Skip to main content

Worst Beaches in America in 2023

9 minute read

By WalletGenius Staff

Ah, the beach! Sand between your toes, salt in the air, and the soothing sound of waves crashing onto the shore. For many, the beach is the ultimate destination for rest and relaxation. But what happens when the beach falls short of expectations?

In this article, we will explore the worst beaches in America in 2023. Yes, you read that right. The worst. But don’t worry, even the worst beach can have its own unique charm. So, sit back, grab your sunscreen, and let’s dive into the list of America’s least-loved beaches and why!

Santa Monica Pier, California

The Santa Monica Pier is an iconic landmark in Southern California, attracting millions of visitors each year with its amusement park, restaurants, and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. However, one issue that has plagued the pier in recent years is the large number of seabirds that call the area home. While these birds may be a picturesque addition to the pier’s scenery, they have also become a major problem for visitors and locals alike.

The large number of birds on the pier has led to significant issues with fecal matter, with bird droppings covering much of the area and posing a health risk. The problem has become so severe that the city is working to replace the existing bird deterrent netting, which should take place this summer.

Mark and Anna Photography/Shutterstock

Daytona Beach, Florida

Daytona Beach, Florida, is a quintessential destination for those seeking sun, surf, and sand. The beach stretches for 23 miles and offers a wide range of activities such as swimming, surfing, and jet skiing. The picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean and the stunning sunrises are not to be missed. However, as beautiful as Daytona Beach may seem, it’s considered one of the worst beaches in America in 2023. But why?

One of the reasons for this dubious distinction is the presence of rip currents, which can be extremely dangerous for swimmers. Rip currents are strong, narrow currents that flow away from the beach and can pull even experienced swimmers out to sea. Luckily, the beach uses a color-coded flag system to indicate the current surf conditions. If the rip currents are strong, and you’re an inexperienced swimmer, it’s best to stay out of the water.

Additionally, the area is known for frequent shark sightings, which can be a major concern for beachgoers. Despite efforts to mitigate these risks, shark attacks and drownings have occurred at Daytona Beach, leading to increased caution and restrictions on beach activities. In 2023, the beach remains under constant scrutiny, and visitors are advised to follow all posted warnings and guidelines for their own safety.

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Hanakapiai Beach, Hawaii

Hanakapiai Beach, located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, is known for its picturesque beauty and stunning scenery. However, it’s also known for its treacherous waters and dangerous conditions. The beach is situated in a remote location and is only accessible by hiking an 8-mile trail through the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park. Once you arrive at the beach, you’ll be met with breathtaking views of the ocean and the lush green mountains that surround it. However, it’s important to remember that the beauty of this beach comes at a cost.

Hanakapiai Beach has been the site of many accidents over the years, with numerous drownings and injuries occurring due to the strong currents and powerful waves. In fact, currently, 15 drowning victims have yet to be recovered. The reason the beach is so dangerous is that there is no reef barrier to resist the ocean’s current. This allows the current to hit the shore with full force. While the beach may be tempting to adventurous travelers, it’s crucial to respect the power of the ocean and the potential risks involved.


Coney Island, New York

Coney Island, located in Brooklyn, New York, is a historic beach and amusement park that has been entertaining visitors for over a century. However, the beach has also earned a reputation as one of the worst beaches in the country due to a number of issues, including aging infrastructure and poor water quality.

One of the main concerns facing Coney Island is the aging infrastructure. The beach’s boardwalk and facilities are in need of repair and renovation. Additionally, water quality has been a long-standing issue at Coney Island. The beach has been closed due to high levels of bacteria in the water on multiple occasions. Efforts have been made to improve water quality, but the issue remains a concern for visitors to the beach.

Keep Smiling Photography/Shutterstock

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a popular vacation spot known for its wide, sandy beaches and lively boardwalk. With over 60 miles of coastline, Myrtle Beach offers something for everyone, from family-friendly attractions to world-class golf courses. But despite its many attractions, Myrtle Beach has also earned a spot on the list of worst beaches in America in 2023.

One of the main concerns for visitors to Myrtle Beach is the water quality. The city has struggled with high levels of bacteria in the water, fecal matter to be exact, leading to advisories against swimming and other water activities. This issue has been attributed to a variety of factors, including stormwater runoff and aging infrastructure. The beach is also often overcrowded with tourists, attracting millions of visitors each year. So if you don’t like crowds and noise, you might want to steer clear of this beach!

Kevin Ruck/Shutterstock

Monastery Beach, California

Monastery Beach is known for its stunning views and scenic surroundings, making it a popular destination for visitors. However, despite its natural beauty, Monastery Beach is one of the most dangerous beaches in the country, and swimming is not recommended.

