7 beaches you should avoid Not every beach can be a postcard. As these renowned spots prove
There are thousands of fantastic beaches in the world, but the ones below have less than appealing reputations. Here’s why:
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1. Surliness: Blackpool, England
Despite its soggy climate, Britain has a number of idyllic beaches. Blackpool isn’t one of them.
Patrons of the Lancashire resort town don’t have a great reputation for refinement or moderate alcohol intake. The result is sometimes an atmosphere that can be heavy with an undercurrent of stress.
Most of the bother occurs in the bars and on the streets late at night, but even on sunny days self-preservation might have to take precedence over self-indulgence on the beach.
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2. Seediness: Pattaya, Thailand
About 150 kilometers southeast of Bangkok, Pattaya came to prominence as a favored venue for American GIs seeking a break during the Vietnam War.
Its reputation today is based more on go-go bars and sex shows than its sand and sea offerings.
That said, the beer-bar culture is more subdued and the sex industry less evident than in years gone by –- families can avoid the “entertainment” district of this city of 800,000 people by staying in nearby Jomtien.
The beaches are lackluster by Thailand’s impressive standards and the shoreline is packed with unremarkable hotels and restaurants. Throw into the mix the common sight of countless fat old gents promenading along the beaches with their “girlfriends” in tow and you have a recipe for an experience that can challenge to uplift.
Deck chairs and umbrella concessions dominate beach space in both Pattaya and Jomtien, so those wishing to enjoy the sun, sand and water for free are forced to cram into small areas of beach between — a frequent complaint from tourists that local government officials say they are trying to solve.
Local efforts to convert Pattaya into more of a family-friendly destination continue. The city’s international marketing efforts have led to an influx in the number of visitors from non-traditional tourism markets.
With all the criticism it cops, Pattaya appears to be on the cusp of change again, but becoming a true family-friendly holiday spot is still some considerable time away and requires further aggressive action by local government and authorities.
Additional reporting by John Le Fevre
More on CNNGo: The challenges facing Pattaya
3. Overcrowding: Xinghai Beach, China
China’s entire population of 1.3 billion doesn’t descend on Xinghai Beach every sunny weekend. It just feels that way.
The beach, near the port of Dalian, isn’t only popular with domestic tourists — its convenient location in the northeast of the country makes it a favored destination for Koreans, Japanese and even Russians.
The upshot of all this is that by week the beach is a pretty stretch of sand, but on weekends it is almost impossible to discern the granules through the scrum of humanity.
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4. Pollution: Doheny Beach, California, United States
For a state synonymous with sun, sea and sand, California has suffered a less than flattering track record when it comes to keeping its beaches clean.
With more than 1,000 miles of beaches and more than 100 beach cities and towns, the state is home to some of the best but also some of the most polluted stretches of sand in the United States.
Traditionally one of the worst offenders is Doheny State Beach in Orange County.
Its reputation stems from annual pollution grades by environmental groups that ranked the popular surfing beach the most polluted in the state for three years straight in the early 2000s. It fared not much better in 2008.
Whereas a safe beach has less than 10 percent of samples exceeding national health bacterial standards for things like enterococcus, total and fecal coliform, Doheny has recorded levels in excess of 90 percent in the past.
Efforts to sort out the pollution issue continue.
A multi-million-dollar pilot program to identify sources of pollution in the state began in 2011.
But other monitoring programs have suffered in the wake of California’s budget crisis.
The most recent Beach Report Card from environmental group Heal the Bay described the water quality across California as coming during one of the cleanest summers on record. It ranked water quality at beaches in Orange County this past summer just slightly lower than in 2010, but still excellent overall with 94 percent of beaches receiving an A grade.
“The historically poor water quality at Doheny Beach near Dana Point (North Beach) improved from last year by jumping from a C grade up to an A grade this summer. Other Doheny Beach monitoring locations just south of North Beach continue to earn poor grades,” the report stated. Link here (PDF)
The group issued several bacterial level alerts for Doheny this year.
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5. Rubbish: Kamilo Beach, Hawaii, United States
Hawaii’s plastic beach suffers from a nasty mutation of geography and man-made waste.
A world away from the hula dancing and surf parties of popular renown, this scraggy stretch of shoreline is a repository for washed-up consumer waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a giant patch of floating debris from around the world. Read more from CNN.
The accumulated trash that covers the beach consists of 90 percent plastic. The smaller pieces of debris — pellets broken down from larger plastic items — are referred to as “plastic sand” and now sadly exceed the volume of the beach’s natural sand.
There have been multiple clean-up efforts and these continue. But the crux of the problem lies further out to sea.
So bad has the situation been that often the washed-up debris can grow two to three meters high in some places — enough to drive you to a pub in Blackpool.
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6. Noise: Maho Beach, St. Maarten, Dutch Antilles
In many ways Maho is the very definition of a paradise beach.
Its white sands lap down gently to tepid, azure Caribbean waters while its selection of beach bars and restaurants offer holiday makers the opportunity to gaze out to the horizon while nursing a cocktail and attending to a plate of fresh seafood.
What makes it about as idyllic as a thrash-metal festival, however, is the fact that an international airport lies directly behind it.
Due to a rather short runway, aircraft have to use its full length when taking off or landing, meaning that they fly over the beach at minimal altitude.
While the first few landings prove quite the thrill, forget about a day on the beach of peaceful lolling about.
Do a search on YouTube for the complete audio visual experience.
7. Species clashes: Calangute Beach Goa, India
Calangute Beach is ugly on so many levels it’s hard to know which is worst.
Whereas many of the beaches in Goa have retained their charm, the dread hand of mass tourism has subsumed its longest stretch of sand.
The consequences include an overcrowded beach, pushy vendors and characterless hotels. A hippy-trippy love fest it decidedly is not.
For many, however, the kicker, and perhaps the appeal, is the animal life on the beach, a contingent of holy cows whose spiritual significance gives them the freedom to roam as they see fit.
Less attractive are the local dogs of indeterminate provenance who are allowed to believe the beach is as much theirs as yours.
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