Cozumel is healthy

People sometimes worry about "Turista" or "Montezuma's Revenge", medically known as Traveler's Diarrhea

  • It can be multifactorial, and not always due to contaminated water or poor food safety
  • Factors can include: dehydration, overuse of alcohol, overeating, sun overexposure, and more
  • Sports drinks such as Gatorade are NOT very good at preventing dehydration due to diarrhea
  • Rehydration drinks such as Pedialyte ARE good at preventing dehydration due to diarrhea
    • Pedialyte is readily available on the island

Water Concerns

  • City water from the tap is actually fairly safe, but doesn't taste good. Purified water is better.
    • Locals drink only purified water
    • Water ordered at a restaurant will come in a bottle or was poured from a carboy and is safe
    • At Casa Suzana, fill the carafe in your bathroom with purified water
    • When going out, you can fill bottles with purified water from the dispensers at Casa Suzana
  • All ice served in any restaurant, at street stalls, or anywhere else is made with filtered water and is fine
    • Only use purified water from the dispenser to make ice at Casa Suzana
  • Drinks made with water are always made with purified water and are safe

Food Concerns

  • Food in restaurants
    • Food safety is a priority to owners of restaurants as well as to local residents
    • Local restaurants are very safe to eat in
  • Street food
    • We have never had any problem with street food on the island
    • Food stalls rely very heavily on repeat local business and food safety is a key to this


  • Sun protection is a must
  • Tropical sun is quite intense year-round
  • Without protection, you can get severe sunburns surprisingly fast
  • Sunburn is still easily possible if the sky is overcast
  • White T-shirts are only SPF 6 when dry, and practically useless for sun protection when wet
  • Local shops have a wide range of high-SPF sunscreen
  • Don't forget to reapply sunscreen per package recommendations

Mosquito-borne Illness

  • Malaria is not endemic on the island and prophylaxis is not necessary
    • If you plan to travel away from the coast on the mainland, you should check with a travel medicine doctor for recommendations
  • Dengue is a possible problem here with several serious cases per year
    • Dengue is potentially fatal
  • Zika and Chikungunya are possible problems here
    • They are no fun
  • Mosquito repellent is necessary
    • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends applying a repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), PMD, or IR3535
    • The US EPA characterizes the active ingredients DEET and picaridin as “conventional repellents” and OLE, PMD, and IR3535 as “biopesticide repellents,” which are derived from natural materials
    • No other repellents of any type have been shown to reduce mosquito-borne illness
    • No vitamin or anything else taken orally has been shown to reduce mosquito-borne illness
    • No gadget has been shown to reduce mosquito-borne illness

Medical Care

  • Cozumel has some very good hospitals, clinics, and doctors by US and Canadian standards
    • I'm a US-trained, board-certified specialist. I don't hesitate to access healthcare on the island when needed and have always been happy with care.
  • Pharmacies on the island carry most of what's available "back home", including brand names
    • Prescriptions are required for antibiotics
    • Prescriptions are required for medications that are controlled substances in most countries
    • Prescriptions are usually not required for other medications
    • Medication is not especially cheap in Mexico - bring enough from home for your entire trip
  • Just because a medication is legal at home does not mean it's legal in Mexico
    • Pseudoephedrine is banned in Mexico, and illegal to transport into Mexico
      • Even in combination medications that are completely unregulated in other countries
      • Even with a prescription
      • Tourists have been arrested bringing fairly small amounts for personal use