The name means “The island of women” that alone should be a reason to go, but “Isla” as locals call it, is much more than the promise of an island inhabited only by women, once a small fishermen island, now days Isla is a small piece of heaven on earth with little colorful houses, coffee shops, bars and restaurants by the beach and on its narrow streets downtown.
People in the island lives a simple life and enjoy of those little pleasures we, the people from the city, have forgotten.
Isla Mujeres is only 4 miles long and less than 1 mile across, and in it, a mixed population of native islanders with Mayan roots and people from all over the world share this paradise. Americans, Canadians and Italians amongst other nationalities now call Isla Mujeres their home, bringing a new style to local traditions and making Isla a must visit destination while visiting the Mayan World.
Isla Mujeres is located only 15 minutes away from Cancun; to get there you need to take a boat ride from Cancun’s hotel zone or from Puerto Juarez in the downtown area, being Puerto Juarez a cheaper option.
You can also take your car if you want to; the Ferry is located in Punta Sam, a few kilometers north Puerto Juarez.
Reasons to go:
Swim with the whale shark!
When in season you can swim with the whale sharks, this gentle giants visit the nearby waters every year during the summer, a 45 minute ride on a boat is all you need to swim with these amazing sharks.
Isla Mujeres is located right where the second largest coral reef in the world and the biggest in the western hemisphere begins its path through the Caribbean sea and all the way down to Honduras. Home to more than 500 different species of fish and 65 different corals, this reef homes also five different kinds of turtles, crocodiles, manatees, dolphins, sharks and many other species, making it a fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving option for both, experienced and beginner divers.
This underwater museum is an innovative project aimed to protect and increase the natural biomass of the reef without having to close it to visitors. The museum’s final goal is to have over 1364 artificial inhabitants for the marine life in the area. Many life-size sculptures from the British artist Jason deCaires Taylor can be appreciated on site while helping to protect marine life.
MUSA is located just offshore Isla Mujeres at Manchones reef.
This temple was dedicated to one of the most important goddess of the Mayan pantheon. Ixchel was the goddess of fertility, childbirth and tides and related to the moon, she was portrayed as a dual goddess, benign and destructive, while giving the most essential element of life to men; water, she would also send floods to cleanse the earth from men who have stopped thanking the gods. She was portrayed both as a young kind girl and as an angry old lady. It was believed that she would give protection to those who make the pilgrimage to her temples in Isla Mujeres and Cozumel.
This even smaller island is home of more than 100 species of birds as well of marine life making it a fantastic trip for birdwatchers and snorkeling adventurers, its position between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean sea make it a sanctuary of life. The island is 30 km (18 miles) north Isla Mujeres and only a few visitors are allowed to the island every day so make your reservations some time in advance.
The northern side of the island is where the nicest beaches are, calm gentle surf in turquoise crystal clear water make it a treat for every visitor. Playa Norte is also where most of the beach clubs are so you can find all you need while you lay under the sun. The majority of people come here to enjoy the beach so even when it’s a beautiful area it’s also a little crowded sometimes, especially on Sundays
Have frozen drink or a grilled fresh fish, maybe some ceviche from any of the restaurants here, some offer live music or DJ music for the visitor. Don’t forget to watch the sunset here!!
Isla has many options to enjoy a night in town, Italian, Mexican, Spanish, Mediterranean; style restaurants are open every night. World class cuisine mixes with local style and the fresh ingredients fishermen bring every day. After dark the island becomes alive with music and dance for everyone, romantic little restaurants and parties on the beach are easy to find here where locals and tourist meet and enjoy.
Important spots and things to do in Isla
Playa Norte – beautiful beach
Zama Beach Club in Sac Bajo – beach, pool and restaurant
Turtle farm in Sac Bajo
Swim with the dolphins in Sac Bajo
Snorkelling at Garrafon Park
Snorkeling at Hotel Garrafon de Castilla beach club
Sunbathe at playa sol
Go for a sunset swim on Playa Norte
Stroll the ocean walkway at Punta Sur below the Mayan ruin – the most beautiful spot on the island
Rent a golf cart and see the entire island up close
Drive by the shell house on the Caribbean side
Visit the colorful “Crayola House” in the Colonia on Ave. Josefa Ortiz Domingo.
Visit the famous Spiral Island on Sac Bajo, built by Rishi entirely of plastic bottles
Check out the cemetery in centro, where the grave of Pirate Mundaca is.
Shop the stores in Centro
Rent a bike early in the morning and ride around the entire island (you’ll likely have to walk part way!) its breathtaking.
Visit the old market and the stalls behind it where older ladies sell their wares a much lower prices than the other stores.
The Cenotes are natural water sinkholes scattered all over the Yucatan peninsula, their natural and historic influence is huge, this is due to the fact that the peninsula has no superficial rivers because of its soil characteristics, all the rain water falls down through the limestone and into the underground rivers connecting the more than 10,000 cenotes in the peninsula.
For the wildlife of the region is the only source of fresh water and life revolves and thrives around and within them.
For the ancient Mayas just as for every other species in the area, Cenotes were vital, not only as a source of fresh water but also as a very important aspect of their religious, cultural, political and cosmological life
The Word “cenote” comes from the yucatecan Mayan Word “Dzonot” which is also coming from two words, “Dzotz” which means “Bat” and “Nah” which means “House” so the word actually means “House of bats” this makes a lot of sense as every afternoon after sunset, hundreds of thousands of bats roam out of these caves out in to the open to feed, coming back to the caves every morning before sunrise.
The Mayans settled around these natural water sinkholes and saw them along with caves as the doors to “Xibalba” the Mayan underworld where the spirits of the valiant dead tangle with super natural beings, and the roots of the tree of life are found.
Cenotes where seen as ceremonial places and doorways to the divine. From here, these roots extend through the earthly realms of the forests and to the cosmos.
Human sacrifices where held here by the end of the post-classic period and marked the beginning of the Great Mayan collapse
After all these historical facts here comes the fun. There are over 10,000 Cenotes in the peninsula and you can access to nearly 5,000 of them, yet, there are only a few really accessible from the main roads and near the main towns in Yucatan and Quintana Roo. We are going to focus on those ones to make a simple task easier.
In Quintana Roo
Descending from Cancun on Highway 307 , which runs all the way down to Chetumal, just 30 km from Cancun there’s a little fishermen town called Puerto Morelos , either shortly before reaching Puerto Morelos , located on the right side , we will place an entry with a yellow Arch and with a sign that says Nuevo Vallarta, RUTA DE LOS CENOTES , remember, this is coming from north to south ; Likewise there is advertising a ” Ecological ” Park called Selvatica , move on, and once this indication is located , must delve 17 km, until you reach the community of Nuevo Vallarta, there find at least 5 different Cenotes, and a Temazcal, this is an Indigenous traditional sauna , attended by locals , is a unique experience, should relax first heat of steam into this bath Sauna Maya , and after the Sauna session, a swim , the water is cool to … 24 ° c , is incredible sensation, tempered metabolism , relaxes the nervous system , and cardiovascular system is vitalized , is a rewarding experience . This is also a paradise for Birdwatchers .
