“Don’t drink the water in Mexico” is the advice you’ll hear from people who’ve traveled to Mexico. But you may have also heard that Puerto Vallarta looks like a U.S. beach city with taco stands.
So, it begs the question—is the drinking water in Puerto Vallarta safe?
The drinking water in Puerto Vallarta is safer than most other parts of Mexico, but you shouldn’t drink it unless you know it’s passed through a local filter. That said, it’s safe to brush your teeth, and you probably won’t have to worry about explosive trips to the baño if you consume a bit of PV’s H2O.
I’ve visited Puerto Vallarta several times. Thankfully, I haven’t ever had a bout of “traveler’s stomach.”
Read on to learn more about why Puerto Vallarta’s drinking water is safer than in other parts of Mexico.
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Is the Water Safe to Drink in Puerto Vallarta?
The water in Puerto Vallarta is, in theory, safe to drink. But I wouldn’t try it without knowing it’s been filtered.
One of the biggest reasons that the water in most parts of Mexico is unsafe to drink is because of old, poorly maintained pipes.
Galvanized steel was the primary material for water pipes before the 1970s. Unfortunately, this steel corrodes over time, chipping off into drinking water and making it unfit for consumption.
Furthermore, old water pipes sometimes contain traces of lead, and bacteria build-up is practically a given.
Since Puerto Vallarta’s tourist boom started in the 1960s and 1970s, it’s on the cusp of when Mexico would have had access to better pipes (though whether they implemented them as early on as countries like the U.S. is uncertain).
Of course, contamination around a water source also plays a significant role in how potable water is.
The bottom line is that Puerto Vallarta has many new buildings and filtration systems. So, its water is safer to drink than in many other Mexican cities.
But that doesn’t mean you should consume Puerto Vallarta drinking water straight from the tap.
Puerto Vallarta’s Municipal Water System
Tourism is at the heart of Puerto Vallarta’s economy, with millions flocking to its mountain-framed shores each year. As a result, Puerto Vallarta’s local government launched a multi-million dollar initiative to improve the city’s water quality.
This has translated to the drinking water in Puerto Vallarta having upgraded water treatment facilities.
To make the situation even more promising to the weary traveler’s digestive system, many hotels and restaurants have in-house filtration systems, allowing them to drink water straight from the tap.
So, if you’re staying at a fancy hotel or condo, it’s worth asking whether the water is safe to drink.
If they say it is, the decision is up to you: Drink it straight from the tap, use an additional filter, or play it safe and stick with bottled water.
Where to Get Bottled Water in Puerto Vallarta
If you’re taking a short trip, bottled water is the most risk-free approach to avoiding issues with the Puerto Vallarta drinking water.
Luckily, you can get bottled water just about anywhere, including:
- Tiendas (convenience stores)
- Street stands
- Grocery stores
You’ll pay a premium by purchasing water from street stands, restaurants, and hotels. But given Puerto Vallarta’s cheap cost of living, the extra five or ten pesos likely won’t break the bank.
Of course, drinking bottled water isn’t without its own risks—studies show that bottled water has 50% more microplastics than tap water.
I also cringe when I see cases of bottled water baking outside under the Mexican sun.
So, pick your poison…eh, water source.
Options for Filtering Puerto Vallarta Tap Water
If you decide you’d rather drink tap water in Puerto Vallarta than buy bottled water, it doesn’t hurt to go the extra mile to filter it yourself.
Several companies offer portable filter options that you can buy before arriving in Mexico, including:
- Survivor Filter
Alternatively, if you’re in Puerto Vallarta for the medium to long-term, you can purchase a larger filter to keep in your kitchen. Soriana, Walmart, and Costco are all great places to buy water filters.
Tips for Drinking Water at Puerto Vallarta Restaurants
When it comes to drinking water safety at Puerto Vallarta restaurants, the rule I go by is if they’re a tourist-oriented restaurant, there’s little to worry about.
