The 30 most dangerous tourist beaches in the world

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For most of us, vacations are a welcome change from the stress of our everyday lives. Is there anything better than pulling up a beach chair, catching some rays, and dipping your toes in the water? Unfortunately, some of the most popular tourist beaches in the world are riddled with danger. Come take a look at some of the most perilous beaches you may be tempted to visit. Hopefully, you haven’t already booked your flight.

1. Volusia County — Florida, United States

Why are the most inviting beaches so often the most dangerous? Such is the case in Florida, a state well-known for its tropical climate, gorgeous scenery, and insane news headlines. Volusia County is also known for leading the world in shark bite incidents.


Despite the danger, the central beaches remain renowned local surf breaks, though Daytona Beach’s popularity has waned considerably since the ’60s and ’70s. It’s hard to tell if surfers are scared off by the sharks or hard-partying college kids that frequent Daytona in the summer. Most of the shark bites are nonfatal, but if you do plan to visit, consider staying on land.

2. Copacabana Beach — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most-visited tourist destinations in the world. There seems to be something for everyone. There’s the Christ the Redeemer statue, which is considered one of the new “Seven Wonders of the World.” There’s Sugarloaf Mountain, which offers a breathtaking view and cable pathway. There’s a bustling nightlife full of live music, dancing, and delicious food.

Image by CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

Then there’s Copacabana, which looks like a beachside paradise. While Brazil has its own deadly snakes, spiders, and sharks, it’s humans that pose the greatest threat. Some of the world’s most pronounced wealth disparity has made the city a hotbed for crime — and drive-by shootings are all too common. Also, the water isn’t too clean, either.

3. Galveston County — Texas, United States

Signs along the Texas coast read: “Swim at your own risk.” Beaches in Galveston County are especially contaminated with bacteria. Once again, sewage runoff is primarily to blame. The Environmental Protection Agency warns against getting in the water lest the microscopic organisms wreak havoc on your body.

Image by Thomas Shea/Getty Images

Researchers have consistently found levels of Enterococcus, a bacteria indicator, to be abnormally high in Galveston County beaches. Healthy people with no cuts or open sores will probably be fine — but anyone with diabetes, liver problems, or other preexisting conditions should stay on the shore. No matter who you are, avoid swimming in the ocean for at least 72 hours following substantial rainfall.

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