Places You Should NEVER Swim

You can probably think of lots of places that are great for swimming. Pools, the beach, or even comically small inflatable pools. But in this article, I’m going to tell you about twenty places where you should absolutely, under no circumstances, ever, swim. Why? Because I’m trying to keep you safe. Also, they’re super weird and interesting.

20. Lake Karachay

©Александр Пушкин

Lake Karachay, a lake in the southern Ural mountains in central Russia, has been called the most polluted place on earth. During the 50s, when the Soviet Union didn’t really care that much about being super safe with how they dealt with their nuclear waste, some of it was just dumped into this lake. Some parts of the lake are so irradiated that they would kill you in an hour if you stuck around. The Russian government has begun filling up the lake with concrete.


If you still want to go swim there even after hearing this, you better get there while you still have the chance.

19. The Ganges River

If you ever find yourself in India looking for a place to swim, you better avoid the Ganges River.


The Ganges has become so polluted due to India’s rapid industrialization, that over six hundred kilometers of it – equivalent to three hundred and seventy-two miles – are ‘ecological dead zones’ where life cannot sustain itself. Try and not let that life be you. Human and industrial waste is pumped into the river at a disturbing rate. In places, the river has over 70 times the safe limit of toxic chemicals and 3000 times the safe amount of fecal coliform.

The Ganges is not only home to a ton of industrial pollution but is also the final resting place for about forty thousand cremated bodies every year. So you’d essentially be swimming in a sort of sludge made partially out of dead people. Overall, research confirms this causes a greater rate of cancer and gastrointestinal disease among people living by the river. Worst of all, since the river is religiously sacred, people disregard the warnings, believing that swimming in it cleanses themselves of past sins.

©Shalu Yadav

18. The Boiling Lake

The Boiling Lake in Dominica is probably what you think it is based off the name – a lake that is straight up boiling all the time.


This is because underneath the water is red hot magma, another thing which, like boiling water, does not sound like it would be fun to touch. While the lake actually looks kind of appealing, like it would just be a nice hot spring, in reality, the water is roughly ninety degrees Celsius, or a hundred and ninety degrees Fahrenheit.

17. Jacob’s Well

©Larry D. Moore

Jacob’s Well in Texas, unlike ‘boiling lake’, sounds like it would be a pretty nice place to swim, actually. And for the most part, it is. The spot is known for its crystal clear water, allowing you to look straight down and see way further then you would in any other lame lake. The dangerous part has to do with the spring’s series of underwater caves and tunnels that lay underneath.


Inexperienced divers who don’t fully understand the risks and specialty equipment needed for cave diving in places like this have underestimated the challenge of Jacob’s Well at their own peril, and there have been eight deaths at the site.

16. The Nile River

The Nile River is dangerous, really? Even though in The Prince of Egypt everyone is just chilling in there and leaving babies around? Yes. In reality, the Nile is full of Nile crocodiles, who use the clouded water to hide from their prey.

©Arturo de Frias Marques

Every year, hundreds of people are attacked by Nile crocodiles in sub-Saharan Africa. For reference, there are only sixteen shark attacks a year in the United  States. So to avoid ending up like a wildebeest on the Discovery channel, you should probably just stay on land.

15. Hanakapiai Beach

©Jeff Kubina

Hanakapiai Beach in Hawaii is absolutely not where you want to go on your vacation. It may look like any other pristine Hawaiian beach where you can go surfing and wear a grass skirt and whatever, but this is a trap. Underneath, there are very strong riptides that have led to eighty confirmed deaths. The beach is so dangerous that there’s even a sign with a death toll marked on it to scare potential swimmers away.

©God of War

14. Bubbly Creek

Bubbly Creek sounds like a pretty nice place. It reminds me of something that would be in Lord of the Rings, but in the Shire, not Mordor. In reality, Bubbly Creek is the worst part of the Chicago River.


The nearby Union stockyard dumped blood, manure, urine, and various body parts into the river for over a hundred years. The bubbles are a result of the decomposing meat, since the river’s other pollution has made sure that there’s little life in the river to decompose things. One study found that the layer of animal remains at the bottom of the creek is three feet thick.

13. Samaesan Hole

via Google Maps

The Samaesan Hole has been described as a “black silty hole of death.” It is the deepest diving site in the Gulf of Thailand, with a depth of two hundred and eighty feet. If you really want to dive into this “black silty hole of death” you’re going to have to deal with strong currents, oil tankers passing through, poor visibility, and Barracuda. The US Navy also used to use the site as an ammunition dump, so there’s always the possibility of bumping into the wrong thing and just blowing yourself up.


12. Eagle’s Nest Sinkhole

©Maurice Rivenbark

If you were to stand next to Eagle’s Nest Sinkhole in Florida, you would probably think that it was just a pond. However, if you were to actually dive down, you would see the shaft that leads to underwater passages, and rooms bigger than football fields.

©National Geographic

The deepest point is three hundred and ten feet below the surface. In 1999 it was actually closed due to 10 deaths. It reopened in 2003 because for some reason people just cannot stop themselves from diving into underwater caves. The caves are home to this now infamous and genuinely spooky sign.


11. Kipu Falls

©Bryce Edwards

While I would like to be able to warn you about the specific dangers of Kipu Falls in Hawaii, it is actually not known what they are. Several people have drowned there, but nobody actually knows why. Witnesses reported people swimming perfectly normally, and then suddenly panicking and going under. Their bodies weren’t seen until they were pulled up from the bottom, dead. Some have blamed the mystic water spirit ‘mo’o’; others speculate that there’s just a whirlpool of some kind.

