Special Report

America's Most Dangerous Beaches

The United States has enormous stretches of beautiful coastline whose beaches attract millions of visitors every year. Many of these beaches are great for relaxing and enjoying time in the sun, but the ocean can be extremely powerful, and some beaches are particularly prone to rip currents, rough surf, and shark attacks, claiming lives every year. (These are 30 American beaches that may soon disappear.)

To compile a list of America’s most dangerous beaches, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a report on the subject by Travel Lens, a digital travel publication. To find out which beaches in the U.S. present the biggest potential danger to visitors, the site created an index which included three measures – the number of fatalities on American beaches since 2010, the number of shark attacks since 2010, and the number of hurricanes between 1851 and 2020 (sourced from NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory) – weighted equally. Data is as of Jan. 13, 2023.

The 10 most dangerous beaches in the country are all in the Southeast and more than half are in Florida. These beaches are more dangerous partly because they are regularly battered by hurricanes, which turn the ocean deadly by increasing the size and power of waves. Hurricanes particularly affect surfers looking to catch powerful swells. Surfers are also the beachgoers most likely to be attacked by sharks, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Click here to see America’s most dangerous beaches

Sharks are terrifying creatures, but getting bitten by one is unlikely even at the beaches with the highest rates of shark attacks. In 2022, there were only about 100 shark attacks throughout the entire world.  

Rip currents are actually a much bigger threat. These narrow channels of fast-moving water can carry swimmers from near the shore to deeper in the ocean at a rate of up to eight feet a second. Rip currents kill about 100 people per year in the U.S. and thousands more are rescued from them by lifeguards.

Going to the beach can still be a ton of fun but it is important to be informed and vigilant about the risks that could be present. (These are the world’s best beaches according to Tripadvisor.)

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