We love escaping that hot summer air by jumping in the water for a refreshing swim. We find a nice lake or beach, dive in, and relax. Unfortunately, some of us don’t expect what these bodies of water hold. Some hold snakes, others sharks, and others still deadly poisons that can kill you in seconds. Here, we take a sampling of some of the most dangerous places to swim on Earth. You can’t say we didn’t warn you.
1. The Boiling Lake
The Boiling Lake in Dominica is another of the most dangerous places to swim. What makes this place so downright dangerous is the presence of scolding hot magma beneath its surface. This magma induces the water to reach boiling point, literally causing the lake to boil. Yikes!
So if you’ve ever scalded yourself with boiling hot water, you’ll know the pain that this lake would cause. The pain would be worse, however, in that after a few brief moments your entire body would be surrounded by the stuff. If you’d like to avoid the warmest swim of your life, then obviously we’d recommend that you avoid the boiling lake. But what about somewhere less obviously dangerous, but even more deadly?
2. Jacob’s Well
While it doesn’t actually belong to someone named Jacob, the lake here is something you would like to avoid. Located in south-central Texas, this lake is something to contend with. It is, however, also one of the cooler lakes in that its waters are so crystal clear that, if you wanted, you could look straight to the bottom.
The lake is also cool in that it has a system of tunnels and caves beneath it which enable you to explore the depths in ways not normally afforded to such lake-goers. But with the ample beauty comes danger. Many people, in other words, will embark into the depths and never come out. The challenge of navigating the underwater tunnels is more than they expect, and they don’t realize until it’s too late. But can you spot danger headed your way in the next one?
3. The Nile River
The Nile River, despite its reputation as the cradle of humanity, is one of those places that you should avoid if you want to swim. And why, you ask? Well, because it’s full of terrible crocodiles. While they’re not necessarily the most dangerous of animals to encounter while swimming, they are one of the most likely to kill you.
There are approximately 100 crocodile attacks per year in the north African Nile, for instance. When compared with shark attacks (coming in at a measly 16 attacks per year), this is quite the number. If you’re scared of crocodiles, then, and would rather leave the body with all your limbs intact, you might want to consider avoiding the Nile. The next one will leave you wondering how good of a swimmer you really are…
4. Hanakapiai Beach
Hawaiian beaches are lavished over—and for good reason. Their shores are the location of sandy beaches, coral reefs, and even horrible sunburns. But they’re also sometimes home to powerful rip tides. On this beach specifically, Hanakapiai beach, there has been around 80 deaths. This is something to consider if your plan is to avoid being pulled out to sea.
Don’t be one of those people who tries to brave the waves. Once they’re crashing, the currents they hide beneath can be deadly. One person, for instance, had seen two children pulled away out to sea. As they were slowly dragged down the shore, their father had jumped in to save them. Fortunately, the beachgoers were able to signal for help to nearby helicopters and the boys were rescued. Next on our list – not all water is as beautiful as Hanakapiai Beach…
5. Bubbly Creek
Bubbly Creek is an area of the Chicago River that you’d be advised not to swim in. There are several reasons for this. Primary among them is the amount of disgusting runoff that will make its way into the river. Much of the lake, for instance, has been the subject of discarded meat, fecal matter, and other loathsome things.
Over time, this stuff began to decay—leading, ostensibly, to the bubbles that exist in this lake. Also, the lake has become so toxic that fish and other animals cannot live in it. If you’re looking for a nice place to swim, then, you might want to find yourself a nice beach elsewhere. The Chicago River is not the place to be.
6. Samaesan Hole
Thailand is one of those places that has made many of our bucket lists. It’s home to some of the greatest beaches, most beautiful scenery, and food that many of us would die for—especially if we have nut allergies. Anyways, another dangerous area in the land of Thai is Samaesan Hole.
The Samaesan Hole is one of the deepest areas to dive in all of Thailand. Unfortunately, the hole is extremely dark, leading to near zero visibility at some points. Because of this, it can be easy to get lost. This location is not kind to the novice swimmer; you might just lose which way is up. In case you didn’t know, this confusion can be lethal.
7. Lake Karachay
Lake Karachay is a lake located in central Russia. It is one of the most toxic lakes on Earth. Why? Because the Russian government had polluted it with toxic waste during an era in which regulation on such things wasn’t really a thing. As a result, it has gained such a toxic nature that swimming in it could kill you within an hour.
Fortunately, the government has begun to take steps to fill in the lake with concrete. As a result, the lake will not exist for much longer. This is good news to the local inhabitants of the area, as they will no longer need to warn their children against the perils of the lake.
