Whenever articles about beaches around the world come up in your social media feeds—or indeed, when you search the Internet for them—it's the most beautiful ones that people always write about. From the oft-visited shores of the Caribbean and Hawaii, to more remote idylls such as the South Pacific and Raja Ampat, Indonesia, the story about beaches is usually a sunny one.
But what about beaches you'd be better off avoiding? Some of the world's beaches are downright dangerous—including some of the ones you might be tempted to visit, if you didn't know better.
(Thankfully, you will soon.)
Gansbaai, South Africa
Gansbaai is located along the Garden Route in South Africa, which is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline anywhere in the world. Just to the west is Hermanus, a premier whale watching hub, while gorgeous towns such as Plettenberg Bay and Storms River sit to the east.
Unfortunately, what you really need to be concerned about in Gansbaai is the threat lurking just off shore: Great White Sharks. You should by all means visit Gansbaai, if only for the gorgeous vistas you can take in all around you, but do yourself a favor and don't get in the water.
Queensland and Northern Territory, Australia
Whitehaven Beach, located in the Whitsunday Islands of Queensland, Australia, is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, to the extent that it almost looks like a painting. But this beach, along with most of the rest of the coastline of northern Australia, hides a deadly secret: It's positively infested with box jellyfish, locally known as "stingers," which are one of the deadliest animals in the world. Just one sting can send you to your grave, so if you do get in the water here, make sure you're within safety nets.
Unlike in South Africa and northern Australia, where danger is hidden behind a veil of beauty, it's pretty immediately obvious why you shouldn't go for a swim in Kilauea, Hawaii. If you do want to get an up-close look at the constantly-erupting volcano, who lava literally forms new land as it cools and hardens in the sea, contact a local tour operator.
Chowpatty Beach, India
Chowpatty Beach is many things, but "beautiful" is not one of them, at least not in the sense that many other beaches on this list are beautiful. To be sure, the characteristic of Chowpatty Beach, located in Mumbai, India, which makes it so dangerous is directly related to how un-easy it is on the eyes: It's extremely polluted. The one time of day when Chowpatty Beach is beautiful is right at sunset, when brilliant oranges and pinks light up the sky and temporarily obscure the garbage floating in the water, but avoid getting in the water, as many of the locals tend to do, to avoid becoming ill.
Copacabana Beach, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro has what are arguably the best urban beaches in the world, a fact it's exploited for its upcoming stint as host of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. While Copacabana in particular has been immortalized in pop culture, it hides a dangerous secret in-between its golden sands and pure, blue waters: It's absolutely littered with thieves and other petty criminals, so while you don't need to worry about sharks or erupting volcanoes here, you should watch your belongings extra diligently.
Virginia Beach, USA
Virginia Beach is neither the most popular beach in the US, nor the most beautiful. However, if you do happen to come here next summer (it is very convenient, after all), be aware that it is one of America's most dangerous beaches. This is because in recent years, wild animals like foxes and boars have decided they like to sun on the beach as much as people, and have been known to get aggressive, particularly toward pets.