Is the Water Safe to Drink 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 Diarrhea. So can you drink the water in Tonga? Yes, but it’s recommended that you treat the water, which we’ll show you how in this guide to drinking water in Tonga.
For more health tips for Tonga, see How to Keep Safe in Tonga, as well as 10 Health Tips for Tonga.
Ways to Make Water Safe to Drink in Tonga
- Boil water before drinking it
- Use a water-purifying filter such as a Lifestraw Bottle
- Use water-purification tablets
- Stay in a resort with its own water filtration system
- Drink bottled water
For more details on each method, see 5 Ways to Make Sure the Water is Safe to Drink in Tonga. Otherwise, continue reading for more tips.
Is it Easy to Access Drinking Water in Tonga?
Tap water is available in Tonga in urban areas and villages through groundwater and/or rainwater systems. Resorts and accommodation that’s “off-the-grid” will have their own water system. While locals drink the tap water in Tonga, it’s advised for visitors to treat the water before drinking.
Alternatively, bottled water is often delivered to rooms with room service in Tonga’s hotels, resorts and in some guest houses. Bottled water is otherwise readily available in supermarkets and fale koloa (convenience stores). As a general rule, water is safe to drink in restaurants.
For more food and drink tips, see the Guide to Tonga Food.
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 However, Tonga’s water quality can be affected by lack of safe water storage, old pipes, outdated treatment systems, outdated sanitation infrastructure, agricultural run-off and weather-related events like flooding.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.
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 Water Before Drinking
The oldest trick in the book to ensure water is 100% safe to drink is to boil water before drinking it. Boiling water for 10 minutes kills parasites, bacteria and viruses.
Use a Water-Purifying Filter
For those times when you can’t boil water or frankly can’t be bothered, water-purifying filters like Lifestraw is the next best thing. It removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, as well as 99.9% of waterborne protozoan. The TongaPocketGuide.com team have trialled and tested the Lifestraw Bottles on the tap water throughout Tonga without experiencing any health issues.
Use Water-Purification Tablets
Cheaper than a Lifestraw bottle and a good backup to boiling water, water-purification tablets are a good backup but not as effective as the above two options. Tablets that contain iodine eliminate waterborne bacteria like E.coli, cholera and salmonella. Just dissolve them in the water before drinking.
For more tips on ensuring safer drinking water, see 5 Ways to Make Sure the Water is Safe to Drink in Tonga.