8. Eagle’s Nest Sink Hole
This sinkhole, located in Florida, is a place that would be okay to swim, but dangerous to dive. The hole, dipping down below a staggering 300 feet, has been the cause of at least 10 deaths. And because of this, the hole had been closed indefinitely to ensure people’s safety.
It’s the danger of the holes inside the sink that make this place one you’d rather avoid. If you’re an experienced diver, however, you can enter the hole. You’ll just want to stop as soon as you make it to the sign underwater. What it warns of is what we already told you: too deep in and you might get stuck. The result could be that you drown.
9. Kipu Falls
Kipu Falls is one of the more popular tourist destinations. It’s also a place where many tourists have drowned. While it’s not 100 percent certain exactly why people have drowned there, several have still succumbed to the waves. Much folklore surrounds these deaths, including claims of ancient gods and hidden whirlpools.
The most likely explanation, however, is just a high amount of traffic. With such a great abundance of tourists—especially those of an inebriated caliber—the more likely people are to drown. The reasoning is exactly the same with shark attacks are other such things: the more people in the water, the more likely some subset of those people will be attacked.
10. The Amazon Basin
The reasons that the Amazon Basin in South America is dangerous are many. First off, there are so many predators in its waters that a light and breezy swim might lead to a horrible degeneration via getting eaten. A few of these unsavory predators include things like piranhas, barracudas, and all the little critters that attract them.
It is also the home to one of the most terrifying tiny fish that exists on planet Earth: the candiru. While it’s not certain that the fish will actually do what people claim it does (swim up the urinal tract to eat your genitals), many have claimed just the opposite. But we’ll let the fear of this possibility resonate in you for a moment.
11. Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the third largest lake in the entire world. Some parts of it, however, are not parts in which you would like to swim. One reason the lake is so dangerous is the number of deaths that occur in it per year. The number so far is around 5,000. That’s pretty high.
Part of what makes the lake so deadly is that it has its own isolated weather system. And because of this, the weather can change from bright and sunny to terrible and bleak in a matter of seconds. If you’re caught in the middle of a storm while swimming, then, you might have caught a little more than you bargained for.
12. Horseshoe Lake
Horseshoe Lake is one of the many lakes within the state of California. One thing terrifying about the lake is the drastically high presence of carbon dioxide that exists there. And where, you ask, did this carbon dioxide come from? Well, it came from a long series of earthquakes that destroyed the area.
As a result of the earthquakes, carbon dioxide was released from the ground. The result of this release was the death of all the nearby flora of the area. You will see, then, a large lot of dead trees on your way to the area. You’ll only see these, though, if you decide to ignore our list and swim in these places regardless.
13. Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto can be found in Spain. Unfortunately, the history of this area has led the waters that inhabit it to turn red with pollution. This is because the area was used as a mine, the runoff of which had greatly polluted the lake. This pollution, in turn, is grossly acidic. Avoid.
If you’re looking instead for a nice relaxing swim, this might not be the lake for you. Instead, you might want to take yourself somewhere where you won’t dissolve if you swim in it. The result would be, contra to the Rio Tinto, a delightful refresher.
14. The Ganges River
Industrialization has its benefits. It gives you more technology, a larger economy, and ultimately a more robust city life. But it also has a dark side. Pollution, carbon emissions, and many other foibles will result. And it’s because of this industrialization that the Ganges River in India has become of the most dangerous areas in which to swim.
Oftentimes, industrialization will occur so quickly that the regulations on that pollution will not catch up. As a result, bodies of water will often get polluted. This is what had happened with the Ganges: people had put into the water trash, plastic, and pretty much everything else they didn’t want to deal with. The result is the now toxic Ganges.
Gansbaai is an area off the coast of South Africa. The place has, however, been named shark alley for its great presence of sharks. This is unfortunate, as sharks can induce a great amount of death in those who they attack. You do not, for the most part, want to be one of these people.
It isn’t just shark alley that possesses this reputation, however. Another island off the coast of North America bears the same reputation. While this latter island is a more popular destination for great white sharks and the like, there is a lower probability that one of these sharks will attack you. This is not the case in the South African region.
16. Hoover Dam
First off, swimming at the Hoover Dam is illegal. So, if you were to swim there, you would find yourself succinctly imprisoned. Secondly, the place dangerous—in part what makes it illegal to swim there. One of these dangers is the super strong currents that exist within.
There are many intakes along the dam, for instance, which allow for the water at the top to move down to the bottom at a controlled pace. These intakes have, ostensibly, taken the lives of many unsuspecting swimmers. The dam also has some things called a bell-mouth spillway, which are uncontrolled ways through which they transport water. Watch out for these, too.
