Pollution on the beach is a big issue right across the globe, and despite increased awareness of the issue it does seem to be getting worse in some places. It is one of the ways in which tourism has a really negative impact on the planet, which is something we all need to try and combat on our travels. In this article I’ll show you the 10 worst examples of pollution on the beach in the world…
Freedom Island, Manila
Manila in the Philippines is well known for being home to one of the worst examples of pollution on the beach anywhere in the world. Freedom Island beach is absolutely awash with plastic pollution – pieces of single-use plastic line the shore, washing up here from the sea where it has been dangerously disposed of either on purpose (some companies in various countries do still deposit trash in the ocean) or due to industrial accidents as well as general littering.
Individuals, teams and charities have often tried to implement clean-up procedures. However, it is usually to no avail. 400 truck loads of plastic rubbish were removed from the beach in early 2019, but it wasn’t long until the mess came back. This pollution on the beach causes many issues; tourists avoid the area, knowing it is dirty, and animals are unable to migrate here. And if they do end up on the beach, animals are at huge risk of injury, illness, and even death.
Kamilo Beach, Hawaii
Locals have been begging tourists to stop visiting Hawaii for years – while tourism does pump money into the island, it also has many negative effects on the area. Resources like water are being used up, and the cost of living is skyrocketing. And on top of that, Hawaii is home to another of the worst polluted beaches in the world: Kamilo Beach. It is literally nicknamed ‘Plastic Beach’, owing to the thousands of pounds of plastic debris which washes up every single year.
This includes water bottles, combs, inhalers and more – many of which end up here thanks to the beach’s close proximity to Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The GPGP is a huge collection of debris in the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone where warm and cool water meet, causing a highway effect which moves the plastic and other rubbish around.
The beach isn’t hugely accessible, meaning at one point there was around 10 years’ of untouched garbage there until it was cleared up. Regular clean-ups are in operation, but unfortunately this doesn’t stop pollution on the beach coming back.
Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil’s stunning capital is, sadly, also home to one of the world’s worst examples of pollution on the beach. What should be an absolutely beautiful bay is unfortunately the victim of raw sewage in the water, which leads to tragic beach pollution. While there aren’t the levels of pesky plastic pollution here, the water itself is filthy and beachgoers are unable to take a dip to cool off when relaxing here. The beach itself is also smelly due to the water being so full of this raw sewage, meaning it’s not the most pleasant place to visit!
This article looks a bit more in depth at the issue and what is being done to change things for what should be a beautiful and welcoming Brazilian beach to travel to. There is just so much pollution on the beach ruining things for locals and visitors.
Haina Beaches, Dominican Republic
Located in the San Cristóbal province of this tropical paradise, the Haina Beaches are a sharp juxtaposition to the imagery you’ll see when planning a Caribbean vacation to the Dominican Republic. Dubbed the ‘Dominican Chernobyl’, the beaches in Haina are heavily polluted due to waste from an old battery factory not being disposed of properly.
This means the lead concentration levels here are really dangerous – not just on the beach itself but in the water, nearby soil, and even the air. Contamination rates in children are 10 times higher than normal in this area, and 5 times higher in adults too. This is dangerous for locals, and of course very off putting for tourists. This is a different type of pollution on the beach, but a dangerous one all the same.
Thailand is another one of those paradise locations you see splashed all over instagram – stunning temples, bright blue water, golden beaches framed by mountain landscapes and lush greenery. And a lot of places in Thailand really do embody this – but, like everywhere, it isn’t 100% perfect. Often described as the dark and seedy side of Thailand, Pattaya has high crime rates and a very polluted beach. Sewage and general waste dance in the surf that laps the sand itself, making it an unpleasant and also dangerous place to go to. It is somewhere else where clean-up attempts have been made, but the issue keeps coming back.
TripAdvisor reviews say it’s an ‘ugly beach littered with rubbish [and we] were told it is the worst beach to swim in, in all of Thailand as the sea is so polluted. Please do not swim here’ and ‘the beach was a disgrace, litter everywhere, too risky to walk barefoot, even saw some cacti plants strewn across the beach, can’t understand why nothing appears to be done about it.’ Clearly, there is a lot of pollution on the beach.
Cole Park, Corpus Christi
You might not think of beaches when you think of Texas, but Cole Park in the state’s Corpus Christi area enters the list of the worst examples of pollution on the beach in the world; the water here has some of the highest levels of bacteria anywhere in the world, so swimming is definitely not recommended. And unsafe water leads to smelly, dirty and polluted beaches. The contamination levels here are also really harmful to the area’s wildlife, which should be plentiful and thriving but simply isn’t due to illness, death, and the off-putting nature of the beach.
