Driving and finding places

Streets are laid out on a grid system

  • Avenidas
    • 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 (5th, 10th, 15th, 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
  • Calles
    • 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

Avenida Benito Juárez, the Transversal highway

    • Divides Norte and 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 turns into south of town

Carretera San Juan

    • San Juan (Northern Coastal) Highway
    • What Avenida Rafael E. Melgar turns into 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
  • 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 has these correct (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 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)

Parking

  • 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". They mean it.
  • "Se Ponchan Llantas Gratis" means "We Puncture Tires 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) 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!