Are you traveling to Cancun Mexico soon and wondering if the water is safe to drink? You’ve come to the right guide!
I’m a travel blogger that lives in Playa del Carmen, just south of Cancun, and it’s one of the most common questions I get asked – along with many other nervous questions around cooking, showering, and brushing your teeth!
In this ultimate Cancun drinking water guide, I’m sharing the answers to all of these frequently asked questions, as well as tips for preventing sickness and where to go for help if you need it.
Read on to find out – Can you drink the water in Cancun?
Can you drink the water in Cancun?
No, the water in Cancun is not safe to drink and it’s best to stick to bottled or purified water when visiting. Cancun’s tap water can contain harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can make you very sick if you drink it.
As a general rule, the water is not safe to drink anywhere in Mexico, and Cancun is no exception.
While water filtration systems may be in place in some areas, it’s best to stay on the safe side and only drink bottled water or water that has been properly purified.
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Is tap water safe to drink in Cancun?
No, the tap water in Cancun is not safe to drink so it’s best to stick to bottled or purified water while visiting.
Even local Mexican people avoid drinking the tap water, opting instead to drink bottles of water or water that has been purified.
And since the local people aren’t able to drink the Mexican tap water either, you can rest assured that no one is going to risk using unpurified water for food or drink preparation.
Why can’t you drink the water in Cancun?
You can’t drink the water in Cancun because it is not purified and contains microscopic contaminants that can make you sick.
The water filtration systems in Mexico do not purify the tap water to the same safety standards as most western countries, and can sometimes even contain harmful bacteria, viruses, or parasites.
Because of the poor water quality, it is best to stick to bottled or filtered water when visiting Cancun.
Drinking Water in Cancun Mexico: FAQs
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions around drinking the water in Cancun:
No, the water is not safe to drink in the Cancun Hotel Zone and it’s best to stick to bottled water or purified water. The local tap water in Cancun can contain contaminants that can make you sick.
Yes, you should be fine to brush your teeth with tap water as long as you are careful not to swallow the water. But if you’re very worried about using tap water, then just use bottled water to brush your teeth.
No, it’s typically not safe to drink the water at resorts in Mexico and you should stick to bottled or purified water when visiting.
While some larger resorts might have a water filtration system in place, this is not the norm. It’s best to err on the side of caution by not drinking the tap water in Mexico resorts at all.
Most all inclusive Cancun resorts will provide bottled water or have complimentary drinking water available for guests, so you can still stay hydrated during your trip.
Yes, all of the ice in Mexico comes from purified water, so you can rest assured that restaurants, bars, and resorts will never use unpurified water for ice cubes in drinks or cocktails.
In addition, ice from the ice machines is also safe to drink as it comes from a purified source.
Yes, coffee served in restaurants, hotels, and resorts is made with purified water, so you can rest assured that it’s safe to drink.
If you’re making coffee in your hotel room or at your vacation rental, remember to use bottled or purified water when adding water to the machine.
Yes, reputable restaurants and resorts will always use purified water to wash lettuce, vegetables, and produce so as long the salad hasn’t wilted or gone bad, it should be safe to eat.
However, if you are dining at a street food stand or questionable establishment, it’s important to be aware of overall cleanliness. If you’re unsure, don’t eat it.
Yes, taking a shower in Cancun water is perfectly safe. Just be careful not to swallow the water while in the shower and you should be fine.
Yes, you can cook with water in Cancun if you boil the water. Boiled water is safe to use when cooking foods like pasta, rice, or hard-boiled eggs.
However, if you don’t plan to boil the water or are just rinsing fruits or vegetables, then it’s best to use purified water for any kind of food preparation.
It’s also common for grocery stores to sell produce wash that you can use to clean fresh fruit and vegetables before cooking.
What happens if you drink the water in Cancun?
If you drink the water in Cancun, it’s possible you might not even get sick.
However, some people may suffer from traveler’s diarrhea (TD). TD is a condition that can cause diarrhea, dehydration, cramping, and other symptoms.
While it is usually not serious, it can be very uncomfortable, and severe cases can require antibiotics for treatment.
If you experience severe symptoms after drinking the water in Cancun, be sure to see a doctor or medical professional for treatment.
🚽 Traveler’s diarrhea is also jokingly referred to in Mexico as Montezuma’s Revenge, as Montezuma was the last Aztec ruler before the empire was conquered by the Spanish.
Where to buy drinking water in Cancun
Since the tap water is not safe to drink in Cancun, here’s where you can find drinkable water:
The best places to buy bottled water in Cancun are at convenience stores. The most popular convenience stores in Cancun are Oxxo and 7 Eleven.
These convenience stores are located pretty much every few blocks in the main areas so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one during your trip.
At a convenience store, you’ll be able to buy a variety of bottled water brands in different sizes–ranging from a 16oz bottle to a liter to a 5-gallon garrafón.