10. The Amazon Basin


There are so many reasons you shouldn’t go swimming in the Amazon Basin. You’ve got anacondas, which can stay underwater for ten minutes. You’ve got red-bellied Piranhas, which could tear you to shreds. You’ve got electric eels, which can shock you with six hundred volts, which, for reference, is five times stronger than what you get from the standard US wall socket. While you’ve probably heard of those things, you may not have heard of Candiru.


They are tiny fish that swim up your urinal tube. What more reason do you need to never set foot in this water, people.

9. Lake Victoria

©Michael Shade

Lake Victoria in Africa looks like what you would expect a lake to look like. But this is one of the most dangerous bodies of water on the planet, with an average of five thousand deaths every year. Lake Victoria is so deadly because it has its own mini climate which causes the weather to change from pleasant to severe in a very short amount of time. Local people have few options other than to try to make a living fishing on the lake. The unpredictable weather often capsizes boats, leaving them with miles of storm between themselves and the shore.


8. Horseshoe Lake

©Kelley King

It’s not the water itself in Horseshoe Lake, California, that makes it so dangerous. But you’d be able to tell that something was up way before you ever get to the shore because you’d notice that the lake is surrounded by a hundred acres of dead trees.

©Kelley King

A series of earthquakes in 1989 and 1990 caused dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to escape from the earth’s surface and into the air. The area is actually, for the most part, safe. However, the levels of gas can fluctuate without warning, and there have been several asphyxiation fatalities.

7. Rio Tinto


Rio Tinto in Spain at least looks as dangerous as it actually is. The water is blood red due to five thousand years of mining pollution, so hopefully you’ll be scared off before you even dip your toe in. The river is extremely acidic. In fact, is such a strange environment that scientists study it because it is thought to be similar to the conditions on Jupiter’s moon Europa.

6. Gansbaai

©Elizabeth Oliver

Gansbaai, South Africa, didn’t get the nickname ‘Shark Alley’ for nothing. Obviously, you should not be swimming anywhere that is called ‘Shark Alley’ unless you are a crazy person. They have so many sharks there. In fact, it’s become a tourist destination for the only semi-crazy activity of cage diving with the sharks.

©Olga Ernst

If you’re looking for sharks, clearly this is the place to be. While the United States only has .02 shark attacks per every million people, South Africa has .15 per every million.

5. Hoover Dam


You definitely shouldn’t go swimming in any Dams. To begin with, swimming at places like the Hoover Dam is actually a jailable offense, so your swim could end in you getting arrested. But the more serious reason is that there are super strong currents because it isn’t a normal body of water. It’s a body of water that people made to make electricity. Does that sound like a safe place to swim to you?

Just a few months ago, A Welsh tourist, Arron Hughes, was arrested for swimming across the Hoover Dam.

©The Sun

Authorities said he was the only person they knew of that survived such a swim, as others have been sucked into intakes. But there’s other things you can get sucked into as well, like bell-mouth spillways. Don’t these just look like a fun ride.


4. Citarum River

The Citarum River in Indonesia is one of the most polluted rivers in the world.

©Timur Matahari

This is largely because five million people happen to live in its basin, and people tend to produce waste. Imagine what would happen to a river that ran through your room that you’ve been avoiding cleaning for the past year, for instance. Nearby textile factories also consider the river to be a great place to dump large quantities of toxic waste, leading the river to become filed with lead, mercury, arsenic and other toxins.

3. Blue Lagoon

©Ben Priestley

The Blue Lagoon in Buxton, Derbyshire, has a ph level of 11.3, which probably doesn’t mean anything to you unless you’re a chemist. Well, the fact that bleach has a ph level of 12.6 should be a big warning sign. On top of being a body of water that’s closer to being bleach than it is to being something that would come out of a tap, it has an idyllic blue color from caustic chemicals in the surrounding stones. Despite signs warning people of the danger, people could not help themselves from taking a dip in its beautiful waters. It got so bad it had to be dyed black to try to discourage people from swimming in it.

©Rachel Thomas

If you think about it, that’s actually a pretty great idea that a lot of other places on this list could take a note from. The lagoon is also home to abandon cars, dead animals, and human waste. So Yeah, dying it black was a good decision.

2. Reunion Island

©Samuel Hoarau

Reunion Island, a French territory in the Indian Ocean famed for its surfing, has recently become the shark attack capital of the world. Remember back when I said that South Africa had lots of shark attacks because it had .15 attacks per million people? Well, Reunion Island has 8.28 attacks per million people. The island has seen a record number of thirty-nine attacks, nineteen of which were fatal.


While no one exactly knows why the island has become such a hotspot for sharks, it has been speculated that it was due to the creation of a marine reef that attracted more fish – resulting in more food for the sharks.

1. The Strid

©Raymond Fitzpatrick

The Strid in Yorkshire may just be the most picturesque place on this list, and the least threatening looking. It looks like it belongs on a postcard. Unfortunately, it has, in reality, claimed many lives. It reportedly has a one hundred percent fatality rate for those who are unlucky enough to fall in. The Strid features a brutal combination of fast, invisible currents, and underwater rocks for those currents to throw you at.

©Kev Haseldine

Professor Carolyn Roberts, Professor of Environment at Gresham College, London, has stated that “It kills because of its geomorphology – the form of the channel, which is influenced by the nature of the rocks over which it tumbles” and that “Vortices in the flow will trap bodies under the water close to the bed or the sides, whilst the turbulence will render someone unconscious very quickly. It’s not a good place to play.’ Worst of all, because it looks so nonthreatening, you can imagine someone carelessly attempting to jump the river and slipping into the water. Such a mistake is fatal and easily made, given the slippery moss abundant around the rivers bordering rocks.


So now you’ve been warned. Would you still take the risk to take a dip in any of these bodies of water? Let me know what you think in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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