17. Citarum River
Indonesia is one of the most beautiful places you can travel to. It’s also where a lot of us get our coffee. Anyways, the archipelago is home to some of the most beautiful shorefronts visible. But other than the beauty, its status as an archipelago has earned it a mass amount of biodiversity. The life there has adapted differently on each of the different islands.
But despite all of this beauty and natural splendor, it is sometimes a place you shouldn’t swim. The Citarum River is a gleaning example of this. The reasons it is so dangerous should be familiar: pollution. People have filled the place with so much garbage that it has since become uninhabitable by the local swimmer.
18. Blue Lagoon
In the UK you’ll find some bodies of water that are best left avoided. The Blue Lagoon is one such body. Because the lake has such a drastically high pH level (standing high at a staggering 11.3), the natural pool has an alkalinity comparable to that of ammonia or bleach.
And, in case you didn’t know, if ammonia leaks into a local lake or stream, it is quarantined because of the potential danger. The Buxton Derbyshire Blue Lagoon, then, should be avoided at all costs. So while you might want to take a dip in its pretty blue waters, it’d be better that you stay home and read a book. We could all do some more reading anyways.
19. The Gulf Coast
The Gulf Coast off of the Southern United States is, let’s just say, a little different. While it’s home to abundant runoff from the farming practices of central North America, making its shores virtually uninhabitable for sea critters, it is also home to some of the deadliest animals imaginable. Some of these animals are snakes.
In case you were unaware, snakes can swim. So, if your intentions are to dip into the water and forget about the pains of the humid life on shore, don’t expect to be totally free of woes. The water itself will be hot—and sometimes it’ll even be full of snakes. Some of these snakes, even more disconcertingly, are rattlesnakes.
20. Reunion Island
Reunion Island is a small little island off the coast of Madagascar. Located succinctly in the Indian Ocean, the place has become the shark attack capital of the world. So forget about the dangers of South Africa, this place will have you bit and bit quick.
There have been, for instance, a record number of around 39 attacks on the small island. This number is still low considering the drastically high number of people who swim there each year. It is still something to take into account if you want to make the place one of your new favorite swimming locations.
21. The Strid
In the middle of Yorkshire, England you’ll find a body of water so dismal, so fantastically disturbing, and so deadly that to swim in it for over five seconds will lead to your immediate death. Okay, not really. But the place is extraordinarily dangerous.
In part what makes it so dangerous is the presence of small and hidden currents. These currents, for those who fall in, can quickly become deadly, sucking people down and in. The result, in case you didn’t know, was that you drown and face the bottom. Most often, the currents will drag you beneath rocks, which causes you to get trapped. This isn’t something you’d like on your nice, Yorkshire vacation.
22. Queensland, Australia
Queensland is the second largest territory in the Commonwealth of Australia. It’s also, however, one of the more deadly places to swim. The reasons for this are probably what you would expect—the place is home to an abundance of deadly and terrifying creatures.
The list of these beasts is just as long as it is terrifying. There are sharks, saltwater crocodiles, stonefish, and the exceptionally deadly blue-ringed octopi and box jellyfish. The box jellyfish is particularly deadly. One sting from this tiny creature can induce a cardiac arrest which can kill you almost instantly. Not so fun if you ask us.
23. Bolinas Beach, California
California is home to many of the most pleasant beaches on planet Earth. But it is also home to some of the most deadly. One of these is Bolinas Beach. Bolinas Beach, much to the chagrin of the locals, is a part of the infamous Red Triangle, an area in which great whites frequent to get their lunch.
You can tell why the area is so popular with sharks when you look at its great concentration of seals and the like. Because of these animals, sharks will often mistake nearby divers as food, resulting in an attack. While this doesn’t happen all too often (in fact it rarely happens at all), it will sometimes happen. And when it does, the results are often deadly.
24. New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Florida, like California, is home to some of the sandiest and beautiful beaches around. But, also like California, its beaches are bordering the sea. Unfortunately, this often makes it home to terrifying and deadly creatures like sharks. This is especially true in New Smyrna Beach.
New Smyrna Beach, like Reunion Island, has also been considered the shark attack capital of the world. Both islands, then, are not places you would like to go if you’re afraid of sharks. Instead, you’d probably like to go somewhere inland instead. The results will surely be a lower probability of death-by-shark. But you also won’t get to experience any warm, sandy beaches.
25. Victoria Falls
Some places you wouldn’t like to swim are not places most people would swim anyways. Victoria Falls in Zambia, however, is surprisingly not one of these locations. The place is home to one of the greatest series of waterfalls that exist. And because of this, the results of a nice refreshing swim could lead to a precipitous death-fall.
