A car is the best way to get to the island’s further reaches, and you’ll get plenty of offers to rent one. All rental contracts should automatically include third-party insurance (daños a terceros), which runs about M$100 per day. Check that taxes are included in the price you’re quoted – they often are not. Collision insurance is usually about M$150 extra with a M$5000 deductible for the cheapest vehicles. Rates start at around M$450 including third-party insurance (collission is extra and may be covered by your credit card), though you’ll pay more during late December and January. There are plenty of agencies around the main plaza, but prices drop about 50% from the dock to the fringes of the tourist zone.
When renting, check with your hotel to see if it has an agreement with any agencies, as you can often get discounts. Note that some agencies will deduct tire damage (repair or replacement) from your deposit, even if tires are old and worn. Be particularly careful about this if you’re renting a 4WD for use on unpaved roads; straighten out the details before you sign.
One fairly no-nonsense place, with cars in good shape, is Rentadora Isis (872-33-67; Av 5 Nte btwn Calles 2 & 4 Nte). VW Beetles rent for around M$300 for 24 hours, with little seasonal variation in prices.
If you rent, observe the law on vehicle occupancy. Usually only five people are allowed in a vehicle. If you carry more, the police will fine you. You’ll need to return your vehicle with the amount of gas it had when you signed it out or pay a premium. This can be tricky as agencies usually don’t rent out cars with full tanks. There’s a gas station on Av Benito Juárez five blocks east of the main square.
Solo touring of the island by motorcycle or scooter is OK provided that you have experience with them and with driving around Mexico. Two people on a bike is asking for trouble, though, as the machines’ suspension is barely adequate for one. Many auto drivers speed and pass aggressively on Cozumel, and it has its share of topes (speed bumps). Riders are injured in solo crashes nearly every day, and deaths, usually involving other vehicles, are not uncommon. That said, rental opportunities abound, with prices ranging from M$180 to M$400 a day (depending on the agency, the season, volume of business and whether the stars are aligned properly), but you may be able to haggle down to less, with third-party insurance and tax included. Collision insurance is not usually available for motorcycles: you break, you pay.
To rent, you must have a valid driver’s license and leave a credit-card slip or put down a deposit (usually M$1000). There is a helmet law, and it is enforced.
Rentadora Isis rents scooters for M$180 per day – you need to return them before dark.
As in some other towns in the Yucatán, the taxi syndicate in Cozumel wields a good bit of power. Fares in and around town are M$30 per ride; luggage may cost extra. Carry exact change as it’s not uncommon for drivers to claim they are unable to provide it.
A full day’s bicycle rental typically costs M$80 to M$150 (depending on season), and can be a great way to get to the northern and southern beaches on the west side of flat Cozumel. The completely separate bicycle/scooter lane on the Chankanaab highway sees a good deal of car traffic from confused tourists and impatient cab drivers, so be careful.