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Travel to Mexico: Car rental in Yucatan & Playa del Carmen

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by maatTheViking, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Danish Ice Dance! Go Laurence & Nikolaj!

    We are thinking of getting some sun around late March, and were looking to travel to Mexico, as we have never been.

    My husband and I will be going with our 2 year old, and we are not particular interested in going to an all inclusive resort. Our plan is loosely to spend some days in Playa Del Carmen for some beach stuff, spend a night or 2 in Tulum and a night or 2 at Chichen Itza. I always enjoy ruins and archeology, and would love to see the world heritage site.
    I looked at the tours from the big tourist towns, but it looks like it is a 3 hour bus ride each way, and there is no way I will do that with 2 year old. It looks like it is perfectly viable to find a hotel close to Chichen Itza and drive there ourselves at our own pace (which would also make it easier to visit places like Coba and Ek' Balam).

    I was wondering if anyone here has any experiences driving in Mexico in the Yucatan? From what I have researched on the internet it seems like it is pretty safe, and it should be straight forward to rent a car in Cancun, especially if we reserve from home.

    Any other tips would also be appreciated!
  2. mikey

    mikey ...an acquired taste

    I spent a week in Cancun about 6 months ago- not in an all-inclusive resort, but rather in a private condo that I rented through Home Away. I rented a car at the Cancun airport and drove everywhere- as far south as Tulum and as far west as Chichen Itza. Tulum is amazingly beautiful. Chichen Itza is too touristy, but you should definitely visit. It was just like driving in the US and I never felt unsafe at all. One surprising thing I really enjoyed was a little place called the Crococun Zoo, which is more of an animal sanctuary than a zoo- you can feed spider monkeys and deer, walk (safely) among crocodiles, and see all kinds of rescued animals. Don't be afraid to rent a car.
  3. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    I did not do the driving but we rode in a bus from the port in Progresso to Uxmal (about 120 km) and the highways were in excellent condition- better than the highways we traveled on to get from Iowa to Texas!! So I would say driving in the Yucatan is much like driving in the US
  4. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Danish Ice Dance! Go Laurence & Nikolaj!

    thanks for the tips, guys.

    This sounds great!

    thanks for the note about the Zoo/Animal Sanctuary too, sounds like it will be a good activity for a 2 year old too :)
  5. Rob

    Rob Beach Bum

    I go to the Yucatan and Quintana Roo regularly, and I have driven all over that area from Cancun to Tulum to Punta Allen to Coba to Chichen Itza to Chiquila to Merida. I usually stay in Akumal/Half Moon Bay or on Isla Holbox. I have never had any incidents or felt unsafe. Normal precautions on not leaving stuff in your car. I love Tulum -- might stay in one of the beach hotels south of Tulum next time I go.

    There is a citizens group of volunteer auto mechanics called the Green Angels who patrol the roads in green utility trucks in order to assist tourists with car trouble They can provide gas, oil, tire repair and other minor maintenance, and can call a tow truck if you need it. They only charge for parts, and they don't accept tips. They want to promote tourism -- they've been around since the 60s. The phone number I have for them is (999) 983 1184, but you should look it up to make sure that is current. They are awesome. There used to be bad potholes on the way to Chichen Itza and also between Tulum and Punta Allen, and they fixed my brother's tire/wheel when he damaged it in a pothole. Many of the roads have been improved, but not necessarily the one to Punta Allen so take it slow if you go there. The road from Cancun to Tulum is great.

    When you are on the main roads, the practice is to pull over on the shoulder if a faster car comes up behind you and flashes its lights. The shoulders are wide on the highways. If you come up behind a slow car, flash your lights, and he should move over so you can drive through without passing in the other lane. Tourists sometimes take some time to learn this though.

    The roads in the jungle (Coba or Chichen Itza) can be more narrow so take it slow esp after dark or in rain. If a large truck is coming be prepared to have to pull way over.

    Ask to see the car you are renting before you sign the rental agreement. I have gotten some pretty shoddy cars (even at Alamo or Budget) and had to upgrade to something more reliable -- a sputtering car or even one with a hole in the floor so I could see the street through it. Make sure everything works (headlights; windshield wipers).

    Keep your car gassed up. It can be quite a distance between gas stations.

    Loco Gringo is a good site if you are looking to rent a condo with a kitchen.

    The snorkeling is great at Half Moon Bay, but because of the coral reef, the edge of the water is rocky. You need aqua shoes there. The sand in Playa del Carmen, Akumal, and Tulum is soft and not rocky, but no coral means not much snorkeling opportunity. Not sure whether you care about that with a 2 year old though. Sands are whiter in Akumal Tulum than in Playa where ships come in.

    If you see a mound of sand on the beach with stones around it, it is a sea turtle breeding area and don't walk through it. Can't remember when or how long breeding season is, but you can look it up.
  6. maatTheViking

    maatTheViking Danish Ice Dance! Go Laurence & Nikolaj!

    thanks Rob too! awesome info.

    I have now booked our flight for the beginning of March, now I will look for hotels and cars. It has been so long since we have travelled anywhere besides weekend trips and trips to visit family, I am so excited :D