Renting a car is a nice way to get out of downtown and see the rest of the island. It is virtually impossible to get lost, and you can visit all the main spots in a day or two.
If you do decide to rent some wheels, go to the agency yourself—do not allow one of the friendly guys at the pier to lead you there. They are comisionistas, freelancers who earn hefty commissions for bringing tourists to particular shops, which then pass the cost on to you. Shop owners go along begrudgingly; if they decline the “service,” the same freelancers will actively steer future tourists away from the shop, saying it’s closed, burned down, fresh out of cars—you get the idea.
Excluding commissions, rental cars in Cozumel start at around US$40–50 for a compact car, including insurance and taxes. Mopeds rent for around US$25 a day. Be aware that scooters account for the majority of accidents here, as speed bumps, potholes, and windy conditions can upend even experienced drivers. Also remember that unpaved roads are not covered by most rental car insurance plans.
Rentadora Isis (Av. 5 Norte btwn Calles 2 and 4, tel. 987/872-3367, 8am-6:30pm daily) consistently has the island’s best rates, and friendly service to boot; their Internet specials often are good, too. Another good local option is Sol y Mar Rentals (Calle 2 near Av. 5 Norte, tel. 987/869-0545, 8am–7pm daily).
International companies have newer fleets, and often have good rates if you book online. Try Avis (Punta Langosta Pier, Av. Rafael Melgar btwn Calles 7 and 11, tel. 987/872-5383, airport tel. 987/872-0219), Hertz (airport tel. 987/869-8184), or Thrifty (Av. Juárez at Av. 10 Norte, tel. 987/869-8090, airport tel. 987/869-2957).
To explore the island in style, head to Eaglerider (Palmar Plaza, Carr. Costera Sur Km. 3.8, tel. 987/857-0106, toll-free U.S. tel. 888/900-9901, , US$159-199/day), which rents several types of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, from Sportsters to Road Kings and Electra Glides.
Highways and Road Conditions
The distance around the island—on paved roads, and including the northwestern arm that dead-ends after Cozumel Country Club—is approximately 93 kilometers (58 miles). Driving without stopping, it takes a little under two hours to circumnavigate the island. If doing this, consider going counterclockwise so there’s nothing between your vehicle and the ocean, especially on the east side. Biking around the island is possible but challenging, given the strong crosswinds.
Cozumel has three PEMEX gas stations (7am-midnight daily). Two are in town on Avenida Benito Juárez (at Avs. Pedro Joaquin Coldwell and 75), and the third is four kilometers (2.5 miles) south of town on the Carretera Costera Sur, across from Puerta Maya, the main cruise ship pier.
Note: Most streets are one-way in town; if you’re driving, be aware that avenidas (avenues) run north-south and have the right-of-way over calles (streets), which run east-west. Once you leave town, there is a single road that circles the entire island.