When planning the next vacation, one of the first things that comes to mind is heading to a tropical oasis to relax and have some fun in the sun. There’s an endless number of Instagram-worthy beaches all over the world. Some of the most popular destinations have hidden hazards, many of which have led to multiple deaths. Although the classic movie Jaws made people think twice about wading in the ocean, there are many more deadly things than great whites to worry about.
New Smyrna Beach is a very popular vacation spot that has earned its place as the “Shark Bite Capital of the World.” This beach, located on the east coast of Florida, just south of Daytona Beach, is reminiscent of iconic shark attack scenes straight out of Jaws. In New Smyrna, about 244 unprovoked shark attacks have been reported since 1956, with an average of nine attacks every year. Fortunately, most bites are not life-threatening–there’s never been a fatality. That’s because the Ponce de Leon Inlet stirs up surfer-friendly waves and tons of baitfish that attract dangerous sharks, especially the more aggressive Blacktip Sharks and Bull Sharks.
Australia is known for its lush beaches and Great Barrier Reef, where people flock to swim and snorkel. While you might see sharks, even Great Whites, they’re not the dangerous creatures you need to be worried about. During Stinger Season, every year between October and May, thousands of jellyfish are attracted to Australia’s warm, calm and sandy beaches. Stingers include the tiny Irukandji Jellyfish and the much larger Box Jellyfish. Both jellyfish are transparent and, between the small size of the Irukandji Jellyfish and the numerous tentacles on the Box Jellyfish, they’re nearly impossible to see and avoid. Don’t let the cuteness or amazingness of these jellyfish fool you. The Irukandji Jellyfish is the smallest and one of the deadliest jellyfish in the world. Their sting might feel like a mosquito bite but can be fatal. The tentacles on the Box Jellyfish cause a painful sting that’s more like a severe burn, but the venom can be deadly, too, if not treated. Each year, about 40 people are stung by jellyfish.
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While Australia boasts gorgeous coral reefs, Namibia makes up for it with its underwater adventures. From sinkholes and caves to underwater lakes and WWI artifacts, this is a true diver’s playground. While there are several safe places to play in this southwestern region of Africa, Skeleton Coast is not one of them. The Bushmen call it "The Land God Made in Anger," and the Portuguese called it "The Gates of Hell." The name originally came about due to animal bones left behind during the whaling hunting era. Today, the name is still fitting because of the ruins left behind from wrecked ships. This remote North Atlantic coast is treacherous with its rocky shoreline, strong surf, unpredictable currents, dense fog, and cold temperatures.
While many people come to Hawaii to surf, there’s another new draw–the black sand beach. In 2018, the Kilauea Volcano erupted and destroyed many homes and businesses on the island of Hawaii. While the island lost millions in tourism dollars, the volcano left behind a lava flow that created black sand on Isaac Kepoʻokalani Hale Beach. The beach is open to visitors, and a lifeguard is on duty, but swimming isn’t allowed due to the ocean’s strong currents. This area is considered dangerous because the Kilauea Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the world.
Based on the Zapotec language, Zipolite means "Beach of the Dead." The origins of the meaning have been lost in translation, but it’s believed to be due to this pristine beach’s strong undertow and rip currents. Many people have been pulled out to sea and drowned— 50 people per year die. Today, lifeguard services have been preventing deaths with hundreds of rescues. Swimming is a pretty risky proposition here, but you can enjoy the Mexican cuisine, hippie lifestyle, and even sunbathe in the nude. In 2016, Playa Zipolite became the first and only legal nude beach in Mexico, although many have practiced nudism there for decades.
If you venture to the U.K., you might find yourself in this quaint little fishing village. Albeit small, Staithes Beach used to be a surfers’ haven boasting big waves. Before you stick a toe in, be wary of the fact that this beach is regularly blacklisted by the EU as being unfit for water bathing. Whether or not you see a “swimming prohibited' sign, the beach contains water polluted with farm sewage runoff. The fact that there used to be a campaign called Surfers Against Sewage should be enough to think twice about swimming in these potentially disease-causing waters.
If soaking up the amazing sight of the Aurora Borealis is on your bucket list, then Uttakleiv Beach might be right up your alley. This beautiful beach is surrounded by picturesque mountains. From September through March, you can watch the northern lights grace the night sky. You’ll be tempted to take a dip, but think again. As inviting as it looks, the frigid water temperatures can cause lethal hypothermia.
Taking a trip to the Amazon is like something straight out of a paradise lovers' dream, or it could be a nightmare out of Jumanji. The Amazon River flows from the Andes Mountains of Peru all the way to Brazil. People come here to explore the lush jungles and remote beaches. While boat rides are all the rage, caution must be taken when wading in the water. These beaches are infested with dangerous vampire fish, piranha, eels, and giant leeches.
Dumas Beach is located in Western India, about 13 miles from Surat. It’s one of the most scenic beaches throughout India, and it’s famous for its black sandy shores. Stories have been passed down from generations that the beach is a former Hindu burial ground that’s now haunted. Not only that, the beach is littered with deadly King Cobra snakes.