Tajmahal this Cenote is only 5 km from Puerto Aventuras. A highly recommended cenote for those who love cave scuba diving and very well known by locals. Its amazing rock formations and its proximity to the ocean give this beautiful place the name of one of the 7 wonders of the world. Incredible vaults that interact with the sunlight creating a magnificent spectacle
Ponderosa; this is one of the most visited cenotes by underwater photographers scuba divers and snorkelers due to its beautiful rock formations and the wildlife that inhabit at it. Turtles, fish and amazing light and shadows make of this cenote one of the best.
Cenote Azul; this cenote is located only 4 km south of Puerto Aventuras and it’s a great option for those who love open snorkeling, it thrives with wildlife.
Aktun Chi; this cenote is located in the middle of the jungle and has 5 different vaults, in its entrance some Mayan temples can be seen guarding the entrance to the underworld as timeless witness of an era.
Sac Actun Considered one of the world’s longest underground rivers , has an entry on the Cancun- Tulum highway; has 153.6 km in length and maximum depth of 72 meters . There are over 111 cenotes in its path, in some of which the archeologists have located the remains of early man, besides historical Pleistocene animal skeletons . Near Tulum, recorded human remains with more than 10,000 years , groups that are even older than the Maya, Olmec or any other recorded groups in the area. Probably the oldest inhabitants of Mesoamerica
Ox Bel Ha; its name means “three paths of water” in ancient Maya, and it’s the longest explored underwater cave in the world, ranking 4th including dry caves. As of January 2014 the surveyed length is 256.9 kilometers (159.6 mi) of underwater passages. It’s located near Tulum and diving centers in town are specialist in these excursions, you can swim in its waters but a certification is required to scuba dive in it.
Cenote Dos ojos, this cenote is one of the top 5 cenotes in the area, the name of this cenote is in Spanish and means “two eyes” due to the connection between two cenotes in an underwater cave, kind of “two eyes in to the underworld. This cenote is perfect for all ages as its facilities are very well conditioned,
Dos ojos is located a few kilometers north Tulum
El Gran Cenote; This cenote is located 3.5 km from Tulum down the road to Coba, this is one of the locals favorites , you can snorkel or Scuba dive its waters with no special certification but a Padi open water certificate. The technical level on this one is very low, yet some previous directions needed.
Cenote Angelita; cave divers love to call it “a saltwater river flowing in a fresh water sinkhole”It is probably the most unusual formation of its kind . The saltwater has a high amount of hydrogen sulfide and a more obvious opacity , highlighting fresh water above this , allowing divers to swim along the underwater building , which has the same appearance as a river . There are even trees and fallen leaves on both sides of its “margins ” , which makes this landscape something even more surreal.
Cenote Calavera; the name means “Skull” and this is due to the shape formed by the 3 holes on the roof of this cenote, the name is also related to the human skull present in it, it is also known as The temple of Doom. This cenote is also just a few minutes drive west from Tulum going to Coba. It is not unusual to find human remains laying in cenotes as they were used for human sacrifice by the ancient Mayans. This cenote is also one of local’s favorites.
Cenote Carwash; this cenote is located just steps from Tulum downtown, its name comes from the use local taxi drivers use to give to this cenote, yes, they used to wash their cabs here. Now this practice is no longer in use and this cenote is one beautiful spot to visit while in Tulum. Its shallow waters are full of life, fish and planta adorn this open cenote making it perfect for snorkeling. Scuba diving is also possible as it is connected to some underwater caves. It’s a great option to spend the day due to its proximity to town and facilities.
Cenote Zazil Ha; the name means “clear water” and it’s also just minutes away from Tulum. The color of its water is jade green and it’s perfect for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. It’s connected to other cenotes like carwash and calavera and has an underground chamber called “Las lagrimas” which in Spanish means “Tears” this is due to the shape of the stalagmites inside. Has a restaurant, bar, cabanas, restrooms and parking lot. Perfect for a refreshing day.
Stay tunned for more cenotes in future posts!!
let us know what you think!
Tips on How to Shop for Mexican Auto Insurance
If you are planning a road trip to Mexico, acquiring quality Mexican auto insurance should be one of your top priorities. It is not much fun to think about having a car accident in Mexico, but it will be even less fun if you end up getting in an accident and you don’t have quality Mexican auto insurance to back you up.
A lot of folks assume that all Mexican auto insurance is basically the same, and rarely shop around for the best product. In fact, a lot of people buy their Mexican insurance at the border just minutes before they cross into Mexico. When purchased last minute at the border, most people do not even read about the insurance coverage they are buying. They often do not know anything about their insurance coverage unless they end up having an accident. After the accident, a lot of people realize just how limited some of the Mexican insurance products are.
This article will demonstrate how less than 10 minutes of pre-planning with your Mexican insurance shopping could save you thousands of dollars and spare you countless headaches in the event that you have to make an insurance claim while driving in Mexico.
Plan ahead and buy your quality Mexican auto insurance Online – Purchase & Print before you leave for your trip!
There are a number of Online Mexican auto insurance websites, including Adventure Mexican Insurance Services www.mexadventure.com <http://www.mexadventure.com/> . Buying your Mexican insurance Online allows you to get an instant quote, and actually read about the coverage you are buying. Once you choose the Mexican insurance product that is best for your situation, you can then purchase & print your Mexican insurance policy directly off the website. The process takes about 5 minutes, and is similar to buying an airline ticket or making a hotel reservation online.
Shopping for Mexican insurance Online allows you to research the following questions:
Are you allowed to repair your vehicle in the US or Canada?
– Will the Mexican insurance company allow you to repair your vehicle in the US or Canada?
Most people do not realize that some Mexican insurance companies actually require your vehicle to be fixed in Mexico! So even if you only have cosmetic damage to your vehicle (and the car is still drivable), you will still be required to leave your car in Mexico to be repaired. Unless you live in Mexico, most people would much rather drive their car back to their home in the US and get it repaired locally. Make sure to purchase a Mexican insurance policy that allows you to fix your vehicle in the country of your choice.
– If you are allowed to repair the car in the US, what labor rate will the Mexican insurance policy pay?
US hourly labor rates are much higher than most hourly labor rates in Mexico, so it is not uncommon for some Mexican insurance companies to only pay the Mexican hourly labor rate (as low as $20 per hour) for repairs made in the US . If this is a concern, www.mexadventure.com <http://www.mexadventure.com/> offers many policies that pay whatever the US labor rate is or up to $70 per hour US labor.
Does the insurance include Legal Service?
