The Bahamas has some of the most stunning turquoise waters with over 2,000 stellar islands and cays.
No wonder visitors from around the world visit the Bahamas to stroll on the white and pink sands.
However, if you are traveling for the first time to the Caribbean, many questions will come up.
The most important one: "Can you drink the water in the Bahamas?"
Since each island in the Bahamas is unique, the water quality varies from one to another.
The Drinking Water Supply in the Bahamas
The Bahamas gets its water supply primarily from groundwater, so they barge much of the water from one island to another.
The islands have increasing use of RO since the groundwater availability continues to decline, and the demand is growing.
The Water Supply Decline
The growing population also affects water quality, which has given rise to the usage of bottled water. Thus, the authorities strictly regulate the bottled water industry, which is developing with time.
Not all islands are the same, though. The amount of rainfall and the size of each island determine the volume of freshwater resources.
Still, although the islands receive frequent rainfall, they cannot depend on it since it is uneven across the country.
For example, the southeastern part of the Bahamas receives about 40% less rainfall per year than the northern regions.
Apart from that, some islands are more populated than others. Out of 700+ islands, Nassau, the Bahamas capital city, houses a little more than 70% of the country's whole population.
The remaining 30% reside in regions where, due to insufficient resources and the lack of interest by commercial suppliers, the water quality is somewhat doubtful.
Some islands have insufficient freshwater sources, while others experience shortages due to overpopulation and tourism.
The insufficient water sources and their uneven distribution affects the growth and distribution of the population.
Naturally, people move to areas where there is more fresh water.
Tourism is another major factor that affects water supply in the Bahamas.
About four million visitors head towards the islands every year, and they use two to five times more potable water than the residents.
We also know that the tropical islands receive tropical storms and full-fledged hurricanes in the hurricane season.
Sometimes, these extreme weather conditions affect the islands' water reserves, and they often damage the distribution lines.
The Water Quality
As mentioned, the water quality in the Bahamas varies from island to island.
If the drinking water is safe to drink in a particular region, it depends on factors like local water supply and the distribution system.
It also depends on whether the area has a monitored supply, which complies with the water quality standards.
The water quality is below-par due to unreliable water storage, old pipelines, poor hygiene, chemical pollutants, human waste, and extreme weather conditions like flooding.
Low-quality water can potentially be dangerous to your health, even life-threatening, especially if you are traveling.
Even if the tap water in your area does not affect the local population, it might not be ideal for you to drink.
Since there are different treatment standards across the Bahamas, some water sources might contain higher concentrations of E.coli bacteria.
If you have a sensitive stomach, even the slightest change in water composition can cause diarrhea since you don’t have enough resistance during short-term exposure.
Can You Drink the Water in the Bahamas?
Now that you know something about the water quality in the islands, can you drink the water in the Bahamas?
Although tap water is safe to drink in many regions, it is a commodity in the Bahamas.
The large urban areas have safe drinking water since it is chlorinated, and the locals drink it without any problems.
However, it can take a few weeks until your body starts to handle tap water in the safe regions.
You can rely on capped bottled water, which is one of the safest options for tourists. You can easily buy it from restaurants, Sundries Store, and guest room bars.
The water in the rural areas within the Bahamas is somewhat contaminated.
You have to boil it before using it for drinking, brushing your teeth, or making ice cubes. Although this water may have a distinct after-taste, it does not ruin drinks.
Water You Can Drink
Even if you plan on drinking bottled water in the Bahamas, there are a few precautions that you must take.
If you stay in a region where tap water is safe to drink, you might want to stick to bottled water in the first week.
Even if the water does not have any harmful chemicals or bacteria, the variations in mineral composition can make you ill.
If you are buying bottled water, make sure that the cap is tightly sealed, confirming that somebody hasn't simply filled an empty bottle with tap water.
You may also check the filling date on each bottle, especially if you are buying bigger ones.
The reason behind it is that the plastic degrades in a hot climate and mixes with the water.
Besides affecting the taste of the water, it can also be very harmful to the body.
So, make sure you are picking up newly packed bottles to get the best water quality.
You should also keep away from beverages and icy drinks that you are unsure of the quality.
If you don't have the strongest immune system, try to avoid ice altogether on the island, except inside a luxury resort.
Many resorts also give "drink coupons" to get bottled water every day. You have to collect the bottles from the bar if there are no vending machines in the resort.
You can check the water situation in the region at isthewatersafetodrink.com and determine whether it’s ready to drink or needs further processing.
Staying Safe From Water-Borne Illnesses
Here are a few tips to stay safe from water-borne illnesses in the Bahamas.
Boil Your Drinking Water
If you are not sure about your area's water quality, boil your drinking water to purify it.
Bringing the water to a roiling boil destroys all the harmful bacteria, such as E. coli. After it has boiled for several minutes, let it cool overnight before taking it with you the next day.
Go for Treated Water
If boiling the water is not possible, you can use water disinfection methods, such as filtration and chemical disinfection, to purify your water.
Or, simply go for water that is already disinfected.
Use Bottled Water
Using bottled water is the best way to keep yourself safe from any illnesses. However, because of its increasing demand on the islands, it sometimes may be tampered with.
Hence, if you use bottled water, buy it from a reliable source and check the seal properly.
What to Consume and What Not to Consume
Each island in the Bahamas is different, and so is the drinking water quality.
You will even find variation within a single island because of the location and weather conditions.
The tap water is considered safe on many islands. However, it needs some time to get used to before depending on it.
So, we recommend going for sealed bottled water for your initial days in the Bahamas. Then, you can try boiling the tap water to purify it yourself.
You should also only consume ice made with safe water, fizzy drinks, and hot coffee or tea.
Still, only use sources you are sure of as it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Apparently, you must avoid consuming tap water, ice made with tap water, and juices or drinks made with tap water.