Can You Drink Hawaii Tap Water? A Detailed Look

With its beautiful beaches and lush landscapes, Hawaii is a dream vacation destination for many. But before you book your tickets, you may be wondering – can I drink the tap water in Hawaii? If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Yes, the tap water in most parts of Hawaii is generally safe to drink.

However, there are a few exceptions you’ll want to be aware of.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine the quality and safety of tap water across Hawaii’s islands. We’ll look at factors like water source, quality testing, and potential contaminants. We’ll also provide tips on how to ensure your Hawaii tap water is safe before drinking.

Water Quality Standards in Hawaii

Hawaii is known for its stunning beaches and clear waters, but what about the tap water? Can you drink it straight from the tap? Let’s take a detailed look at the water quality standards in Hawaii to find out.

State and Federal Regulations

Hawaii has its own set of water quality regulations, which are in line with the federal standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These regulations ensure that the water supplied to residents meets certain safety standards.

The state regularly monitors and tests the water to ensure compliance with these regulations.

The EPA sets standards for various contaminants in drinking water, including bacteria, chemicals, and heavy metals. Hawaii’s regulations are designed to protect public health and ensure that the water is safe to drink.

Water Treatment Requirements

In order to meet the water quality standards, water treatment facilities in Hawaii employ a variety of methods to treat the water before it reaches your tap. These treatment processes may include filtration, disinfection, and the addition of chemicals to remove impurities.

One common method used in water treatment is chlorination, which helps to kill bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. Additionally, filtration systems are used to remove particles and sediment from the water, improving its clarity and taste.

It’s important to note that while water treatment plants work hard to ensure the safety of the water supply, there may still be occasional issues that arise. In such cases, the public will be notified and necessary steps will be taken to address the problem.

Annual Water Quality Reports

As part of the transparency and accountability measures, water suppliers in Hawaii are required to provide annual water quality reports to their customers. These reports detail the results of water quality testing and provide information about any contaminants that were detected.

The reports also include information about the sources of the water, the treatment processes used, and any violations or issues that may have occurred during the year. Customers can access these reports online or request a copy from their water supplier.

It’s important to review these reports to stay informed about the quality of your tap water and any potential concerns. If you have any questions or concerns about your water quality, contacting your water supplier is recommended.

Overview of Tap Water by Island

When it comes to tap water in Hawaii, the quality can vary depending on the island you are on. In this section, we will take a closer look at the tap water situation on each of the main islands: Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii (Big Island).


Oahu, which is home to the state capital of Honolulu, has relatively good tap water quality. The water is sourced from underground wells and is treated by the Honolulu Board of Water Supply to meet or exceed all federal and state drinking water standards.

It is considered safe to drink straight from the tap. However, some people might notice a slight chlorine taste or odor due to the treatment process.


Maui, known for its stunning beaches and natural beauty, also has high-quality tap water. The water on Maui comes from several sources, including surface water from streams and reservoirs, as well as groundwater.

The Department of Water Supply on Maui ensures that the water is treated and monitored to meet all safety standards. Visitors and residents alike can enjoy clean and safe tap water on the island.


Kauai, often referred to as the “Garden Isle,” has its own water system managed by the Department of Water on the island. The tap water on Kauai is sourced from rainfall and groundwater. It undergoes rigorous treatment processes to remove impurities and meet quality standards.

Kauai’s tap water is generally safe to drink, and many residents prefer it over bottled water.

Hawaii (Big Island)

The Big Island of Hawaii is the largest and youngest of the Hawaiian Islands. It has its own water system managed by the Department of Water Supply. The tap water on the Big Island comes from both surface water and groundwater sources. It is treated to ensure it meets all safety standards.

Visitors and residents can confidently drink tap water on the Big Island without any concerns.

It is important to note that while the tap water on these islands is generally safe to drink, some individuals with specific health conditions or concerns may prefer to drink bottled water. Additionally, if you are staying in a vacation rental or remote area, it is advisable to check with the property owner or local authorities about the water quality in that specific location.

For more information on tap water quality and safety, you can visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website or contact the respective water departments on each island for the most up-to-date information.

Potential Contaminants to Be Aware Of

When considering the safety of tap water in Hawaii, it is important to be aware of potential contaminants that may be present. While the majority of Hawaii’s tap water is safe to drink, there are a few contaminants that residents and visitors should be mindful of.


Lead is a concern in many parts of the world, and Hawaii is no exception. While lead is not typically found in the source water in Hawaii, it can sometimes enter tap water through the corrosion of plumbing materials, such as lead pipes or fixtures.

To ensure the safety of your tap water, it is recommended to have your water tested for lead and, if necessary, take appropriate measures to address any issues.


