Welcome to LogoGringo's FAQ for Riviera Maya VisitorsNew and old visitors have questions about the area, vacation rentals and ways to play in the Riviera Maya. We have put together a list of the most frequently asked questions so you can have your questions answered immediately or review other questions that visitors have. Our FAQ list is a wealth of information, some things you may have thought of, some things you may not have thought of. If your question is not answered here feel free to email us at [email protected] and we are happy to help! Your vacation is important to us and with our local knowledge we can answer any questions you may have.
1It's our first time to the area. What should we bring?
Of course, take any specific things you know you will need personally. For some suggestions our LG forum members click here.
2Where can I research services and activities in the area?
When you get to Mexico, information booklets will most likely be handed to you at the airport. These will have Cancun tourist information and some Riviera Maya info as well. When you get to your rental you will probably see more tourist info at area stores with plenty of information on local services and activities.
| Eco Parks | Mayan ruins list | LG Blog Local Scoop
| Eco Parks | Mayan ruins list | LG Blog Local Scoop
3How about transportation from the Cancun Airport?
You can hire a taxi, a chauffeured suburban or rent a car in the Cancun airport to get to your destination. You can also arrange to be picked up at the airport through LocoGringo's airport transfers service. To catch a bus you will need to take a taxi or a shuttle to the center of the city of Cancun or "Centro", to the bus station. Then you can take a bus that is headed south. Many buses going to Playa Del Carmen have connections going south to Akumal, Tulum, etc
4What is the best airport to fly into?
Cancun International Airport is the best airport to fly in to. You can fly into Cozumel, but you will need to then take a taxi to the ferry dock. Take a ferry to Playa Del Carmen, then a taxi to your Riviera Maya or Costa Maya destination.
5How is driving in Mexico?
There is a four lane highway from Cancun to Tulum, then it narrows to a comfortably wide two lane highway that continues south to Bacalar. Tulum is the southern end of the Riviera Maya tourist zone. Just south of the town of Limones is the turn to Mahahual and Xcalak. If you continue straight you will go toward Bacalar, Belize border, Chetumal [all east] or Campeche, Chiapas [all west].
- Drive Defensively: Before making any turn in Mexico ALWAYS look both ways to check for traffic. Beware when turning left or U turning from the highway. If there is a special lane or a "RETORNO" (U turn lane) provided do as you normally would, with caution. At other times when turning in areas with no median divider ALWAYS check your rear view mirror first! On an undivided road it is customary to pull off the road to your right, put your left blinker or emergency flashers on and wait for traffic to clear. With no one else in either direction make your turn.
- Passing: When traveling on the highway be alert and vigilant for aggressive drivers. Let tailgaters pass. Generally, it is a good idea to stay right if you are not passing someone, otherwise drivers may pass you on your right. On undivided roads, drivers in the on-coming lane may choose to pass and cross the centerline of the road at unexpected times. Be ready to move right. It doesn't hurt to turn your headlights on in this situation.
- The left directional signal problem: A flashing left blinker can mean several things: 1) I am moving to the left. 2) I am turning left. 3) Go ahead and pass me on my left side. Many fatal accidents have occurred because of misinterpretation of the left blinker. Don't let it happen to you! Always check for traffic in front of you and behind you before making ANY turn or switching lanes. Know that if there is someone behind you, they may try to pass you on the left if you turn on your left blinker. If possible keep a safe distance between you and those behind you, especially if you intend to slow down.
- Median dividers: At Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen there are additional cement medians that divide the highway. These are marked by reflectors in the road. Please be careful not to hit them.
- Emergency flashers: Try not to stop on the highway unless you are making a U-turn at a designated RETORNO marked in the center median of the highway. If you must stop on the right shoulder of the highway, always use you Emergency Flashers - Hazard Signal. If you rent a car be sure you know where the Emergency Flashers button is located and test them to make sure they work. Anytime traffic slows significantly due to road construction, or for other reasons, activate your Emergency Flashers, then turn them off when conditions return to normal. Drive with caution and stay safe.
6How do I find my way around? Are there any good area maps?
That's an easy one. The very best area maps are Can-Do's maps and you can have them delivered right to your doorstep before you leave home. Go to Loco Gringo's Can-Do maps page, get familiar with the maps you might want, then click on any of the maps to go to the purchasing page on Can-Do Maps website.
