Riviera Maya Travel tips – Driving in the Riviera Maya

Posted March 20, 2013 by Kay Walten in Mexico Vacation Tips,Riviera Maya Destinations

driving tips in the riviera Maya

I think we answer this question at least 10 times a day. Is it safe to drive in Mexico? Should I rent a car or hire a driver? Driving in Mexico is no different from driving in North America except for a few unwritten road rules that make driving safer. These unwritten driving rules are for safety, but if you are unaware of these rules it could seem a bit confusing. If you are New Yorker, you know the unwritten driving rules in New York. If you are from any city there are cultural driving courtesies that are useful to know. The Riviera Maya is not any different, and when you know these rules you may even adopt them back home.

Driving in the Riviera Maya and the unwritten driving rules you should know.

First, driving is safe in the Riviera Maya. If you are not comfortable driving in areas that are unfamiliar to you, take public transport and play it safe for you. If you are a confident driver, get behind the wheel and know these rules:

1. The right hand shoulder is used to let cars pass. If a driver slows down and pulls over the right with their indicator on, it means they are allowing you to pass. Cars coming in the opposite direction will also veer to the right to let you pass if room is needed. Just make sure that there is a paved shoulder for them to use!

2. If a car ahead of you puts on their hazard lights while driving it means they are starting to slow down either for a speed bump, or pedestrian cross walk. Slow down too and put on your hazards so that the cars behind you know that you are slowing down as well. This is a brilliant addition to driving signals and has come in handy many a times.

3. Look both ways at a stop sign. Full stops are not necessarily observed so proceed with caution. For whatever reason it seems that the stop sign is a rolling stop, not a full stop so proceed carefully and remember that not everyone thinks the stop sign is a full stop.

4. If you need to make a left hand turn on a two lane highway pull over to the right and wait for a clear path. This applies more to the back roads than the 307 highway where left hand turns can only be made where the median breaks. In many cases you need to use a return lane and travel back on the highway to get to your destination. The signs for a return lane are called ‘returnos’ in Spanish.

5. Speed bumps are everywhere to maintain speed and public safety. Watch out for them as not all speed bumps have a sign indicating they exist.

6. Wear your seat belt, don’t drink and drive and if the rains come, slow down, turn your lights on and ride it out. The highways can get large pools of water so play it safe.

We drive all over the place, and when you understand these driving rules, life is much easier and driving much safer. Check out our maps of the highways in the Riviera Maya to see the main highway 307 and all the groovy back roads that make traveling through the Rivera Maya so interesting. For short trips use public transportion. For an adventure, rent a car and apply your new found knowledge.

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  1. Eirik, March 20, 2013:

    Could you clarify the speed limit signs? There are often two speeds given, and sometimes the signs are only a few hundred yards apart! Am I supposed to go 60, 80, 100 kph? How do I know which sign applies?

  2. kay, March 21, 2013:

    Hi Eirik!

    What you will find on the highway is a short distance between some speed limits signs. The basic rule is this: Around large resorts the speed limit will drop to 60 or even 40km per hour as there are many people crossing the highway to catch the public vans ‘collectivos’. If you see a spped limit of 80 km it is because you are entering the city limits and the municipal speed limit is 80 km….if there is no interference from resorts or city limits then you can travel at 100 km where posted. The police will pull you over if you exceed these speed limits particularly within the municipal city limits where the speed is 80 km. The drop to 40 kms is not necessarily obeyed in many cases but if a federal police office is close by you will get a ticket…that is the story and hope that helps!

  3. john, July 2, 2014:

    Definitely look out for those “speed bumps” that sometimes are in some odd places. We hit one in a minivan going about 40 and got quite the shock!

  4. Rick, September 8, 2014:

    Thanx, any recommendations in terms of rental co? Ins? Can you drive open buggy type vehicles on the road?


  5. Kay Walten, September 8, 2014:

    Rick hey buenos días! We do not have any recommendations on a specific rental car company. We have heard good and bad issues over the years about various agencies so I don’t have a specific recommendation. Insurance? YES! Like any insurance we all hate to pay for it, but if we need it we are glad we have it. Don’t rely on your credit card insurance to cover you at the time of the accident. The rental agencies are going to want payment for damages and let you sort it out with your credit card company. Open buggies cannot be driven on the Hwy that I am aware of. I know I have seen them on the road in Cozumel, but not on the mainland.

  6. Cat, June 22, 2015:

    Hi, just wondering where this photo was taken and if you have information to rent this vehicle? A friend is getting married in Tulum in a few weeks and looking for something as creative as this.

    Thank you!


  7. Kay Walten, June 27, 2015:

    We have no information on how to rent the donkey cart. This is a photo we had take a while back. Its fun, no?

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