Can You Drink the Water in Tonga?©
Can You Drink the Water in Tonga?

Is the Water Safe to Drink in Tonga?


A Guide to Drinking Tap Water in Tonga

Tonga primarily gets its drinking water from groundwater and rainwater. While many locals will say that the water is safe to drink in Tonga, for visitors it’s even recommended by the Tongan Government that “boiling drinking water is advisable”. Visitors are unlikely to be immune to certain strains of waterborne bacteria that can cause traveller’s diarrhoea. So can you drink the water in Tonga?

As a rule of thumb, it is not safe to drink tap water in Tonga. It is possible to catch traveller’s diarrhoea (a common waterborne form of E.coli) from drinking water that hasn’t been fully treated. But there’s no need to panic, if you follow the simple tips in this guide, you’ll be able to have a safe trip to Tonga while staying hydrated!

For more information about staying healthy when travelling to the islands, check out our Tonga Safety Tips and What Medication to Pack for Tonga.

5 Ways to Make Sure the Water is Safe to Drink in Tonga

If you have any doubt about drinking water in Tonga follow these tips on making sure the water is safe to drink…

  1. Boil the water first – boiling water for 10 minutes or longer kills bacteria and is the best way to make sure water is safe to drink
  2. Use a Lifestraw Bottle – it includes a filtration system that makes your water safe to drink while also avoiding the use of disposable water bottles
  3. Stay at a resort/accommodation with a water filtration system – Some of the accommodations in Tonga provide filtrated tap water for their guests, or at least a filtered water drinking station to refill water bottles, so ask if the water is safe to drink when researching a place to stay
  4. Use water purifying tablets – This method comes as little sachets or tablets and, when mixed into your water for a certain amount of time, will kill most bacteria and parasites present in it making it safe to drink
  5. Drink bottled water – Although not super for the environment, buying bottled water from your resort or a supermarket is a good way to stay safe.

We elaborate further on these points in the “The Best Ways to Make Sure Water is Safe to Drink” section below.

Can You Drink the Water in Tonga?©

Is it Easy to Access Safe Drinking Water in Tonga?

Safe drinking water is not as easy to access in Tonga as it is in more developed countries. If visitors don’t take their own precautions, like using purification bottles, boiling the water or using purification tablets, then they tend to only have their resort’s filtered drinking water and bottled water to rely on.

Tap water is available in Tonga in urban areas and villages through groundwater and/or rainwater systems. Resorts and accommodations that are “off-the-grid” will have their own water system. While some locals drink tap water in Tonga, it’s advised for visitors to treat tap water before drinking.

Alternatively, bottled water is often delivered to rooms with room service in Tonga’s hotels and resorts. Bottled water is otherwise readily available in supermarkets and fale koloa (convenience stores), as well as restaurants. Make sure to dispose of your plastic waste responsibly after use and reuse it if possible.

Can You Drink the Water in Tonga?©

Is the Water Treated in Tonga?

Water in urban areas is typically treated through a chlorination chamber before reaching consumers. However, Tonga’s water quality can be affected by a lack of safe water storage, old pipes, outdated treatment systems, outdated sanitation infrastructure, agricultural run-off and weather-related events like flooding. That’s why it’s recommended that visitors to Tonga treat water themselves before drinking tap water in Tonga. Although the locals find the water safe to drink, there may be higher concentrations or unfamiliar strains of bacteria, like E.coli, present in the water. It’s unlikely that visitors will have built up an immunity to particular bacterial strains, which can cause traveller’s diarrhoea.

Water in rural areas is typically collected rainwater which does not always go through a filtration system. Depending on the condition of the pipes, water storage tanks and a few other factors, the quality of rainwater is variable and should be treated before consumption.

Can You Drink the Water in Tonga?©

The Best Ways to Make Sure Water is Safe to Drink in Tonga

As we’ve established, treating drinking water in Tonga is a good idea for travellers. Due to the serious negative impacts that bottled water has on the environment, we would only recommend buying bottled water as a last resort for drinking water in Tonga. They are much more environmentally friendly ways to ensure water is safer to drink in Tonga.

Boil the Water

Bringing the water to a boil for 10 minutes is probably the best-known method of purifying water. It kills parasites, bacteria and even viruses and ensures that it is fully safe to drink. Plus, it is the cheapest water purifying method out there. Note that boiling water in a kettle won’t effectively kill bacteria; water must be boiled for several minutes.

If you want to ensure you can use this method to treat water, check out accommodations with kitchen facilities in the 10 Best Self-Catering Accommodations in Nuku’alofa & Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Ha’apai and Vava’u.

Use Water Purification Tablets

Use your own water bottle, drop a water purifying tablet and “voila!” This method has been trialled and tested for years and despite the fact that it gives a bit of a weird taste to the water, it is widely used by travellers around the globe.

If the taste is an issue for you, try a water-purifying solution. Although a bit more expensive, it offers better taste and water clarity than tablets. Price-wise, this is still going to save you tens of dollars compared to buying bottled water all trip long.

Buy a Water-Purifying Water Bottle

By far our favourite solution of them all, water-purifying bottles like the Lifestraw Bottle removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan. That means that there is no boiling necessary and that you can fill up your water bottle from any tap in Tonga and know that you have a filtration system with you. Although they are not the cheapest option, once the initial purchase is done, all you have to do is to replace the filtration cartridge when it expires.

Although there are alternative brands to Lifestraw, this is just the one that the team use when travelling the Pacific, so we can recommend it with confidence. When looking for alternatives, make sure to search for “water-purifying” and not “water-filtration” as filtration only improves the taste of the water.

For more handy things to pack for Tonga, check out What to Pack for Tonga: A Full Tonga Packing List.

More About Health and Safety for Visiting Tonga

That’s it for our guide to drinking tap water in Tonga but by no means the end of our Tonga advice. Check out more health and safety tips in the following articles:

Finally, get more essential advice from The Best Tonga Travel Guide or the 30 Tips for Travelling in Tonga.


Robin (Lopini) C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before settling in the South Pacific, so he knows a thing or two about planning the perfect trip in this corner of the world. Robin works and consults regularly with the Ministry of Tourism of Tonga. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides and is a regular host of webinars with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation.

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