Cozumel Car Rentals and Taxis
We use to recommend renting a car in Cozumel, but recently our views have changed for the following reasons:
1) Car rentals are in US Dollars, which means you do not get the benefit of the Peso exchange rate which had dropped 50% in the last 5 years.
2) Rental insurance is 3 times the rental rate, and you are still on the hook in case of accident. You do not want to deal with the remote possibility of having an accident in Mexico. So if you get a good conversion rate on your pesos and use taxis you will come out ahead, less the risk of driving especially if you want to enjoy yourself.
3) Our last trip we had a taxi driver that served as our private chauffeur. He gave us his phone number and we would call about 30 minutes before we need the car. At times he would wait on us if it is a short stay or grocery shopping.
He had a van that seated 12. If you like his name, phone number, and contact info, please drop us a line.
However, if you want to explore the island, discover its secluded beautiful breathtaking beaches, and have the freedom to do whatever, whenever, then you should consider rentals for a couple of days.
Here are some tips to help you get the best deal and avoid some gotchas. You will not find any of this information anywhere else so read entire section carefully and print this section to take with you.
Renting a vehicle on the island is a bit different than in the US or Europe. For one thing, you’re are in no way guaranteed a spiffy under-one-year-old vehicle with that new car smell. We suggest you book ahead of time on the internet. No credit card is required for reserving the car, so your card cannot be charged if you don’t show up. Print out your reservation form and take it with you to guarantee the price you were offered on-line or chances are you will be in line for a bait and switch game.
Arriving at the Cozumel International Airport
The first question is; Which car rental company actually have a desk at the Cozumel International Airport?
The answer is there are Five (5): Avis and Hertz have offices inside the airport building, Thrifty, Dollar, and Executive are outside the airport building and require a 2 minute walk with your luggage to their offices. The walk is worth the difference in price. $12-25/day for a mid size car. We recommend Thrifty.
Jeeps do not have air, and cost 2 to 3 times an air conditioned midsize car.
Book with two rental companies on-line, and when you get there see for yourself which has the better car and the best deal. Ask them to show you the car before signing any papers.
(No one requires a credit card to book, and your card can’t and will not be charged if you don’t show up). Thrifty, Dollar are in the same office, so don’t bother booking with both. Thrifty is less expensive. We found that memberships with Avis and others do not really get you a much better deal.
Other rental companies may advertise desks at the airport, but will require taking a shuttle (which you have to pay for) to their offices downtown. Too much hassle especially when it comes to returning the car. It will end up costing you more.
Arriving in Cancun via the Ferry at the Dock – Executive (ACE), Thrifty, Avis, Dollar, Budget, and Alamo have offices one to two blocks from the ferry Dock. You’ll have to take your luggage a couple of blocks, for a $3 tip you can have one of the luggage carriers guide you to the car rental agencies.
Mexico Driving Tips
Passing – When traveling on the highway be alert and vigilant for aggressive drivers. Drivers in the on-coming lane may choose to pass and cross the center-line of the highway at unexpected times. Be ready to move right. Watch for vehicles driving or stopped on the road shoulder. Let tailgaters pass.
Turn signals– Many people do not use their turn signals, so stay alert and drive defensively. If they do use turn signals it can mean different things than what one might assume.
Turning left – Some times a left turn signal from the car in front of you can mean some one is turning left, but it can also mean that they are signaling to you to let you know that it is safe to pass them on the left side. This has caused accidents in the past so just be cautious. Beware when turning left from the highway! It is absolutely critical to look BEHIND you to make sure there is no traffic. Most Mexicans, when making a left turn from the highway where a dedicated lane is NOT provided pull off the road to the right, they put the left blinker or emergency flashers on and wait for all traffic to clear in both directions before making the left turn. Americans normally put their left turn signal on and wait for oncoming traffic to clear and then turn left. Just be aware, and don’t be surprised if you hear tire squeals behind you, or when in Rome you may do like the Romans do.