Some of the main water brands in Cancun and other parts of Mexico are Bonafont, Epura, and Ciel.
Unless you have a very particular taste when it comes to water, you will probably not notice a difference in water quality.
🏺 What is a garrafón? A garrafón is a 5-gallon (20-liter) jug of purified water that is very common in Mexico. These large jugs of purified water are used by residents, restaurants, and establishments as the main source of drinking water.
Aside from convenience stores, purified water can also be purchased at all of the major grocery stores in Cancun including Walmart and Soriana.
Bottled water is generally cheaper at grocery stores so it’s a great place to stock up on larger bottles if you are on a budget and don’t mind carrying the larger bottles.
If you live in Cancun or are staying long term, the most popular way to get water is through a water delivery service.
There are many Cancun water delivery services available, where they will deliver a large garrafón of water upon request.
These services can be arranged on Whatsapp–the best place to find the contact numbers are in the expat Whatsapp or Facebook groups.
Most residents will then use a water dispenser stand or electric pump to make it easier to get the water out of the heavy garrafón jugs.
How to avoid getting sick in Cancun
Follow these water and food safety tips to avoid getting sick while visiting Cancun:
- Don’t drink the tap water: An obvious tip but an important one–don’t drink the tap water ever! If you’re coming from a place where you are accustomed to drinking water straight from the tap, then it can definitely be an adjustment. Always be mindful of your water consumption and only drink from purified sources.
- Pack Pepto Bismol: It’s always a good idea to add some travel-sized Pepto Bismol to your Mexico packing list! Food and water illness can happen to the best of us and Pepto Bismol can be a great relief for an upset stomach, diarrhea, or digestive discomfort.
- Stay hydrated: Since clean water has to be purchased in Cancun, it can be easy to opt for soft drinks or alcoholic beverages throughout your stay. I would recommend bringing a collapsible water bottle, which rolls up to fit easily in your suitcase or travel bag. You can then fill up your refillable water bottle to stay hydrated during the hot days at the beach or pool.
- Watch what you eat: While Mexican food is tasty, it can make you sick if proper sanitation measures are not used. Use common sense when dining out and be mindful of the overall cleanliness of the restaurant or food stand. Are they wearing gloves? Are they cross-contaminating? If you’re concerned about sanitation, fried foods will generally be safer than fresh foods and vegetables that may have been washed in unclean water.
- Wash your hands frequently: Another important way to prevent sickness in Mexico is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or antibacterial hand gel. This can help to prevent the spread of germs and keep harmful bacteria from entering your mouth.
What to do if you get sick in Cancun
Here are a few things you can do if you get food or water contamination sickness in Cancun:
See a doctor
If symptoms persist, you’ll definitely want to see a doctor. Unlike the United States, it’s very quick, easy, and inexpensive to get a medical consultation in Mexico.
Severe cases of food and water illness may require antibiotics, which can only be prescribed by a doctor. Head here for more information on where to see a doctor in Cancun.
Try over-the-counter remedies
For minor symptoms, these are some over-the-counter remedies that can help to relieve stomach issues:
- Pepto Bismol or Imodium: Over-the-counter antidiarrheal medications like Pepto Bismol or Imodium can help to relieve nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, and diarrhea.
- Electrolit: Similar to Pedialyte, Electrolit is a popular hydration beverage to replenish electrolytes. It’s a great preventative measure for dehydration and can be found in most grocery stores and convenience stores in Mexico.
- Yakult: Yakult is something I always take when I’m having stomach issues–it’s a probiotic drink that comes in a tiny bottle. Filled with lactobacillus and helpful gut bacteria, Yakult helps to reset your digestive tract. It can be found in most grocery stores in Cancun and comes in a 5-count pack.
How to see a doctor in Cancun
If you do need to see a doctor in Cancun, there are a few options for getting a medical consultation:
Use the on-call doctor at your hotel or resort
Most large hotels and all-inclusive resorts will have a doctor on-call to assist with medical situations for hotel guests. If you are staying at a hotel or resort, call the front desk to request medical attention.
The on-call doctor will usually come to your hotel room to perform a medical exam and prescribe treatment.
Visit a local pharmacy
If you’re staying at a smaller hotel or vacation rental, you can also visit a local pharmacy for a medical consultation and prescription medication.
The major pharmacies in Cancun are Farmacias del Ahorro, Farmacias Similares, and Farmacias Yza. Do a quick Google search to find one that is closest to you.
Following an assessment, the pharmacy doctor will provide a prescription for any required medications. The entire consultation should be relatively inexpensive for both the examination and medication costs.
Walk-in appointments are usually available, however, it’s important to know that the doctor will likely not speak English. If you don’t speak Spanish, consider visiting the Kukulcan Medical Care center below.
