Wide­spread pol­lu­tion has turned some of the most beau­ti­ful beach­es in the world into garbage heaps. This has affect­ed Cami­lo Beach in Hawaii, which is so lit­tered with man-made debris that it has received the nick­name “Plas­tic Beach”, and the remote unin­hab­it­ed island of Hen­der­son in the South Pacif­ic is con­sid­ered the dirt­i­est on Earth. Once con­sid­ered a sandy par­adise, the places now look like garbage dumps. Based on the research of var­i­ous non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions and researchers, a list of the 13 dirt­i­est beach­es in the world was com­piled.

trash on the beach

Camilo Beach, Hawaii

Cami­lo Beach, also known as “Plas­tic Beach”, is one of the dirt­i­est places on the plan­et. Set in the coun­try­side on the Big Island of Hawaii, Cami­lo Beach is a waste­land of plas­tic trash. Tons of man-made garbage wash up on its shores, rang­ing from tooth­brush­es to water bot­tles. Some of the waste was brought here from places as far away as Japan and Rus­sia. One of the rea­sons this beach is so pol­lut­ed is because of its prox­im­i­ty to the Great Pacif­ic Garbage Island, a high-pres­sure zone that traps ocean debris. It was dis­cov­ered in 1997 by oceanog­ra­ph­er and boat cap­tain Charles J. Moore. Con­trary to how many peo­ple imag­ine it, the island is not imme­di­ate­ly vis­i­ble to the naked eye, because plas­tic is ubiq­ui­tous at dif­fer­ent lev­els of the ocean depths.

Guanabara Bay Beach, Brazil

The pol­lut­ed Gua­n­abara Bay off the coast of Rio received media atten­tion before and dur­ing the 2016 Sum­mer Olympics, when sail­ing and row­ing ath­letes came face to face with debris. Accord­ing to an Asso­ci­at­ed Press study, the bay’s water “con­tained dan­ger­ous­ly high lev­els of virus­es and bac­te­ria from sewage.” Ath­letes who ingest­ed just three tea­spoons of con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed water faced a 99% chance of infec­tion.

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El Gringo Beach, Dominican Republic

New York-based non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion Pure Earth is ded­i­cat­ed to iden­ti­fy­ing and clean­ing up pol­lut­ed places around the world. Its experts called Baios de Haina one of the most pol­lut­ed places on Earth. The city, nick­named “Domini­can Cher­nobyl” and its El Gringo beach, suf­fers from chem­i­cal, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and oil refin­ing indus­tries. The Inter Press news agency reports that these plants annu­al­ly emit large amounts of tox­ic sub­stances, includ­ing formalde­hyde, lead, ammo­ni­um and sul­fu­ric acid. In addi­tion to releas­ing tox­ins into the air, local fac­to­ries also dis­pose of waste by dump­ing it into the water.

Henderson Island

Hen­der­son Island could very well be a UNESCO World Her­itage Site, but in fact, the remote, unin­hab­it­ed coral atoll in the South Pacif­ic is one of the most pol­lut­ed in the world. The island has become famous in recent years thanks to Jen­nifer Lavers, a researcher at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Tas­ma­nia. Lavers vis­it­ed the island in 2015 to study its plas­tic pol­lu­tion. With­in three months, her team uncov­ered mil­lions of man-made plas­tic debris on Hen­der­son­’s beach­es.

Juhu Beach, India

Like oth­er beach­es on the coast of Mum­bai, Juhu Beach is expe­ri­enc­ing a sig­nif­i­cant decline in water qual­i­ty, which is pol­lut­ed by raw sewage from neigh­bor­ing slums and oth­er inad­e­quate­ly treat­ed waste. The water here con­tains fecal intesti­nal bac­te­ria that can cause intesti­nal dis­eases, typhoid fever and hepati­tis A.

Kuta Beach, Bali

Indone­sia is the sec­ond largest marine pol­luter in the world after Chi­na, con­tribut­ing 10% of the world’s marine pol­lu­tion. That’s why it’s no sur­prise that one of Bal­i’s most pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tions, Kuta Beach, is often cov­ered in lit­ter, espe­cial­ly dur­ing the rainy sea­son when a huge amount of waste is washed ashore.

