DRIVING IN CANCUN
Renting a car and driving in and around Cancun is usually a great experience, especially if you are aware of these basic driving tips. Thousands of visitors drive in Cancun each year, some by driving across the border and most by flying down and then renting a car at the airport or at their hotel. Although taxis are a very common way to travel short distances while in Cancun, there is nothing like the freedom of having a car and a full tank of gas to explore the warmth of Mexico. Road trip!
Cancun Island is easy to get around partly because there is only one road that runs the length of the island. And most of the hotels are located on that one road so getting lost takes a lot of effort or an abundance of blonde hair.
To get a quick visual of Cancun Island and the main road going through it just picture the number "7". The bottom of the 7 is Punta Nizac and the Club Med, and there really isn't much going on below the bottom of the 7. Heading up the 7 for several miles drives you along miles of beautiful beaches and hotels. Driving north ventually gets you to the intersection at the top of the 7, where the Convention Center and lots of shopping and restaurants are located. Kind of like the 'ground zero' of Cancun. The top part of the 7 runs along the beach for a couple of miles before crossing over a small bridge and dumping you into downtown Cancun. More on downtown Cancun later.
Speed limits in Cancun are posted in kilometers per hour. An easy formula is to take the kilometers per hour posted, multiply by 6 and then drop the last digit. 100 kilometers per hour equals approximately 60 miles per hour. You'll get good at the conversions after a few hours of driving or after you receive your first speeding ticket.
If you are ticketed for a driving violation in Cancun you have the right to ask for and be issued a traffic ticket which can be paid at the police station or my mail. Police officers are not legally allowed to receive payment for violations (or bribes), but the age old ritual of 'mordida' still prevails in some parts of Mexico. Don't try it in Cancun.
Driving in Cancun City (not the Island) is a different experience. The grid pattern of streets and buildings where the locals live is a whole different ball game than cruising Cancun Island. Still, no worries as even if you do get lost in Cancun City you will find out where you are soon enough. When you end up at the beach (east end), jungle (west end) or the lagoon (south end) just turn around.
Now about that road trip. There's a ton of neat stuff south of Cancun for over 100 miles, and it's all off of Mexico Highway 307. This main road runs just inland from the coast and will serve you well for almost any southern road trip you take...all the way to Belize.
To summarize, you won't need a car to drive in Cancun during most of your trip. But if you do decide to rent a car for a day or two you'll be glad you did!