If you are traveling to Cuba, especially for the first time, then you may be wondering if the water is safe to drink.
This is a fair question since there are many countries in the world where tap water is not safe to drink and bottled water is necessary.
In this article, we will be discussing whether or not the drinking water in Cuba is safe to drink. So, if this is of interest to you, then read on for more!
Can You Drink The Tap Water In Cuba?
Generally, no. It is not advisable to drink tap water in Cuba and it is best to stick to drinking bottled water.
It is important to remember that this includes drinking water with ice at a local restaurant, as this ice will likely be made from tap water.
Why Is It Not Advisable To Drink The Tap Water In Cuba?
The tap water in Cuba has been treated with chlorine which helps to kill off the bacteria.
However, there is still the risk of pollution. There is also the risk of contamination from pesticides, old pipes, human waste exposure, poor sanitation, and more.
Why Can Locals Drink The Tap Water?
Realistically, the tap water in Cuba is safe to drink.
However, it is advisable that tourists do not drink it because, unlike those local to Cuba, they are not used to drinking water with that kind of bacterial makeup, while locals are.
Tourists drinking the tap water in Cuba increase their risk of getting traveler’s diarrhea.
In fact, the CDC, Center for Disease Control, states that 20-50% of tourists that go to other counties will get traveler’s diarrhea.
Where Can You Buy Bottled Water In Cuba?
Because it is advised that tourists drink bottled water in Cuba, you are most likely to find bottled water wherever they are!
There will be many large resorts and hotels that cater to their international guests and will have plenty of bottled water to go around.
So, if you plan on staying at a resort for your trip, then it will be easy to stop at a hotel to pick up some bottled water.
However, if you are staying at an Airbnb or in a casa, then you will need to ensure you are stocked up on water for a few days, because it may be slightly more difficult to get access to it.
It is important to note that bottled water sold by hotels is expensive. However, you will also be able to purchase it at some shops.
The Importance Of Being Prepared
It is very important to always have access to bottled water when traveling in Cuba and to plan for unexpected events.
For example, it gets very warm in Cuba during the summer, the average temperature reaches up to 81F! During January it will drop to around 70F, and this is the coldest it will get.
So, it is safe to say that you’ll be thirsty a lot in Cuba, and it is a good idea to have some bottled water at hand at all times.
Also, do not let the heavy annual rainfall in Cuba trick you into thinking there is an unlimited supply of water!
Cuba is actually facing a drinkable water shortage currently, so it is vital that you always know where your next bottle is coming from.
So, if you cannot drink the tap water in Cuba, and you cannot find any bottled water, then you’re going to need a backup plan.
It may be helpful before your trip to pack a water bottle with a built-in filter.
This will help to purify any contaminants in the Cuban tap water that may be harmful and allow you to keep hydrated.
Are There Any Unsafe Food Items In Cuba?
Yes. Just like there are unsafe things to drink in Cuba, there are also things that are unsafe to eat.
For example, It is very dangerous to eat foods that are raw or undercooked.
Foods like roots and beans, with the exception of black beans, are fine to eat because they need to be cooked.
However, foods like yucca, bananas, sweet potatoes, potajes, and pumpkins should be avoided.
Additionally, if you want to eat vegetables, then you need to wash them under hot water in order to clean away any harmful bacteria on the surface, as well as debris and dirt.
It is important to avoid washing the vegetables you intend to eat with contaminated, dirty, or stagnant water because this will introduce new bacteria to your food.
It is also wise to peel your fruit and veggies to be sure any skin that has come into contact with harmful bacteria is gone.
Also, it is not a good idea to have any unpasteurized dairy products. This is because they can contain harmful pathogens and bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella, and E. Coli.
Finally, it is advisable that you do not purchase food from street vendors. While Cuba is known for having delectable street food, eating it does come with its fair share of health risks.
This is because the food sold from street vendors does not go through the necessary levels of refrigeration and sanitation as food from restaurants.
However, if you do want to risk it and eat food from the street vendor, we do recommend that you take extra caution with the fish.
This is especially true regarding the fish from the southern coast since they may eat toxic sea vegetation and become poisonous as a result.
What Should You Do If You Become Unwell?
If you become unwell while traveling in Cuba, you should take note of your symptoms.
Any symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and fever are all related to Listeria, E. Clo, Campylobacter, and Norovirus, which means you may need medical attention.
If you feel well enough to avoid going to the hospital, then you should take over-the-counter medication to help mitigate your symptoms.
Of course, you should always check with your doctor, but products like Pepto Bismol can help alleviate the pain in your stomach while Aspirin can help you reduce your fever symptoms.
Also, it is vital that you drink clean water to keep yourself hydrated.
If you become very unwell then it may be best to seek medical attention.
Additionally, if you contract an illness while on your trip, the symptoms may not show until after you return home.
So, when you do return home from your trip to Cuba, make sure you are aware of any potential symptoms and call your healthcare provider if necessary.
While the tap water is safe for locals to drink, tourists will be safer drinking bottled or filtered water, because they are not used to drinking tap water with the bacterial makeup that is present in Cuban tap water.
Additionally, if you become unwell on your travels because of contaminants present in drinking water (or from food) then you should keep an eye on your symptoms and take over-the-counter medication.
If you become very unwell, then you should seek out medical attention, even if you start to become unwell after you have returned home.
We hope this article told you all you needed to know about drinking water in Cuba.