When you’re on vacation near the coast, or if you’re lucky enough to live close to the sea, there’s nothing better than finding a nice spot to relax at a local cove. However, there are stretches of sand that you should probably avoid for your own safety. So on that note, we’ve compiled a list detailing 20 of the most hazardous beaches on the planet. What you learn here could prompt a change in holiday plans.
Fraser Island, Australia
Located roughly 500km north of Brisbane off the coast of Queensland, Australia, Fraser Island holds the distinction of being the “largest sand island” on Earth. But it’s also earned an ominous nickname down the years thanks to the numerous perils visitors stumble across. Indeed, Escape.com.au dubbed it Danger Island, with the wildlife posing a real threat.
Yet even if the tourists don’t fall foul of jellyfish and dingoes, they can’t forget about the terrain either. As emergency worker Rod Macdonald told website Escape in August 2014, “It’s young people, it’s the young adventurous. They’ll run down sand dunes, fall, break bones, dislocate shoulders, sprains, strains. People treat Fraser Island like an adventure playground. I’ve seen firsthand what can go wrong.”
Réunion Island, Indian Ocean
If you’re a keen surfer, you’ve no doubt heard of Réunion Island. This picturesque location, which can be found in the Indian Ocean, boasts beautiful stretches of sand and enticing water conditions. However, as per British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, the holiday destination is referred to as the “world’s most deadly island” too.
This is due to a steep climb in the number of people being bitten by sharks in the last few years. Incredibly, from 2011 onwards, more than 20 incidents have been recorded on Réunion Island. And according to the MSN website, eight of those people went on to lose their lives. As a result of that, the site noted that there’s been a significant drop in visitors.
Praia do Norte, Portugal
When the summer months roll around, Nazaré, Portugal, becomes one of the go-to destinations for locals and tourists alike. The area also features a stretch of sand called Praia do Norte, which attracts surfers from far and wide. For you see, massive waves are generated as the tide reaches the shore.
Thanks to an underwater ravine near the beach, the walls of water can hit heights of more than 100 feet, according to the Planet Deadly website. With that in mind, you should probably avoid taking a dip in the ocean around Praia do Norte. Even an accomplished surfer might feel nervous about facing the conditions.
Gansbaai Beach, South Africa
Located just outside Cape Town, South Africa, Gansbaai Beach is the last place you want to be if you harbor a fear of sharks. Indeed, MSN reports that it’s the nearest spot to “Shark Alley.” That area can be found in the middle of Geyser Rock and Dyer Island and as its name suggests, swathes of the formidable sea predators can generally be found there.
Specifically, great white sharks are known to mull around the area. The Daily Telegraph noted that they’re drawn to the thousands of fur seals that swim in the aquatic alley. In addition to that, the influx of human visitors has been credited as another reason for their presence. Indeed, according to the Daily Mirror newspaper, in one incident a shark came incredibly close to breaking through a diving cage in 2014.
Bikini Atoll, U.S. Marshall Islands
At first glance, the Bikini Atoll is a beautiful spot that boasts picturesque conditions. However, the islands have a checkered past: over 20 nuclear weapons were detonated there from 1946 to 1958. Close to 40 years later, experts claimed that it was finally okay to go back, but The Daily Telegraph reported that locals opted to stay away.
Meanwhile, due to the lingering radiation, crops found on the Bikini Atoll must be swerved at all costs. And if that wasn’t enough, schools of sharks have since made the surrounding waters their home down the years too, with fishermen avoiding the spot. Nowadays, however, keen aquatic explorers are known to scope the islands, watching out for fish and sunken ships, according to the The Daily Telegraph.
Bolsa Chica State Beach, California
At first glance, Bolsa Chica State Beach might just seem like any other stretch of sand in California. But in December 2015 the Surfrider Foundation made a terrifying discovery. During that period, a worker spotted the body of a poisonous sea snake that sported a yellow stomach. It turned out to be a Pelamis platura.
That particular snake usually stays in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean, according to the NBC Los Angeles website. However, following a heatwave, it’s believed that the reptile was attracted to the waters near Bolsa Chica State Beach. While this was only the third documented case of such a creature reaching California’s shores, sunbathers should still keep their eyes out.
Northern Territory Beaches, Australia
While Australia is known to play host to several dangerous animals, the country’s Northern Territory beaches take the biscuit. For instance, Planet Deadly revealed that the Top End and Arnhem Land areas are both teeming with crocodiles. But it could be argued that the biggest threat is hiding below the water’s surface.
