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“Uniquely Different, Truly Amazing!”
Review of Rio Secreto

Rio Secreto
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Mexico reveals its newly-discovered underground river: Very few places in the world boast conditions that make it possible to witness the extraordinary beauty of an underground river. Rio Secreto is a fantastic journey into a unique system of underground rivers and ancient caverns that reveals both the astonishing interaction of time within the interior of our planet and the miraculous existence of our lives. Come and experience this magical journey with us on your next vacations in Mexico.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed July 23, 2013

I’ll begin by saying that on the 8 cruises I’ve done this by far was, if not the best shore excursion I’ve ever done. It is totally unique and different than other excursions offered for most Caribbean cruises and very cultural for the region.

Getting there- The area of the Cave Hike is about 20 mins from the Cruise ship ferry pier in Playa Del Carmen. We were meet there, filled out some paperwork and off we went. Some on Trip Advisor complain about the road you go down to get to the area of the hike. Its not that bad folks, it’s bumpy, its off road and we all had a blast driving down it.

The facility- The facility is rather pretty with a nice jungle escape feel to it. They provide you with all the equipment you need, wetsuits, water shoes, life jackets, and then towels for when you’re done with the hike. They also had a wonderful included hot lunch for the groups prior to leaving. The food was very good in fact. We didn’t expect that to be included and were rather glad it was.

The Hike- We did the two hour hike, they do offer a 5 hour but being we were on a cruise you have to be back on the ship at a certain time. It’s very hard to put into words the beauty of the cave and hiking through the river. It’s simply amazing and a pure sensory experience. The hike itself isn’t simple yet it’s not overly difficult either. If you’ve hiked before, can swim, and are in decent shape you’ll do fine and enjoy this. You are guided through the caves and our guide (Eduardo) was fantastic! The rock formations above, below, and all around you are amazing. You just can’t wrap your head around how nature formed these.

Pictures- So let me address the no camera policy. Very simply folks it would be impossible without professional water proof gear for you to take pictures. The Caves are pitch black and the only light is from your helmet light. Plus you are hiking in neck deep water at times. They take pictures of you and the pictures are rather good. They have several options for you to purchase the pictures that include other professional pictures of the caves a book or shirt and hat. I found it highly worthwhile and I’m glad I bought the pictures. Prices range from $25 to a bit over $100. I did the $90 package which included pictures, a shirt and hat.

Overall- If you are tired of the typical excursion on a cruise then do this, it’s amazingly different and something you’ll always remember. This is a 5 star rating all the way!

Thank Tom A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 22, 2013

This was a totally unexpected and wonderfully authentic experience. I had cynically assumed that all tourist activities in this part of Mexico were both overpriced and touristy, leading to underwhelming experiences.

You join the group, and take a very bumpy, 20 minute ride out to a remote area. There are a few buildings, lots of trees, and some very rickety facilities. Everyone showers off the sun screen and other chemicals (we didn't put any on that day), then don a wetsuit and lifejacket.

Next, you take a short hike through the jungle and start your descent into the cave system. You will need to be physically fit enough to do some climbing, swimming, treading water, staying balanced, and sustaining these activities over an hour.

This is experience can not be recreated, and I almost wish it wasn't destined to become so popular. It was absolutely gorgeous, exciting, and had me wanting to go right back underground when we were finished all too soon.

Afterwards, we had a nice, Mayan lunch with fiery salsa (and we're from Texas - not wimps!) We bought a photo, and considered the inflated price a donation to help conserve the caves.

Thank Courtknee2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rio Secreto M, Manager at Rio Secreto, responded to this reviewResponded July 23, 2013

Hi Courtknee2. We are so pleased that your visit to Rio Secreto was an unexpected and wonderfully authentic experience. Since the very beginning it has been our mission to make this experience possible for everyone who visits the Riviera Maya. These systems are unique to the region and we at Rio Secreto are working very hard to maintain our underground river system in its natural state. This why, amongst other things, we keep our groups small and limit our hourly operational capacity. It is at the same time a fragile and incredibly beautiful system and we are thrilled that you shared this beautiful place with us. We really hope you will come and visit us again.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 21, 2013

We have a wonderful time visiting the under ground caves, its an experience of what mother's natures it's capable of creating. The guides are very protective of the well being of the group.
I recomend a visit if You are in the area!!!!!Lwe love from the guide to the food, an amazing experience.

