When you’re making up your list of vacation destinations for the summer and early fall, your travel agency isn’t going to tell you that you are headed to the dirtier, more overrun beach and that the nicer beach is just another mile or two down the shore. The truth is, many of the famous beaches you’re planning to hit are likely the same beaches that have already been ruined by hordes of tourists over the years. It’s no one’s fault; the beaches were nice and you can’t blame anyone who wanted to go and visit them. For some of the beaches, though, it’s time to stay away and let them recoup. Here are 4 of the beaches you should count out on your next trip and some ideas for better ones to visit instead.
- Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This bay is notoriously polluted, a fact that was a heavy topic for discussion during the 2016 Olympics in Rio, when the sailing and rowing athletes had to go out into the water to compete.
The bay is one of the world’s most densely populated areas, where roughly 16 million people reside. Many of the neighborhoods in the area lack proper sanitation, which means the water is full of disease-causing microorganisms and raw sewage. The water is also littered with trash and is said to cause skin irritations and stomach ailments.
The truth is Rio de Janeiro is known for its many Atlantic-facing beaches, but if you want one that more on the lesser-known scale and still beautiful, try Prainha Beach. This beach is a quieter one with great views of rainforest-covered mountains in the background. The shore is secluded aside from some surfers you might see and some food kiosks set up along the coastline.
- Cozumel Beaches, Mexico
Cozumel is one of the most popular cruise ship destinations in the world. However, because it is so well-known, it has been reported that the waters are heating up because of the constant cruise ship activity. This is damaging to the area’s coral reefs, not to mention the constant barrage of tourists causes pollution and brings further development to the area, which is also putting a strain on the reefs.
Instead of taking the ferry to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen, consider going a different route. You can take a 43-minute drive from Playa del Carmen instead, down to Caleta Tankah, Tulum. The entrance to the beach isn’t easy to see, but once you find it, you’ll take a short drive down to the beach and pay $150 pesos to enter. That includes access to the beach club, and there are restaurants and beverages available as well. The fresh and saltwater collide in this area, which makes the water even prettier. There is a freshwater sinkhole there, as well, where you can dive!
- Haina Beach, Dominican Republic
While the Dominican Republic itself is a Caribbean paradise, some of its beaches are best avoided. Take, for example, Haina Beach. This beach has alarming levels of lead in the sand and soil thanks to improper recycling of car batteries. The local populations has one of the highest incidents of lead poisoning in the world, and that’s no coincidence.
Instead of visiting Haina Beach, try going to Playa Rincón. It’s a picture-perfect white sand beach like you’d see in a postcard of the Caribbean. It is undeveloped and remote, and the perfect quiet getaway from the popular shores of Punta Cana where most of your fellow travelers would be hanging out. Playa Rincón is located on the Samana Peninsula, and you can reach it by taking a 30-minute boat ride from Las Galeras, or via a 30-minute drive. The road is paved and in good condition, and you can reach the beach in most vehicle types.
- Carpayo Beach, Peru
Carpayo Beach is Latin America’s dirtiest beach, and while there are lots of reasons to visit the intriguing and beautiful country of Peru, this beach is not one of them. Refuse is often found on the beach even the day after it’s all been cleaned up. It usually includes things like furniture, auto parts and windows. Most of this is due to recent construction in Lima. Volunteers have been cleaning an average of 6.2 pounds of waste per square meter, only to find it has returned the net day.
When visiting Peru, the best beach to visit instead would be Playa Roja, or Red Beach. It is about four hours south of Lima and tucked away in the Paracas National Reserve. It is remote, has red sand (hence the name), and offers the potential for seeing natural wildlife like dolphins and whales!