The beach’s steep drop-off and strong currents make it a hazardous location for even experienced swimmers. The water at Monastery Beach can quickly turn dangerous, with sudden surges and waves that can catch swimmers off guard. There have been numerous drownings at the beach over the years, earning it the ominous nickname of Mortuary Beach.

Visitors to Monastery Beach should exercise caution and avoid swimming in the water. Instead, the beach is best enjoyed for its breathtaking views and natural beauty. The beach is a popular spot for picnics, hiking, and beachcombing, with plenty of opportunities for visitors to explore the surrounding area and take in the stunning scenery.

Laurens Hoddenbagh/Shutterstock

South Shore Beach, Wisconsin

South Shore Beach, located on the shores of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is one of the worst beaches in America due to water quality concerns. The beach has consistently failed water quality tests, with high levels of bacteria present in the water. High levels of bacteria in the water can cause a range of illnesses, including gastrointestinal problems, respiratory infections, and skin rashes, making it unsafe for swimming.

In addition to the water quality concerns, South Shore Beach has also been plagued by issues related to beach erosion. The beach has seen significant erosion in recent years, with some estimates suggesting that as much as 40 feet of shoreline have been lost in certain areas. This erosion has made the beach less accessible and less safe for visitors, with steep drop-offs and uneven terrain. The combination of water quality concerns and beach erosion has made South Shore Beach a less-than-ideal destination for those looking to enjoy a day at the beach in Wisconsin.

Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

New Smyrna Beach, located on Florida’s east coast, has the dubious honor of being known as the “shark attack capital of the world.” In fact, the beach has had more reported shark attacks than any other beach in the world. While the chances of being attacked by a shark are still relatively low, the high number of incidents at New Smyrna Beach is certainly a cause for concern.

Experts believe that the high number of shark attacks at New Smyrna Beach is due to the abundance of baitfish that swim near the shore. This attracts large predatory sharks, such as bull and tiger sharks, to the area. Visitors to New Smyrna Beach are advised to exercise caution when swimming, to avoid areas where there are schools of fish or fishing activity, and to be aware of their surroundings at all times.

Sky Cinema/Shutterstock

Ontario Beach, New York

Ontario Beach is located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario in Rochester, New York. While the beach is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, it has faced several issues in recent years that have earned it a spot on the list of worst beaches in America. One of the main concerns facing Ontario Beach is water quality, with high levels of bacteria and pollutants found in the water.

The pollution in the water at Ontario Beach may be largely due to runoff from nearby urban areas, including stormwater runoff and sewage overflow. Nonetheless, the high levels of bacteria in the water can pose a risk to the health of swimmers.


Venice Beach, California

Venice Beach, located in Los Angeles, California, is perhaps one of the most famous beaches in the United States. It has been featured in countless movies, TV shows, and music videos, and has become an iconic symbol of Southern California culture. However, despite its fame and popularity, Venice Beach is also one of the most dangerous beaches in the country.

One of the main concerns for visitors to Venice Beach is the high crime rate. The beach and the surrounding area have long been known for gang violence and drug activity, and visitors are advised to take precautions when visiting the area. In addition, the beach can often be overcrowded.

Michael Dausend/Shutterstock

Kamilo Beach, Hawaii

Kamilo Beach, located on the southeastern coast of the Big Island in Hawaii, has earned the reputation of being one of the most polluted beaches in the world, thanks to its abundance of plastic debris. The beach is located in an area where ocean currents converge, creating a massive floating patch of plastic waste known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This patch is made up of mostly microplastics, which can pose a threat to marine life and the environment.

Despite efforts to clean up the beach, plastic debris continues to wash ashore. The plastics found on the beach range from small fragments to large objects such as fishing nets, which can entangle marine life and cause injury or death. The situation at Kamilo Beach serves as a stark reminder of the growing problem of plastic pollution in our oceans.

Larina Marina/Shutterstock

How to Stay Safe at the Beach

When heading to the beach, it’s important to take steps to ensure your safety while enjoying the sun, sand, and surf. Before you hit the water, be sure to check the beach conditions, including water quality and any current advisories or warnings. It’s also important to pay attention to any posted signs, including those warning of dangerous marine life or rip currents. If you’re not a confident swimmer, consider wearing a life jacket or other floatation device, and be sure to keep a close eye on any children in your group.

While swimming, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and take note of any changes in water conditions or weather. If you find yourself caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you’re out of the current, and then swim back toward the shore. If you see lightning or hear thunder, get out of the water immediately and seek shelter. And, of course, be sure to use sunscreen and reapply regularly to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

By following these tips and staying aware of your surroundings, you can enjoy a safe and fun day at the beach, even at some of the worst beaches in America!


WalletGenius Staff


This article was worked on by a number of the WalletGenius staff, including freelancers, full-time writers, and editors.

See all in Travel