30 Places You Should Never Ever Swim
Many of nature’s pools tempt swimmers to jump in, especially on a hot day. But there are waters you don’t want to approach at all. Gorgeous places like Victoria Falls and the Bahamas may appear as fun spots for swimming. However, many dangers lurk in the depths.
From lakes to pools to beaches, here are 30 of the most dangerous places to swim on the planet.
Boiling Lake in Dominica
In Dominica, sits a lake that angrily boils and bubbles thanks to the magma at the bottom. The lake’s edges reach a temperature of 197 degrees Fahrenheit. But scientists don’t know the temperature of the lake’s center, where the intense boiling actually takes place. We can imagine, however, that the temperature is far greater.
Safe swimming is out of the question at this boiling lake. Although curious visitors may want to get a closer look at the lake with thick clouds of steam above it, locals highly recommend staying far from it. In 1904, two hikers suffocated while trying to take pictures near the lake.
Kauai is one of the most beautiful islands on the planet to visit. It’s home to breathtaking waterfalls, relaxing beaches and the jaw-dropping Nā Pali Coast. Director Steven Spielberg also shot the film Jurassic Park on the island of Kauai. But one beach on Kauai has left tourists with some tragic vacation stories.
Hanakapiai Beach has the strongest rip currents on the island. Over 80 beachgoers have been pulled out to sea and drowned. The bodies of 15 victims have never been recovered because the currents are too powerful. A warning sign at the beach tells visitors not to go in the water and shows tally marks counting the deaths.
Described as a "black silty hole of death," the Samaesan hole is the deepest dive area in Thailand, dropping to 280 feet in depth. It’s also one of the darkest spots to dive in the country. The Samaesan hole has points with poor visibility, causing even the most experienced divers to get lost and become completely unable to find their way out.
Zero visibility isn’t the only danger in the Samaesan hole. Strong currents are common in the area. The abundance of barracudas should also deter swimmers and divers. To make matters worse, the Samaesan hole was an ammunition dump site for bullets, shells and (gulp) unexploded bombs.
Lake Nyos is an exploding body of water located in Cameroon, Africa. Sounds horrible, right? At the bottom of the lake, lies a layer of magma that leaks toxic amounts of carbon dioxide into the water. The carbon dioxide forms pockets of gas that burst into the atmosphere occasionally.
Unfortunately, the explosions are difficult to predict, putting nearby towns in danger. In fact, Lake Nyos has caused deadly disasters before. In 1986, a 100,000–300,000-ton cloud of carbon dioxide was released into the air. The gas crept down to villages and towns, suffocating and killing 1,700 people and 3,500 livestock.
Swimming near a volcano is never a good idea. You may want to stay far away from Laguna Caliente, which translates to "hot lagoon." This lake sits close to a very busy stratovolcano in central Costa Rica. With a pH level of almost zero, Laguna Caliente is known as the most acidic lake on the planet.
The acid in the lake will burn off your skin and muscles in a matter of minutes. Yikes! You also don’t want to be anywhere near Laguna Caliente when the rain and fog roll in. Thanks to the lake’s acid gases, acid rain and acid fog often occur, destroying the local ecosystems and causing pain to the eyes and lungs.
The Amazon River
The second longest river in the world, the Amazon River, is home to many scary creatures, including the red-bellied piranha, electric eel and river stingray. The most feared creature of all is the candiru, a tiny transparent fish that’s extremely difficult to see. The candiru is notorious for sneaking into swimmers’ urethras and eating their genitals.
Not only do you need to watch out for small critters, but you also have to worry about how mighty the river can get. During the wet season, the width of the river can expand to 30 miles. In addition, the current can reach more than 4 mph.
The Northern and Eastern beaches of Australia
The beach is where most vacationers go to soak up the sun, build sandcastles and go for a fun swim in the refreshing water. However, the Northern and Eastern beaches of Australia can quickly kill the fun. Terrifying animals inhabit these waters.
