Is Water Safe to Drink in Cancun? Not, Really, But Read on to Learn More.
Can you drink the water in Cancun? What about eating vegetables, enjoying a cup of coffee, or brushing your teeth? Luckily, we have the answers you’re looking for!
Getting sick is one of the worst things that can happen on vacation. You’ve waited for months to sit in the sun and relax, but you’re stuck in bed and can’t enjoy it.
If you’re planning on visiting Cancun, you’re going to want to figure out what precautions you want to take when it comes to water. So, let’s get you all caught up – here’s everything you need to know about the water in Cancun.
Can you drink tap water in Cancun?
The internet can be a little confusing about whether or not you can drink water in Cancun. But despite what you might read, don’t.
Mexico is a beautiful place with lots of assets, but drinkable water isn’t one of them. Unlike other systems in North America, the water system in Cancun (like the rest of Mexico) only cleans the water to a certain point. The water that comes out of the tap is safe to do some things in – like shower or brush your teeth – but there’s always a risk if you’re drinking it directly from the tap.
In some rare cases, you might find a private home or the occasional hotel that has a secondary purification that allows you to access clean drinking water through the taps. However, in most cases, everyone drinks and enjoys purified water not delivered directly from the tap.
Do locals drink tap water in Cancun?
The “don’t drink water in Cancun” rule isn’t just for tourists – locals don’t drink it either. The contents of the water aren’t good for anyone, no matter where they were born or live now.
Some locals might opt to boil tap water, which can render it safe to drink. However, most order or purchase garrafones – those 20L bottles of water that are usually blue – and use the purified water from them to drink and cook. Household water is also available in smaller denominations of 5L or single bottles.
What is the best bottled water in Cancun?
Since bottled water is the norm in Cancun, there are plenty to choose from. You’ll likely see brands you recognize like Aquafina and Dasani on the shelf, but most recommend local brands instead.
Both Epura and Bonafont are best-selling purified water brands popular in the Cancun area.
If you’re looking for a locally brewed brand, Santa Maria is sourced from mountains in Central Mexico – not to mention it’s my favorite bottled water.
I also recommend you opt for a personal refillable water bottle instead of buying single-use items. Not only is it better for the environment, but in the long run it could save you money.
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Where can I buy bottled water in Cancun?
Bottled water can be purchased almost anywhere in Cancun.
Your hotel or resort room is often replenished with a few bottles daily, plus you can pick it up at any of the restaurants and even the gift shop. But if you’re not at the resort, water is also sold at:
- Convenience stores like 7eleven and Oxxo
- Groceries stories like Soriana and Superama
If you find yourself looking for water, you’re not the only one. It’s available in most places you’ll think to look!
Why can’t you drink the water in Cancun?
The simple answer to why you can’t drink the water in Cancun is because there’s bad stuff in it.
Water-borne organisms like bacteria, parasites, viruses, and other toxins, are often found in the water. And while the water is filtered to some degree when it’s gathered from the source, it’s purified to the level you can drink from it.
Heavy metals like copper, manganese, and chromium can also be found in the water. Long-term exposure to these can make you very sick.
Further to that, the water distribution system could contribute to the toxins in the water, depending on the make and condition of the pipes. For example, pipes that sit unused, and baking in the sun may accumulate harmful bacteria that could make you ill.
Is Montezuma’s Revenge a thing in Cancun?
Montezuma’s Revenge is a thing in Cancun. More commonly known as traveler’s diarrhea (TD), it’s an illness caused by tiny changes in microscopic organisms in the water you consume.
Mexico doesn’t have the cleanest tap water, and chances are the organisms found here aren’t the same ones you’ll see back home, which means if you start drinking it, you could experience some unwanted (and gross) symptoms.
TD is easily treatable if you get it, but let’s be honest – it’d be better to avoid it altogether. With that in mind, three easy steps you can take to avoid getting sick in Cancun, include:
- Consuming only fully purified water
- Eating properly prepared food
- Frequently washing your hands
The truth is, millions of people visit Cancun every year and don’t experience TD. While it’s always a risk, ensuring you drink clean water (and avoid tap) can make strides towards avoiding it.
Can you drink iced beverages in Cancun?
Yes, most ice in Cancun is safe to drink. The ice cubes you’ll find at the resort or in a restaurant will be made from purified, bottled water. That means it’s safe to consume, just like purified water in non-ice form.
Whether your iced drink comes from a bar, café, restaurant, or resort, chances are it’s safe to drink it. If you have any questions or concerns about it, feel free to double-check with the establishment before you consume anything.
Can you drink coffee in Cancun?
Just like it’s safe to consume iced beverages, you can also drink coffee in Cancun. Most restaurants, hotels, and cafes use purified water to make their coffee.
If you’re making your own coffee in your hotel room, you want to make sure you’re also using bottled water to make it.
