If you’re traveling to Playa del Carmen or the Riviera Maya, you might be wondering if the water is safe to drink.
As a Playa del Carmen resident and local travel blogger, 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 Playa del Carmen 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 Playa del Carmen?
FAQs about Drinking Water in Playa del Carmen
Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about drinking the water in Playa del Carmen:
💦 Can you drink the water in Playa del Carmen?
No – the water in Playa del Carmen (and all of Mexico) is not safe to drink for both tourists and locals. It’s best to stick to bottled or purified water while visiting.
And since the local people aren’t able to drink the tap water either, you can rest assured that no one is going to be using unpurified water for food or drink preparation.
🚰 Is tap water safe to drink in Playa del Carmen?
No – The tap water in Playa del Carmen is not safe to drink–even in hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals. You’ll want to drink bottled or purified water which is readily available and easy to find.
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🪥 Can I brush my teeth with tap water in Playa del Carmen?
Yes – you should be fine to brush your teeth with tap water as long as you are careful not to swallow the water.
I’ve been living in Playa del Carmen for over 3 years and have brushed my teeth with the tap water everyday without any problems.
But if you’re still worried about using tap water, then just use bottled water to brush your teeth.
🏨 Is it safe to drink water at resorts in Mexico?
No – If you’re staying at a resort in Mexico, it’s best to stick to bottled water or water from a purified source. While some higher-end resorts might have a filtration system in place, this isn’t the norm.
Your best bet is to play it safe by not drinking water in Mexico resorts altogether. Most Riviera Maya resorts will provide plenty of bottled water or have purified water fountains available for guests, so you can still stay hydrated during your trip.
🧊 Can you drink ice in Mexico?
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.
☕ Is drinking coffee in Mexico safe?
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 preparing coffee in your hotel room or at your vacation rental, make sure to use bottled or purified water.
🥗 Is it safe to eat salad in Mexico?
Yes (generally speaking) – 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, this is never a guarantee. It’s important to be aware of overall cleanliness if you are dining at a Playa del Carmen street food stand or questionable establishment. Be sure to exercise caution and use your best judgment.
🚿 Can I shower in Playa del Carmen water?
Yes – Taking a shower in Mexico water is perfectly safe. Just be careful not to swallow the water while in the shower and you should be fine.
🍲 Can you cook with water in Playa del Carmen?
Yes – Boiled water is safe to use when cooking things like pasta, rice, or hard boiled eggs. However, if you don’t plan to boil the water, then it’s best to use filtered water for any kind of food preparation.
It’s also common for grocery stores to sell produce wash that you can use to clean fruits and vegetables before cooking.
🏆 What is the best water brand in Playa del Carmen?
The best bottled water brand in Playa del Carmen really comes down to personal preference!
Some of the main water companies in Playa del Carmen and other parts of Mexico are Bonafont, Epura, and Ciel.
Unless you have a very discerning taste when it comes to water, you will probably not notice a difference in water quality.
🍶 Is Bonafont water safe to drink?
Yes – Bonafont water is perfectly safe to drink. It is one of the cheaper Mexican water brands so if you have a very discerning taste when it comes to water, you might notice a slight difference in taste. But to most people (myself included) it is not noticeable.
Why can’t you drink the water in Playa del Carmen?
The water in Playa del Carmen is not purified and contains microscopic contaminants that can make you sick.
Even local Mexican people avoid drinking the tap water, opting instead to drink bottled water or water that has been filtered.
What happens if you drink the water in Playa del Carmen?
If you drink the water in Playa del Carmen, you may not get sick. However, some people might 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 Playa del Carmen, be sure to see a doctor or medical professional.
🚽 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 Playa del Carmen
Since the tap water is not safe to drink in Playa del Carmen, here’s where you can find purified drinking water:
The best places to buy bottled water in Playa del Carmen are at convenience stores. The most popular convenience stores in Playa del Carmen are Oxxo and 7 Eleven.
These convenience stores are located pretty much every few blocks in the downtown area 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 garrafon.
🏺 What is a garrafon? A garrafon is a 5 gallon (20 liters) jug of purified water that is very common in Mexico. It is 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 Playa del Carmen including Walmart, Mega, 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.
If you live in Playa del Carmen or are staying long term, the most popular way to get water is through a water delivery service.
