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.

Renting a car in Mexico is straight-forward and simple

With a credit card and your driver’s license, renting a car in Mexico is easy. There are a wide selection of car rental agencies to choose from at both PXM (Puerto Escondido International Airport) and HUX (Huatulco International Airport) as well as at off-site locations in town.

Do note that Mexican rental insurance policies often carry a high deductible and that your credit card policy or auto policy from home may not cover you. Check carefully when you pick up the car what you’re on the hook for in the event of an accident.

It’s a good idea to inspect the car with the rental agent and take photos of any damage you find with your phone. With proof that scratches or dents were present before you took the car, you have protection against being charged for damage you didn’t do.

Wasn’t that a red light?

tres reyes puerto escondido
Rent a Jeep to double down on the adventure factor.

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

That being said, drivers here often 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.

But remembet that just because you see locals bending the traffic laws doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you to do the same. Whenever you’re driving in a foreign country it’s best to stay off the radar. Follow the rules to avoid fines.

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 can expect two or three bumps to pass over 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. When traveling at night, bear in mind that many people turn on their high beams on country roads, so be prepared to keep your eyes down on the road to avoid being blinded by the light.

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.

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

DUI laws aren’t as strictly policed here as they should be, so take extra precaution to avoid drunk drivers when driving after dark. If you’ve had one too many, don’t be “that” guy. Taxis are inexpensive here so you’re better to leave your rental car until the next morning and stay safe.