Sure, you could still get sick from the water they use. But an unsettled stomach can happen after eating restaurant food in your home country too.
From my experience, all restaurants in Puerto Vallarta—including the blissfully local, hole-in-the-wall shops, automatically give me the bottled version when I order water.
But, of course, there are other water-related items to consider when it comes to drinks, ice, food preparation, dishwashing, and fruit and vegetable safety.
Personally, I don’t worry about these items, and I haven’t had issues during my many visits to Puerto Vallarta.
But if you’re concerned about the drinking water in Puerto Vallarta, it doesn’t hurt to ask the restaurant about their water safety practices. They’ll likely tell you they have a built-in filtration system.
Microdyn’s Role in PV’s Tap Water
Microdyn is a liquid product you can purchase in Mexico. Just a few drops of Microdyn in water is enough to kill the bacteria that can cause unwanted trips to the toilet.
Puerto Vallarta has relatively high-quality water. So, it’s more common for restaurants to use Microdyn to clean fruit and vegetables than adding it to drinks.
But carrying around some Microdyn is never a bad idea, especially if you travel outside Puerto Vallarta, where water sanitation is a bigger issue.
Is It Safe to Brush Your Teeth With Tap Water in Puerto Vallarta?
Yes, brushing your teeth with tap water in Puerto Vallarta is safe.
Since the tap water in Puerto Vallarta is already borderline safe to drink, the small amount of tap water you’ll put in your mouth when brushing your teeth shouldn’t make you a prisoner of the toilet.
But I’d be remiss not to add this disclaimer: If you’re worried about Puerto Vallarta’s water, brush your teeth with bottled water.
What About Showering?
It’s perfectly safe to shower with tap water in Puerto Vallarta.
If you’re staying at a nicer hotel or condo, the chances are high that the water will be filtered. If not, straight-up Puerto Vallarta tap water won’t hurt you during a shower.
Is It Safe to Eat Salad in Puerto Vallarta?
Whether it’s safe to eat salad in Puerto Vallarta depends on individual risk tolerance.
Personally, I eat salad in Puerto Vallarta (and elsewhere in Mexico, for that matter).
But there’s no doubt about it—salad is a common way to get foodborne illnesses. That includes the U.S., where there are many outbreaks of E. coli-related illnesses from leafy greens each year.
You can assume that tourist-geared restaurants use filtered Puerto Vallarta drinking water and/or Microdyn to wash their vegetables, making them as safe as possible for consumption.
I’ve also eaten salads at non-tourist restaurants in Puerto Vallarta without a problem.
But I’m not necessarily recommending this; it’s up to personal risk.
Is It Safe to Eat Fruit Without Peels in Puerto Vallarta?
Eating fruit without peels in Puerto Vallarta is safe as long as you use filtered water and/or Microdyn to wash them.
Most restaurants serve cut fruit with a peel (think mangos, bananas, and papayas).
So, while they might wash the outside of the fruit with drinking water in Puerto Vallarta before peeling and cutting it, it’s akin to using tap water to brush your teeth.
You can buy lots of delicious fruit in Puerto Vallarta. So, even if you feel better dousing the outside of fruit without peels in bottled water before eating it, I encourage you to try all the fruit you can.
What Should I Do If I Drink the Tap Water in Puerto Vallarta?
Don’t panic. Most tap water in Puerto Vallarta is safe enough that it won’t cause stomach issues, let alone major diseases.
But if you start to feel unwell after drinking tap water, head to one of the many excellent, modern, and English-speaking clinics in the city.
The Bottom Line
You’re in luck water-wise by visiting PV—the drinking water in Puerto Vallarta is among the best in Mexico.
It’s still wise to drink bottled water or run tap water through a personal filter before drinking it. But, overall, you can expect lower chances of water-related illnesses in Puerto Vallarta compared to other parts of Mexico.
While we’re on the theme of safety, check out my guide on safety in Puerto Vallarta. I share statistics and personal experience as a solo female traveler to help you understand PV’s safety.