Thank Fanny Q
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 19, 2013

Done a day trip combined with Tulum and finished with the afternoon at Rio Secretto Caves. I am a lifelong adventurer and have caved on many occasions in a variety of locations, so I said I would give Rio Secretto caves a go, under the belief that they were going to be somewhat false, commercialised, altered for the tourist etc, but I must say I was wrong.
On arrival I got the sense of here we go again another commercialised Mexican tourist rip-off but quite shortly I realised once check-in was done that the place was not what I thought it would be.
We were told in advance our guides name (Alfredo) and we were grouped with a family from Texas and two German lads and it was a perfect group size, from a safety ratio and from the point of view that we got real good personal attention from our assigned guide.
Anyway after a short wait a bus arrived and we all boarded for a bumpy 5-6 km trip to the cave site through the jungle. On arrival we were promptly kitted out in wetsuits, helmets with lamps, shoes and buoyancy aids and the facilities were quite good and to a high standard.
From the onset I got a great sense of passion from our guide Alfredo and it became apparent quite quickly that this guy was an honest, passionate, caring individual and was actually quite knowledgeable about his pursuit which I was extremely happy about and this for me made quite a difference to the whole caving experience.
We entered the cave and I was absolutely delighted that no alterations, damage or any stupid tourist gimmicks were carried out and the cave was in excellent condition throughout. Our guide Alfredo was at pains to ensure that we caused no damage and he watched out for everyone with diligence.
The cave is a high percentage water covered from ankle to knee to waist to chest deep water in places and extremely safe at all times. there was one or two water course sections that were about 15ft deep and no problem at all, your buoyancy aid does all the hard work for you and you just gently propel yourself along, of course there are several dry sections and I felt the balance between the wet and dry sections was just right.
We exited the cave after about 21/2 hours and we went back to a jungle camp area where a buffet and drinks were included in the price. During the cave trip a staff photographer accompanied us and photographed us on the journey. But if you are keen to do your own photography ONLY bring a waterproof camera with you as you will be neck deep in water, so any other camera is at risk of water damage.
This was a worth while trip and lacked the usual Mexican hassle and bother that accompanies other trips and for the first time ever in Mexico, yes for the first time ever, not one member of the Rio Secretto staff looked for a tip, or hinted or suggested a tip, this really impressed me and so much so the guide got a good tip.
Now for the down side, firstly, the cost is unusually high $99USD, but I got Tulum included for $1USD extra on the same trip so that was not too bad.
The photography that was done by the resident photographer was quite overpriced and on viewing the copy's I felt that they were not of a great standard, I mean the scenery was lovely in the photo's within the cave but the photographer lacked any imagination where we were concerned and I saw nothing special at all and for the price...no thanks.
The jungle area of the food buffet was really nice but the food was only at average and nothing special here at all, drinks were also available free, but you could purchase a beer or a coke or other branded sodas for a very reasonable cost at the camp area.
Overall a lovely experience and if you are not looking for the typical touristy, gimmicky, plastic Mexican experiences then Rio Secretto is worth the visit, and if you are coming all the way down from Cancun then visit Tulum as well, and if you want a nicer archaeological experience then skip Chichen Itza if you are planning it, do Tulum instead as you will be scourged by parasitic annoying vendors inside the archaeological site at Chichen Itza selling absolute rubbish from China masquerading as "genuine" Mayan art and ruining your guides explanation of the site with silly wooden toys making fake jaguar noises. Not the case at Tulum, vendors are kept away from the site and that's really a big plus for Tulum.

3  Thank mickptre
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 19, 2013

This was a surprise excursion that my friend had organised on our cruise on the Disney Fantasy ship. He was so excited about going but wouldn't tell me until we got there, and everyone he spoke to was so excited for us as word gets around that this is a great excursion to go on.

And they're not wrong.

What an absolutely fantastic day. As part of the excursion through Disney Fantasy, you're taken to Playa Del Carmen by boat from Cozumel and escorted to the site by road. You're given lockers to put your stuff in (free of charge), and then provided all your gear - wet suit, wet shoes, life vest and helmet. You're separated into small groups which enter different parts of the caves and you're accompanied by a guide and a photographer (who will take anyone back to base camp should the need/desire arise).

The caves are pitch black and the only illumination comes from the lights in your helmet, making this such an atmospheric experience. Our guide, Rene, was fantastic, and would stop occasionally to give details about the caves and the fauna that live there. At certain spots throughout the cave, you'll stop to have professional pictures taken with whomever you came on the trip with. It wasn't until I saw these pictures that I could fully appreciate the beauty of these caves thanks to flash photography. The results were stunning and the pictures turned out fantastic.

At the end of the walk/wade/swim through the caves, you give your gear back and you're given a complimentary shot of liqueur (or soft alternative..) and the chance to buy your photos (the whole package is worth it in my opinion as the photos are stunning). Then lunch is provided! It was a 'simple' lunch, but very tasty, and a nice touch to end the trip. Once we'd finished lunch, we had a chance to lounge around in the hammocks while waiting for our transport to arrive to take us back to the port, where we had spare time to wonder round the shops and beach before being escorted back onto the boat to get back to the ship in Cozumel.

All in all, an absolutely fantastic trip that is great for everyone - couples, families, friends, solo etc. Nothing to be scared about going in the caves. On my particular the visit, the water levels were quite low as it hadn't rained in a while so most of it was walking or wading through water with only a couple of times where we had to 'swim' (inverted commas as you have a life vest so very little effort needed to move yourself along!). There's no tight gaps or anything like that you have to work your way through.

100% recommend.

2  Thank Matthew M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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