Driving and finding places

Streets are laid out on a grid system


Avenidas (avenues) run parallel to the length of the island "north - south"

  • Avenida Rafael E. Melgar, or "el Malecón", runs along the waterfront

  • Avenidas are numbered by 5's (5a, 10a, 15a, etc.) counting away from Av. Melgar

    • Most are one-way in alternating directions

  • Large Avenidas that are divided are two-way

  • Some large divided Avenidas have "special" names instead of numbers:

    • Avenida Pedro Joaquin Coldwell = 30a Avenida

    • Avenida 8 de Octubre = 65a Avenida

  • Avenidas have few stops, and some will get you from one end of town to the other nonstop


  • Calles (streets) run across the island "east - west"

    • Calles are numbered with odd numbers counting south from Av. Benito Juárez

    • Calles are numbered with even numbers counting north from Av. Benito Juárez

    • Calle Dr. Adolfo Rosado Salas is between Calle 1 Sur and Calle 3 Sur

    • Most are one-way in alternating directions

  • The large divided Calles are two-way

  • Some large Calles have "special" names instead of numbers (and are called Avenidas!):

    • Avenida Andrés Quintana Roo = Calle 11 Sur

    • Avenida Xel-Ha = Calle 15 Sur

  • Most calles have stop signs at every cross street

Avenida Benito Juárez, the Transversal highway

    • Divides "Norte" from "Sur"

    • Referred to as Avenida Benito Juárez "in town"

    • Referred to as Carretera Transversal outside of town

    • One-way from Melgar to Coldwell (30), two-way east of there

Carretera Costera Sur

    • Southern Coastal Highway

    • What Avenida Rafael E. Melgar becomes south of town

Carretera San Juan

    • San Juan (Northern Coastal) Highway

    • What Avenida Rafael E. Melgar becomes north of town

North and South

  • Streets are specified as being Norte (Nte) if they're north of Avenida Benito Juárez

  • Streets are specified as being Sur if they're south of Avenida Benito Juárez

Bis and C

  • Bis mean repeated, and these streets fall between other numbers

  • Bis C streets exist in some places to make up for a further lack of street numbers

  • For example, there's 15a Avenida Sur, 15a Avenida Bis Sur, and 15a Avenida Bis C Sur

"Funky" Streets

  • Here and there, seemingly at random, named streets appear between the numbered ones or the regular numbering system isn't followed

  • In some areas the alternation of one-way directions isn't followed, especially around parks and schools

  • Google Maps typically shows these correctly (or nearly so)

Addresses follow conventions different from north of the border

  • Street numbers are inconsistent and are often not used even when they are assigned

  • Quite a few places officially have no number at all - s/n means "sin número", or "without a number"

  • Addresses are often specified as being on a street between two others or at the corner of another one

    • con = with or at, entre = between, esquina = (at the) corner (of), frente = across from

  • Correct addresses always include the Colonia (neighborhood)


  • Red-painted curbs mean "No Parking" and tickets are likely

  • A sign on a post or painted on the road showing an E in a slashed circle also marks "No Parking"

  • "No Estacionarse" painted on a wall or gate denotes a private entry where you should not park

  • "Se Usará Grúa" means "Tow-away Zone" (literally "the crane will be used"). They mean it.

  • "Se Ponchan Llantas Gratis" means "Tires Punctured for Free". Don't block driveways!

  • Even if not marked, don't block people's or businesses' driveways

  • A parking violation will result in removal of your license plate to ensure you pay up

    • On the waterfront, wheel-locking boots are applied with enthusiasm

  • Public parking lots (Estacionamiento Público) are plentiful and cheap

  • Parking lots typically cost 10-15 pesos an hour

  • Parking lots do close at night, so be sure you know when to return for your car - the last ferry arrives after nearby parking lots are closed for the night!