Legal Service, which includes attorney fees, court costs, and bail, is one of the most important coverages that should be included with every Mexican auto insurance policy. In the event that there are serious injuries or fatalities, you will need an attorney to guide you through the Mexican court system. Without this coverage, you could spend days in a Mexican jail and pay thousands of dollars out of pocket. Adventure Mexican insurance Services includes Legal Service with every policy we sell. All ethical Mexican insurance providers should not make this coverage an option!
Does the Mexican insurance include Medical Evacuation and Plane Tickets Home?
Most Mexican insurance policies do not include this type of coverage, but Adventure Mexican Insurance bundles this enhanced travel assistance into most of our Mexican auto insurance policies.
Medical Evacuation – Air or Land Ambulance – This coverage will coordinate and pay for air or land ambulance service in the event of serious illness or injury (it does not have to be vehicle related). A typical air medical evacuation costs between $10,000 to $20,000, so it makes financial sense and brings peace of mind to have this coverage. Adventure Mexican Insurance also includes this coverage for up to 4 people in your travel group – at no extra charge!
Plane Tickets Home – In the event that your car is stolen or is not drivable, this coverage will pay for you and possibly the rest of the people in your travel group to fly back to your home in the US or Canada. Most of the Adventure Mexican Insurance policies include this coverage for up to 4 people in your travel group – at no extra charge!
Deductibles – Make sure you know exactly what your deductibles are.
Typically, Mexican auto insurance has two different deductibles.
Physical Damage Deductible: In most cases this is between $500 – $1,000. Most Mexican insurance offers deductibles that are based on a percentage of the vehicle’s value. The most common is 2% of the vehicle’s value with a minimum of $500. If your vehicle is valued over $25,000, then your physical damage deductible could start calculating over $500. In this case, you may want to consider products that offer Fixed Deductibles. Example: A Fixed Deductible for physical damage is locked at $500 no matter how expensive the vehicle’s value is.
Theft Deductible: In most cases this is between $1,000 – $1,500. Most Mexican insurance offers deductibles that are based on a percentage of the vehicle’s value. The most common theft deductible is 5% of the vehicle’s value with a minimum of $1,000. If your vehicle is valued over $20,000, then your theft deductible could start calculating over $1,000. In this case, you may want to consider products that offer Fixed Deductibles. Example: A Fixed Deductible for theft is locked at $1,000 no matter how expensive the vehicle’s value is.
There are some Mexican auto insurance products out there that have deductibles of over $2,500 – so make sure you know what you are getting! Adventure Mexican Insurance clearly displays all of our deductibles during our online quoting process.
This article probably won’t answer all of your questions about Mexican auto insurance, but if you follow these 5 tips, you will be able to make an educated decision when shopping for Mexican auto insurance. 5 minutes of researching your Mexican insurance choices on the internet can save you thousands of dollars and days if not months of frustration in the event of an insurance claim going sour.
This article is provided by Jeff Nordahl, President of Adventure Mexican Insurance Services.
“Take my advice, dear; never eat anything ugly or wrinkled.”
Overheard in a Cancun restaurant.
Follow the advice offered here and you’ll have an excellent chance of coming home even healthier than you left.
It is sad but true that gringos sometimes get sick while traveling in Mexico. In fairness, Mexicans may also become ill when visiting the United States. Some people even experience health problems traveling inside their own country. In other words, travel may broaden the mind, but it also tends to upset our stomach.
Why? The short answer is that our body’s naturally occurring bacteria are adapted to our present location. Unfortunately, these bacteria don’t travel well and when we move far away from home, they can’t handle it. Once we arrive in Mexico (or Paris, Missoula, Tokyo, etc.), our body must re-adapt to other, new bacteria. Until we’ve completed this adjustment, we not only don’t feel as healthy as usual, but we have a tendency to become irritable and to blame our queasiness on the local enchiladas and ice cubes. Unfortunately, this process of adaptation seems to span most of the average traveler’s vacation time.
In addition to homesick bacteria, (known medically as “Traveler’s Diarrhea), travel also subjects us to stressful changes in climate, altitude and daily routines. Throw in the anxiety of last-minute travel preparations, white-knuckle cab rides, and long nights in short, lumpy hotel beds, and it’s a wonder the traveler survives at all.
The first step in staying healthy is to recognize that most health problems you’ll encounter in Mexico come from three sources: food, beverages (especially water) and Acts of Nature (sunburn, bug bites, tripping over cobblestones, etc.).
Not surprisingly, food and beverages are the biggest offenders. Next to overeating, the most likely cause of diarrhea suffered by both Mexicans and tourists (once they’ve adjusted to their location) is improper food handling and accidental contamination. No matter how fancy the restaurant or delicious the aroma, if the cook’s hands, knives or dishes are dirty, the food will not be clean.
Always attempt to reduce the chances of infection. I say reduce because for the most part it is impossible to completely eliminate the opportunities to eat or drink something that is contaminated.
This is one of the risks involved in leaving home. If the risk is too much for you, you’ll have to restrict the range of your traveling and experiences. You should not, however, carry a “come what may” attitude to extremes.
“Your cautious friends and family will probably force you to prepare for your adventurous journey by filling yourself full of typhoid serum… quinine to dose the malaria they are sure you will acquire, and flannel bellybands to protect you from cholera….”
Off To Mexico by Leone and Alice Moats (1935)
Smart travelers are aware of their bodies. “Shall I have just one more taco and another beer?,” “Do I dare lay out on the beach until noon or should I go in now?,” “Am I too tired to tour the ruins and still get back by dinnertime?” Each of these situations requires a decision, one that can mean the difference between a good night’s sleep and indigestion, a tan or a burn and a relaxed day versus a marathon.
Since most of our vacations are all-too short, such decisions become very important. Yes, you can buy a fistful of anti-acid tablets at the local farmacia or smother your back with sunburn ointment, but why suffer the discomfort and inconvenience? It’s much smarter, both for your health and pleasure, to know when to stop and what to avoid. Rather than load up on medicines and remedies, think of prevention as your best protection against health problems.
At the risk of sounding like your conscience, I must tell you that overindulging is the leading cause of tourist’s stomach complaints. Every day, visitors ladle chili sauce over mounds of cream-drenched enchiladas, wash it down with a few cold cervezas and a heavy dessert — and then gripe about the food when their stomach rebels.
You will receive all kinds of advice about eating only tinned foods, avoiding lettuce, and drinking nothing but bottled water. Most of it is nonsense.”
Off To Mexico Leone and Alice Moats, 1935.
- Relax! Take siestas: Your trip should refresh you, not wear you to a frazzle. Do whatever is necessary to relax and truly enjoy yourself, including just lying on your back staring at the sky for days at a time.
