Rio Secreto Cenote – Mexico’s Magical Underground Caves

Written By: The Planet D

Rio Secreto is unlike any cenote you will ever encounter. Dave and I had already done a Cenote tour in Mexico and wondered how this one could possibly be different? I mean, once you’ve seen one Cenote, you’ve seen them all right? Wrong!

Rio Secreto Cenote

Rio Secreto is the Mayan Riviera’s newest Cenote. It was only discovered in 2007. Visiting this pristine cave system is an incredible experience. It is truly a wonder of Mexico and our choice for one of the top places to visit in Mexico.

rio secreto cenote
Magical Rio Secreto Tour

Why is this cenote the most alluring nature reserve? Because it is the longest semi-sunken cave system in the Yucatan. There is 12 km of underground rivers to explore and you don’t need a dive certification. All you have to do is walk and float through the caves as you follow your experienced guide. Read more: The Best Things to do in Cancun

The Tour Experience

The magic of the Rio Secreto cave system is that there are 15 different entrances. You will never see other groups on your tour. Being split up into smaller groups allows for a more intimate experience and gives you the time to really enjoy the caves. You feel like you are on your own private VIP tour.

rio secreto tour
Our Group begins our Rio Secreto Tour

When we arrived, we watched a quick introduction to the caves then were split up into groups for our tour. We went to change rooms where we put on our wetsuits, booties, helmets, and headlamps and stopped for a photo before our tour.

It was then time to set off on a hike through the forest where we saw some creepy crawlies like tarantulas. There are jaguars in these woods, but our guide Raul told us that he has only seen one four times in his entire five-year career. Check out more: Where to Stay in Cancun: Best Hotels and Areas For Every Budget

Wildlife of the Yucatan

wildlife at rio secreto
Just your ordinary Tarantula walking by

The easy walk ended at the entrance to the caves where we took part in a quick Mayan smoking ceremony. It is performed to cleanse our spirits allowing us to enter this sacred site. It was then off for some fun and excitement! Looking for more Mexico adventures? You will want to see: swimming with whale sharks!

smoking ceremony at start of rio secreto tour
Smoking ceremony

Time to get wet – Swimming in the Cenote

If you are worried about closed spaces, beware. You will be swimming through some tight and low-hanging ceilings. But on the Rio Secreto Tour, you work your way up to that. We started off in huge caverns. As we ventured deeper into the caves, spaces became progressively tighter, but we didn’t notice. By the time we entered the narrow passages we were comfortable and secure in the water. Believe me, I suffer from a slight case of claustrophobia and I was completely comfortable. Check out: How to Overcome Your Travel Anxiety and Fears

rio secreto swimming in small caves
Deb was fin in the tight spaces

The Rio Secreto Tour Experience

Our trip started by walking through the dry cenotes of Rio Secreto and learning all about them. Cenotes are freshwater sinkholes connected to an underground river system through limestone caves and passageways.

Some are huge caverns with stalactites hanging overhead. Some are narrow passages with simply a limestone ceiling. Both are just as equally thrilling to explore.

rio secreto cenote
Our Group in the giant cenote

By the time we had to get into the water, we were ready. Before completely submerging, Raul had us all kneel in shallow water for a photograph and to take in the view of the ceiling filled with thousands of stalactites. Our private photographer (every tour gets one) set off his flash and it looked like an explosion over our heads.

We quickly got used to the temperature of the water and began swimming through the darkness with only our headlamps and Raul’s guidance. He made sure to guide us through the jagged rocks and low ceilings and we spent the next 3 hours discovering the caves. We felt like true explorers.

rio secreto cenote
Dave and Raul

We saw unique fish that only live inside caves and are completely blind because there is no light and we saw fossils etched into the rock. It was fascinating.

Dave and Deb in Rio Secreto cenote
Loving our Rio Secreto Exploration

We never once wondered, “When is this tour going to end?” Time flew by and the hours zipped past. We could have definitely done the full-day tour of Rio Secreto. And when we go back to the Yucatan, we’re going to make sure to see more of Mexico’s most magical Cenotes. Before we knew it, we were walking up the steps wishing for more Cenotes in Mexico!

Facts about Rio Secreto

  • To book your Rio Secreto Cenote Tour in the Mayan Riviera of Mexico, check out their full day Rio Secreto tour.
  • Rio Secreto is located in Playa del Carmen. They will pick you up at your hotel in Cancun or Riviera Maya
  • Expect to spend at least 1 hour inside at Rio Secreto. Full day tours are available.
  • If you suffer from anxiety or claustrophobia this may not be the right tour for you
  • But if you love a great adventure, you are going to love Rio Secreto

Watch our Rio Secreto Video

rio secreto cenote video
See the full video here

Rio Secreto Cenote was a once in a lifetime experience. If you are looking for one amazing thing to do when visiting Cancun or the Yucatan Peninsual, put Rio Secreto at the top of your list. You won’t regret it.

Prices for a Rio Secreto tour direct through the Rio Secreto Website

Transportation not included: Adults: $79.00 USD / Children: $39.50 USD (4 to 12 years old).
Round trip from Riviera Maya: Adults: $109.00 USD / Children: $54.50 USD (4 to 12 years old).
Round trip from Cancún: Adults: $109.00 USD / Children: $54.50 USD (4 to 12 years old).

Read More about Mexico travels:

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Book Your Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner. We have used them for years and have found that they have the best flight deals.

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor.

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Safety Wing - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Book Your Activities: Looking for walking tours, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more? Then we recommend Get Your Guide.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

14 thoughts on “Rio Secreto Cenote – Mexico’s Magical Underground Caves”

  1. This looks so awesome, thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to try it! What camera did you bring in there? A cellphone or go pro or?? I’d love to try to get some of those mysterious reflection shots. How much did the photographer charge for their photos?

    • It really was. At first I was a bit nervous because it’s quite tight in there, but it was magical and by the time you get to the smaller caverns, you are comfortable and ready for it.

  2. I would love to explore a cenote! I actually had never heard of them before even when we were in Mexico until a friend told me about them and now I want to go back to Mexico just to explore one. Looks like such a fun adventure!

  3. Cenotes are one of the places I’ve been dreaming of for years. I searched several times for diving, but didn’t know that it was also possible to walk/swim.
    Love the first photo, and I get it that you must have had a good light, otherwise the cenotes are dark and you only use your headlamp. Right?

  4. One of my greatest travel memories is diving into the cenotes of the Yucatán. I immediately fell in love with them, so would obviously love to experience Rio Secreto. Good luck!

  5. Wow, I had no idea there were so many amazing cenotes in the Mayan Riviera. Rio Secreto is definitely on my bucket list now. Great post, Dave & Deb!

  6. Wow that looks like a great and exciting time. I’ve heard about it Rio Secreto but don’t know anyone that has actually been. Definitely a must add to the list of places to visit.

  7. Great to know. Thanks for sharing. As I will be in Mexico from the end of November, it’s perfect timing. I will definitely check out Rio Secreto.