A beach pollution report from the Environment America Research & Policy Centre showed that this particular Texan beach was unsafe for 52 out of the 67 days it was tested, in terms of bacteria levels. It’s not hard to see why it ranks so highly in terms of being a polluted beach, is it?
Morecambe South, Lancashire
The UK might not scream ‘beach destination’, thanks to its tendency to rain most of the year, but being an island nation it is home to some stunning stretches of coastline. When the weather’s good, most of the country’s beaches are filled with kids building sandcastles, people playing football, families eating picnics and so on. It’s just that there aren’t too many sunny days allowing this to happen!
Sadly, many of the UK’s otherwise-gorgeous beaches are polluted by water companies spilling sewage into the water; some suggest that *most* water companies are guilty of doing this. Morecambe South beach in Lancashire is the worst affected in the country in terms of pollution on the beach, according to a report from ‘Top of the Poops’.
Henderson Island, the Pitcairn Island Group
This island (more of a coral atoll) is currently uninhabited – so you might think it would be safe from the drastic plastic pollution which plagues various other island nations and beaches across the globe. But, so it seems, nowhere is safe from beach pollution and Henderson Island, despite being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is no exception. Part of the Pitcairn Island Group in the Pacific Ocean, the beaches should be absolutely stunning – the sand is almost white, there is plenty of wild greenery around, and the water which gently kisses the sand is a clear blue. The whole place looks much like something you’d draw if asked to create an image of a desert island!
But sadly, it suffers the same fate as many beaches do: plastic washes up here in droves. Approximately 37 million bits of debris end up on the island’s shores every single year, making it one of the 10 worst examples of pollution on the beach in the world.
Serendipity Beach, Sihanoukville
Located in Cambodia, this beach should be a serene tropical paradise – if the name is anything to go by! And an overview of the beach does show that it is absolutely beautiful. It is also one of the most popular beaches in Cambodia, and as such it is lined with almost too many hotels, hostels, bars and restaurants offering somewhere for tourists and backpackers to sit down, enjoy a drink and something to eat, or rest their head at the end of the night.
As such, it is very busy. It is also very loud, and this contributes to noise pollution – another factor in the overall issue of beach pollution. Noise pollution is a big global issue, but it might not be one we consider when thinking about how we can do better by our planet.
Serendipity Beach also suffers from dirty water and a build up of plastic waste. One reason for this is the lack of water filtration systems across the whole of Cambodia meaning tourists and locals alike are forced to buy and drink bottled water to avoid becoming sick. This is one location where bringing your own reusable water bottle won’t help you be a sustainable tourist, because the water here just isn’t safe to drink unless your bottle has an inbuilt purification system.
Recent statistics show that 72% of the Cambodian population lack access to clean and safe water. This is why there is an increased level of plastic waste across the country, translating to plastic pollution on the beach like at Serendipity Beach.
Juhu Beach, Mumbai
India is known for having severe levels of pollution – and with one of the biggest populations in the world, it’s not that much of a surprise. You will likely have seen photos, video clips and even documentaries about the amount of rubbish across India as a whole, and it really is tragic that such a beautiful and culturally rich country suffers so much in this way. And it’s the same story on India’s beaches, particularly Juhu Beach located around 18 km outside of Mumbai.
It is like walking through a sea of rubbish: plastic bottles, bags, food packaging, protective face masks, medical waste and so much more. There is an ongoing clean-up effort in place, but the issue is one that keeps coming back. It’s almost like the more rubbish is cleared up, the more pollution on the beach comes back.
Preventing beach pollution
We can see that there are so many beaches suffering from pollution, whether that be chemicals in the water, sewage being dumped, or plastic washing up on the shores. It means that global beauty spots are being decimated, and it has a knock on effect on businesses and the tourism industry too – not only is it harmful for locals and wildlife to be surrounded by so much trash and dangerous substances, it also prevents people from visiting. This means less money coming in! So it’s in everyone’s best interests to try and prevent pollution on the beach where possible. Here are some ways we as individuals can do just that…
- Take your rubbish home with you. If you visit the beach for a nice day out, take your empty bottles/cans/bags home with you. Or simply put them in the nearest bin. If it’s overflowing, which is often the case in popular beach locations, keep hold of it until you reach somewhere where it can be disposed of properly.
- Reduce the amount of cleaning products you use. It may sound strange, but when you use four different foaming substances to clean one toilet, the majority of it ends up flowing right the way into our seas and oceans causing chemical levels to change for the worse.
- Engage in beach clean ups – I know that when you go on holiday, the last thing you might want to do is spend the day picking up dirty rubbish from a beach. But it’s a great way to give back to the local community and do your bit for sustainable tourism!
Pollution on the beach- To conclude
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