- Don’t over do it: “Twenty archaeological sites, 12 museums, six folklorico performances and . . . oh yeah . . . two leg cramps, a backache, scorched nose and 14 blisters.” Take naps and frequent unscheduled stops. Don’t be afraid to turn in while others are forcing themselves to carry on.
- Adjust to the altitude: It takes me a full week to adjust from living near sea level to a change of 7,000 feet (the elevation of Mexico City and much of the central plateau). Going the other way, from high to low, takes less time, but still must be considered. Go very easy on exercise, alcohol, drugs of all types and life in general until you’ve adjusted.
- Avoid sunburn: An extra 15 minutes of hot sun can cause many days of discomfort.
- Don’t wander around with barefeet: Except for beaches, bare feet are not safe. Avoid the hazards of broken glass, rusty metal, infections from animal and human feces (very common), and hookworm. Do as the Mexicans, and at least wear sandals.
- Wash your hands often: Mother was right, washing up before meals is actually good for your health. As you travel, your hands make constant contact with foreign objects, from doorknobs and hand rails to souvenirs and coins. Washing several times a day will help protect you from colds, flu and other hand-to-mouth illnesses.
- Easy does it on alcohol: Some people get over-exuberant and spend their vacation hoisting beer bottles and cocktail glasses. When combined with driving, ruin-hopping, shopping and deep sea fishing, too much drinking can leave you completely exhausted and dehydrated.
- Eat moderately: Avoid both over-eating and eating too little. A vacation isn’t the time for strict dieting or fasting. Avoid greasy foods: If you’re a marginal vegetarian you’ll learn, as I have, that not eating meat in Mexico cuts down dramatically on stomach problems. If those pork ribs are dripping with grease pass them by. Avoid raw dairy products or cook them well. To pasteurize raw (or suspicious) milk, bring it to a boil, then cool for two hours.
Street foods, especially fritangas (tacos and other fried treats), are both tempting and tricky. Vendors may try their best, but studies clearly show that hygienic conditions are very poor in most sidewalk food stands. Meat dishes are commonly held at low temperatures, encouraging microbes.
Be careful with uncooked vegetables in street food. Traditional warnings to avoid all fruits and vegetables that aren’t peeled or cooked are simply out of date. Though well intentioned, such advice exaggerates health risks and frightens travelers. This doesn’t mean, however, that some precautions aren’t in order.
When in doubt, imitate Mexicans: drench raw vegetables with lime juice and sprinkle them with chilie pepper. Raw fruits and vegetables can also be purified with bleach or iodine solutions. Peeling fruit and vegetables is always a good idea — if it’s done with a clean knife.
- Drink purified water. Purified water is widely available in 1/2 liter to gallon plastic bottles.
- Use Pepto Bismol as a diarrhea preventative.
At first glance, these precautions might seem to rule out everything you enjoy eating. This should not be true—as long as you use discretion when breaking the “rules.”
excerpted from The People’s Guide to Mexico
Cancun is a very young city, being developed in the mid 70’s with only tourism in mind, Cancun has been the number one growing city in Mexico for the past 30 years.
The name Cancun, “Kaan kun” means in Mayan language “nest of snakes” or “pot of snakes”
White sandy beaches, sunny weather, turquoise waters, the history behind the Mayans, and the kindess of its people, all of this makes of Cancun a constant FIESTA for all senses. Scuba diving, snorkeling, kite surfing, Eco-parks, Mayan ruins, nightlife, shopping, Kayaking, or just lay on you back and enjoy a frozen Margarita hanging in your hammock by the sea. Cancun has it all.
It all started around 1970-71 when the government of Mexico turned a small fisherman village in to a monumental touristic project that now offers more than 140 super resorts including all of the big names in the business. It was after 1974 that the developing of this city escalated exponentially to become what it is today, more than 700,000 people lives in Cancun and the city receives another 10 million visitors each year. Cancun is now one of the most important vacation destinations in the world.
Cancun is divided in three major areas, The hotel zone, this is where the beaches, and most of the big hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, shopping malls, and tourist attractions are.
In the other hand is Cancun “Centro” which means downtown, this is where most locals live their lives, houses, grocery stores, hospitals, schools and practically the whole city “the real Cancun” is here.
And in the end is Puerto Juarez, formally known as Tamtamchen, this side of Cancun is the old route to Isla Mujeres just 7 Km into the sea and it is mostly dedicated to fishing.
Getting to Cancun from the airport is really easy, if you have a hotel reservation in the hotel zone, the best way to get there is arranging your transfer service through the hotel reservation or trough the airline, many travel agencies include this in your reservation, if you need to set a pick up service, you can find some good options here.
You can also get a ride to the Hotel zone on a private taxi or a shared van, a taxi will take only you and your family to your destination, while the shared van will stop on each of the other passenger´s hotels and eventually in yours. Fare varies depending on the location of your hotel.
If you are going downtown, you will find taxis, buses and vans that will take you. If you don´t mind paying around $40 US, a taxi can take you to the exact hotel or address that you need to go.
You will also find the A D O (Autobuses de Oriente) this is a bus departing from the parking lot on the domestic flights arrivals area every 20 to 30 minutes, the first bus leaves at 6:00 am and last bus at 9:00 pm. just ask for the A D O bus going downtown Cancun. The ride is about 25 minutes long and it costs about $45 pesos (about 3 to 4 USD) This bus will take you to the downtown bus station which is located on the main street (Tulum Avenue).
Renting a car is the best way to explore the surroundings and visit some Mayan ruins, remember, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Chichen Itza, Merida and much more are near Cancun, why not checking them out?
The best car rental deals can be found (believe it or not) at the airport, rates are some times 20% lower and you can return the car right at the airport on your way back home. A very convenient option.
If by the time you read this you are already in your hotel, don´t worry, there are good options both in the Hotel Zone and down town, I will post some here.
Driving the hotel zone is easy, the strip is 23 Kilometers long (14,29 miles) and its only two lanes, back and forth, so you can´t get lost.
Along the Kukulkan Boulevard (which is the name of the strip) you will find Hotels, shopping malls, plazas, nightclubs, restaurants and marinas. Speed limit is 60 Km/ph (37 miles) and some areas 30 Km/ph (18 miles)
Gas prices vary (always rising) from month to month, but you can expect to pay some where around $10 pesos for one liter of gas (about $.90 cents of a dollar) All gas stations are managed by PEMEX (Petroleos Mexicanos) all these stations will provide free service, (oil check, air pressure on the tires, etc) this workers will appreciate a small tip when possible.
More about Driving in Mexico
Moving in Cancun
To move around Cancun should be very easy if you know a thing or two, in the hotel zone the city bus runs the 24 hours, this bus will ride most of the touristic strip and it cost $8.50 pesos (less than $1.00USD, prices change now and then)
To move downtown is a little different, city buses are $6.00 pesos only and stop running at 10 pm, after that only taxis are available, the taxi fare can also change as often as the gas price changes. (in Mexico that happens every month) but the average rate is $25 pesos with in the “centro” area and up to 40 pesos to the surroundings. From downtown to the H.Z. fares can get up to $100 pesos or more depending on how far up the strip you go.
