Is Water Safe to Drink in the Maldives? A Comprehensive Guide

I know your struggle! I panic any time I don’t have at least 1 liter of drinking water around me, and it’s particularly bad when I travel to warm climates. I had the same question, “Is Water Safe to Drink in the Maldives?”, before I left, and I’m happy to report I can give you all the info, including the situation of drinking water on local islands and resort islands.

SUMMARY: The Maldives, lacking natural sources of fresh water, predominantly relies on desalinated sea water, which is safe for locals and tourists for brushing teeth and washing fruits. However, it is recommended for tourists to stick with bottled water for drinking which can be easily purchased on local islands or freely refilled at resort islands. If you’re particularly prone to dehydration, consider carrying electrolyte powder and hydration packets, just to be sure you’re covered. If you prefer your water cold, don’t forget to have an insulated water bottle to keep water cold even when you’re spending the entire day at the beach.

In this short and sweet guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the drinking water situation in The Maldives, including:

  • The unique water situation in the Maldives
  • Decoding the water crisis of 2014
  • Practical tips for thirsty tourists
  • Staying hydrated while at the beach

Keep reading to quench your thirst for knowledge and make your Maldives trip as smooth as one of their famed white sandy beaches.

Yes, it’s true guys, there might be affiliate links in this awesome, free post. This means that if you decide to buy something that you find here, and you use one of my links to do so, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I plan to use this money on ice cream, chocolate, and to travel more so I can write these useful guides for you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Floating breakfast at Cora Cora hotel in the Maldives

The Unique Water Situation in the Maldives

When you picture the Maldives, I bet you see endless stretches of sparkling blue waters, butter-soft sands, and palm-fringed islands. But there’s a glaring contrast to this idyllic image – the absence of any natural freshwater sources. Yep, you read that right. Despite being an island nation, the Maldives has no rivers, springs, or the like. Hard to believe, right?

Well, if you look at the particular geographical situation of the Maldives, the conditions to have sources of fresh water just aren’t there. There are no mountains here (the highest point of the country is at 1.5 meters above sea level) and the “soil” is mostly sand. All islands are more or less beaches, and rivers cannot form on an island that you can circle by foot in about half an hour.

This curious conundrum forced the island nation to put on its creative hat. As it turns out, most of the tap water you’ll come across in the Maldives isn’t fresh from Mother Nature’s kitchen; it’s actually desalinated seawater. Locals have long grown accustomed to drinking it, at least this is what they told us when we visited one of the many local islands, but for a tourist’s palate, it may take some getting used to. It will not only taste weird, but your stomach might not like it either.

So, what are you going to do, then? Have a beer instead of water? While this might sound like a good idea to some people (spoiler alert: it’s not!), you cannot even do this on a local island, as the availability of alcohol here is quite…limited, so to speak. Nope, you’ll just have to stick to bottled water for this trip.

You may now be mulling, “Got it. No tap water. But what about brushing my teeth or washing fruits?” Well, you don’t need to break into your precious stash of bottled water for that. Tap water will do just fine. It’s all about saving those resources, right?

The Maldives Water Crisis of 2014 and Its Aftermath

An unexpected fire at the Maldives’ only water treatment plant in 2014 sparked a massive water shortage that hit both locals and tourists hard. Etching the country’s name in the global headlines, this crisis left a good portion of Male, the capital city, scrambling for freshwater.

The shortage was so grave that it culminated in a state of emergency. International aid flew in from different corners of the world, including India, Sri Lanka, and China, which supplied tons of bottled water to the Maldivian people.

Thanks to unwavering resilience and swift response, the residents of Maldives and the governing bodies turned the situation around and emerged stronger. Since the crisis, they have gone to the proverbial end of the rainbow to ensure that this scarcity was a one-time incident.

Seizing every ounce of their inventive spirit, they ramped up their desalination process. Yes, you read that right – desalinated water from the Indian Ocean. Fun fact: Desalination is the process by which salt and other minerals are removed from seawater to produce fresh water. In the Maldives, this innovative solution is the core sustainer of life.

Today, most tap water in the Maldives is desalinated seawater. For locals, this new technology is now a part of everyday existence. However, if you are a tourist and your body is not accustomed to it, you may want to stick with bottled water for drinking.

What about boiled water, you ask? You can, of course, use tap water for your coffee or tea. If you want to be super sure it’s alright, bring along a water filter like the SteriPEN (and use it for all of your trips to save a lot of money and reduce your plastic production footprint).

Tap water is though sufficiently safe for other uses. Feel free to use it for brushing your teeth or for washing your fruits. No need to go overboard by using any precious bottled water for those tasks. Be aware though that this is needed in other countries, and the usual way to find out is if you see you have a bottle of water in the bathroom, next to the sink, then you probably should use it for your teeth.

Amazing blue water in the Maldives, the source of drinking water for all locals

Bottled water on local islands in the Maldives

On the local islands, bottled water won’t be hard to find. You can go to any supermarket and for a few dollars, you can get as much water as you need. If it’s cold, you can already put it in your Chilly’s bottle, or you can put it first in the refrigerator you most probably have at your accommodation.

Pro tip: Buy bigger water bottles if you’re staying for longer and just refill your insulate bottle from it. This way, you’ll buy less plastic and the price overall will also be smaller.

This will depend on what accommodation you choose, but I highly suspect most places would even offer some bottles included in your room price. Our accommodation on the small, local island we visited called Bodufolhudhoo offered us a few bottles of water every day, and it’s not a “cool” accommodation, but a simple, three-star place (the island is gorgeous though, with an amazing beach and great coral, better than what we experienced on the resort island). You can check out some options on this island below!