7Grocery shopping in the Riviera Maya
Here is a list of grocery stores on the coast. Note that these grocery stores are more than just food. Mega and Walmart are superstores with about anything you may need.
•Directions to Sam's Club and Walmart in CANCUN.From the airport, leave the airport and when you get to the highway go over the overpass. Follow the signs to Cancun Centro or CD Cancun but DO NOT follow the signs to Tulum, Chetumal or Cancun Zona de Hoteliers. Just over the over-pass there will be a ramp on the right that loops around and goes toward Cancun city and that's the one you want. Take it and you will be heading north. After about 10 minutes you will enter the main part of the city you will see a mall, Plaza del las Americas on your right. After the mall watch for signs for Sayil street, a left turn. A VW dealer will be on your right. Turn left on to Sayil. Stay on this side street. You will come to a small rotary/circle. Watch for traffic, go straight across the circle. Telmex will be on the right. Sam's is on the left. There is a U turn as you approach the light, pull a U turn and then you can pull into Sam's. Walmart is in the same plaza. Sam's Club: Membership is required, bring your membership card or your passport.
• Directions to Costco in CANCUN.From the airport, leave the airport and when you get to the highway go over the overpass. Follow the signs to Cancun Centro or CD Cancun but DO NOT follow the signs to Playa del Carmen or Cancun Zona de Hoteliers. Just over the over-pass there will be a ramp on the right that loops around and goes toward Cancun city and that's the one you want. Take it and you will be heading north. After about ± 10 minutes you will come to an intersection [no traffic light] through lanes straight ahead to an underpass, and an exit lane to the right leading to Av. Bonampak [far right] and Av. Kabah [a traffic circle looping counter clockwise]. Follow counter clockwise on the circle to Av. Kabah. This is a divided road. You will pass a school on the left, go through another traffic light. At a left bend in the road Av. Yachilan will split off to the right and COSTCO will be on your right just on the other side of the traffic light. Make a right into their parking lot. COSTCO: Membership is required, bring your membership card or your passport.
• Directions to MEGA in Playa del Carmen.Directions to MEGA grocery store in Playa del Carmen from the Cancun International airport. Exit out of the airport, stay to the right when approaching the highway. Follow signs directing you South toward PLAYA DEL CARMEN. About 45 minutes drive will put you in the city of Playa Del Carmen. As you approach Playa del Carmen the center lanes will go up to an elevated roadway for express traffic. Follow the useable lanes and make a left turn on Avenida Constituyentes. This road goes to the beach. Follow Constituyentes straight until you get to the next major intersection with Avenida 30. You will see the grocery store MEGA on the southeast corner, set back from the intersection. It is easiest to go straight through the traffic light and make a right into the MEGA parking lot.
• Directions to Wal-Mart in Playa del Carmen.Directions to Wal-Mart grocery store in Playa del Carmen from the Cancun International airport. Exit out of the airport, stay to the right when approaching the highway. Follow signs directing you South toward PLAYA DEL CARMEN. About 45 minutes drive will put you in the city of Playa Del Carmen. As you approach Playa del Carmen the center lanes will go up to an elevated roadway for express traffic. Follow the useable lanes and make a left turn on Avenida Constituyentes. This road goes to the beach. Follow Constituyentes straight until you get to the next major intersection with Avenida 30. Make a right turn there. The first block you will pass MEGA grocery store. The second block you will pass San Francisco de Asis grocery store. In the third block you will see Wal-Mart on your left. It is easiest to go straight through the traffic light, make a left and then another left into Wal-Mart's parking lot.
• Directions to Sam's Club in Playa del Carmen.Directions to Sam's Club grocery store in Playa del Carmen from the Cancun International airport. Exit out of the airport, stay to the right when approaching the highway. Follow signs directing you South toward PLAYA DEL CARMEN. About 45 minutes drive will put you in the city of Playa Del Carmen. As you approach Playa del Carmen the center lanes will go up to an elevated roadway for express traffic. Continue straight and go through several traffic lights until you go down a gradual hill. Sam's Club will be in the shopping center on your left after the Holiday Inn Express and VIPS, and just before Hospiten Hospital. You will not be able to turn there but will have to continue to the "Retorno" and make a U turn. After you make the U turn get in the far right lanes and when you see the ramp for Sam's Club make a right into their parking lot.
