Take a Peek Into the Mayan Underworld in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Things to Do

Take a Peek Into the Mayan Underworld in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

When you think of a vacation to Mexico, you probably imagine swinging in a hammock, swimming in clear-blue water and sipping margaritas. When visiting Playa del Carmen, you can take a once in a lifetime adventure trip when you’ve had your fill of the gorgeous sun and surf. Plus, if you’ve spent too much time in the sun, you’ll be in the shade most of the time and still be active.

Known as the Mayan Underworld or the Secret River, Rio Secreto is a clear, fresh, underwater river that flows among myriad stalactites and stalagmites. Visitors can take a guided swim and hike tour or a custom-made tour.

Why is it called the “Mayan Underworld”?

The word “cenote” comes up a lot in relation to Mexico vacations—but do you know what it means? A cenote (pronounced “seh-no-tay”) is an underwater cavern that forms when limestone in a cave collapses and allows entrance to an underground, freshwater river.


The word cenote comes from the Mayan word “dzonot” which means “cavity with life-giving water” or “sacred well”, and these pools were believed to be entrances to the underworld. It’s easy to see from the crystalclear, clean water why this would have been a life-giving location revered by the ancient Mayans in a time where freshwater sources were scarce.

You’ll learn more about the history and beliefs of the Maya from your guides during the tour.

Know Before You Go to Rio Secreto:

Getting There

Rio Secreto is only approximately three miles south of Playa Del Carmen and you can have transportation included in your ticket price or take a car.

Booking Tips

If you chat with Rio Secreto Mexico Tours via their website chat feature, they will send you a code for 15% off. Just be sure not to get confused when booking—there’s a newer tour called Rio Secreto Wild Tour that offers hiking, swimming and biking, but it’s a totally different tour that’s at a different location closer to Cancún.


This five-to-six-hour excursion does require physical effort and comfort in the water, but children as young as four can undertake the journey. Visitors wear a life vest the entire time and the water portion is fairly shallow. Before descending into the stunning natural pool, showers are provided to minimize buildup and chemicals entering the cave. Skip your heavy products on this day.

The ticket price comes with all of your supplies, including a life vest, guide, helmet, towel and lunch at the end of the tour.

Capturing Your Experience

Cameras are not allowed in the cave, as dropped equipment could damage the environment and a very bright flash is required to get a clear image. But don’t worry, Rio Secreto guides have professional photography and lighting equipment with them on every tour and you can purchase your photos to keep.

Last Words

An anonymous reviewer described their trip to Rio Secreto in their own words:

“A LIFE EXPERIENCE! If you come to Mayan Riviera you cannot miss this fabulous expedition. It exceeds everyone expectations. Small groups. Great guides. Meditation underground is just amazing!! This is my favorite excursion in the whole peninsula.”

If you take a trip to Rio Secreto, make sure to tag @beach in your photos so we can see your adventure!

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