Walking downtown can be a very nice experience, you can visit Market 28 or Market 23 for handicrafts and typical food, clothes and paraphernalia. There is a square in Cancun called “parque de las palapas” which literally means park of the palapas, this is not a park and has no palapas, but if you´d like to taste some of the Cancun´s real flavour take a walk to this square in the afternoon, you will find food, folklore and fiesta. On weekends there’s always something going on here; concerts, shows, festivals, street shows, etc.. normally starting at 6 or 7:00 pm.
Across the street you will find a catholic church and another park called parque del artesano, “the craftsman park” this little park shows a variety of crafts and things like books, frankincense, T-shirts, smoking pipes, and some street art.
All around the square you can find restaurants of all kinds, Mexican, Sea food, Yucatan handicrafts, hotels, hostels for all budgets, coffee shops, jazz, reggae and rock bars, taco stands, c-stores, and marquesita stands (these are some sort of waffle with Philadelphia cheese or butterscotch or strawberry jam or all together)
Shopping in Cancun
If you want to go shopping, there are several options where to find what you want, you can find at least 10 shopping malls in Cancun, 6 in the hotel zone and the rest downtown, there are open-doors shopping malls, like La Isla in the hotel zone or Cancun Outlet, downtown. there are high profile shopping malls like Luxury Ave. in the hotel zone or low profile like Cancun mall in the downtown area. All these shopping malls accept US dollars and major credit cards.
If you are of the adventurous type. try to go to “El tianguis” this is a bazaar type of street market that is set every Sunday on the streets of Cancun, this bazaar displays a vast amount of used things, from clothing to books, from tools to life animals, this market has an extension of more than 10 blocks in the city and it can house up to 500 stands crazy things happen on that market, make sure you bring confy shoes and cash, no credit card works here. The tianguis, pronounced (tee an gees) is located by Lopez Portillo ave. on super manzana 100, a taxi driver can take you there for around $30 pesos or you can get a $6.00 pesos van going to “tres reyes” You can take this van on Tulum ave. right in front of the City hall.
Paying with Credit Card.
Pay with your credit card when ever is possible to take advantage of the best exchange rate, you can get cash advance on some ATM´s many places accept credit card but not all places and not all of the cards. Visa, Master card and American Express are ok, any other kind of card is generally rejected.
There are ATM´s all over the city but there are fewer in the hotel zone, main shopping malls and plazas have a couple at least.
Where to eat.
Cancun´s cuisine is a collage of the rest of Mexico´s recipes, being such a young city means that most of the people living in it is from somewhere else, they brought the costumes and traditions with them when they came. In general Mexican cuisine is based on corn, so you will find it all over, normally in the shape of tortillas or tamales along with beef, pork, chicken and fish and all kinds of veggies and fruit.
Yucatan style food is very present in Cancun, salbutes, panuchos, cochinita pibil, sopa de lima, and many more typical dishes of Yucatan food are here, but also, food from Veracruz, Puebla, DF, Monterrey, Jalisco, and practically every state of Mexico in Cancun, you can also enjoy of a variety of international style food like Japanese, Italian, Indian, Arabic, Greek, French, Tahi and more.
Be aware! Mexican food can be very spicy some times, if you have a sensitive stomach, the mix of hot food and frozen margaritas can be a bomb.
Eating in Cancun can be fantastic, you can enjoy of a beautiful sunset as you have dinner and wine in any of the fine lagoon view restaurants in the hotel zone, I´ll post a list here soon.
These restaurants are the top of the line on food experience, international chefs cook exotic dishes on delicate atmospheres, life music and excellent service is a characteristic of these restaurants where making a moment to remember is an easy thing to do.
Cancun offers food for all tastes and budgets from romantic fancy dinners to cheese burgers and fries, or organic vegetarian cuisine.
If you are looking for some low budget but still tasty food, you can eat on any of the “comida corrida” restaurants downtown, (comida corrida) means “food on a row” and this is a 3 curse meal, normally including some kind of chicken noodle soup or pasta as an appetiser, a main curse, normally Mexican style beef, chicken, pork or fish and something to drink, fruit of the season blended or mixed with other fruits. These type of places are the Mexican style fast food restaurants of all cities in Mexico, they serve a simple menu with 2 to 5 options where to choose from and it´s normally precooked so the service is fast and informal. You can get a full meal for somewhere between $45 to $60 pesos ( $3.00 to $4.00 US) per person.
Tacos are a very Mexican tradition but not exclusively Mexican, you can find tacos all across Central America, each country changing it a little and maybe calling it different, but all sharing the goods of corn.
While most Mexicans can survive almost any kind of food on the streets, international visitors may want to go slow on street tacos, don´t get me wrong! they are fantastic, but some of the ingredients and procedures may be to much for inexperienced taster.
Salsas (hot dressing) are made out of many ingredients, the most common ones are tomato, onion, cilantro, avocado and of course hot peppers of many kinds.
Cancun’s nightlife is very exciting, there are amazing nightclubs to choose from, one every night. Most of Cancun nightlife is aimed to a young crowd and is loud and booze oriented.
CocoBongo, Daddy’O, The City, Congo and more
Life music, shows and open bar, cover charge can vary from season to season and from place to place.
These nightclubs are a must visit place in town, loud, extreme but definitely fun, located in what is known as “The Party Center” in the heart of the Hotel Zone.
To get there is really easy, any bus in the Hotel Zone can take you and remember, they run 24 hours a day.
You will also find other places like Señor Frog’s walking distance from the Party Center area.
Look for detailed information on each one of them here soon.
Does and don’ts
Cancun is a very safe city but just like any other city in the world common sense is the key to stay out of trouble, the drinking age in Mexico is 18 and bars and night clubs encourage people, specially young, to loose them selves to party, nothing wrong with this if you can handle alcohol, but many accidents and arrests happen in Cancun during party time.
Another thing to remember is to keep you belongings in sight, on the swimming pool, on the beach and any other place you visit, although Cancun is not a dangerous city, you need to keep in mind that.
Drugs are illegal in Mexico, possession trade and consumption of controlled substances can get you in jail, there is a minimum amount you are allowed to carry in what is normally considered personal consumption. these amounts vary depending on the substance.
Replete with resorts, Cancun is one of the safest cities in Mexico. Drug cartel violence generally takes place 1,300 miles from Cancun on the northern border of Mexico (the same distance from New York to Texas). In fact, Cancun’s crime rate is much lower than that of most U.S. cities. Mexico is a very large country and the resort city of Cancun continues to be a safe destination for visitors.