Visit Kukulcan Medical Care
Located in the heart of the Cancun Hotel Zone, the 📍Kukulcan Medical Care is a clinic and urgent care center that will cost more than visiting a pharmacy, but has English-speaking doctors and a pharmacy on-site.
Plus, walk-in appointments are usually available. While not as cheap as a pharmacy, it’s still an inexpensive option especially if you don’t speak Spanish and are staying in the main tourist zone.
Go to the hospital
For more serious illnesses, there are several private hospitals in Cancun. These hospitals do accept travel insurance but will most likely be pretty costly.
These are the most popular private hospitals in Cancun:
🚨 For emergencies, call 911 for ambulance assistance.
How to save money on drinking water in Cancun
If you’re traveling on a budget, consider these options for saving money on drinking water in Cancun:
Buy a water purifier bottle
If you’re going to be staying in Mexico for an extended amount of time, then consider investing in a water purifier bottle.
These are perfect for backpackers or those that are exploring more off-the-beaten-path locations in the Yucatan peninsula and may have limited access to bottled water.
I recommend the Water-to-Go filterable water bottle, which has built-in water filters that remove 99.9999% of the contaminants that can cause illness, including bacteria, viruses, pesticides, and heavy metals.
This way, you can drink safely from any water source (including the tap) and don’t have to worry about getting sick.
Additionally, a water purifier bottle can save you money in the long run, as you won’t have to purchase bottled water every day. And it’s better for the environment too, as it reduces single-use plastics.
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Buy a collapsible water bottle
Buying a collapsible water bottle is another good option for an easy way to stay hydrated during your trip to Mexico.
These bottles are easy to pack and take up very little space, making them perfect for travelers.
Plus, using reusable water bottles helps reduce single-use plastic so the bottles don’t end up in the ocean or on the beaches.
And having a bottle of water on hand will help you to stay hydrated throughout your entire stay.
👉 Buy a collapsible water bottle on Amazon by clicking here!
Ask for purified water when dining at restaurants
Another one of the best ways to save money on drinking water while dining out is to request purified water. Simply ask your server for “agua de garrafón”.
Most restaurants will first offer tourists bottled water, which you will have to pay for.
However, if you ask for “agua de garrafón”, most local restaurants will bring you a glass with purified water from the restaurant’s garrafón at no extra cost.
Do you need travel insurance for Cancun?
Travel insurance is essential for any trip to Mexico, as there is always a risk of getting sick–whether it be from the food, water, or another type of unfortunate accident.
Most insurance companies in your home country do not cover incidents abroad, which is why travel insurance with international coverage is so important to have.
I recommend using Travel Insurance Master, which is a handy travel insurance marketplace where you can compare policies and find the best coverage for you.
👉 Get a FREE QUOTE from Travel Insurance Master by clicking here!
Conclusion: Is the water safe to drink in Cancun Mexico?
I hope this Cancun Mexico water safety guide has helped you understand the do’s and don’ts of drinking the water in Mexico. By now you know that the water is NOT safe to drink in Cancun!
While it can be difficult to adjust to at first, it’s really not something to stress about. Millions of people visit Mexico each year and never have any issues with drinking the water.
And while it’s not safe to drink the tap water in Cancun, you can always purchase a water purifier bottle to save money and have clean drinking water on the go.
Alternatively, I would highly recommend picking up a collapsible water bottle for an easy way to stay hydrated throughout your trip–plus it’s compact and fits easily into your suitcase or travel bag.
Just be cautious and follow the tips outlined in this guide and you will more than likely have a safe and enjoyable trip to Cancun!
Traveling to Mexico soon?
These are the Mexico travel resources I use and recommend:
✈️ Flights: I recommend using Skyscanner for the best Mexico flight deals. Be sure to sign up for their price alerts for your preferred travel dates.
🚗 Rental Cars: I like to use Discover Cars because you can compare multiple car rental companies and see detailed ratings for overall value, ease of pick-up, efficiency of agents, car condition, and overall time spent.
🚙 Cancun Airport Transportation: I recommend booking a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation for the quickest and most hassle-free option!
🤿 Tours & Activities: I always use Viator or GetYourGuide for booking tours and activities in Mexico. You can cancel up to 24 hours before the tour for a full refund, plus they have excellent customer service if you were to have any issues.
🚨 Travel Insurance: After my Dad broke his hand in a taxi accident in Playa del Carmen, I always recommend buying travel insurance before your trip for added peace of mind! I recommend Travel Insurance Master for short trips or Safety Wing for digital nomads.
☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Don’t forget to add biodegradable sunscreen to your Mexico packing list! Regular sunscreen is prohibited when swimming in the ocean and cenotes in Mexico, so you’ll need to pack some biodegradable sunscreen for sun protection. I recommend Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is reef-friendly, vegan, and cruelty-free.