Eat, drink, and be healthy
When traveling south of the border, the first question of many travelers is: “Can I drink the water?” Though Isla Mujeres has an extensive water purification system, no-one on the islands drinks water straight from the taps. Water tables are very close to the surface, and south of Cancun, this water can potentially be contaminated by garbage dumps and runoff. Bottled water is readily available at most stores, and tourists can bring their own as long as the containers are sealed and have not been opened.
Below are some tips for safe water use and consumption on Isla Mujeres:
- Brush, but don’t swallow. The jury is still out on whether swallowing a bit of tap water when brushing your teeth is okay or not. The best advice? Don’t chance it. Brush and spit.
- Stay hydrated. When out and about, be sure to bring (or purchase) bottles of water for drinking.
- Watch the ice. Though most ice is purified, be sure to ask your server first.
DON’T eat your (fresh) veggies
Be wary of consuming vegetables on Isla Mujeres. Unless the menu specifically states that a restaurant’s veggies are purified, they probably aren’t. This rule only applies to fresh vegetables, and not cooked.
Salsa is a common culprit for illness, since restaurants often reuse leftover salsa. Even if they change the salsa between patrons, it’s still made from raw vegetables and should be avoided.
The best way to stay healthy is by using common sense when choosing a restaurant. Look for clean, busy places. Check the bathrooms before being seated. If the bathroom is dirty and lacks soap, chances are the kitchen looks similar. Would you eat a meal prepared in a place as clean as the bathroom? If the answer is no, then seek out another eatery.
Flies are a good indicator as well. If they’re hanging out on the tables (not just in the air), there’s a good chance they’re in the kitchen too. You can get dysentery, cholera, hepatitis, and a host of other nasty diseases from improperly handled food. It’s simply not worth the risk. The island offers an abundance of clean restaurants, so keep looking until you find one.
A Word about Distintivo “H”
This is an award that is given to elite restaurants who have well-trained staff and who have passed international tests of quality and hygiene. The Distintivo “H” is bestowed upon select eateries by the Mexican Tourism Board. Ask your host if their establishment has been granted this prestigious award.