Mexico – The Underground Paradise of Rio Secreto

We have all visited caves, I have many. But, I admit I had never experienced anything like this before. Rio Secreto is a huge system of caves near to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Over many many centuries an underground river of pure water has been carving out pure beauty beneath. Of course so much of it would need to be explored in diving suits, but, at the area of Rio Secreto the networks are semi filled thus making it accessible to many.

Mexico – The Underground Paradise of Rio Secreto

Wetsuits on, right from the start as you go into one of the many entrances hidden in the jungle the eyes and senses are hit with pure natural beauty that cannot be seen hardly anywhere on earth.

I had never heard of the caves here at Rio Secreto before, but I was never going to forget them for the rest of my life. A unique place that has to be seen and experienced to be believed. The colours!

Mexico – The Underground Paradise of Rio Secreto

Mexico – The Underground Paradise of Rio Secreto

The care taken by the owners and guides to ensure it stays pure for future generations is a great thing to see. All must shower before entering, all are briefed on how to avoid touching the stalactites etc to stop human contamination. No glaring touristic lights to show the way or footways. It truly is just you, a headtorch and an awesome natural paradise.

Mexico – The Underground Paradise of Rio Secreto

Mexico – The Underground Paradise of Rio Secreto

Sometimes you are walking, sometimes ducking down, sometimes swimming/floating through the pure clear water. One and a half hours slowly taking it all in. The guide has so much knowledge and enthusiasm too. Everything is explained or proudly shown.

Even as I write this with all fresh in my mind I feel I should pinch myself to prove I actually saw and experienced what I did. Magical! Beautiful! Mother Nature, my favourite architect, thank you!

Mexico – The Underground Paradise of Rio Secreto

Written by Paul Steele

Founder of and avid hiker, climber and trekker. Never liking to sit still and always seeking new adventures around the world. Sharing personal views here and tweeting live via @paul_steele


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  1. I’d really like to do this with my husband, but he is a non-swimmer and is not comfortable having to rely on a life jacket. He has no problem wearing a life jacket, but prefers to have his feet on the ground too. Is this something a no swimmer can do?

  2. Well written! Rio Secreto is one of my favorite excursions.. From the beginning with the blessing to the guide that had so much love and respect for the park.. Plan on going back for sure ! Thank you so much for the memories;)

  3. Hello Paul, I was there for Christmas and New year and I visited the caves . Wonderful experience . Your photos capture the wonder of the caves . Playa del Carmen , great holiday destination . So much to see and do. I wish I could have bumped into you , that would have been good Anna x

  4. What an amazing adventure! Mother Nature has created so many beautiful places for us to see. This is going on my bucket list. Thank you for sharing your adventure.

  5. Paul you have a wonderful and very beautiful pictures here. just one missing. its Bhutan's cultural, landscapes, people, etc. You should visit Bhutan on photographic tour. i can arrange you one with a lowest fare. let me know if you are interested.

  6. Wow! Absolutely stunning! Seeing these images makes me wonder how much beauty this planet has to offer us! And we're just contaminating it!
    Thank you for sharing!

  7. WOW! I love going into caves and these are extroadinary. Waitomo Caves in NZ are kind of similar but if I remember rightly they don't have as many fantastic colours (its basically pitch black haha). Did you take the photos or are these from the company?

  8. We just visited Rio Secreto Oct 16, 2011. AMAZING and highlight of our trip to Playa del Carmen. Your photos capture the true beauty of this place. The guides are more than eco-friendly and nice to see that the management has not sold out to total commercialization. The water was twice as deep as normal because of all the rain Playa had last week which made it even more of an adventure.

  9. This is just beautiful. I was in Playa del Carmen last year and sure wish I had known about this place. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures!

  10. I have truly enjoyed vicariously traveling the world through you~! I never dreamed anything so beautiful existed – especially underground~! Just as I was wondering how you were getting around or seeing, you answered. I love your writing style, Paul, it's fantastic, flows easily and intuitively. The photography here is absolutely STUNNING~!!

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