Can I drink the water in Cuba?

Water is potable and treated in Cuba but, in general, tropical water has a different pH and microbial content than “northern” water. You know your own system and what you can take. Bottled water is easily found for sale in many stores. If you’re drinking tap water and have a reaction, it’s usually a self-limiting diarrhea which can be treated by switching to bottled water for a few days.

For your information, it’s important to know that the Ministry of Public Health has alerted all Cubans that it’s safest to boil their drinking water, if they’re drinking from the taps. Because we’ve had so many tropical storms and hurricanes during the past several years, it’s affected the usual high quality of the water.

4 thoughts on “Can I drink the water in Cuba?

  • There are so many leaks and faults in the public water systems in Cuba as a consequence of neglect, that it is essential to boil all water. We boil our water, filter it, freeze it and then allow it to melt. The water trucks that deliver water when the public system breaks down, bear the word potable on them – but don’t believe it. We still go through the process described. “the usual high quality of the water” described above is mythical!

  • Firstly, much of the water served in government-approved paladares in Cuba is probably safe, but tap water may not be cooked before serving at the dining table in smaller local shops.
    I would advise against putting a plastic PET bottle of tap water in direct sunlight. The PET bottles are not designed to withstand UV exposure, and chemicals can leach out into the water. I once illustrated an article on this by the American Bottled Water Association and it set me straight on leaving PET bottles in cars, etc.
    Also, the Sun’s UV cannot kill the bacteria in tap water unless it is exposed for many days. By then, you are drinking chemicals.

    Be safe. buy a Steri-Pen, even the cheapest ones work wonders. Bring a wide-mouthed nalgene to use it in. I do a few bottles before bedtime and have all I need for a day or two.

  • Why does one have to boil water for cooking when the cooking is also boiling it, HUH? It is a good idea to bring any UV light. Putting out a bottle of wter in the sunlight for an hour also works and a coffee filter keeps out any large particles/dirt

  • From personal experience, I would advise against drinking tap water in Cuba, unless you have what some boastful travelers call an ‘iron’ stomach. Bottled water is available everywhere**, and now most Paladars insist they use boiled or treated water in cooking and at the bar. I would not count on that unless you have specific knowledge or hear of first hand experiences from those who have been there several weeks.
    I travel with a UV light water treatment SteriPen® Adventurer. I LOVE it.

    That way I’m not adding dozens of 2-litre bottles to the waste stream each week. You will also see the familiar 5-gallon Spring water refill towers at some hotels, cases and restaurants. There may be safe, but there is literally no guarantee that they contain purified water.

    **As of today, Cuba does not yet have internal recycling or up cycling for PET plastic bottles. Who knows where they end up, but regardless, buying them all vacation long is not a very Green way to travel.

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