Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Thu January 21 2016

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  • Nick and Dariece | January 21, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    Rio Secreto: Amazing, Eco-Friendly Cave Exploration in the Yucatan

    Rio Secreto: Amazing, Eco-Friendly Cave Exploration in the Yucatan

    Photos courtesy of Rio Secreto

    The more we globetrot, the more we strive to associate with travel and tourism companies that engage in sustainable, eco-friendly practices. Unfortunately, these outfits can be few and far between, especially in highly touristy countries such as Mexico.

    When we heard about Rio Secreto (Secret River), which is located just a few miles from the popular seaside city of Playa del Carmen, we were immediately intrigued, but skeptical of joining a tour for fear that the guides might not be as conscious of the natural surroundings as they should be. The more we read up on this seven-and-a-half mile long, semi-sunken, partially flooded cave system, we knew that we had to see it, and hoped that the tour would meet our standards.

    Immediately upon our arrival, we noticed the company’s air of professionalism. We were sat down and played a video about Rio Secreto — shown what we were allowed to do, and what we weren't. There were definitely rules on this tour!

    rio secreto cave

    Cameras were not allowed inside of the cave, and we all had to shower off before entering in order to rid our bodies of harmful oils, lotions and sunscreen. We were then given a wetsuit, life jacket and helmet. We excitedly gathered into our group of eight (which is the maximum), and set off with our upbeat guide down a jungle-y path towards the entrance of the cave.

    RELATED: Subterranean Splendor: 6 Underground Caves Worth Exploring

    The anticipation was eating away at us and we couldn't wait to get inside and see this underground world with our own eyes. As we entered, we were in awe of what we saw. Jagged stalactites and stalagmites dominated the cave, and water was up to our knees. It was dark, cool and damp.

    rio secreto underwater cave

    We walked on a marked path when necessary so as to ensure we didn't ruin any of the mineral formations, which have been there for many years. When we weren't walking, we were actually swimming through the cave, and floating in ecstasy!

    At one point, we were all instructed to lie on our backs and turn off our headlamps. We were a little leery of doing so, and afraid of turning back on the lights only to find out that we were alone! But we did as directed, and the feeling was magical. We sat in utter darkness for around one minute, hearing nothing but the dripping of water from the stalactites, and each other's breathing. Whether our eyes were open or not didn't matter, the darkness surrounded us.

    rio secreto river system

    Our guide was extremely informative, passionate and knowledgeable about the underground cave system, and the ecology of it all. As we were all floating in the cool water, our leader told us about how Rio Secreto was discovered. A local Mayan man was out hunting an iguana one day. Unfortunately, the iguana was much too fast for him, and scurried off into the bushes, and into a hole. The man was convinced that he heard a splashing sound and looked inside the hole. That's when he realized that he was sitting on a gold mine.

    RELATED: Exploring the Cenotes of Mexico's Yucatan

    Before 2007, no one except for the local man had entered inside of this cave system. Today this is, in our opinion, the best tour you could go on in the Yucatan. The man still owns the land and property, but rents it out (for a pretty penny) to the Rio Secreto company on a monthly basis. After 45 minutes of exploration, we emerged from the depths and back onto dry land...with huge grins on our faces.

    rio secreto group size

    The eco-minded nature of this tour was incredible. Not only were the groups small, but also the tours were staggered in such a way that we never saw anyone else inside of the cave. We had the whole underground world to ourselves! The cost of this tour is $109 including pick-up and drop-off from your hotel in Playa del Carmen, or the Riviera Maya, 45 minutes inside of the cave, a guide and gear, and a delicious buffet lunch. In our opinion, this excursion is worth every penny.


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Nick and Dariece Notes from the Goats

Nick and Dariece Nick and Dariece are the couple behind Goats On The Road, a website designed to inspire others to live a financially sustainable, location independent lifestyle. Masters at making money abroad and turning their travels into a way of life, they've been on the road since 2008 and have explored some of the least visited places on earth, finding adventure wherever they go. They are also full time contributors at Credit Walk where they share their expertise of making money and travelling forever. Check them out at Goats On The and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
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