8 Worst Polluted Beaches In The World

Anyone who has visited different nations or other islands throughout the world will notice one thing: there are a couple of beaches with a bad rep because of garbage. 

Plastic is a story of humanity, as we all contribute to this massive problem somehow. Sometimes you can’t really help but wonder, “How did the bulk of garbage ever get here?” or “Why would you toss something out in the open?” Thankfully, millions of people worldwide are banding together to organize beach cleanups and raise awareness about the critical need to minimize our garbage.

In this article, we will show you the worst polluted beaches in the world.

What’s the Reason Behind Plastic Pollution on Beaches?

We all enjoy traveling, but it can be so frustrating when you arrive after days of traveling at a natural place only to see it full of trash. Plastic pollution on beaches is on the rise, and it harms both wild and ocean life and locals’ way of life.

Beaches are a perfect draw for holidaymakers and travelers who like swimming and other recreational activities, such as partying, surfing, or just staying at hotels and resorts.

polluted beach

However, tourists are one of the main drivers of all the trash you find on your average beach. Tourists leave the places they visit littered with plastic and other types of waste polluting the local area. Furthermore, the lack of recycling and waste disposal methods and low education contribute to the locals dumping trash on the streets, beaches, rivers, and other natural places in some countries, contributing to the pollution of otherwise pristine beaches.

Aside from the direct human factor, local currents and waves aid in spreading ocean pollution. Consider the beaches around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where all of the trash and floating plastics get swept onto the shores. Realistically, this garbage comes from all of humanity combined.

8 Worst Polluted Beaches in the World

1. Kamilo Beach, Hawaii, United States

The famed Kamilo Beach, located on the southeast coast of Hawaii, was used by native Hawaiians to collect drifting evergreen logs of wood.

Because of the strong sea currents, these logs washed up on this beach and were used to carve out boats, locally known as dugout canoes.

Furthermore, it is rumored that most of those lost at sea would ultimately be washed ashore on this beach due to the trade winds and converging ocean currents.

As of today, this fabulous beach is well-known for being home to a diverse assortment of garbage, most of which is solid plastic debris. Most of the waste that drifts onto the shores is from as far as Russia and Japan.


2. Juhu Beach, Mumbai, India

Even though Juhu Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Mumbai, it is also one of the dirtiest places. A huge percentage of the garbage is plastic bags. This is because the tidal currents stop the garbage from leaving the beach. There is also the issue of wastewater entering the surrounding buildings.

Fortunately, the city is making strenuous efforts to clean up Juhu Beach and its surroundings. The nearby Versova Beach was formerly plagued with waste as well. Still, environmentalist Afroz Shah organized a group of over 1,000 volunteers to clean the beach between 2015 and 2017, cleaning more than 11.5 million pounds of debris. Today, it is in immaculate shape, making it an excellent example of the future of Juhu Beach.

3. Phu Quoc, Vietnam

This country completes the list of Southeast Asian countries with at least one extremely polluted beach. Vietnam is a nation in Southeast Asia, sandwiched between Thailand and Malaysia. The South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand surround the country.

The country’s entire coastline is surrounded by beaches that are popular tourist destinations and hot spots for locals. However, some of these beaches are polluted by larger amounts of garbage than others. Phu Quoc is one such beach. Despite being a beautiful island, it still has huge garbage surrounding it.


4. Haina, Dominican Republic

The Dominican city of Haina is known for being one of the most polluted globally, earning the moniker “The Dominican Chernobyl.”

Because the community is near a former lead-acid battery recycling facility, the area has been plagued by lead poisoning affecting almost 90% of the city’s people. Moreover, Industrial pollution is released into rivers that lead into the sea, leaving Haina’s beaches unfit for swimming. There’s also a vast quantity of garbage on the beaches because of the open landfill and the surrounding industries.

However, as a Caribbean island, the Dominican Republic has several well-maintained beaches, particularly near major resort areas like Punta Cana. If you wish to slip away from the busy beaches, we propose Cabarete in the province of Puerto Plata, which is famed for water activities.

5. Freedom Island Manila, Philippines

Freedom Island, located on the coast of Manila Bay, is one of the worst beaches in Southeast Asia. The shoreline is covered with single-use disposable plastics manufactured by firms like Unilever and Nestlé, which local environmental campaigners have called out. 

So far, the cleanup of the coastline has resulted in the removal of 100,000 square feet of trash—albeit there is still a long way to return it to pre-litter conditions.

6. Fujiazhuang Beach Dalian, China

China’s economy is growing, and more and more people can travel for both pleasure and business. Consequently, it’s no surprise that beaches such as Fujiazhuang see an exponential rise in visitors every year.

Fujiazhuang Beach has the terrible (or lucky, depending on your perspective) distinction of being the world’s most crowded beach, with around 50,000 people visiting its 500-meter-long beach during peak season. Because the beach is so crowded, public service messages remind visitors to cease trash and even avoid swimming to prevent disease transmission. With so many people crowded on the beach, it’s no surprise that Fujiazhuang is littered with plastic and other kinds of garbage. 

Fortunately, the Chinese government has recognized the issue and has begun a campaign called Green Coast 2030 to improve its tourist destinations by focusing on limiting pollution.

7. Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia

Over 300 drains discharge into Port Phillip Bay! 

Due to a succession of bad infrastructure design decisions for sewage and stormwater management in Melbourne, Port Phillip Bay today takes drainage from ten different municipalities.

Heavy rains and typhoons flood the system, spilling sewage and germs into the bay, where the local EPA detects hazardous water quality. High quantities of fecal matter are a public health concern since they provide a 5-10% risk of infection and disease. Furthermore, officials estimate that 800 million pieces of plastic (74 percent of which are microplastics) are swept downriver into the bay each year. 

8. Guanabara Bay Beaches, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

If you checked in the 2016 Summer Olympics, you might recall the pollution problem in Rio de Janeiro’s seas. Everything from raw sewage to floating trash to dismembered human remains polluted the waterways and dunes here, with some sportsmen becoming ill due to the viruses and germs. The worst beaches in Rio are near Guanabara Bay, where swimming is off-limits.

While the ocean-facing beaches of Rio de Janeiro, such as Copacabana and Ipanema, usually are cleaner and safer for swimmers, we recommend going nearly three hours east to the affluent beach town of Armaço dos Buzios to escape the city’s pollution.


Author’s Note

The world’s most polluted beaches are in Southeast Asia, India, China, and Brazil. The main contributors to the pollution on these beaches is from the untreated sewage, single-use plastics, and human waste. However, fortunately for these countries, many different projects have been implemented to keep up with the pollution.

The lesson here is, it is our responsibility to take care of the environment in everyday life. It isn’t easy, but we can make a difference with more effort. Take care of our planet. Here are some guides to get you started.

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