Mayan ruins in Cancun
You can find to sets of Mayan ruins with in Cancun’s hotel zone, El Rey (the king) and Yamil Lu’um, at this point none of them is open to the public due to maintenance, but you can visit the “El Meco” ruins, they are located in the continental side of Isla Mujeres, 7 Km from Cancun on Puerto Juarez-Punta Sam road. this site is pretty small but very relevant in the Mayan history of the region.
To get to El Meco, you can take a van for $6.00 pesos (less than $.50 cents US) these vans run all day long from 7:00 am to about 9 or 10:00pm, if you are in the Hotel Zone just take the city bus downtown R1, once you get down town get off right at the city hall and then wait for the van, you will see many different ones, hop on the one that goes to Punta Sam and off you go.
To get back just do the inverse and once on Tulum ave. you can take the R1 bus back to your hotel. If you are staying downtown just skip the city bus part and get the van.
Another option is taking a taxi for about $50.00 pesos ($4 to $5.00 US) from downtown area, from the hotel zone can be up to $100 pesos or more.
Cancun has a vast variety of water activities to offer, from easy snorkelling for the un experienced, to first class cave scuba diving for experts, most of the hotels have an activity desk where you can find these activities but normally on a higher price, you can also contact the marinas directly for a better deal. I will post some options here soon.
Every experienced swimmer knows that you need to talk to locals who know the surf before you get in the water, Cancun has a gentle surf but undertow is present in most of Cancun’s eastern beaches, lifeguards are often on duty but not always. The city of Cancun has developed a safety system based on colored flags.
Green for good swimming conditions.
Yellow for mild surf where non-experienced swimmers may find hard to swim in.
Red for dangerous surf, no swimmers are allowed in the water.
All beaches in Cancun are federal property so they are public, you are free to set your self in any beach of your preference, but consider that access to the beach is not always easy, big hotels normally are in the way and the access to these is controlled. Only guests are allowed.
You will find several public entrances to the beach along the strip. See a map here.
For Visa and tourist-card extension visit the (Instituto Nacional de Migracion) located in Nader Ave. #1 on the corner of Uxmal Ave. right downtown, the office is open from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday to Friday. Ph number (998)884 1404
There are many Hospitals in Cancun that can handle most of emergencies, how ever not all of them can handle American insurance situations, The American Medical Care Center located in Kukulkan Blvd. Kilometre 8 provides good medical care and accepts insurance plans from all over the world. See more here soon
This year Merida celebrates its 470 anniversary, and it does it with all the glory of half a millennium of existence.
Conquered by Fernando de Montejo in 1542 just over twenty years after the discovery of the new world, the ancient name for this city was T´ho and it was after a very long period of war and occupation that finally fell under the invaders domain. There are no monuments in town due to the Spaniards used the ancient city stones to build many important buildings that are still standing to this day.You can feel the history trapped in their walls.
Merida is one city of a kind, its people talks with a strong accent inherited from the ancient Maya language spoken in the region for centuries mixed with Spanish and in some amount other languages like Libanese, and Caribbean tongues. Food, art, and music are a wonderful collage from different influences due to the many different nationalities that migrated in the beginning of the past century, it was one of the richest cities in the world and almost an independent country of its own.
Hanging out in Merida can be really fun, many restaurants, bars and coffee shops offer a variety of remedies for heat and hunger. Also in many of these options life music and some kind of dancing is always present as in all Latin America
If you are stayng in Merida for a few days then you may want to plan an extense tour in and around Merida, Mayan ruins, cenotes, haciendas, museums, galleries and much more are awaiting.
Renting a car is probably the best way to move around as some of this places are outside of the city and you may want to go visit Chichen Itza, Progreso, Rio Lagartos and some other sites nearby. See some car rental options here
If you don’t want to rent a car that´s ok, must of the museums and important buildings are near each other for not more than a mile, you can find urban buses and taxis all over the downtown area or jump on one of the “calesas” a traditional horse-drawn carriage, but I recommend walking around, Merida is a very walker friendly city. There are several tour operators in town that can take you to the sites outside of the city.
Another good way to see Merida is taking the “Turibus” a very informative tour around town stopping in many of the important sites and parks, you can take the bus from several points in the city.
Paseo Montejo is by far the most important street in Merida, although the city was founded in 1542 it wasn’t till 1888 that Paseo Montejo was built to commemorate the founding of the City by Francisco de Montejo and it figures in travel books as the “Champs Elysees” of Merida and it is an excellent way to start your exploration of the city.
You can also try the free walking tours around Merida’s historic district at 9:30 am. Meeting point: information office at City Hall, Calle 62 between 61 and 63 on the Main Plaza.
In the evening, enjoy an outdoor concert with traditional “Vaquería” with Yucatecan dancing and dress at the Palacio Municipal on the main Plaza at 9 pm.
Every Tuesday night, weather permitting, there is live music and dancing at the Parque Santiago. In the little park in front of the church of the same name, the music and festivities begin about 8:30 pm. Parque Santiago is between Calle 57 and 59 and between Calle 70 and 72. Also at evening time you can listen to the traditional Yucatacan music with a “Trova Night” at the Olimpo at 9:00 pm.
You can also take the House and garden tour, tours meet at 9:45 am and feature 3 historic restored homes in the centro histórico of Mérida. Tours last about 2 1/2 hours. 200 pesos. Calle 53 No. 524 x 66 y 68, Tel. 924 8401. www.meridaenglishlibrary.com
Free activity in Mérida: Show at the Olimpo Cultural Center at 9 p.m. You can also take a horse and buggy ride from Calle 60 downtown up to Monument to the Flag on Paseo de Montejo
I also recommend the free serenade at Sta. Lucia Park, which is an open-air concert in downtown Mérida featuring Yucatecan dress, dance, music and folklore on Calle 60 and 55 at 9:00 pm. Continue on Calle 60 between 61 and 53 for Corazón de Mérida
if you can, visit the native markets, Pasaje Picheta or the best in the city La Casa de Artesanias with handcrafts from Yucatán made by Yucatecan artesans. Check out Mérida’s malls.
Evening: University serenade, main University building on the corner of Calle 60 and 57, 9 p.m. Continue on Calle 60 between 61 and 53 for Corazón de Mérida
On a Saturday, evening time has 2 events, one at the end of Paseo de Montejo at Calle 47 called Fiesta Mexicana from 8:00 pm to midnight. The second event is downtown where you find the streets closed to traffic and restaurants with tables on the street and different music on every corner. This event is called Corazón de Mérida and it happens from 9:00 pm to 2:00 am.
Don’t forget to visit the handcraft market Lucas de Gálvez, it has everything. Visit Mérida on Sunday – an outdoor handcraft market and food festival on the Main Plaza, and up Calle 60 to Hidalgo Park and Santa Lucia Park -streets are closed, live music 9 am – 9 pm. Continue on Calle 60 between 61 and 53 for Corazón de Mérida.
