Cenotes, Caves and Ziplines – Oh My!


Cenotes, Caves and Ziplines in Riviera Maya, Mexico

When we travel, we try to experience the aspects of what makes a destination unique. Sometimes this is the culture or the delicious cuisine and other times it’s an adventure activity.

The thing that sets Riviera Maya apart, for me, is the abundance of cenotes (sinkhole), caves and underground rivers. Thankfully, I was able to experience two different locations which have all three of these things.

Our first day in Riviera Maya was a whirlwind of adventure. We joined our upbeat and energetic guide from Alltournative tours in the Mayan village of Rancho San Felipe.

Our guide led us to the keepers of the Nohoch Nah Chiich cave so we could partake in a short Mayan purification ceremony in order to ask permission to enter this sacred space. Immediately after, we threw on our bikinis, trunks and life vests in order to explore Yaxmuul, a natural underground pool with pristine and surprisingly warm water.

After swimming through this pool, now it was time to rappel 40 feet down into a cenote. The thought of rappelling into a cenote made me both excited and uneasy, but our guide explained everything perfectly so that each of us felt more comfortable. As soon as I plunged into the refreshing water below, I instantly wanted to go again!

Cenotes, Caves and Ziplines in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Up next… Our zip-lining adventure! This was my second time zip-lining, so I wasn’t nervous at all. After my zip-lining experience in Costa Rica I felt like a pro especially since I didn’t chop off my hand (one of the things they warned us about in Costa Rica!) Our Alltournative Tours guide informed us we wouldn’t need to slow down at all. The zip-lines were not very steep, so you could glide your way to the end without a crash landing. This made things a whole lot easier!

The third zip-line at this particular ranch in Riviera Maya had a unique twist in that we would enter the mouth of a cave and land in the water. I have video to prove it!

We ended our adventures with an exhilarating snorkel through a portion of the Sac-Actun underground river system; while posing for photos, of course!

Cenotes, Caves and Ziplines in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Cenotes, Caves and Ziplines in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Rio Secreto in Riviera Maya, Mexico

My second caving adventure in Riviera Maya took place in Rio Secreto, located in Playa Del Carmen. This is one of the most beautiful caves in the world and was surprisingly just discovered in 1997.

I’m not exactly sure why, but the thought of being 90 feet underground, walking through a cave, made my slight claustrophobia kick into high gear (more on that in a later post).

I felt a little uneasy during my first few moments hiking through this cave, but once I focused less on my fear of enclosed spaces and more on the beauty of this natural wonder, I felt my anxiety melting away.

While hiking and swimming through Rio Secreto, I noticed the absence of walkways, guard rails and colored lights like those I have seen in caves in Vietnam. The mission of this community is to keep the cave in its natural state as much as possible and preserve the area as an ecological reserve.

Cenotes, Caves and Ziplines in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Cenotes, Caves and Ziplines in Riviera Maya, Mexico

If you are heading to Riviera Maya I would highly recommend booking either one (or both!) of these tours.



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  1. Dean Wickham says:

    Those caves are just stunning..and this sounds like a lot of fun!

  2. You are so adventurous!! I love that photo of you repelling!!