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Serendipity, Cambodia

It’s no secret that the beach­es of Cam­bo­dia are pol­lut­ed. In 2016, US News and World Report ranked Cam­bo­di­a’s coast­line as the dirt­i­est in the world, based on the amount of trash col­lect­ed by Inter­na­tion­al Coastal Cleanup vol­un­teers. With an aver­age of 1,072 lit­ter sam­ples per mile, Cam­bo­dia was ahead of Alba­nia, where vol­un­teers col­lect­ed 877 lit­ter sam­ples per mile of coast­line. Serendip­i­ty Beach is no excep­tion. Tri­pAd­vi­sor review­ers agree that this beach is dirty. “The beach itself could be very beau­ti­ful, but instead it is com­plete­ly lit­tered with rub­bish,” writes one user. How­ev­er, the rapid growth of debris is a symp­tom of a larg­er prob­lem. With no water fil­tra­tion sys­tem, peo­ple in Sihanouk rely on bot­tled water to sur­vive — 4 mil­lion Cam­bo­di­ans have no access to safe water.

Poche Beach, California

In its annu­al sur­vey of over 450 Cal­i­for­nia beach­es, the non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion Heal the Bay named Poche Beach’s ocean front the most pol­lut­ed stretch of sand in Cal­i­for­nia this year. Last year, heavy win­ter rain caused an influx of waste con­tain­ing fer­til­iz­ers, met­als and auto­mo­tive flu­ids, and oth­er pol­lu­tants that flowed down into the ocean.

Cheung Sha beach

Over the past few years, Hong Kong’s beach­es have been dev­as­tat­ed by debris and oil spills. While a mas­sive influx of garbage from main­land Chi­na is sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly destroy­ing the coast, the August 2017 palm oil spill left more than 90 tons of waste frozen on the sand. Based on Tri­pAd­vi­sor reviews, Che­ung Sha Beach is the longest in Hong Kong and one of the dirt­i­est. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, Asia is also home to most of the dirt­i­est rivers in the world.

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Hann Bay, Senegal

Once known for its miles of pris­tine white sand beach­es, today Hann Bay is one of the most pol­lut­ed water­ways in Sene­gal. Since Hann Bay is locat­ed near the indus­tri­al port of Dakar, sewage from food and chem­i­cal com­pa­nies, slaugh­ter­hous­es and oth­er fac­to­ries reg­u­lar­ly flows into the bay.

States Beach, England

Named one of the most dan­ger­ous beach­es in the world, States Beach con­sis­tent­ly falls short of Euro­pean Union clean­li­ness stan­dards. As of 2016, it is no longer con­sid­ered a bathing area, which means extreme­ly high lev­els of pol­lu­tion. As a pop­u­lar surf spot, this beach is sub­ject to sewage pol­lu­tion dur­ing peri­ods of heavy rain.

Parley Beach, Canada

An aging sew­er sys­tem is a like­ly cul­prit in pol­lu­tion at Par­ley Beach in the Cana­di­an state of New Brunswick. Last sum­mer, lev­els of fecal bac­te­ria were so high that New Brunswick issued no-swim­ming infor­ma­tion for eight days of the sea­son.

Forshore Beach, Sydney

Locat­ed between the Syd­ney air­port and the port, For­shore Beach has been repeat­ed­ly rec­og­nized as the dirt­i­est beach in New South Wales. The beach is very sen­si­tive to fae­cal con­t­a­m­i­na­tion, when the amount of microbes in the water makes it unswim­ma­ble. In 2014, For­shore was briefly closed to the pub­lic when the water mys­te­ri­ous­ly turned orange. How­ev­er, the iron-rich, bright­ly col­ored plume has been rec­og­nized as non-tox­ic by the New South Wales Envi­ron­men­tal Author­i­ties.

In con­tin­u­a­tion, read also about the most pol­lut­ed places on Earth, which are ded­i­cat­ed to a sep­a­rate selec­tion on Life­Globe.