• Directions to City Club in Playa del Carmen.Directions to City Club grocery store in Playa del Carmen from the Cancun International airport. Exit out of the airport, stay to the right when approaching the highway. Follow signs directing you South toward PLAYA DEL CARMEN. About 45 minutes drive will put you in the city of Playa Del Carmen. As you approach Playa del Carmen the center lanes will go up to an elevated roadway for express traffic. Continue straight and go through several traffic lights until you go down a gradual hill at the south end of Playa del Carmen. City Club will be in the shopping center on your right called "Centro Maya". There will be signs. Turn right there. CITY CLUB: Membership is required, bring your membership card or your passport.
• Directions to Soriano's grocery store in Playa del Carmen from the Cancun International airport.Exit out of the airport, stay to the right when approaching the highway. Follow signs directing you South toward PLAYA DEL CARMEN. About 45 minutes drive will put you in the city of Playa Del Carmen. As you approach Playa del Carmen the center lanes will go up to an elevated roadway for express traffic. Continue straight and go through several traffic lights until you go down a gradual hill at the south end of Playa del Carmen. City Club and Soriano's will be in the center of the shopping center on your right called "Centro Maya". There will be signs. Turn right there.
• Directions to Chedraui in Puerto Aventuras.Directions to Chedraui grocery store in Puerto Aventuras from the Cancun International airport. Exit out of the airport, stay to the right when approaching the highway. Follow signs directing you South toward PLAYA DEL CARMEN. Drive time to Puerto Aventuras is about 55 minutes depending on traffic. As you approach Playa del Carmen the center lanes will go up to an elevated roadway for express traffic. Take the express lanes to bypass Playa del Carmen and continue on to Puerto Aventuras. Chedraui is on the right side of the highway about 1 kilometer before the exit for Puerto Aventuras. There will be signs and there is a small exit ramp on the right for Chedraui [easy to miss]. If you miss it take the ramp for Puerto Aventuras, make a U-turn and go back.
• Directions to Chedraui in Tulum.Directions to Chedraui grocery store in Tulum from the Cancun International airport. Exit out of the airport, stay to the right when approaching the highway. Follow signs directing you South toward PLAYA DEL CARMEN. Drive time to Tulum is about 2 hours depending on traffic. As you approach Playa del Carmen the center lanes will go up to an elevated roadway for express traffic. Take the express lanes to bypass Playa del Carmen and continue on to Tulum. Before Tulum Pueblo, make a left turn at the traffic light for the Coba Road. This goes to Tulum beach. Chedraui is on the left side of the road just before the Cruz Roja and Bomberos.
8What ruins are in the area and how far away are they?
9What about SCUBA diving and Dive Shops?
There are many dive facilities in the area offering reef diving, cavern diving, courses, equipment rental, snorkeling, sailing, kite boarding and more.
10Can I go cavern diving in the Riviera Maya?
Any certified open water diver can experience cavern diving with a qualified guide. Cavern Diving takes place inland. A boat is not used. You drive into the jungle and dive in "cenotes", fresh water sinkholes. The water is very clear with almost unlimited visibility. Each dive site has its own personality, most have some stalactites and stalagmites. This is a very special and beautiful environment. Many dive facilities in the area now have qualified guides for cavern tours. If you go and find you enjoy cavern diving it is encouraged that you take a 2-day cavern diving course. For your information, your guide should be dressed in full cave diving equipment including: double tanks, reels with guideline and a large primary light. Don't be afraid to ask the guide for credentials. Cavern diving has inherent hazards. Do not just dive with anyone who offers to take you.
11Can I drink the water in our rental? At the restaurants?
For the rental properties, bottled water is provided. Some facilities have their own purification systems and you can drink the tap water. In the area restaurants, purified ice and water is used. If you are off the beaten path, use your best judgment.
12How much should I tip at a restaurant or the villa staff?
Usually 15%, 20% if you had good service and food. Not less than 10% if you were satisfied. If you rent a house, usually the recommendation is to tip 5% of the rental fee for the week if the staff was attentive.
13Is it safe to eat vegetables?
Vegetable can be eaten here. If you are buying fresh fruits and vegetables it is best to soak the produce in purified water and add one or two drops of Microdyne (available at most Mexican grocery stores) or similar disinfectant, as per the product's instructions. Vegetables are best eaten cooked opposed to raw. All the Akumal restaurants use purified water and disinfectants.