Is water safe to drink on resort islands?

Moving over to the resort islands, even your hydration game gets an upgrade. Here, instead of single-use bottles, you usually get a refillable one that is refilled throughout your stay. You can refill from any bar or restaurant on the island – at no additional charge! You are paying quite a lot of money to be here anyway, water should be the least of your concerns when it comes to saving money in The Maldives.

Given the sunny, tropical weather, hydration should be your top priority. Alongside regular water, consider packing electrolyte powder and hydration packets. After all, you will be under the hot Maldivian sun and those little packets could improve your vacation with very little space taken on your Maldives packing list. Trust me, the last place you want to explore in Maldives is the inside of a hospital room because you didn’t hydrate enough!

And a little hack for the beach lovers out there! It’s always more enjoyable to drink water that’s cool rather than one that’s been sitting in the sun. So, carry a Chilly’s insulated water bottle. It will keep your water cold and add an environment-friendly touch to your beach trips!

Tips on Staying Hydrated in the Maldives

Staying under the Maldivian sun is like partaking in a natural sauna session, but what fun is a tropical adventure without some warmth? So, let’s dive into how you can keep your hydration levels up and continue your dream holiday in that beautiful sunlight, apart from all the other things you need to do to stay safe in The Maldives.

First off, remember the golden rule – water is your best friend. You’ll find plenty of places selling bottled water on local islands, and your hotel or guest house would likely have bottles included in your accommodation package. If you choose an island resort stay, you would typically be offered a refillable water bottle at the beginning, and you’ll have it automatically refilled every day. Convenient, isn’t it? You can take it around with you and refill it as needed from any bar or restaurant on the island.

Now, while water is certainly essential, don’t forget those handy electrolyte powders and hydration packets. They contain essential salts and minerals that you lose when you sweat. And believe me, you will sweat! So, bring a small supply. They are easy to carry and can be mixed with your water for an instant hydration boost!

And I know everyone thinks of Pina colada when imagining a day at the beach, but alcohol is not a good idea here. While cocktails usually have other things as well, and they may seem like they’ll hydrate you, alcohol is proven to cause dehydration, especially in warm climates. So focus on drinking water and freshly squeezed fruit juices and keep your glass of wine for dinner.

Here’s a pro tip – don’t start drinking water when you feel thirsty. By that point, your body is under stress from the lack of hydration. Try to sip water sporadically throughout the day, this way your body will always stay hydrated.

Last but not least, for those long days on the beach or an adventure-filled excursion, invest in an insulated water bottle. This fantastic little tool won’t just keep your water cold, but will also prevent plastic waste, contributing towards the protection of the Maldives’ beautiful environment.

Maldives Water Safety FAQs

Can you brush your teeth with tap water in the Maldives?

Yes, it is perfectly safe to do so! For non-consumption purposes such as brushing teeth or washing food items, tap water in the Maldives is perfectly fine to use.

Are Maldives’ waters safe?

To drink? Yes, but tourists should stick to bottled water.
To swim in? Yes, but tourists should respect the environment.

How do people in the Maldives get their drinking water?

By using reverse osmosis, desalination plants in the Maldives use seawater to create safe tap water for the Maldivian people.

Is the water safe to drink in the Maldives?

Tap water is safe to drink, but tourists should stick to bottled water, as their bodies are not accustomed to desalinated ocean water.

Can you drink tap water in the Maldives?

You can, especially if you boil it first (for tea or coffee). But it’s advised that tourists drink bottled water instead.

Is water expensive in the Maldives?

Not really, as it’s widely available on all types of islands, and it’s oftentimes included in the accommodation price.

Where can tourists buy water in the Maldives?

Bottled water can be purchased virtually anywhere on regular local islands. Additionally, most accommodations include water in the room pricing. For those staying on resort islands, complimentary refillable water bottles are generally provided which can be refilled at any bar or restaurant free of charge.

Is it necessary to have hydration supplements while in the Maldives?

While it’s not mandatory to have such items, it’s a good idea to bring along electrolyte powder or hydration packets. These can help replenish the body’s salts and prevent dehydration, especially since you’re likely to sweat a lot under the hot Maldivian sun.

Any tips for keeping water cool on the beach?

Invest in a good insulated water bottle, like those from Chilly’s. These bottles will keep your water cold, which is a small luxury that you can enjoy while relaxing on the beautiful beaches of the Maldives.

Is water safe to drink in The Maldives? – The takeaway

In this journey to understanding the water safety situation in the Maldives, we’ve uncovered some profound truths and practical nuggets of advice. Below are the essentials you should remember:

  • The Maldives has no natural source of fresh water, resorting to ingenious ways to source drinking water, predominantly through reverse osmosis.
  • In 2014, the Maldives faced a severe water crisis, but it has made significant progress since then to ensure water availability.
  • While tap water is generally safe, it’s recommended that tourists stick to bottled water for drinking. However, tap water is perfectly fine for non-consumption uses like brushing teeth or washing fruits.
  • On local islands, bottled water can be purchased just about anywhere and it’s affordable. Plus, most accommodations likely provide water in your room price.
  • On resort islands, you’ll generally be given a refillable water bottle which can be replenished without charge at any bar or restaurant.
  • Don’t forget to bring electrolyte powder or hydration packets to help with the heat-induced sweat and dehydration. An insulated water bottle would also be a welcome companion to keep your water cold while at the beach.

A picturesque landscape and exciting marine life aren’t the only things the Maldives offer. It’s a testament to resourcefulness and resilience, with its unique water situation serving as a testament to this. So toast to the Maldives with your next glass of water!

Share the love:

Leave a Comment