And if you like bike riding, every Sunday from 8 am to 12:30 pm more than 5 kilometers of roads in the city are closed off to traffic to allow bicycles free access.
Finding things to do in the Mayan Riviera is not a hard thing to do, and no matter what your budget is, there are many different ways to enjoy it at its fullest.
I will try to show all options.
I definitely prefer the long way to it; hitchhiking the road and meeting both locals and tourist, sharing opinions, road tips, and learning about new spots to visit. Camping on the beach and meeting new friends over a cold beer and fresh fish caught just hours before; but this is not the easiest way to do it, I must admit. If you are not traveling on a budget and prefer something specially designed for the traveler, try any of the many tours available to visit the Sian Ka’an natural reserve and Punta Allen. These tours vary in price and activities, from off road driving on 4×4 jeeps, to fly fishing, sport fishing or bird watching, you can enjoy of an archeological and ecological hike into the jungle, or just enjoy of a boat ride around the Bay and its hundreds of channels through the mangrove. You can sail your way there from Cancun, Akumal, Puerto Aventuras and Cozumel, and tour operators in every major city in the peninsula will offer an option for you.
If you are in Tulum, getting to Punta Allen shouldn’t represent a problem, you can get a ride on a collective van departing at 2:00pm every day from the “sindicato de taxistas” which is the local taxi drivers union building, and which I only recommend if you want to pay around $20USD on transportation for a 60 kilometers ride, and this is only one way; the average rate anywhere else goes from $3 USD to $10 USD for the same distance. The road is pretty bad and unpaved, and in rainy season this road may be impossible for a non 4×4 vehicle.
Another issue is that these vans get really packed and the ride is 3 hours long, so it’s not comfortable, in many cases you get over charged as a tourist, locals pay a different fare.
So my recommendation is either hitchhike your way there, there are many cars coming in and out at all times and most of them are willing to take you with them, or you can rent a car or a scooter in Tulum, Scooters run for somewhere around $25 to $35 USD per day, one scooter is enough for two people and they are very good regarding fuel consumption. You can stay in Tulum and spend the day in Punta Allen, having wheels adds kilometers and saves time.
We decided to stay in Punta Allen instead; this charming fisherman village has much more to offer than what you may first think. With a little more than 500 people living in it, life in town flows slowly, relaxed and easy; people know each other and they love to share fishing stories and local folk over a beer at night before the lights go out.
A sky full of stars and the sound of the turf made the night delicious, a light rain around midnight got us back in to the tent. We slept over the sweet sounds of the waves braking on the beach and the rain falling on the palm trees.
Even when fishermen wake up at the crack of dawn, in the island the rest of the activities start way later, most of them are linked to the tours arriving to Punta Allen around 11:00am and electricity runs after this time too so many of the business there won´t start before this time.
You can find a few restaurants and bars in town where you can get breakfast, lunch and dinner but don’t expect a big nightlife scene here.
We met our new friend Armando Lopez, owner of Cuzan, restaurant and cabañas, while we were walking down the beach, he was getting ready to go out fishing and we asked to go along. He said yes.
On the boat, Armando told us about Punta Allen and how he got to settle there more than 20 years ago, they were the first fly fishing business in town and they saw the island grow to be what it is now.
Armando and his life partner Sonja are well known in the island and surroundings and show a great deal of knowledge about the local costumes and food. Sonja has written a beautiful book called “Painted Fish” that portrait the life style of the Mayan Riviera.
After a few hours out at sea, we returned to shore with a cargo of fresh fish that Armando´s crew would later cook for dinner. Cold beer and fresh fish with friends made an excellent way to wrap up the day.
In the next morning Armando and his crew offer us a ride back to Tulum as our trip would take us to Bacalar, over 200 Km south.
Visiting the Island of Punta Allen is something you can do on your own or with any of the tour operators all over the Peninsula. Any way you do it, make sure you make some time visit this little piece of heaven on earth.
In ancient times, Tulum was a place to visit as trading and ceremonies were held here to honor the gods and to keep commerce with cities from the entire Mesoamerican world.
Today Tulum is still one important stop for the modern explorer, not only because of its majestic buildings by the sea, but also because of its great location in the Peninsula, not too far from all important Maya sites and cities and in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
Staying in Tulum
No matter if you are a conservative traveler or an adventurous one, Tulum can offer many different options for you to stay and to do, whether you need a top of the list accommodation or just a cozy hut next to the beach, Hotels in Tulum vary in price and style, you can find air conditioned and TV, or candles and sandy floor, the choice is yours. Hammocks will be hanging from the walls in all of them.
There are also a few hostels in town with private or shared rooms but these are located in the downtown area a few kilometers from the beach, prices here can vary a lot but normally in the range of the $12 to $30 USD per night.
Staying downtown or by the beach means that you will need to get transportation to move around, you can find taxis all over and they work 24/7 but this can get expensive at the end as each ride is at least $40 pesos. There are options, a little van going every day to Punta Allen, a beautiful fisherman village at the other end of Sian Ka’an natural reserve, this van runs all the way down the beach area and it’s a cheap way to get to the beach from downtown, but it only does the trip once a day so you need to be on time and ready to get it back on its way to Tulum on the afternoon.
Renting a bicycle may be a good idea too, they are around $10USD a day and the town is bike friendly, flat roads all over and places to luck up your bike everywhere.
If you feel like renting a car or a scooter, take advantage of the freedom it provides and explore the attractions nearby like Coba’ or the many Cenotes (from the Mayan word “Dznot” meaning abyss and the entrance to the underworld) these are natural sinkholes connected by underground rivers, some of them can be explored.
The Biosphere of Sian Kaán, is a natural reserve, the name means “Born from the Sky” In Mayan language. The Sian Kaan reserve is a magical place, characterized by its bio-diversity: jungle, marsh, mangrove lagoons, shallow bays and an extraordinary coral reef. This natural reserve is famous for its numerous cenotes, its hidden Mayan ruins and its only inhabited place, Punta Allen, a small village of lobster fishermen. This coastal zone was declared a national park in 1986 and since 1987; it has been part of the U.N.E.S.C.O. World Heritage Program.
There are high quality tour companies that can offer these and other activities like the Whale shark adventure, swim with them as they pass by in their annual migration trough the oceans, snorkeling and much more.
If you like the adventure of camping and finding your own path, you will find some options to camp near the ocean, even if you don’t have a tent or camping equipment, some of these lodges will offer tents to use as well, some of them around the $10USD per night. You can also do the activities without booking a tour but you will have to find your way there. From renting a bike to renting a van or a boat ride is possible in Tulum and nearby.
Getting to Tulum is fairly simple. From Cancun´s international airport, a shuttle to Playa del Carmen is available almost every half an hour, once in Playa you will find the vans to Tulum on 2nd street and 20th they also run very often from Playa to Tulum and back till midnight. The first ride starts very early in the morning.
