When it comes to traveling, there are many questions to be asked and answered when deciding on the destination. One of the more important among them is ‘Can I drink the tap water, or do I need to plan an alternate source of liquids and hydration?’
Drinking the water on Cozumel is not recommended as this can make you very ill. This is because the water from the tap is very polluted.
This article explores the concerns about drinking local tap water in Cozumel, Mexico.
Can I Drink The Tap Water in Cozumel?
Drinking tap water in Cozumel – or any of the surrounding areas – is not recommended.
Even locals who have lived there all their lives prefer to drink bottled water. In hotels, purified water or water purification dispensers with 5-gallon containers are generally part of the package.
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Why Is It Considered Unsafe to Drink The Tap Water?
Tap and regular running water in Cozumel and the surrounding area aren’t purified and filtered for safety.
Some water is treated with chlorination, but it’s far from the same level of purification that most water sources in the United States are subject to.
Because of this, many water sources in Cozumel are contaminated with bacteria and other things that tend to cause intestinal distress.
Is It Possible to Become Used to The Water?
According to many sources, even locals who have lived there for their entire lives are not immune to the effects of drinking contaminated water. Most locals also drink bottled water, fruit juices, and alcoholic beverages in preference to tap water.
Suppose you’re only visiting as a tourist or passing through. In that case, it is highly unlikely that you will develop enough tolerance for the potential contaminants to avoid impacting your health.
What Happens If You Drink Tap Water in Cozumel?
Drinking tap water can cause you to become extremely ill. Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps, dehydration, and other symptoms.
In many ways, contaminated water will induce a form of food poisoning. Since there’s no guarantee about the quality of filtration you’ll get from the tap, it’s best to avoid it altogether.
Is There A Way To Prevent Gastro-Intestinal Illness if I Drink The Tap Water or Another Unsafe Source?
Aside from sticking to bottled water or alternative sources of liquids, the best option is to make sure your gut is in peak health, along with your immune system.
Probiotics, vitamins, and minerals to promote internal health can help stave off any potential negative consequences if you accidentally ingest contaminated water.
If you begin to feel sick, try drinking something to help with nausea, like Pedialyte or another electrolyte and nutrient-heavy drink.
What Other Precautions Can I Take?
Wash any fresh produce you get before you eat it.
Wash your hands frequently, and carry a bottle of sanitizer with you.
Go easy on local foods, especially if you’re fond of fresh fruit or tropical foods, for the first couple of days until your system can acclimate.
If you aren’t sure about something, ask someone locally.
What Happens If I Drink The Tap Water At A Resort Or Hotel?
Most resorts and hotels provide bottled water for guests to drink and discourage drinking straight tap water.
If you do choose to drink the tap water, you’ll run most of the same risks that you would if you drank tap water from a different site.
Can I Cook With the Tap Water in Cozumel?
While it’s not safe to drink straight from the tap, you can cook with tap water in Cozumel. You have to make sure to boil it properly first.
If you want to cook using tap water, get it to a rolling boil and maintain it for at least 5 minutes. Five minutes at a rolling boil will kill most contaminants in the water and make it relatively safe for use.
Can I Use Ice in My Drinks In Cozumel?
There’s no reason not to have ice in your drinks; be sure of the source of the water that’s been frozen to make it.
Most hotels and restaurants will use water from purified sources, such as bottled water or special filtration systems, to make their ice, so that should be safe.
On the other hand, you wouldn’t want to use ice straight from your bathroom faucet.
If you’re unsure where the ice is coming from or what water source is used, ask someone, or else don’t get ice.
As a compromise, if you want a cold drink but don’t want to risk contamination, you can use the ice in a cooler or a bucket and chill your drink that way. Just be sure you avoid getting any melted ice or water in the drink itself.
Can I Shower And Brush My Teeth With Tap Water in Cozumel?
For brushing your teeth, you’d probably want to use bottled water. Even if you’re very careful, it’s possible to trace contaminants that could linger in your mouth otherwise and cause problems.
For showering, you can use plain water straight from the pipe, which shouldn’t cause any trouble. The only concern is making sure you don’t get any in your mouth and nose while washing.
To be safe, some travel sites recommend keeping your face away from the shower spray and either washing your face with a wet cloth later or using bottled or filtered water to wash your face and hair.
Do The Potential Contaminants in Water Mean I Should Avoid Local Produce as Well?
There’s no problem with eating the local fruits and vegetables, as long as you’re careful.
Most restaurants, hotels, and resorts will ensure that the fruits and vegetables they serve are safe for consumption.
If you want to buy some local fruits at the market to enjoy in your own time, be sure to clean them thoroughly, and not just rinse them under the faucet either.
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Recommended methods include:
- Rinse thoroughly in tap water.
- Soak for several minutes in a solution containing soap, bleach (2 tablespoons per gallon), or iodine (0.01% solution).
- Rinse again with bottled water and allow to dry.
The tap water in Cozumel isn’t something you want to consume unless you want to risk feeling sick for a few days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your time – and the local cuisine – while you’re there. As long as you’re cautious, you should encounter no problems.