10 Most Dangerous Waters in the World
All over the world, there are amazing lakes, waterfalls, and bodies of water that amaze people. Tourists travel across the globe to glimpse the likes of Niagara Falls in Canada or swim in Montego Bay in Jamaica. While these water attractions are well worth visiting, there are also bodies of water that are treacherous. The most dangerous waters in the world are not for the faint-hearted or those who struggle in the water.
These bodies of water are not worth the risk for a swim. Some lakes are famous for rough waters, high waves, and dangerous sharks while renowned rivers and oceans are susceptible to kidnappings and armed robbery. Other bodies of water contain radioactive waste or toxic chemicals that make them unsafe for taking a dip. These stunning but dangerous bodies of water will leave you breathless, as long as you don’t jump into them. Let’s journey across the world and discover some of the most gorgeous bodies of water we should all avoid.
1. Lake Kivu, Africa
Don’t let Lake Kivu’s stunning beauty and gorgeous surroundings fool you. Lake Kivu is one of the most dangerous lakes in the world. As one of the African Great lakes, the river flows between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Scientists assumed the lake was harmless for years, but new evidence revealed it’s a deadly body of water.
Due to connections with a volcanic hot spring, the lake consists of carbon dioxide and methane. The large amounts of gas can cause limnic eruptions. Scientists speculate the interactions with volcanic activity could heat the water, pushing the methane up and triggering an explosion. The carbon dioxide would then travel through the air for miles, harming anyone close to the river.
2. The Great Blue Hole, Belize
The Great Blue Hole is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the ocean. While it’s a hot spot for scuba divers, it’s also one of the most dangerous waters. The Great Blue Hole is just off the coast of Belize near the Lighthouse Reef. It’s a circular shape that’s roughly 407 feet deep and over 1,000 feet wide. The Blue Hole features a system of caves indicating it was once above sea level.
Shifts occurred on the Earth between 153,000 and 15,000 years ago causing sea levels to rise and fill the now vertical caves. The Caribbean reef shark and midnight parrotfish populate the area, however, the hole becomes dark with no signs of life due to a thick layer of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) around 300 feet below the surface. Anything that enters this area will die due to the amount of H2S in the water.
An expedition to the site discovered the dead bodies of two divers who disappeared in the Great Blue Hole many years earlier. It’s one of the most dangerous yet awe-inspiring places on the planet that should only be visited with tour guides present.
3. Shark Alley, South Africa
Shark Alley is a narrow channel between Geyser Rock and Dyer Island, a few miles from the famous fishing town of Gansbaai in South Africa. The rough waters are home to many sea creatures, fur seals, and other water birds, but it would be unwise to dive into these waters unprotected due to the many great white sharks that occupy Shark Alley.
The best way to experience this channel is via cage diving, which is the second biggest tourist attraction in South Africa after Kruger National Park. With the protection of a cage, you can dive deep into Shark Alley and get up close and personal with a ferocious great white shark without fearing for your safety.
4. Drake Passage, Chile
One of the most dangerous bodies of water, Drake Passage, sits between South America’s Cape Horn, Chile, and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. Named after explorer Sir Francis Drake, the narrow icy channel is a treacherous voyage against immensely powerful waves and rough waters.
Due to a lack of nearby land, the waves often reach heights of 40 feet. The water is full of blue whales, humpback whales, Hector’s beaked whales, and hourglass dolphins, which can cause havoc for passing boats. Cruise ships travel down the Drake Passage regularly, although the seas can be very rough and not pleasant.
5. The Gulf of Guinea, West Africa
High waves and rough seas aren’t the only dangers in the water. The Gulf of Guinea in West Africa is notorious for its high crime rate. The Gulf of Guinea stretches from Cape Lopez in the North to Cape Palmas in the West. It’s one of the most famous parts of the Atlantic Ocean and features the Prime Meridian and Equator intersection. It runs through a series of islands, making it a prime target for illegal activities.
The area is a hotbed for piracy and armed robberies. Oil thieves also populate the waters and attack vessels to rob them of the oil to sell on the international black market, better known as illegal oil bunkering. Kidnappings and ransom make up the majority of the crimes in the Gulf of Guinea. Kidnappings of crew members increased between 2018 and 2019, while other crimes in the Gulf of Guinea include illegal fishing and drug trafficking.
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6. Lake Karachay, Russia
Located in Ozyorsk, Russia, Lake Karachay is the most radioactive site on Earth. The small lake once sat in the Ural Mountains, near the Mayak Production Association. The Soviet Union built the secret facility to create a nuclear program on par with the United States after they dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In 1951, the Soviet Union began dumping radioactive nuclear materials into Lake Karachay after running out of space under Mayak. The plan was to return the nuclear material to Mayak eventually, but the Soviets abandoned that plan when Karachay became radioactive.
The underground facility exploded in 1957, causing the Kyshtym disaster. In 1968, the lake dried out due to a drought causing radioactive dust to drift into several areas, with the government filling the lake with blocks, rocks, and soil in 1978 to stop the further spread of radioactive material.
7. Potomac River, United States
Flowing from the Potomac Highlands to the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River is one of the largest rivers on the East Coast. The 405-mile-long river stretches from West Virginia to Maryland. Researchers speculate the river is roughly 3.5 million years old and possibly older.
At certain points, the river is calm, serene, and relaxing, but it is also full of wild rapids and intense waves, making the Potomac River highly dangerous at times. While it’s one of the most famous rivers in America, it can also be a thrilling adventure and risk for white water rafters, with several people losing their lives on the river over the years.
8. Bolton Strid, River Wharfe, England
England is famous for historic landmarks from Buckingham Palace to the Tower of London. It’s also home to Bolton Strid in the River Wharfe which might be the most dangerous location in the U.K. Starting in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the River Wharfe runs through several small towns and forms the boundary between North Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.
For the most part, the river is calm and relaxing as it flows through the country. That is until it reaches the Bolton Strid. The Strid is the most dangerous portion of the river and features hazardous rapids and intense waterfalls in a narrow channel cut into the sandstone. As The New York Times discussed in an article about the river, locals claim that 100% of the people who have fallen into the Bolton Strid never made it out alive.
9. Singapore Strait, Singapore
Dating back to before the 9th century, the Singapore Strait has always been a vital body of water. It remains a key strait for trade and merchants. Stretching for 70 miles, the Singapore Strait travels between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca. It provides passage between several islands ending at the Port of Singapore.
It’s one of the busiest waters, with roughly 2,000 merchant ships making the trip up and down the strait. This means pirates and robbers often target merchant ships along this patch of water. In 2022, there were 41 reported incidents of robbery and piracy on the Singapore Strait, making it one of the most dangerous bodies of water in the world.
10. Lake Michigan, United States
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes located in North America. It is unique because it’s the only great lake that is entirely located in the United States. America shares the other great lakes with its neighbor Canada. Stretching throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, Lake Michigan is the deadliest of the Great Lakes.
The massive lake has a reputation for producing intense and giant waves. During storms, the waves reach even greater heights and strength. The waters are freezing in the winter and anyone who happens to fall into the lake has a high chance of drowning or suffering from hyperthermia. Lake Michigan is also famous for its large number of shipwrecks, with many vessels coming to an end in the rough waters over the centuries.
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