The Cleanest and Dirtiest Beaches in the US

When you go to the beach, you don’t want to look at mounds of trash or smell mildew and rotting food. You want to look at the pretty white sand, the bobbing surf, and the blue horizon, and you want to smell the ocean-or maybe a barbecue or a seafood restaurant somewhere else on the beach. However, not all beaches provide the kind of idyllic environment you’ve dreamed of for your vacation.

You don’t want to go to a dirty beach. Not only does it look and smell disgusting, but it poses a pretty hefty health risk too. The contaminated water could cause serious illnesses, and you don’t want that for you or your family. Take a look at the list below to know which beaches to visit and which to avoid.

The 5 Dirtiest Beaches in the US

Want a beach vacation? Stay as far away from these beaches as you possibly can:

1. Doheny State Beach, CA

This popular surfing spot comes with a lot of health risks. Even with the tide creating a constant flow of water, the water at Doheny State Beach regularly exceeds California’s maximum bacteria limit. So if you come here to catch a few waves, you’ll probably catch something extra as well.

2. Ontario Beach, NY

This beach also has a significant bacteria problem, so if you decide to visit, don’t play in the water. Amuse yourself and your family by visiting other attractions in the area, like a menagerie.

3. Beachwood Beach, NJ

When nearly a third of water samples come back filled with unsafe levels of bacteria, you know you have a dirty beach. Trash, pollution, and human and animal waste all contribute to the bacteria levels on this beach. Find a vacation spot elsewhere if you want to stay healthy-or at least stay out of the water.

4. South Shore Beach, WI

Although this location has a vintage bathhouse from the 1930’s, you should probably avoid the area. An abundance of waterfowl and the usual concentration of human trash and waste make this beach one of the most contaminated in the country, with nearly 40% of samples coming back with unsafe levels of bacteria.

5. Cowell Beach, CA

Although researchers and city officials have made efforts to clean up this beach, Cowell Beach earned the title of California’s most polluted beach in 2014. Contaminated storm drains and human waste are the main contributors to Cowell Beach’s pollution problem.

The 5 Cleanest Beaches in the US

You don’t have to give up your dreams of a beach vacation just because a few beaches don’t have great sanitation. The US has many beaches where you can surf and sunbathe without worrying about catching a strange disease.

Visit any one of these beaches if you’d like to have some fun in the sun:

1. Gulf Shores Public Beach, AL

For wide, clean beaches, clean water, and a spectacular view, visit this beach. You won’t have any trouble accessing it either there’s plenty of trails and parking. The locals and visitors just take very good care of it.

2. Ocean City Beach 6, MD

Visit Ocean City in Maryland to enjoy more clean beaches and water. Volunteers and companies frequently work to keep this beach clean.

3. Bolsa Chica Beach, CA

If you want to go to a beach in California and avoid contaminated beaches like the ones listed above, you can always go to Bolsa Chica Beach. Not only will you enjoy the cleanliness, but you can go surf fishing for all kinds of wildlife as well. And despite the wildlife, this beach is still completely safe.

4. San Clemente State Beach, CA

Catch some waves in clean water by visiting this beach. You won’t have to deal with very many rocks or trash either, making this beach ideal for many relaxing activities.

5. Wallis Sands Beach, NH

Come for a swim in these clear waters, and enjoy views of islands and clean, sandy beaches. Your family can safely play in the water here without fear of catching any weird diseases.

The Secret to Keeping Beaches Clean

Want to keep your favorite beaches clean (or clean up your local beach)? Use these tips:

• When you visit, only take recyclable materials, and pick up after yourself and your pets (including feces).

• Take a day to round up volunteers and pick up trash/rocks/debris on the beach.

• Support beach restoration programs.

• Petition your city to hire a cleaning service. The services should include trash removal and street sweeping. Trash removal will remove trash from the beach itself, but street sweeping will remove trash from the areas around the beach, ensuring that people, animals, wind, or high tide will not sweep the trash onto the beach or into the water. It’s important to clean all these areas.

If you use these tips, you could turn your local or favorite beach into a top vacation destination in no time. Just make sure you clean around the beach in addition to on the beach. