One paved road, the Carretera Transversal, crosses the island from west to east. At the eastern shore of the island, the road heads south, rounds the island’s southern tip and becomes the Carretera Costera Sur. Continuing north, the road offers access to Cozumel's best beaches before returning to San Miguel de Cozumel.
Many streets in San Miguel de Cozumel are one-way; pay attention to arrows on the street signs and verify which direction the cars are parked.
If you choose to drive around Cozumel by car, you can make the whole 40-mile loop around the island in about an hour and a half, not taking into account any time for stops. Much of the northeastern portion of the island is unreachable by rental car, as the roads are unpaved and very rough.
Your U.S. driver’s license is valid in Cozumel, Mexico, but your U.S. auto insurance most likely is not. Be sure to get the collision and liability coverage offered through the rental car company.
If you’re stopped by the police for a serious moving violation, your vehicle may be impounded and you'll be asked to accompany the police officer to the station to pay the fine. For minor infractions, the fines can often be paid on the spot, in cash. (In Mexico, a bribe is a common way of taking care of such situations.)
Below are a few additional tips for driving in Cozumel:
Curbs painted yellow are designated for bicycle, motorcycle and moped parking only.
• Curbs painted red are no parking zones.
• Signs for no parking zones are indicated by a black capital “E” with a red line through it.
• Always wear your seat belt.
• Use caution around potholes and speed bumps (called “topes”), which may not always be easily seen.