14How is the weather in the Riviera Maya?
The winters are generally sunny and mild. It starts getting warmer in March. June can be rainy. July - August are it is usually hot and humid. Traditionally September and October have the highest risk of hurricanes. (officially the Caribbean storm season is June-November). If you are worried about weather excellent travel insurance is available on the Internet to protect your vacation investment. November begins the winter season with milder temperatures and lower humidity. We recommend you pack a sweatshirt or light jacket from December through February.
15How do I get to Cozumel?
You can get to Cozumel by ferry or plane. Both originate in Playa Del Carmen. For the flights, you will need to check times and prices at the Playa Del Carmen local airport. Flights are also available to Chichen Itza.
- Playa del Carmen to Cozumel Ferry departs:
- 6:00am, 8:00am, 9:00am, 10:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm, 5:00pm, 6:00pm, 7:00pm, 9:00pm, 11:00pm
- Cozumel to Playa del Carmen Ferry departs:
- 5:00am, 7:00am, 8:00am, 9:00am, 10:00am, 12:00am, 2:00pm, 5:00pm, 6:00pm, 8:00pm, 10:00pm
16Are there any medical facilities? Emergency phone numbers?
- Emergency (Police) phone# is: 911
- Ambulance service phone# is: 044-984-806-2250
- Dr. Bernardo Diaz - emergencies or normal appointments
- Dr. Diaz's service area is from Puerto Morelos to Tulum. He speaks Spanish and English fluently. His phone numbers are: 984 745 0294 and 984 169 3447. He has a medical clinic in Playa del Carmen for emergencies or normal appointments, the address is: Calle 20 and Calle 1 Norte. He also makes house calls.
- Dr. Nestor Mendoza Gutierrez - emergency cellular phone# is: 044-984-806-4616
- Dr. Nestor's office phone# is: 984-875-4051, 984-875-0764, 984-875-1142, 984-875-9393.
- Police: 984-871-2055
- Bomberos (Fire) : 984-137-7941
- Red Cross: 984-802-5521
- Civil Protection: 984-871-2688
17Christmas and New Years Rentals?
The Holiday Season is the busiest time of year in Akumal and everywhere on the Riviera Maya. It is best to make reservations 6 to 12 months in advance.
18How do I buy gas at the PEMEX without getting short changed?
When you pull in to the pumps the driver should get out and walk back by the pump. Look at the meter and make sure it is zero'ed before the attendant starts pumping. There is only Magna [regular] and Premium [high test]. In a car 200 pesos of Magna should give you 1/3 to 1/2 tank. Don't pull out your pesos until the gas has been pumped. When the attendant is finished check the meter and pull out the appropriate amount. Hold it up, making sure the attendant knows, that YOU know what the bills you are holding are. The typical scam is that the attendant takes a 200 peso bill from you, palms it and comes up with a 20 peso bill, then says you made the mistake. Same thing with a 500 peso bill switched for a 50. Be on guard, there are variations.
19What about crime in Mexico?
For the most part, Quintana Roo has a lower incidence of crime than any major city in the US. Even with a predominately impoverished population, violent crime and armed robbery are very low in the Yucatan Peninsula. The strength of the family unit coupled with Mexico's generally Christian ethics ward off tendencies toward crime, but tourists should be aware of petty thievery and crimes of opportunity. The inclination to disregard common sense and leave everything wide open because you are in "paradise" can lead to petty thievery. We recomend the following:
- Lock up your accommodation when you leave it.
- Lock up areas of your vacation rental that are not in use even when you are there, so you don't forget.
- If your accommodation has a security safe use it.
- Leave expensive jewelry at home.
- Don't leave expensive cameras and computers lying around in plain sight unattended.
- When taking day trips to beaches and points of interest, take what you need with you and don't leave expensive items in the vehicle in full view.
- Don't think things locked in the trunk are safe.
- Generally, take what you need on vacation and leave the rest at home.
- When going to any foreign country check with your insurance agent before your trip about coverage for losses while on vacation.
20Do I have to worry about about getting sick?
