A beach is one of the biggest attractions of any vacation. The perfect image of powdery white sand and crystal blue warm waters remain the dream of many travelers. There are many beaches that live up to this dream and they are found all over the world. Some of these beaches are remote and provide a haven for those who want to get away from it all, and others are in cities and have a whole host of activities for thrill seekers.

However, there is an equal number of beaches that should be avoided. Reports of beaches with pollution and rubbish are famous from news reports. However, natural hazards are also prevalent. After all, many creepy crawlies regard the beach as their home and we are the invaders. Some of these are simply annoying, others can be scary. It is not only the sea that can be dangerous, but the beach can also provide just as many opportunities to be bitten or stung.

The water is an obvious habitat for sharks, jellyfish, and other creepy crawlies. Swimmers and surfers take to the waters at their own risk on beaches that are notorious for being a perfect habitat for these creatures.

19 Avoid: Gansbaai, South Africa

This area is so highly populated with sharks, it is known as ‘shark alley.’ It’s a beautiful coast with lovely resorts dotted with fishing villages but is also one of the shark capitals of the world. There are the hugely popular and greatly feared great white sharks, and shark cage diving is a popular tourist attraction for those that fancy a closer look.

While is might not be an ideal place for a spot of holiday swimming, for shark enthusiasts it is heaven. If the cage diving is too extreme, locals will take tourists on boat trips where they can watch the creatures devour local seals, all from the safety of the boat.

18 Avoid: Darwin, Australia (jellyfish, sharks, and crocodiles)

Up to four crocodiles, a week are caught in Darwin Bay, making it a potentially dangerous spot for a dip in the sea. Those that do brave the ocean are warned not to venture beyond their depth, not only for fear of crocodiles but riptides and sharks.

The mangroves around the harbor are a heaven for the crocodiles, so they should be avoided at all costs. However, there are plenty of safe pools to swim in, and paddling is certainly an option, as long as there aren’t too many jellyfish!

17 Avoid: Calangute, Goa, India (free roaming livestock)

North Goa is a popular destination for many travelers, and the beaches are famous for their beauty and warm waters. However, at Calangute, there are some extra visitors on the beach apart from tourists. Each day, two herds of cattle park themselves at the entrance to the beach and wander back and forth as they please among the sunseekers.

Owners don’t have the manpower to rein the beasts in, and cows will do what cows need to do, beach or not. This can have some rather unpleasant consequence for those who venture onto the beach without shoes!

16 Avoid: Repulse Bay, Hong Kong (algae and bacteria)

Repulse Bay may not sound inviting, but it has some of the finest real estate and beach opportunities in Hong Kong. However, there are some unwelcome attractions on the beach itself. Apart from stray rubbish and the odd dead fish, the sea water is infested with algae.

There are numerous construction sites nearby and the waste from these sites runs into the sea forming toxic algae and bacteria. According to Destinationtips, the sand has turned a greyish color, thanks to the liposuction fat from nearby clinics!

15 Avoid: Pelee Island, Canada (algae)

The cooling waters of Pelee Island may look inviting, but they often hide a surprise. Blue-green algae grow nearby and can infest the water with toxic bacteria that can cause skin and stomach problems.

Winds blow the algae towards the beach and contaminate local drinking water. When the algae are in full force, the shore of the beach can be seen to be blue-green in color, warning visitors to keep away. The algae form naturally with the right conditions, which are a constant hazard at Pelee Island. Exposure to the algae can cause problems, even if fish is eaten from contaminated waters.

14 Avoid: New Smyrna Beach, Florida (sharks)

This Florida beach is a popular haunt for swimmers and surfers, but also for shark hunters. It is one of the most shark infested stretches of sea in the world and has become a tourist destination for those who want to see the devilish beasts.

However, the dark side of this is the number of tourists who venture into the water and suffer shark bites or even worse. Florida is prone to hurricanes and this can make the sea water warmer than usual, providing a perfect environment for sharks to bask.

13 Avoid: Reunion Island, Indian Ocean (sharks)

There have been many shark attacks on Reunion Island, some of them tragically have been fatal. It has discouraged many surfers from attempting to catch a wave in the area and even prompted calls for a cull in the area. Surfing was banned for a time, but the lure of the waves was too great for many surfers.

It’s a beautiful paradise island and should be a holiday destination of dreams. However, its reputation as a shark capital has deterred many visitors. The island banned the killing of sharks for food in 1999, and since then the population has flourished.

12 Avoid: Ramree Island, Burma (crocodiles)

Ramree Island is home to a host of mangroves that are a perfect habitat for crocodiles. These saltwater beasts can grow up to twenty feet in length, but even a medium sized crocodile can easily kill an adult human.

Ramree was marked by a sad incident during World War II when escaping soldiers were killed en masse as they fled from one terror into the jaws of another. This remains one of the largest crocodile attacks in history, with over 500 men affected.

11 Avoid: Ilha de Queimada Grande, Brazil (snakes)

This island, off the coast of Brazil, is known as Snake Island. There is a variety of pit vipers on the island, which is only found on Ilha de Queimada, having been trapped there by rising and falling sea levels.

There are numerous gory stories of how travelers and locals have succumbed to the venomous snakes on the island. It is estimated that there are up to five snakes per square meter of land. If you are that desperate to see snakes up close and personal, there are snakes in captivity that can be seen in nearby Sao Paulo much more safely.