If you’re concerned about drinking a particular cup of coffee, feel free to ask whoever’s serving it if purified water was used to make it.
Can you eat salad in Cancun?
There are a lot of warnings out there that you shouldn’t eat fruits and vegetables in Cancun, including salad. But most travelers don’t realize that fruit and veggies are washed with both water along with other cleaning products to ensure they’re safe to eat. Those products include cleansers like vinegar or bicarbonate.
If you’re at a restaurant or a resort, they do this on your behalf. However, if you’re preparing food for yourself, you’ll want to make sure you also pick up a cleaning product (often found in the produce area of the grocery store) to ensure the safety of your food.
Can you cook with tap water in Cancun?
In most cases, boiling the tap water in Cancun can make it safe for use. That means that so long the cooking process involves boiling the water it should be safe.
However, most people and places (including restaurants and resorts) cook with purified water to be on the safe side. If you’re cooking your own meal, I recommend opting for bottled water instead of tap. It’ll taste better, too!
I personally use bottled water to cook or make coffe.
Can you drink the water in Cancun resorts?
While you might find the occasional resort that has separately purified water pumped in, the majority of them simply provide plastic bottles of water for guests.
You will most likely find personal-sized or 5-gallon containers in your room. If you have questions about the safety of the water, make sure to speak with the resort staff directly.
Can you drink water in Cancun in restaurants?
Much like resorts and private homes, restaurants in Cancun do not have drinking water in the taps. Most restaurants will have premium drinking water bottles on their menu, and you won’t be given drinkable water from the start.
Not interested in purchasing a bottle? No problem. Simply ask your server for complimentary drinking water, and you should receive a glass. You can also simply bring your own bottle of water with you.
Can you brush your teeth with tap water in Cancun?
Yes, it’s safe for you to brush your teeth with tap water in Cancun. You’re unlikely to ingest enough to make you sick while brushing your teeth (just don’t drink any!), so many Mexican households use it.
However, if you’re in Mexico for the first time and unsure, you can keep a bottle of purified water by the tap and brush your teeth with that instead.
Can you shower in Cancun water?
Yes, it’s also safe to shower in the tap water in Cancun. While it’s not purified enough for your system, washing your body with it shouldn’t cause any problems.
The water is purified (to a point) from the source, just make sure not to drink any of the water while you’re showering. And don’t drink bath or pool water either!
What to do if you get sick from the water in Cancun
While taking precautions while you’re vacationing in Cancun can help reduce your chances, there’s no guarantee you won’t get sick from the water. Most people who visit Cancun don’t get sick and end up having a great time. However, there are still some people that do.
In most cases, symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea are mild and can simply be dealt with by a doctor. But if you experience more severe symptoms, you should immediately head to the nearest hospital.
How to see a doctor in Cancun
There are plenty of doctors available in Cancun, and they tend to be fairly affordable and easy to access. Many big pharmacies, including Yza and Similares often have walk-in clinics attached that allow you to quickly go see a doctor. You can simply find the nearest one to you and head over, but make sure the one you’re visiting actually has a clinic – they don’t all.
More severe cases could involve hospitalization. While it’s rare, especially if you’re taking precautions, it’s in your best interest to get travel insurance before your trip. Whether or not you’re going for a short or long period of time, travel insurance is considerably more affordable than a long, private hospital stay.
If you ask me I have two recommended travel insurance companies, one is SafetyWing, which I find relatively affordable and quite comprehensive.
The other is not a company but a site aggregator, Travel Insurance Master which will help you find the perfect insurance for you. You fill out the form with the information about your profile and requirements and they select the insurance company that is a good fit.
Avoid dehydration while you’re in Cancun
While drinking tap water in Cancun can make you sick, not drinking enough water can also cause illness.
Cancun, situated on the Yucatan Peninsula, has a tropical climate. That means temperatures are warm and require a little more water to function properly. Likewise, if you’re spending the day sitting on a hot beach enjoying a drink at an all-inclusive resort, you’ll need to drink lots of water.
At the end of the day, you want to make sure that you drink a lot of water to stay hydrated. Especially if you’re from a cooler climate and your body isn’t familiar with and adapted to the climate. But make sure you’re drinking the right kind of water all day long.
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Can you drink the water in Cancun: final thoughts
Cancun is like the rest of Mexico, you can’t simply drink the water from the tap. But there’s easy access to purified water that you can buy at any grocery store or convenience store. Not to mention, your resort and the restaurants you visit will also use and serve purified water.
Wherever you are in Cancun and whatever you’re doing, you’ll want to make sure that you bring a reusable bottle of water with you, especially if you’re enjoying adult drinks on the beach. Overall, it’s a good idea to drink bottled water instead of Mexico tap water when you’re visiting Cancun.