Rio Secreto, or the “Secret River,” is a series of caves carved out by the flow of an ancient underground river in Mexico. While the reserve is most famous for its large half-sunken cavern—a popular diving spot—you can also explore eerie passageways, swim in the river, and admire dripping stalactites, stalagmites, and colorful mineral formations.
Most Rio Secreto tours leave from Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Tulum, and other Riviera Maya destinations. At the nature reserve, you can tour the underground river, visit the famous Crystal Caves, and learn about ancient Maya legends. Combo tours combine a visit to Rio Secreto with other activities, such as an early-access visit to the Tulum ruins, a mountain biking excursion, or an ATV tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Rio Secreto Nature Reserve is a must-see attraction for nature lovers.
- The reserve is accessible by guided tour only.
- Bring water shoes to navigate the reserve’s rocky surfaces.
- Tours typically include a wetsuit, life jacket, helmet, towels, and use of lockers.
How to Get There
The Rio Secreto underground river is located in Playa del Carmen, in the Quintana Roo region of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. By road, it is roughly 20 minutes from downtown Playa del Carmen, 45 minutes from Tulum, and one hour from Cancun. Many tours include round-trip transportation from Riviera Maya hotels, but you can also get there by taxi, rental car, or shuttle bus.
When to Get There
Rio Secreto is busiest from December through April, when the weather tends to be sunny and warm. There are fewer crowds during hurricane season (May through October), but be sure to check the weather for storms if you plan to participate in outdoor activities.
What to See Near Rio Secreto
Mexico’s Caribbean Quintana Roo region is full of attractions, both natural and man-made. Nearby Playa del Carmen is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and shopping. The Maya ruins at Coba, with a 138-foot-high (42-meter-high) stone pyramid, are also a must-see. The archaeological sites of Tulum and Chichen Itza are also great spots to explore. For an island getaway, visit the shores of Isla Mujeres or Cozumel.