10 Avoid: North and Eastern Beaches, Queensland, Australia (jellyfish)

Parents in some areas of Queensland have stopped taking their children to certain beaches in the area because of the prevalence of snakes. In addition to these hazards, there is a regular influx of jellyfish in the area, which sometimes carpets the beach, giving it the appearance of a covering of sandy bubble wrap! While not all jellyfish found in the area is hazardous, the notorious box jellyfish has been found north of Mackay, and that is seriously venomous.

Queensland beaches have also played host to venomous sea lizards, which has led to the closure of beaches such as Coolangatta. Biting blue bottles flies are also a hazard, which can cause serious stings to humans.

9 Visit: Grace Bay, Turks, and Caicos

This beach is the pride and joy of Turks and Caicos and is beautiful, pristine and like paradise. It has won the World Travel Awards’ best beach and been rated by Trip Advisor as the second best beach in the world, according to Visittci.

Grace Bay has everything you could want from a paradise beach. It has the white sand, azure blue water and is totally free from pollution or even seaweed, thanks to the protection of the nearby barrier reef. Three miles of perfect beach provides a perfect location for holidaymakers and adventure seekers, thanks to the ideal conditions for water sports.

8 Visit: Baio de Sancho, Brazil

This dream-like haven has everything you would expect from a beach that is regularly voted best in the world. It’s just beautiful and commands views that wouldn’t look out of place on any postcard. The protected area has a variety of flora and fauna and if that isn’t your thing, there are perfect conditions for water sports and especially for diving.

The beach is found on an archipelago just off the coast of Brazil’s mainland, accessible by plane or boat, but well worth the effort. You won’t be surrounded by tourists either, as numbers are strictly limited to preserve the island’s charm and beauty.

7 Visit: Eagle Beach, Aruba

Eagle Beach has earned its place in the top ten of the world’s best beaches. It has all that you’d expect, white sands, blue seas, and its own special twist with the fofoti tree, reports Aruba.com.

There is shade if you want it, cabanas and beach huts galore, and locals play tennis on the white sand for some extra entertainment. Locals also have a tradition of camping on the beach, which adds another opportunity for people watching. If you want some wildlife to look at, there are turtle nests on Eagle Beach housing four varieties of sea turtle.

6 Visit: Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

Seven Mile Beach has a cabinet full of awards for its beauty. At sunset, its west facing position means there are perfect opportunities for exceptional views. Scuba diving is popular thanks to the completely clear, warm waters that are full of tropical fish.

It’s a public beach as well, so there are none of the annoying cordoned off areas that ‘belong’ to individual hotels. This means that if you are feeling fit you can walk the entire length of the beach from one end to the other, which despite its name is actually only just over six miles.

5 Visit: La Concha Beach, San Sebastian

This famous beach is one of the best urban beaches in Europe as it is in the middle of San Sebastian. It often receives accolades for its beauty and views of the city and the mountains beyond.

It sits in the Concha Bay, the name is taken from the conch shell, reflecting the rounded shape of the bay in which the beach is situated. The mountains that surround the bay give good protection from winds and tides, so the beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming and walking. Santa Clara island is set in the middle of the bay and you can swim to it or take a boat or kayak trip to reach it.

4 Visit: Clearwater Beach, Florida

There is plenty to do on Clearwater Beach other than the typical activities such as swimming and sunbathing. The area is a hub for the local community and the beach is host to a jazz festival, an aquarium and a superboat championship.

Each year the beach hosts a Sunset Festival where you can watch the sunset along with street performers and peruse the craft stalls on the pier. You can rent a paddleboard or take to the skies and experience parasailing. If all this gets too much, there are plenty of bars and restaurants along the beach for some relaxation.

3 Visit: Seven Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica

This beach is unrivaled in its beauty in Jamaica. The scent of jasmine is everywhere and its west facing position means it is in a perfect position for weather conditions and for viewing the sunset. Seven Mile Beach is protected by a natural barrier reef that keeps the clear waters calm and warm.

The local Jamaicans are friendly and keen to interact with the tourists. There are regular beach parties where you can enjoy local food, culture, and entertainment. It is worth bearing in mind that there are some adult only areas of the beach, and some nudist sections as well.

2 Visit: Bavaro Beach, Dominican Republic

This beach, in Punta Cana, is one of the most famous in the Dominican Republic and is a magnet for tourists wishing to experience the best of the country. The beach is fringed with luxury hotels, bars, and restaurants and caters to travelers who want to see the powdery sand and warm seas that Bavaro offers.

Bavaro sits in an area where climate change is rare, so it’s a great location all year round. There are all the usual activities associated with beaches and water, and also a sandy golf course nearby.

1 Visit: Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres

For anyone visiting Cancun, they may wish to take the trip to experience Playa Norte, the famous Mexican beach at Isla Mujeres. The island is host to this five-mile-long beach and is a bohemian and relaxed place, where locals travel on a bicycle or on foot. Many travelers enjoy the local wildlife, which sometimes includes sharks that can be viewed safely from organized boat trips.

The island has only been inhabited since 1850 and was previously a shrine to the Mayan goddess Ixchel, according to Wikitravel. The weather is warm all year, and the island is easily accessible by boat from Cancun.

References: AtlasobscuraDailymailIndianajoBeachesTripadvisor