Indeed, the website reports that the Irukandji and box jellyfish can be found in the Northern Territory’s coastal waters. The latter boasts poisonous tentacles that span over six feet, and its sting could potentially leave you at death’s door. The former’s just as dangerous, while its toxins can spark something called “Irukandji syndrome” as well. This ailment leaves sufferers in a state of heightened anxiety for a few days.
The Red Triangle, California
If you love surfing, California is the perfect place to test out your skills. But it’d be wise to avoid the area between Big Sur and Bodega Bay.This huge area, which extends for about 200 miles, is referred to as the Red Triangle. And as per MSN, a significant number of great white sharks call the area home.
Unfortunately, people haven’t heeded the warnings down the years, leading to some shocking statistics. According to Business Insider, more than 33 percent of America’s great white shark attacks happen off of those shores. To break things down even further, it’s also responsible for 11 percent of such attacks across the globe.
Hout Bay Beach, South Africa
Located in South Africa, Hout Bay Beach is fairly dangerous at the best of times thanks to the sharks that roam its waters. But in 2014 a jogger named Janice Wagner encountered another terrifying creature in the area. Incredibly, she caught sight of a Cape cobra making its way through the tide.
Cape cobras are massive and can reach nearly 5 feet in size. Yet the snake on Hout Bay Beach measured in at over 6 feet, according to the Mirror newspaper. Speaking to another publication called 567 CapeTalk, animal specialist Shaun Macleod said, “The only time it’d be dangerous is if you physically tamper with it, 98 percent of people who are bitten by snakes are bitten because of self-infliction.” So be very careful!
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
When you go to Florida, you’ve got a huge number of beaches from which to choose. Just outside Orlando, you’ll find New Smyrna Beach, which attracts surfers from far and wide. But while this might appear to be the perfect spot to pull out your board, you should probably think twice.
By 2013 MSN reported that just under 240 shark incidents had taken place at New Smyrna. Given that the attackers in question are normally bull or black-tip reef species, the vast majority of cases don’t result in death. Yet people continue to be bitten when they venture into the water. According to the ISAF, for instance, this beach is actually the shark attack capital of the world.
Sheerness Beach, England
While it might not be the most picturesque beach in the world, the seaside area of Sheerness still has its own unique charms. Situated in Kent, the shore is covered with pebbles; it’s where the River Thames, which winds its way through London, England’s capital city, ends its journey to the sea. Shockingly, though, this community could be on the brink of a major disaster.
Back in 1944 the S.S. Richard Montgomery was transporting 1,500 tons-worth of munitions. Unfortunately, the U.S. vessel sank just outside Sheerness with the explosives still in place. Planet Deadly reported that a few of them were salvaged, yet most stayed on the ship. Should they go off, the website claimed it “would be one of the largest non-nuclear explosions of all time.”
Hanakapiai Beach, Hawaii
In Hawaii, you’d be hard-pressed to name a more beautiful spot than Hanakapiai Beach. Hidden away along the Kalalau Trail, this sandy stretch boasts a gorgeous view of the ocean, enticing tourists to take a dip. However, you need to avoid the water at all costs, as a simple soak could end in tragedy.
According to website MSN, the waters surrounding Hanakapiai Beach hide deadly undersea currents. From 1970 onwards more than 29 individuals have reportedly lost their lives beneath the waves. Yet according to a sign close to the shore, the number might actually be a lot higher than that, with the written figure standing at over 80.
Amazon River Beaches, Brazil
Unsurprisingly, the Amazon River continues to attract visitors from far and wide, as people look to get a glimpse of the stunning surroundings. But if you ever find yourself on one of its beaches, you must not venture into the water. Beneath the surface, all manner of nightmarish creatures await.
Indeed, MSN noted that electric eels and anacondas both live in the Amazon River. In addition to that, piranhas are known to patrol the area as well, sporting razor-sharp teeth. Yet the candiru might be the worst of the bunch. As a parasite, this fish isn’t afraid of getting too close to a person. In fact, it’s known to enter your body through whatever orifice it finds.
Skeleton Coast Beach, Namibia
Of all the different beaches scattered across the planet, Skeleton Coast Beach is arguably unique. Located in Namibia, this patch of land houses the bones of countless sea creatures, including whales. If you’re wondering why the shore is a makeshift graveyard, whaling vessels were previously active in the area, as per the BBC website.