Blue-ringed octopus, cone shells, scorpionfish, crocodiles, stonefish and stingrays infest the Australian coastal waters. The deadliest creature for swimmers is the box jellyfish. Its powerful venom contains toxins that attack the heart and nervous system. The sting can cause overwhelming pain and cardiac arrest.
One of the dirtiest and most polluted rivers in the world, Citarum River, is located in West Java, Indonesia. However, West Java locals can’t just abandon Citarum River because it provides many resources, including agriculture, water, fishing, industrial usage, sewerage and electricity.
Almost 5 million people live in the river’s basin, but human activity has contributed to its destruction. Lead, mercury, arsenic, and toxic garbage contaminate Citarum River. The Indonesian textile industry is the river’s major offender. Pollution has got so bad that the army has been called in to help clean it up.
Nyiragongo Crater's Lava Lake
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, lays the massive lava lake of Mount Nyiragongo. The lake releases a toxic amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which can kill any human or animal that breathes in the deadly air. The lake’s depth can reach up to 10,700 feet. When the lake isn’t at rest, it spews and empties out.
Since 1882, the lake has drained and refilled almost 34 times. For instance, when the crater walls collapsed in January 1977, the lake of molten rock drained in less than an hour. The lava ran down the volcano at a terrifying rate of 40 mph. Villages were destroyed and 70 locals perished as the burning lava consumed the surrounding area.
According to local legend, no one has fallen into the Strid and made it out alive. The Strid is a section of the River Wharf in Yorkshire, England. It looks like your regular babbling brook, but looks can be deceiving.
Under the Strid’s surface is a deep, raging current that traps anyone who falls in. The hiking trail next to the Strid remains popular, but to avoid certain death, don’t try jumping over the river or stepping in. One mistake can cost you your life.
Gansbaai, South Africa
In Gansbaai, South Africa, you’ll most likely get attacked by a sharp-toothed creature if you swim in the ocean. Gansbaai is known as Shark Alley or the great white shark capital of the world. In 2009, a poacher hunting for abalone fell victim to a shark.
However, if you can’t resist and want an up-close-and-personal experience with sharks in the ocean, you can do so from the safety of a steel cage. Many tourists visit Gansbaai for the cage-dropping attraction, while other tourists just enjoy standing on a boat to whale watch.
Kipu Falls in Kauai was once described as "a glorious little hidden place" and a "swimming hole extraordinaire." Its reputation changed when swimmers started getting injured and disappearing in the waterfall’s pool. Unexplained deaths caused the local tourism bureau to request guidebooks to remove all mentions of Kipu Falls.
Witnesses say that after victims jumped off the waterfall, they suddenly vanished into the blue-green water. Rescuers found the victims’ bodies at the bottom of the pool. Some locals believe that there’s a hidden whirlpool or a reptilian water spirit pulling swimmers down to their deaths.
Horseshoe Lake in California offers visitors picnic areas, hiking trails, beaches and boating fun. One sketchy feature you’ll certainly notice is the 100 acres of dead trees in the area. Small earthquakes from 1989 to 1990 cracked pathways for carbon dioxide to escape into the air, killing these trees.
Why is carbon dioxide leaking into the air in the first place? Excellent question. There’s magma underneath the ground thanks to one of the nation’s largest active volcanic systems at Horseshoe Lake. The deadly gases have killed some guests. In 1998, a visitor died on the lake and in 2006, three ski patrol members asphyxiated.
The coasts of India feature many beautiful beaches. But some of these beaches are so toxic that bathing and swimming in the water are publicized as unfit. Massive amounts of waste pollute the beaches. The waters in the congested city of Mumbai face this same problem.
Mumbai residents dump industrial and human waste into the waterways, causing pollution on the shores. Human and animal feces are piling up at the beaches. Some beachgoers report getting itchy skin rashes after bathing. But symptoms can get much worse. The water is infested with fecal coliform bacteria, which can cause intestinal issues, typhoid fever and hepatitis A.
The Rio Tinto
The Rio Tinto is not made of blood. Its deep red and orange coloration is caused by 5,000 years of ore mining, specifically iron mixing into the water. The river is also extremely acidic (pH 2) with high levels of heavy metals.