This is unfortunate considering the heat that those in Zambia will often feel. At the edge of the falls are these things called “The Devil’s Pools.” These little pools are little digs that accumulate water in which you can swim. Unfortunately, they are literally on the lip on the falls and extremely dangerous. We would not recommend that you swim in them.
26. Potomac River
Some of these dangerous places are not those that you would expect. Some, for instance, are in places like Maryland and West Virginia. In the Potomac River, for instance, you’ll find rapids that can easily pull you under. And through these, you can quickly find yourself at the bottom of the water.
Once at the bottom, having succumbed to these currents, you will not have a good time. The result, as you’ll notice, isn’t something that you’d like. Seeing as how you can’t breathe underwater, you’d probably rather spend your time on land. If this is the case, we’d recommend that you keep yourself out of these turbulent waters.
27. West End, Grand Bahama Islands
The Bahamas are one of those places that everyone should visit. Off the coast of Florida, they hold some of the most beautiful swimming conditions imaginable. But they also, as one might expect, hold lots of sea life that prove just a little more than dangerous. And again, this danger comes often from sharks.
On Tiger Beach, for instance, you will find a great abundance of tiger sharks. And tiger sharks, in case you were unaware, are one of the more vicious of shark species. You’re likely safe, however, if you decide to venture into these waters. The risk of shark attacks everywhere is vanishingly low. Just try not to look like a seal.
28. Lake Kivu
Rwanda has a sordid history. Having been split into competing groups by controlling powers in the early- and mid-19th century, the place has had its moments. But, it also has something else that many of us would consider sordid. This thing is Lake Kivu, one of the most dangerous lakes on planet Earth.
Here, we have another case of looks deceiving us into peril. The lake is considered an “exploding” lake, which means that, on occasion, it can erupt. This is due to the unstable ground afforded to it by a nearby volcano. Unfortunately, when this lake erupts it releases into the air bountiful carbon dioxide. And the C02 is, let’s just say, deadly.
29. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is just your regular, run-of-the-mill beach in South Carolina. On occasion, however, the beach can turn deadly. The primary reasons for this deadly timbre are the nature of its rip tides. These can, on some unfortunate days, induce trouble for those who are caught in them.
In tandem with these strong rip tides is the presence of warm-water cannonball jellyfish. These jellyfish are deadly and can paralyze those that they sting in the water. While neither is likely to kill on their own, when they combine they can create a constellation of danger. The result could be drowning.
30. Gulf of Thailand
There are certain animals that you will find in the ocean that should induce you to tears. One of these animals is the box jellyfish. This little creature (measuring at max around eight inches long) can give such a powerful sting that those it comes into contact can die from shock.
The main problem is that you get shocked while in the water. If you undergo severe paralysis, then, you will likely drown. The Gulf of Thailand, unfortunately, is replete with these little guys. If you aim to swim in such waters, then, we recommend that you protect yourself with the appropriate clothing. That, or you just cross your fingers for good luck. You’ll likely need it.
31. Blue Lake
Blue Lake is a body of water located in Kabardino-Balkaria (Russia). The lake has been of interest to scientists and laypeople because of its extraordinarily blue color. This color is due to the high presence of hydrogen sulfide in its waters. Mysteriously, despite this interest, no one has reported being able to find the bottom.
Because of this mystery, many have claimed it unsafe to swim in the body of water. Its depths might hold mysterious sea creatures, swamp monsters, and other illicit fiends of the deep. Whatever it is, people find it strange that the bottom of this lake has been so mysterious. You should find it odd too, and perhaps find another place to swim.
32. Mono Lake, California
Mono Lake is a particular body of water just outside of Lake Tahoe. Home to some equally peculiar geological features, the lake has been of interest to many who would otherwise just pass through the town. Unfortunately, due to tributaries in nearby towns like Los Angeles, the lake has been drained of vital resources.
Because of this, the toxicity of the lake has become unbalanced. Now, unfortunately, it has an extremely high concentration of carbonates and other things. This has made the waters of Mono Lake inhospitably toxic. If you’re looking for a swim, then, we’d recommend that you head back to Tahoe. The waters are much more palatable there.
33. Laguna Caliente
In English, the Laguna Caliente translates to “hot lagoon.” And by “hot” they mean extremely high temperatures. Located in the center of a stratovolcano in Costa Rica, this lake will literally burn your flesh off. If you choose to swim through it, then, it might be your last swim on Earth.