With that in mind, old boat wrecks can be found across the beach as well. So given the various pieces of debris, visitors have to be mindful of their footing, as one wrong move could result in injury. Meanwhile, the misty conditions also earned Skeleton Coast Beach a number of chilling nicknames, including “The Gates of Hell.”
Kilauea Beach, Hawaii
The beaches in Hawaii are some of the most beautiful in the world, but Kilauea Beach is one you should probably avoid. Unlike a number of other seaside areas, it’s extremely close to a smoldering volcano. The crater’s been firing out lava for close to 40 years now, with the first eruption taking place in 1983.
Due to the volcano’s position, its lava can apparently spread across a radius of around six-and-a-half miles. The scorchingly hot substance then mixes with the water that washes ashore on Kilauea Beach. It eventually simmers down in the end, yet sunbathers need to steer clear of the bubbling tide.
Copacabana Beach, Brazil
When visiting Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, you’ll be immediately drawn to one of its star attractions. Of course we’re referring to the Copacabana Beach, a stretch of sand that spans well over two miles. But while the area’s usually jam-packed full of people, you must be cautious for a couple of reasons.
As reported by MSN, harmful germs can be found in the surrounding sea, which then get brought on to the beach itself. Furthermore, the website suggests that you run the risk of getting robbed on the Copacabana as well. And taking into account the advice on the U.K.’s government website, it seems incidences like these are particularly rife when the sun goes down.
Girgaum Chowpatty Beach, India
If you’ve ever visited Mumbai, India, there’s a good chance that you caught sight of Girgaum Chowpatty Beach. However, for the sake of your health, a fleeting glimpse is probably all you need, preferably from a distance. As reported by the MSN website, it’s one of the planet’s “most polluted beaches.”
The site noted that Mumbai’s waste is released into the sea close to its coast. As a result of that, harmful germs are lurking in the beach’s waves and on the shore itself. Surprisingly, though, visitors continue to flock to the area, especially in September. Each year, the Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations draw people to Girgaum Chowpatty.
Shenzhen Beach, China
Depending on the time of year, beaches can get incredibly crowded. However, it’d be difficult to name a busier shore than that of Shenzhen Beach in China. This area is a hotspot for tourists and locals alike, especially when the warmer weather comes in. But as a result of that, it’s become quite hazardous.
As per the British newspaper The Telegraph, plenty of people get hurt on Shenzhen Beach, yet kids face the biggest risk. The website reports that several youngsters have drowned there down the years, which ties into an eye-opening statistic. From the ages of one to 14, no other “cause of death” is higher in China.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Under normal circumstances, a fox sighting shouldn’t pose too much of a threat to your safety. However, the same can’t be said about the wild foxes that roam Virginia Beach. Thanks to those creatures, the Zoover World travel blog categorized the area as the ninth most dangerous shoreline on the planet in 2013.
The Zoover World blog post read, “With wild foxes around you aren’t able to relax completely. Always make sure you do not fall asleep on the beach.” If that wasn’t enough, it seems that the menacing foxes would zone in on other animals as well, particularly those that belonged to sunbathers.
Acapulco Beach, Mexico
In the 1970s, you’d be hard-pressed to name a more popular vacation spot than Acapulco Beach in Mexico. But in the time since then, the surrounding area has undergone a radical change. Shockingly, over 2,300 people were killed in cold blood across the year in 2017, according to Planet Deadly.
The website reported that Acapulco was the backdrop to a violent feud involving drug gangs. At the time, the U.S. State Department claimed that car theft, murder and kidnapping were rife in the city. And even though the beach itself is still a picturesque spot, Planet Deadly noted that 12 people were killed in the area each day in 2019.
Maho Beach, Sint Maarten
In the Caribbean, there are a host of different beaches that allow you to relax and soak in the sun. However, you should probably give Maho Beach a miss in Sint Maarten. While it might seem okay at first glance, this tiny stretch of sand is actually very dangerous for a surprising reason.
Indeed, Maho Beach is situated right next to an airport, with planes coming dangerously close to onlookers. Regardless of the warnings, people continue to visit the beach to catch a glimpse of them. In the end, though, that led to the death of a lady from New Zealand in 2017. Time magazine reported that the wind from an engine blew her off her feet.