If you rent a car at the airport you will have to take road 307 south and that’s it, keep driving for 163Km and you there. You will find clear signals and roads are ok to drive day or night.
You can catch a bus to go to the nearby sites of Chichen Itza and Cobá as well to the town of Bacalar, Playa del Carmen, Mahaual, Cancun, etc. the bus station is located on the main avenue and runs 24/7.
Food and Drinks
Eating, drinking and dancing are easy to find in Tulum, whether on the beach or in a restaurant downtown, Italian, Mexican, Mayan, French, Japanese, Arab, Indian and many other cuisine styles are available in town, some of the places on the beach will have live or dance music and party can go on for hours.
To find these spots all you need to do is take a night walk on the beach and where you see the lights, the fire, and hear the music, that’s where the party is. Don´t forget, always ask the locals for the tonight’s party or event in town.
There are two grocery stores in town, this are always needful if you are camping or if you just like to cook a meal or two,these are located in the downtown area and their inventory is fairly good, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, pharmacy, hardware and more is available.
Other services such as Doctor, Bank, Real State and more are available in town.
Tulum is a vibrant town with a whole lot of history and things to do and see, the hospitality of its people and the beauty of its natural heritage will fulfill everyone’s expectations, whether you spend a day or a month in Tulum.
Driving in Mexico is not as hard as they told you, mexicans drive, in general, the same way people drive in the rest of the world, but just as in the rest of the world, mexicans add some of the culture and tradition to it. So, to enjoy of the experience of driving through a vast variety of landscapes and visit magical little towns and places other way unreachable for the regular tourist, you may want to know a thing or two.
If you are driving your own vehicle, you need to have the following documents ready before you cross the border: title or registration of your vehicle, a certified true copy of your birth certificate or passport, a major credit card and a valid driver’s license. All these must have the same name of the bearer of the documents. Yes, that means the driver. If the car belongs to your spouse or family member, you still can’t bring it with you to Mexico. Otherwise, get a notarized letter of permission from the bank, lien holder, rental agency or company that gave you the car. Expect to pay a $22 charge on your credit card after submitting your paperwork. When the immigration official hands you a car permit and a sticker, that means you can use your car to go around Mexico. But mind you, the permit is only valid for six months. When you return to the States, you will turn in the permit and sticker before the permit expires. Remember the car permit is different from your tourist visa in Mexico.
Mexconnect.com has put together a very practical and complete guide to drive around Mexico, this guide includes rules and regulations. Here the basic rules.
- Buy Mexican Auto Insurance. Mexican auto insurance is a must if you plan to do anything more than a quick hop across the border since, in the case of an accident Mexican authorities will not accept foreign auto insurance policies. Any Mexican auto insurance coverage you purchase should include claims adjusters that will come to the scene of an accident and an attorney. This becomes very important since, in the event of an accident, you are not allowed to move your vehicle and you may be detained by the police in the event that anyone is hurt until fault can be established
- Be aware that not all roads are in the best of conditions. Although over the last 6 to 8 years there has been an increase in the number of four-lane toll roads throughout the country, some of the minor roads, for instance those between small towns, are more likely to be paved with cobblestone instead of asphalt and, either way, they all have their share of pot holes and ruts to be careful about.
- Although there are reports of people being stopped and their property being stolen while on an isolated road, there are few reports of people actually being injured. The best way to avoid this is to drive during the day and not to stop for hitchhikers. Also beware of any foreign objects in the road, these are normally placed there so that an unsuspecting driver will be forced to stop.
- Try to restrict driving to daylight hours. This is common sense wherever you drive since road signs are easier to read, road hazards are easier to see and avoid and there are normally more cars traveling the same road you are so there is less chance of anything bad happening.Always be aware of livestock. On most U.S. roads, livestock is unheard of except in rural areas. In Mexico, however, livestock creates a large problem because of a lack of fencing around the highways. Livestock are normally left to roam wherever they can find food and this is sometimes near a well traveled road. In the area where I live, Lake Chapala, 40% of the traffic accidents that occur involve livestock in some way. These statistics are not official so the number could be 35% or 45%, but from what I have seen I would say the 40% is fairly accurate.
- Remember that most people do not use their turn signals and not all cars you see on the road have functioning brake lights. Avoid accidents by keeping your distance, using your turn signals and being aware of those who don’t.
- Always know who has the right of way. This is sometimes difficult because, even though you may be in the right, if the “the other guy” is bigger, he won’t care. This means you will want to slow down at all intersections and look both ways whether you are required to or not; it also means you will want to yield to larger vehicles that want to occupy your same lane space.
- Always plan your trip ahead of time. Take a good road map along with you and know where your stops are going to be. This came in handy once when we had engine trouble. Fortunately we were only a few miles away from a small town where, although accommodations were not luxurious, they did have cold beverages and a mechanic that could repair the car within a day or two.
- Remember that here, just as anywhere else, all those things you learned in driving school apply. Keep free space in front, behind and beside you when driving; obey the speed limits; use your turn signals; and always make sure your vehicle is in good condition and that you have plenty of spare parts (i.e. tire, water for the radiator, transmission fluid and oil) before beginning your journey.
- Buy a basic Spanish phrase book before your trip. Learning how to tell someone you need a mechanic (necesito un mecánico), help changing a tire (necesito ayuda para cambiar la llanta) or directions (dónde está or cómo llego a) can be very useful. Even if you can’t pronounce it quite right, people will usually get the message and be able to effectively communicate to you what you need to know.
- There are probably 10 more tips I’ve left out but this should get you started. Check back from time to time to see what else we’ve added or e-mail us with comments or your own driving experiences in Mexico. In the meantime, have a happy and safe journey.
Author’s Note:Just in case your considering risking the trip without Mexican auto insurance, consider the following:
Mexican law is napoleonic — this means that you are guilty until proven innocent. The person deciding this will most likely be the policeman who arrives at the scene of the accident, especialy if you cannot provide proof of Mexican auto insurance and/or produce an insurance adjuster appears.
When a traffic accident does occur, the police may impound your vehicle, especially if there is no one there to help you defend your rights such as an insurance adjuster and/or an attorney. Also know that in the event that someone is injured and you are found responsible, you might not only be held liable for that persons medical expenses but also for financially supporting them and their dependents until they recover. If you have an attorney he will probably be able to help you negotiate a more reasonable settlement than that which you could negotiate on your own.
Now, when you’re in Mexico, try not to do anything stupid. In transit, you must always be in your car at all times when it is driven. No other person can borrow it from you without you as a passenger. Make sure your driver’s license is valid. You can also use an international driver’s license. The paperwork can be a hassle, but it saves you from any unnecessary trouble with the local authorities.
For Further information on Driving in Mexico click here.