does not have stairs or one that suits people who have difficulty walking?
- No. Our goal is to leave the cave untouched and preserved in its natural state. The tour's only path winds through rocky, natural formations.
- How thick is the wetsuit?
- It is 2.5 to 3 millimeters thick.
- If I don't know how to swim, can I still take the tour?
- It is not required that you know how to swim. You only need to know how to float. The in-water portion of the tour is very brief and shallow. In addition, you will be aided by your life jacket and wetsuit, which help you stay afloat.
- Why are children's rates the same as adult rates?
- Our tours are designed to provide personal attention every step of the way. That's why we limit groups to no more than 6 people; it allows us to offer specialized guidance and ensure safety. With groups of this size, all guests are charged the same to participate whether they are adults or children.
- What is the temperature of the water?
- The water is cool, with a temperature of 18° C to 19° C, or 64° F to 66° F. However, our visitors wear neoprene wetsuits and life vests to keep them comfortable and help mitigate the brisk water temperature.
- What does the tour consist of?
- This is a one-of-a-kind, guided cave tour that includes a combination of walking and swimming.
- What happens if I want to go on the tour, but I have a child that is younger than the age in which they're allowed to participate?
Do you have someone who can take care of children who are too young to take the tour?
- In these cases, please ask Río Secreto in advance if there is someone who can care for your children, specifying the date and time in which the babysitter will be needed.
- Isn't the cost of the tour a little high, considering the amount of time that you're in the cave?
- For the cost of the tour, you are given exclusive access to a scientific wonder and lead by expert guides who happily share their knowledge of the area. You will use high-quality equipment and follow well-maintained paths to allow for optimum safety and enjoyment. Our technically advanced photography system will take photos of you as you make your way through this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Rest assured, the cost includes many things to make your tour memorable and the amount of time you spend in the cave will absolutely fulfill your expectations.
- Is the cost of transportation very high?
- $89 USD includes the Río Secreto tour and transportation from Riviera Maya, but you can also get there on your own by taking public transportation and paying the admission fee of $49 USD . See the instructions, How do I get to Río Secreto?
- Should I arrive ahead of time for my tour?
- Yes, we recommend that you arrive at the nature reserve ticket office at least 20 minutes before the time your tour starts.
- Should I bring money for extra expenses?
- Really, there are no additional expenses inside the reserve. However, we recommend that you take along some cash for purchasing souvenirs, photographs and/or for tipping the guides.
- Do I need to bring sun protection?
- The tour takes place in the shade since you are inside the cave almost the entire time, so you are not really exposed to the sun. We also ask all visitors to take a quick shower before going into the cave in order to eliminate possible toxins - like lotions, makeup and hair gel - that could pollute the cave and harm its delicate ecosystem.