Although you cannot anticipate every contingency, there are steps you can take to ensure a healthy vacation. Planning ahead for a healthy trip involves taking along first-aid supplies that might be needed at your destination or along the way. It also means remembering to pack any prescription or over-the counter medications you or your family members take on a regular basis. See your doctor. Before leaving on vacation, you should visit your family physician to discuss any troubling symptoms that might become a problem during your journey. Many health concerns can be often alleviated by working with your doctor.
Digestive ProblemsThe most common problem is diarrhea, often caused by bacteria from your hands finding its way to your stomach. To prevent this use hand sanitizer and apply it before eating, especially if you are eating tacos or some other Mexican treat that you eat with your hands. Also don't brush you teeth with tap water. Washing should be fine in tap water but don't drink it. Wash vegetables and soak them in water with a few drops of Microdyne disinfectant added [iodine solution, available at most grocery stores]. If you do get a case of the runs, drink plenty of purified bottled water to avoid dehydration. It's not a bad idea to always have a bottle close at hand. Then there's the legendary Caribbean remedy - "You put the lime in the coconut, put them both together, and you'll feel better". There is some truth to that old song if you're not too bad off. People with digestive disorders such as chronic diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome require frequent bathroom visits during long trips so prepare for that with some bathroom tissue in the car, just in case. Over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications are helpful and there are prescription medications available for people who have more severe symptoms. THE DO'S
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Use gel hand sanitizer before eating with your hands [e.g. sandwiches, tacos, chips & salsa].
- Brush your teeth with bottled water.
- Drink plenty of purified bottled water, canned or bottled beverages.
- Sterilize raw vegetables in a Microdyne and water solution before eating.
- Don't drink the tap water [unless you are certain it's purified].
- Don't put your fingers in your mouth.
- Don't touch any sensitive areas of your body after handling hot chile peppers
Motion SicknessPeople who experience motion sickness are familiar with the dizziness, nausea, queasiness and upset stomach that may accompany car, boat and plane travel. Motion sickness usually results when the brain gets conflicting information about movement. When traveling by car, try to sit in the front seat and avoid reading. When traveling by boat, sit as close to the middle of the vessel as possible and look straight ahead at the horizon. Try to avoid breathing exhaust fumes from the motor. When flying, try to sit near the wing of the pane, or the side where you are accustomed to driving. Ear plugs also may help. Regardless of your mode of transportation, if your seating space permits, lie flat with your head horizontal and eyes closed. If you can't lie flat just close your eyes. There are some over-the-counter and prescription medications available to help prevent motion sickness. Remember to use caution when taking them as many cause drowsiness which can impair your ability to drive or operate a boat or plane.
AllergiesPeople who suffer from allergies to molds, mites, dust, pollen, animal fur, insects, foods and other substances should take the same precautions on vacation as they do at home. Bring any prescription or over-the-counter anti-allergy medications used on a regular basis. It's also a good idea to bring an antihistamine in case of accidental exposure to a substance that triggers an allergic reaction. It may also be helpful to pack your own pillow case for use in hotels, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Joint, Muscle Aches and ArthritisThe inflammation of the joints that occur with arthritis may be especially troubling during long trips that restrict movement. Taking frequent breaks to walk around and relieve stiff joints and muscles can make car and plane trips more enjoyable. Remember to pack aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs or any prescription medications you normally use for arthritis. Always pack medication in your carry-on bag. Never pack them in your checked baggage or luggage that will be stored out of your reach, where they could be exposed to harmful temperatures.
You may want to bring:
- A medical kit containing any or all of the following..
- More than enough prescription medication in case of loss, theft, breakage, or spillage.
- A note from your doctor with a medical diagnosis for a chronic condition as well as medications and dosages prescribed.
- Medical ID bracelets or cards listing your chronic health conditions for emergency personnel.
- Extra eyeglasses, lens prescriptions, contact lens solutions
- Extra hearing aid batteries
- Pillowcase from home for allergy sufferers
- Consider an Epipen (epinephrine) just in case, to counteract extreme allergic reactions.
- Sunscreen SPF 15 or higher [available locally too]
- Insect repellent [available locally too]
- Ear plugs
- For more remote areas: First Aid Kit with..
- Bandages, gauze and tape, Tweezers, Thermometer, Antibiotic ointment, Antiseptic, Antihistamine, Aspirin, Cold and flu tablets, Throat lozenges, Anti-diarrheal medication, Motions Sickness medication