Gecko Rock’s Mexico Driving Guide

driving in mexico

The ideal car for cruising the Oaxacan coastline in style.

Renting a car for your Puerto Escondido or Huatulco vacation is a great way to see the best of the Oaxacan Coast while enjoying the freedom of the road.

From mountain adventures to discovering seldom visited tropical beaches, having your own set of wheels makes it easier to reach destinations that are off-the-beaten path and then some.

If you’re staying with us at Gecko Rock we can help you reach many of these places with our shuttle service or a friendly taxi driver, but if you’re dead set on getting a vehicle, here are a few tips to make your Mexican driving experience as fun and safe as possible.

A deductible fit for a king.

Renting a car in Mexico is straight-forward and simple. With a credit card and your driver’s license it’s a piece of cake. You’ll find car rental agencies at both PXM (Puerto Escondido International Airport) and HUX (Huatulco International Airport) as well as at off-site locations in town.

But, you do need to know that Mexican rental insurance policies carry a very high deductible and it’s extremely unlikely that your policy from home will cover you here.

It’s not a huge deal, just be aware that should you total your rental car it could still cost you a few grand even with insurance.

Wasn’t that a red light?

tres reyes puerto escondido

This Jeep was rented from Los Tres Reyes in Puerto Escondido.

If you’re new to driving in Mexico you might have ideas of absolute mayhem and lawlessness on the roads. In reality, though, it’s reasonably organized. Especially here in rural Oaxaca.

That being said, Mexican drivers certainly look at traffic laws more like suggestions rather than rules.

In particular watch out for illegal passing on the highways and drivers running red lights in town.

Other than that, just keep your eyes peeled and you’ll do fine.

Oh, and just because the locals bend the traffic laws doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you to start driving like a Mexican! Whenever you’re driving in a foreign country it’s best to stay off the radar.

Speed bump central!

Optimus Prime makes the perfect co-pilot. He's from Mexico so he knows the way!

Optimus Prime makes the perfect co-pilot. He’s from Mexico so he knows the way!

Mexican roads are famous for their topes, or speed bumps.

Whenever the highway approaches a town you will need to pass over at least two or three topes before making your way through the village.

Most speed bumps are marked ahead of time with a sign, but watch the pavement because they’re not always painted and they’re liable to pop up out of nowhere.

Also, watch for locals walking alongside the highway or crossing the road. Keep an eye out as well for potholes, washouts and debris in the road.

Do your best to arrange all your driving during daylight hours.

Roads here can be poorly marked and dimly lit, so when traveling an unfamiliar route it’s best to avoid driving at night.

Common dangers like topes, potholes, washouts, debris and hairpin turns are twice as risky in the dark, so if you do need to travel at night, lessen your speed to help you avoid hazards.

Overall the roads here are fine, if you can drive at home you can drive in Oaxaca. You just need to remember to be extra diligent and focus on the road.

Hey #&!%, turn off your high beams!

It’s very common practice here outside of the city for people to drive with their high beams on country roads.

It’s blinding but try to keep your eyes down on the road and follow the lines until the car has passed.

Flashing your brights back won’t make any difference, just presume that they’re not going to turn their high beams off and take precautions accordingly.

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila…and where are my car keys?

The police in Mexico don’t enforce DUI laws as strictly as they should, and so many locals choose to get behind the wheel toasted instead of paying for a taxi. When driving at night take extra precaution to avoid drunk drivers.

Unfortunately, many of the drunk drivers are other gringos!

Don’t be “that” guy.

If you enjoyed this article please subscribe to our Blog to receive notifications of new content.