Very little life is found in Rio Tinto due to these harsh conditions. The only living organisms that dwell in the acidic water are extremophiles, like bacteria, algae and heterotrophs. If you prefer a relaxing swim instead of a burning one, we’d recommend avoiding this unique river.
Don’t let a cute name like "Bubbly Creek" fool you. Located in the South Branch of the Chicago River, Bubbly Creek is the most polluted section of the river. Bubbles pop on the surface due to disgusting waste below, like animal carcasses, fecal matter and urine. The creek has been a dump site for the meat packing industry for more than a century.
Animals like fish don’t inhabit the creek because it’s so toxic. Locals claim the only animals that live in the creek are bloodworms that feed on the rotting remains. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is planning on cleaning up Bubbly Creek, but for now, you’re just going to have to find another place to swim.
The Nile River
Running through 11 countries, the Nile river is the longest river in Africa and may just be the longest river on Earth. Many dangers lurk in the waters, such as treacherous rapids, insects carrying parasites, venomous snakes and aggressive hippopotamuses. But the most deadly threat in the Nile is the crocodile.
Officials estimate that crocodiles fatally attack hundreds to thousands of people each year on the Nile. The majority of these crocodiles are at least nine feet in length. Most people are attacked while standing close to the water, swimming or dangling their limbs over a boat.
New Smyrna Beach
National Geographic named Florida’s New Smyrna Beach as "one of the world's top 20 surf towns" in 2012. Sounds like a great destination for swimming, right? The world thought the same thing until shark bite incidents increased in Volusia County.
Dubbed the "shark-bite capital of the world," Volusia County beat every region in the world for confirmed shark bites in 2007. Volusia County shattered its own record in 2008 with 24 attacks. The creatures must have an appetite for surfers, because in 2016 sharks bit three different surfers within a few hours.
Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the third largest lake on the planet. It’s so big that Lake Victoria’s shores touch three countries: Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. For the millions of people who live closeby, the lake has been an important resource. But the lake also comes with countless problems.
Not only is the lake massive, but it’s also extremely dangerous. Officials report that each year, 5,000 deaths occur on Lake Victoria. Unpredictable weather conditions cause many fatalities. The weather can be perfectly sunny one moment and stormy the next.
Potomac River looks just like any normal river. It appears to be beautiful, calm and easy to swim in. Flowing from the Potomac Highlands to the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River actually poses a serious danger, even when visitors wade in ankle-deep. Below the surface, a powerful undercurrent pulls victims down.
Visitors who fall into certain sections of the river, find themselves fighting for survival. They get stuck in a 20 to 30 foot drop. Many rocks at the bottom trap victims’ feet. The water is so muddy and murky that it’s impossible to see any upcoming obstacles.
Running from the Bayan Har Mountains to the Qinghai province of Western China, the Yellow River is China’s second-longest river. It’s also known as a dangerous place to swim. Devastating floods occur often. However, the river’s biggest problem is that it’s extremely polluted.
Locals use the Yellow River for drinking, aquaculture, industrial needs and agriculture. But the Yellow River Conservancy Commission found out that the river is actually unfit for all those uses. Thanks to chemical factories and several industries, almost 4.5 tons of factory waste and sewage was found in the river in 2007.
Victoria Falls lures many visitors to its unique swimming hole. The rocky barrier at the edge of the falls forms shallow pools, best known as "Devil’s Pool." Victoria Falls in Zambia is jaw-dropping, but simply splashing in its pools can easily lead to plunging to one’s death.
Deaths caused by slipping over the rock barrier aren’t unheard of. Victoria Falls is powerful, even when the currents seem minimal. The pools are also only a few feet away from the edge, where swimmers and tour guides have fallen 355 feet down.
The Mississippi River has a brown color due to the large amount of waste that continues to be released in it. As the second-largest river in North America, it serves millions of residents in the U.S. But it also comes with its perils.
The amount of marine life in the Mississippi River has shrunk dramatically due to oil spills. In 1962 and 1963, 3.5 million gallons of oil spilled into the Mississippi and Minnesota River. Harmful chemicals like benzene, mercury and arsenic also plague the river. The toxic waste that has killed the aquatic life comes from farmers and industries.