There are many Playa del Carmen water delivery services available, where they will bring a large garrafon of water upon request.
These services can be arranged on Whatsapp–the best place to find the contact numbers are in the expat Whatsapp 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 garrafon jugs.
How to avoid getting sick in Playa del Carmen
Follow these water and food safety tips to avoid getting sick while visiting Playa del Carmen:
- 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 drinking water has to be purchased in Playa del Carmen, 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. You can then fill up your water bottle to stay hydrated during the hot days at the pool or beach.
- Watch what you eat: Mexican food is tasty but it can make you sick if proper sanitation is not used. Use common sense when eating 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 more safe than fresh foods and vegetables.
- Wash your hands frequently: Another important thing for preventing sickness 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 reaching your mouth.
Related Reading: Is Playa del Carmen Safe? Top Playa del Carmen Safety Tips
What to do if you get sick in Playa del Carmen
Here’s a few things you can do if you get food or water contamination sickness in Playa del Carmen:
See a Doctor
Definitely see a doctor if symptoms persist. 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 Playa del Carmen.
Try over-the-counter remedies
For minor symptoms, these are some over-the-counter remedies that have always helped me 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 common hydration drink to replenish electrolytes. It’s a great preventative measure for dehydration and can be found in most convenience and grocery 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 Playa del Carmen and comes in a 5-count pack.
How to See a Doctor in Playa del Carmen
If you do need to see a doctor in Playa del Carmen, 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 assistance.
The on-call doctor will usually come to your room to perform a medical exam and prescribe treatment.
Visit a Local Pharmacy
If you’re staying at one of the smaller hotels or vacation rentals, you can also visit a local pharmacy for a medical consultation and prescription medication.
The major pharmacies in Playa del Carmen are Farmacias del Ahorro, Farmacias Similares, and Farmacias Yza. Do a quick Google search to find one that is closest to you.
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 International Clinic below.
The pharmacy doctor will perform a medical exam and prescribe any required medication. Overall, it should be fairly inexpensive for the visit and prescription medication.
Visit the Playa International Clinic
Located in downtown Playa del Carmen, the 📍Playa International Clinic will cost more than visiting a pharmacy, but has English speaking doctors and a pharmacy on-site. Plus, walk-in appointments are usually available.
I personally went to the Playa International Clinic for a skin rash and it cost me around $30-$40 USD for a consultation and prescription medication.
While not as cheap as a pharmacy, it’s still an inexpensive option especially if you don’t speak Spanish.
Go to the Hospital
For more serious illnesses, there are several private hospitals in Playa del Carmen. These hospitals do accept travel insurance but will most likely be pretty costly.
These are the most popular private hospitals in downtown Playa del Carmen:
🚨 For emergencies, call 911 for ambulance assistance.
How to save money on drinking water
If you’re traveling on a budget, consider these options for saving money on drinking water in Playa del Carmen:
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 state of Quintana Roo and may have limited access to bottled water.
I recommend the Water-to-Go water purifier 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 will save you money in the long run, as you won’t have to buy bottled water every day. And it’s better for the environment too, as it reduces single-use plastic waste.
👉 Click here to buy a Water-to-Go water purifier bottle. Use the coupon code VIVALATRAV for 15% off your purchase!
Buy a collapsible water bottle
If you’re looking for an easy way to stay hydrated during your trip to Mexico, a collapsible water bottle is another good option. 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 on the beaches or in the ocean. And having a water bottle on hand helps 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 garrafon”.
Most restaurants will first offer tourists bottled water, which you will have to pay for.
However, if you ask for “agua de garrafon”, most local restaurants will bring you a glass with purified water from the restaurant’s garrafon at no extra cost.
Do I need travel insurance for Playa del Carmen?
Travel insurance is absolutely 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!
For long term stays or digital nomad insurance, consider using Safety Wing.
Conclusion: Is the water safe to drink in Playa del Carmen?
So hopefully by now you know, the water is NOT safe to drink in Playa del Carmen. I hope this Playa del Carmen water safety guide was helpful in understanding the do’s and don’ts of drinking the water in Mexico.
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.
Just be cautious and follow the tips outlined in this guide and you will more than likely have a safe and enjoyable trip to Playa del Carmen.