Renting a car in Cancun, Mexico

Renting a car

I often get asked whether it makes sense to rent a car and drive on a trip.  To me, the answer is always fairly consistent: yes, if you can drive the local cars (and if your goal is specifically to get out of the city and see as much around it as possible), it’s always better to drive – simply because then you just get to see more of the area.

In Mexico in general, driving is easy and straightforward.  You just need to purchase Mexican insurance, even if you’re driving from San Diego and visiting only Tijuana.

In Cancun specifically, driving is very comfortable.  Rent a car in any hotel, CUN (Cancun airport) or at any local car rental company.  In our case, most of the hotels we stayed in had a local representative from Budget or Avis downstairs right in the lobby – you could book a vehicle for a 24-hour trip with no prior notice.  Remember that your credit card will often provide automatic basic (non-liability) insurance for the vehicle, so be sure to check with your bank which insurance you need to purchase separately, and which insurance is already covered for you in Mexico.

Driving a rental car in Mexico

When driving, there are no special rules that you need to know to get around safely; there are a lot of tourists on the roads.  The only thing is – watch out for boobs.  That’s what we call the huge speed bumps Mexican freeways have.  That’s right, freeways with speed bumps! Here are the details.

When a freeway enters a town, there are often unmarked speed bumps on the road to slow down the traffic.  Not sure why those are unmarked.  Actually, close to Cancun most highway speed bumps are marked. But the further you go out of town – for example, if you take Hwy 307 southeast to Tulum or Xel-Ha – the more often the unmarked speed bumps appear.  When we’re departing Cancun with a bunch of friends in one can, we always discuss that we should all watch out for speedbumps.  For the first hour, they are easy to spot, so we relax a bit.  That’s when they become unmarked, and on the first speedbump, the car flies high into the air from hitting a bump at a highway speed.  That hurts.  After one or two of these, the full car of people shouts out “Boobs!” to whoever is behind the wheel.  A bunch of people regularly shouting “boobs” is always fun to observe :)

We rented a car for day trips only – you only need a car for Akumal, Tulum, Xcaret, Cozumel and Xel-Ha.  Isla Mujeres, Zona Hotelera and Cancun downtown and within a walking distance or via a bus for $0.50.