Located in south-central Texas, Jacob's Well is surrounded by crystal clear waters. Its beauty attracts many swimmers and divers. Although the waters look inviting, Jacob's Well is one of the most dangerous dive caves in the world. Those who peek into the dark hole can’t see the bottom, which is full of risks.
The swimming hole first drops 30 feet and then a series of narrow tunnels and caves await in the depths of Jacob’s Well. Daredevils who make it all the way to the bottom descend about 120 total feet into the hole. Some divers never make it back up because the chambers are so tricky and narrow that they get trapped.
Grand Bahama Islands
The Bahamas is one of the top destinations for travelers with its gorgeous beaches and clear waters. How could you resist the beautiful waters here? Unfortunately, some parts of the islands are infested with tiger sharks, the second most dangerous shark species in the world.
Tiger Beach is a popular spot to see tiger sharks. The beach also offers tourists a chance to free swim with these vicious creatures. However, even the most experienced divers can get their heads chomped off by a tiger shark. In 2014, one diver disappeared during a night dive. Many assume that a tiger shark took the diver’s life.
About 400 million people live near the Ganges River and use it for religious reasons, bathing, washing and cooking everyday. It’s one of the most sacred and valuable rivers in India. However, it’s also a massive dumping site for raw sewage and plastic that can cause gastrointestinal disease, cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A and typhoid.
One city near the Ganges river, Varanasi, throws more than 52 million gallons of untreated human sewage into the river each day. This leads to massive amounts of fecal coliform bacteria. In fact, the levels of fecal coliform bacteria in Varanasi is over one hundred times the government's official limit.
Swimming at the Hoover Dam is illegal. Getting arrested is actually the best thing that could happen if you trespass and go for a swim, because the situation can quickly turn deadly. On the borders of Nevada and Arizona, the famous Hoover Dam is a spot you definitely don’t want to splash in.
The wind and currents at the Hoover Dam are so strong that swimmers go missing or perish. When the Hoover Dam opens its gates, water releases into other regions. These releases are unpredictable, and have claimed the lives of many swimmers.
Lake Kivu appears calm, but researchers believe it’s a ticking time bomb. Similar to Lake Nyos, Lake Kivu is an "exploding" lake. However, it’s 2,000 times bigger than Lake Nyos and has 2 million people occupying the shores. When Lake Kivu erupts, it could cause an even worse catastrophe than the Lake Nyos disaster.
Many lives will be lost when Lake Kivu leaks toxic gas into the atmosphere. Lake Kivu contains two deadly gas chemicals: methane and carbon dioxide. The gases in the water come from the lake’s interaction with a volcano. Scientists discovered 500 million tons of carbon dioxide in the lake. If that doesn’t terrify you, we don’t know what will.
Derbyshire Blue Lagoon
Located in Harpur Hill, Derbyshire, "The Blue Lagoon" tempts swimmers to jump in with its attractive color. However, the body of water is far from safe for swimmers. Caustic chemicals create the lagoon’s blue color. The water is also polluted and has a pH level of 11.3, which is highly alkaline, similar to ammonia and bleach.
To prevent people from swimming in the lagoon, local officials dyed the water black. It has been dyed multiple times in 2013, 2015 and 2016. But the blue water keeps coming back. Although the lagoon’s water looks inviting, swimmers will find their skin burning after taking a dip.
Atolls of the Marshall Islands
Between 1946 and 1958, the U.S. army tested nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands. Before the testing began, the army evacuated residents near Bikini Atoll and Enewetak Atoll. The U.S. blasted more than 30 megatons of TNT at Enewetak Atoll, while 67 weapon tests were done at Bikini Atoll.
When families tried to return home, scientists found dangerous amounts of radiation in their bodies and in the islands’ waters. As a result, the residents had to evacuate again. Many islanders can’t come back because the area is still contaminated with radiation. Some scientists believe that the atolls are 10 times more radioactive than Chernobyl.