Mexico – The Underground Paradise of Rio Secreto

We have all visited caves but I admit I had never experienced anything like Rio Secreto before. A huge system of caves near to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. One of the natural wonders of the country. It is actually one of the best underground experiences I have ever had. A natural wonder does not cover enough in words what it is like when you take a trip through it.

mex-cave-126 Mexico – The Underground Paradise of Rio Secreto


Over many centuries an underground river of pure water has been carving out pure beauty beneath the ground through the limestone. There are around 38 km of caves in the system and 10 km are used for tourism that you see here. More than enough plus preservation is very important. During research into the caves they have found cave paintings and religious altars from the Maya people. So it was most probably an important place too, long ago, before us modern people re found it.

How was It Discovered

The caves remained hidden after the Maya civilisation, until one day, in 2004, a farmer was chasing an iguana. He chased into one of the cave entrances and thus Rio Secroto was discovered in the modern world. This paradise beneath the ground.

My Day Within The Caves

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.

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!

mex-cave-110 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.

mex-cave-126 Mexico – The Underground Paradise of Rio Secreto

Wading through the water, carefully, you may get a glimpse of some of the truly unique wildlife down here. Life that has evolved with no light.

mex-cave-130 Mexico – The Underground Paradise of Rio Secreto

mex-cave-134 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. And the Mexicans are right to be proud of this.

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!

mex-cave-132 Mexico – The Underground Paradise of Rio Secreto

After the discovery of the caves in 2004. It was mapped then a section open for ecotourism public tours. If you are in Mexico and near to Playa del Carmen then I seriously suggest you take a tour in these wondrous caves. It will give you memories to treasure.

Written by Paul Steele

Paul is the founder and Editor of the site. An avid hiker and trekker. Travel, adventure and photography are passions that he combines to make his articles here. Likes to see the positive in everything.


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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. What a beautiful post, what gorgeous photographs! I’m hooked and signing up to see more …

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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?

  9. wow wow and wow again thank we started thinking about offering tours to this wonderful place

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. WOW!!! Paul, that must have been incredible to see first hand, the pictures are beautiful!!! Thank you for sharing!

  13. Too much green color. Must be lots of acid in this "clear water" percolation. I think somebody dyed the water.

  14. 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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