To get into the area surrounding the lake, you need a permit. This is wise, given that the area is so clearly dangerous. What’s more, is that the place can succumb to volcanic eruptions. One particular eruption had lasted for a total of around two years, inducing the release of toxic gases from the crater’s center. Ultimately, this is not a place that you would like to swim.
34. Lake Chagan, Kazakhstan
If a lake has another title as the “Nuclear Lake,” you might suspect that it is not a prime location to swim in. And with this suspicion, you would have guessed right. Lake Chagan (colloquially referred to as Nuclear Lake) in Kazakhstan is one such location. This lake was formed by the detonation of an underground Russian nuclear bomb.
The result was this large and largely poisonous crater lake. In total, the crater ripped around 353 million cubic feet of dirt from the ground, creating a crater about 300 feet deep and 1,300 feet wide. The crater, because of how it was formed, is beyond toxic. This is mostly due to the radioactivity of the region, which can induce cellular mutations that will manifest as caustic. You might want to find another swimming hole.
35. Lake Nyos, Cameroon
Lake Nyos is a crater lake in Cameroon, Africa. Formed from the collision of an ancient asteroid, the lake has remained relatively docile since its inception. It is, however, located at the boundary of the Cameroon Volcanic Line, an area in which there is ample volcanic activity.
Because of this, the lake is prone to mild geologic activity. On August 21, 1986, one particular eruption would prove deadly. This eruption induced the release of a toxic C02 cloud from the bottom of its waters. Once this cloud entered the air, it killed 1,700 people and 3,000 livestock animals. The result is one of the deadliest limnic (explosion of C02 gas) disasters ever to have occurred.
The Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa is not a place that you would like to swim. And why, exactly, is this? Well, because it is a volcano of course. Known as the largest lava pit in the world, this region is home to one of the hottest swimming holes on the planet. Now, unless you’re Beelzebub himself, this lake likely won’t prove refreshing.
Other than the danger of the actual lava, the pit exudes a toxic amount of carbon dioxide from its orifice. If enough of this is inhaled, the person affected will first pass out and then suffocate. So in the case of this “lake,” even getting close to it could prove deadly. If you’re looking for a place to swim, then, you might want to find somewhere else. This one likely wouldn’t end well.
37. Berkeley Pitt
Not named after the famous enlightenment philosopher, Berkeley Pitt in Butte Montana is not somewhere that you should swim. The lake used to be a copper mine, yet filled with water after a substantial amount of non-use. But because of the mine’s chemical composition, the small pit of water is considered extremely toxic.
It doesn’t take a chemist to know that toxic water is detrimental to your health. In aggregate, the pool is around a half-mile wide and 1,780 feet deep. Much of the body of water is filled with abhorrently toxic chemicals, though, so not an inch of the stuff should be touched. If you’re in Montana, then, you will want to find yourself another lake in which to take a dip.
38. Beqa Lagoon
Lagoons are one of the coolest places to hang out. They are normally surrounded by lush forestry and cool waters that provide a haven from the lands above. But sometimes they are also home to the things we would rather not see. The Beqa Lagoon in Fiji is a prime example of this.
The Beqa Lagoon, like Reunion Island, is replete with sharks. And these sharks, once seen, cannot be unseen. So, once you’re surrounded by these bad boys, you will likely panic, lose all of your oxygen, and drown. Okay, maybe not. But you will suffer an increased risk of a shark attack. And this is definitely no good.
39. Pustoye Lake, Siberia
Other than the cold, the Siberian north has much to offer. While much of this is derelict land that is difficult to inhabit, some of it is not. Here, we have one of the latter: Lake Pustoye. This lake, despite its idyllic appearance, is actually quite mysterious. And because of this, it is likely a location you should avoid swimming in.
What makes Lake Pustoye so mysterious is that things have an exceptionally challenging time living there. Why? Nobody knows! Scientists have purportedly tried to fill the lake with fish and plant species to see if they could reproduce in the waters but to no avail. These conditions make the lake something that you might not want to swim in.
40. Mumbai, India
India is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on planet Earth. Also, however, it is home to some of the most toxic. Much of this is due to unencumbered industrialization. This shift in social practices has induced many people to distribute industrial waste and other unmentionables into the water. In Mumbai, India, this has become a particular problem.
While once pristine, these lakes have turned into a literal cesspool. Locals that live in areas around the waters have begun to dump their waste in the waters as well, compounding their grossness. So unless you like bathing in nastiness, we suggest you find another place to swim. The result will be something far more salubrious. You’ll probably thank us for it later.
This article was originally published on Science101: Here Are The Top 40 Places You Should Never Ever Swim
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