Written by Rob Mukai on Feb. 18, 2019
Although it is possible to get to Xcalak via bus, the preferred method to get to Acocote Eco Inn from the airport is renting a car and driving down. This has a number of advantages. You can get to our restaurants in town, maybe do a day trip to a Mayan ruin. If you are fly fishing, you can take your car to meet your guides, or if you are doing DIY fishing, you can access miles of wade-able flats chasing permit and bonefish. Although it does seem a bit daunting, the drive although long, is very doable. And when you have done it once, you will find that it wasn't nearly as bad as you thought. The directions are straight forward and the roads are well maintained. And full disclosure, I am not an expert on this, especially the insurance portion, so please do your own research on what and how best to cover your rental car.
You can get a really good deal on rental cars here, especially out of Cancun. Most of the recommendations in this article will be for Cancun.
It's a bit of a pain to understand rental car prices on the interwebs. You will see crazy prices like $3 USD/Day. The issue is, you have to look at the fine print. A lot of the time, they will say that you must buy full insurance coverage from them to qualify and there is a 20% on premise fee for rental car agencies on site at the airport. This can bring the total up over $30-40 USD/Day. Which still isn't too bad, but a shock if you arrive at the counter and they charge you $40 USD/Day when you were expecting $3 USD/Day.
So the first thing is Personal Liability Insurance (PLI) is required that you buy it from the rental car agency for EVERY car rental. It is usually, at the time of this writing, $5-15 USD/Day depending on the rental car agency. Secondly, your home auto insurance is not likely to cover you. Most US auto insurance will only cover you within 50 miles of the US border. Please check with your auto insurance company to confirm. Then there is the collision damage waiver, theft protection, third party liability, personal accident insurance, and sometimes extra coverage to cover the deductibles. These will all vary by company again. I'm by no means an expert on all of this however, if you buy full coverage from the rental agency, I have had guests dent a fender on a coconut tree, and basically drop the car off and walk away. No questions asked. So this is the easiest, if not cheapest option.
The second option is to use your credit card. This gets a little more interesting because depending on the credit card, coverage can vary wildly. So if you want to go this route contact your credit card company, get a copy of the coverage to take with you. Take careful note of what the deductibles are, and if they will cover the lost revenue for the rental company while a car is being repaired. Just be comfortable with what they will and won't cover. The second issue is that if you have damaged the car, expect to spend a lot of time at the rental agency while they negotiate with your credit card provider over who pays what. Give yourself plenty of time before your flight. Also check with your credit card company to see if you can buy supplementary coverage. AMEX for example, has a supplementary coverage that basically covers everything for an extra fee.
Finally, when you make your reservation for your rental car get the quote in writing. Sometimes it helps to call and get confirmation on the total cost of the rental, confirm with them that there will be no extra charges.
Getting your car
One of the things I always do when getting a rental car, is go around the whole car and take pictures of every panel, hood, roof, trunk, every scratch, ding, hub caps, of the exterior of the car. Make sure that they mark it on their inspection sheet as well. Also take pictures of the jack, and spare tire. Finally, take a picture of the odometer, and the gas gauge. You will be expected to return the car with at least as much gas as you left with so it is important to have proof.
Do I need a 4 wheel drive?
We are in a very rural part of Mexico, but a four wheel drive vehicle is not necessary. Most of the drive from Cancun is on well maintained highways. It's really only the last 10KM or so that is on dirt roads and we do keep them fairly well maintained if not pothole free. Just take it slow and pretty much any car can make it down. Now, some people get "Economy" cars, and here, they are more like European "economy" not US "economy" cars. They are not much bigger than a smart car. So be aware. They will make it fine, just not that comfortable. And on a long drive, that can make a difference. The only other thing I would warn against is we had one guest that got upgraded to a Camaro. It was too low to the ground and they had to go reaaaallly slowly coming down the dirt road.
Rental Car Agencies - Cancun
So people ask us what Rental Car Companies we like to use. Of course you can use the international brands like Hertz, Avis, National, etc. However they are all being run by local franchisees and may or may not give you the service you are expecting. Also the big companies are all on site of the airport and will generally charge you extra for that convenience. Here are a couple of agencies that we and our guests have used and like.
Easy Way is located on 307 just north of the airport. When you make your reservation with them, give them your flight information and they will meet you at the Terminal and drive you to their offices. They will also do a drop-off at your hotel in Cancun. In the past, they used to give you a beer while you waited, which is of dubious business sense for a company that rents cars, but I don't think they do that anymore. When you return the car, they will usually inspect it and then drive you and the car to the airport, so you really don't even need to remove your luggage from the trunk.
America is used by a lot of our guests. I personally haven't used them, but our guests seem to like them. If you look on TripAdvisor they get dinged by people who think they shouldn't have to buy their insurance from them. Again, this is where it is important to understand what coverage you are getting and the total cost for the car. But otherwise our guests have been pretty happy with them.
Lately we have had a few guests use Avant and they have been pretty happy with them. I haven't personally used them so your mileage may vary...They are located near Easy Way right on 307. As with all the off premise rental agencies, you arrange a pickup at the airport and they will come get you.
Rental Car Agencies - Chetumal
A couple of rental car agencies in Chetumal you can use.
National Rental Car is located in the Fiesta Inn hotel in central Chetumal. I haven't used them, but our neighbors have and are very happy with them. (Note Google has the agency across the street from the Hotel, it is in the Hotel lobby.)
Budget is located in the Chetumal Airport. Again, I haven't used them but I have heard of no problems using them.
Hopefully that will help you with your planning for your trip to Xcalak and Acocote Eco Inn. Hope to see you soon!