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Home » What Should You Bring to Rio Secreto?

What Should You Bring to Rio Secreto?

The Rio Secreto Nature Reserve was easily one of the coolest experiences I had during the three months that I was staying in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Inside this magical reserve There are five cave complexes that are brimming with many stunning stalactites as well as an underground stream that is refreshing.

The trip to Rio Secreto is a fantastic family activity for those with children who are looking for a fun day excursion from Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or Cancun. However, even if you do not have children, you might think you’re one of them while you explore this underground river.

In this brief guide to Rio Secreto, I’ll go through the reasons why you should put this excursion to the top of all your bucket list items to visit in Mexico I’ll also provide you with the practical details to ensure you have a great visit.

How do you define Rio Secreto?

Rio Secreto is an underground natural reserve that is located in Mexico’s Riviera Maya close to Playa del Carmen. It is comprised of five caves which form part of the vast underground cave network.

I have to admit that prior visiting Rio Secreto, I was a bit confused about what exactly it was. It’s located on the highway that runs alongside Xcaret and Xplor which led me to suppose it was an Adventure theme park that was similar to these two sites.

The caves are filled with amazing minerals and also play host to an amazing variety of animals. Even though, in full disclosure the fact that my ticket was given gratis by the park I would’ve happily paid the cost of admission to experience this amazing and unique experience.

How to Go to Rio Secreto

A visit to Rio Secreto can only be conducted through the guided tours provided by the reserve. The tours take you on a hike and swim through one kilometer from one cave (meaning your visit will represent just a fraction of this huge reserve).

The majority of tours at Rio Secreto start at the park’s entry point, just off the highway. The tour will show a short video as you wait for your group to show up and sign a liability waiver (that’s why you need to be sure to are covered by travel insurance for Mexico). After that, you and your group of friends will load into an SUV for the seven-kilometer journey deep into the jungle where the caverns sit.

Once there you’ll meet with your guide and receive a short orientation about the parks. There are free lockers where you can change and leave your stuff (you will need only your swimming suit), and you’ll be provided with special water shoes, a mandatory life jacket, and one with a flashlight. Wet suits are provided also, however they’re not mandatory (I have a wet suit but did not think it was mandatory). You’ll also be required for a shower to avoid the introduction of foreign chemicals into the delicate water of the reserve.

Your guide will take you to observe a brief Mayan ceremony before descending into the cave.

The actual tour of the cave is only about an hour long, but it’s an hour that will be one you’ll never forget.

The tours are conducted in small groups of 10 of which you won’t see other groups during your trip, which means that you really get to feel a connection to the cave.

Your guide will tell you about the story of the cave, and explain how the magic minerals were are formed, and identify wildlife on the way (there are two kinds of fish in the river, in addition to numerous bats, insects and other species).

About half of the time , you’ll walk through caves that are dry, while the rest of the time you’ll either be wading or swimming in your underground rivers. The water is a refreshing cool temperature but you get comfortable with it quickly!

My personal favorite part of the tour, though?

The guide at one point instructed us to switch off the headlamps, and then sit in complete darkness for a short time to soak up the spooky sounds that emanated from the cave. It’s quite a sensory experience!

Following the tour, you’ll have a chance for a bath and to change before enjoying a complimentary breakfast before heading back to the entry point.

Tips for visiting Rio Secreto

If you’re thinking of making your own excursion to Rio Secreto, here’s a few things you should know:

How to travel to Rio Secreto? Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or Tulum

Rio Secreto lies just a couple of miles to the 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 of a basic ticket without the transportation ($79 cost per adult).

You can also organize your own transport to the reserve. Taxi drivers will be aware of the exact location. A taxi ride one-way from Cancun or Tulum is likely to cost between 500 and 1000 pesos ($25-$50 USD) depending on your negotiating ability, whereas a ride from Playa del Carmen should be about 120-150 pesos ($6-$8 USD).

You can also take the collectedivos (public minibuses) from these cities, and it will cost less than a couple of dollars per person at most.

What Should You Bring to Rio Secreto?

In reality, all you’ll need for your trip of Rio Secreto is your swimsuit and perhaps a towel to dry up. Everything else will be provided to you. You don’t even need to use insect repellent or sunscreen, since there’s no sun and you’d have to wash those off regardless.

You don’t have to bother with cameras either, since there isn’t enough light inside the caves to snap photographs (don’t worryabout it: each group is accompanying by a photographer and you can buy their images afterward).

What else is there to Do in Rio Secreto?

The basic admission package includes the tour of the cave and underground river , as explained above. While this is definitely the most memorable aspect of the park, it also has the “Admission Plus” package which begins at $99 for adults. This includes an underground light show that is projected onto rock formations. Although I haven’t seen the show myself, it definitely sounds spectacular!

Other Tips for Touring Rio Secreto

Here are a few more assorted tips to make the most of your trip from Rio Secreto. Rio Secreto:

Make sure you make use of the restroom prior to entering the cavessince there’s no bathroom inside and the guides are VERY serious in ensuring that the underground is not polluted by your bodily waste.
There is the option to wear a wetsuit I did so and would advise to give the option a pass. I thought it was a little hot and musky and the water wasn’t cold enough to require one.
There is no way to carry a camera in with you however there is a photographer that will take many amazing photos of your group and then put them up for sale to you via a USB following the tour.