Chlorine is commonly used in water treatment facilities to disinfect tap water and kill harmful bacteria. While chlorine is an effective disinfectant, it can leave a strong odor and taste in the water. Some people may find the taste and smell of chlorine unpleasant.

If you are sensitive to the taste of chlorine, you may consider using a water filter to remove or reduce the chlorine content in your tap water.

Hardness and Taste Issues

Hard water is a common issue in many areas of Hawaii. Hard water contains high levels of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. While hard water is generally safe to drink, it can cause scale buildup in pipes and appliances, and may also affect the taste of the water.

If you notice a metallic or bitter taste in your tap water, installing a water softener or using a water filter can help improve the taste and quality of your drinking water.


Nitrates are a concern in areas where agricultural activities are prevalent. Fertilizers and animal waste can leach nitrates into the groundwater, which can then contaminate drinking water sources. High levels of nitrates in drinking water can be harmful, especially for infants and pregnant women.

If you live in an agricultural area or suspect that your tap water may be contaminated with nitrates, it is advisable to have your water tested.

For more information on the safety of Hawaii’s tap water and specific testing recommendations, you can visit the Hawaii State Department of Health website.

Tips for Ensuring Safe Tap Water

Check Annual Water Quality Reports

One of the first steps to ensure the safety of your tap water is to check the annual water quality reports provided by your local water utility. These reports contain valuable information about the levels of contaminants in the water, such as bacteria, chemicals, and heavy metals.

By reviewing these reports, you can get a better understanding of the quality of your tap water and any potential risks it may pose.

Consider a Filter

If you have concerns about the quality of your tap water, using a water filter can be an effective solution. There are various types of filters available on the market, including activated carbon filters, reverse osmosis systems, and distillation units.

These filters can help remove impurities and improve the taste and odor of your tap water. Make sure to choose a filter that is certified to meet the appropriate standards and replace the filter cartridges regularly for optimal performance.

Flush Pipes Before Using

Before using tap water for drinking or cooking, it is recommended to flush the pipes for a few minutes. This helps to remove any stagnant water that may have been sitting in the pipes, reducing the chances of consuming any potentially harmful contaminants.

Flushing the pipes can be as simple as turning on the faucet and letting the water run for a short period of time. It’s a quick and easy step that can contribute to the overall safety of your tap water.

Test for Lead

Lead contamination in tap water can be a significant health concern, especially in older homes with plumbing systems that contain lead pipes or fittings. If you suspect that your tap water may contain lead, it is advisable to have it tested.

You can contact your local water utility or a certified laboratory to perform the test. Additionally, you can use a lead testing kit, which is readily available in hardware stores or online. Taking this proactive approach can help you identify any potential issues and take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of your tap water.

Remember, the safety of tap water can vary depending on your location. It’s always a good idea to stay informed and take necessary precautions to ensure that the water you consume is safe and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is tap water safe to drink in Waikiki?

Yes, tap water in Waikiki is safe to drink. The water in Hawaii is regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, which sets strict standards for water quality. The Board of Water Supply in Honolulu consistently monitors and tests the water to ensure it meets these standards.

Waikiki, being a popular tourist destination, is no exception and has reliable access to clean and safe tap water. So, feel free to quench your thirst with a glass of refreshing tap water in Waikiki!

What about Hawaii volcano water – is it safe?

The water near the Hawaii volcano, specifically in the areas affected by volcanic activity, may not be safe to drink. Volcanic eruptions can release harmful gases and substances into the air, soil, and water, which can contaminate the local water sources.

It is essential to follow the guidance of local authorities and water agencies in such situations. They will provide updates and precautions to ensure the safety of the residents and visitors. It is advisable to use bottled water or rely on alternative sources until the water quality is deemed safe again.

Should I drink bottled water instead of tap water in Hawaii?

While tap water in Hawaii is generally safe to drink, some people prefer drinking bottled water for various reasons. If you have a sensitive stomach or prefer the taste of filtered water, bottled water can be a convenient and reliable option.

However, it is worth noting that bottled water can be more expensive and has a significant environmental impact due to the production and disposal of plastic bottles. If you choose to drink bottled water, consider recycling the bottles to minimize your ecological footprint.

Ultimately, the choice between tap water and bottled water in Hawaii depends on your personal preference and needs.


Overall, the tap water supplied by most public water systems in Hawaii’s major tourist areas is generally safe to drink. However, it’s always smart to take precautions like flushing pipes and testing water in older buildings for contaminants like lead.

By understanding Hawaii’s high water quality standards, being aware of potential issues by island, and taking safety precautions, you can enjoy Hawaii’s fresh, tropical tap water with peace of mind.

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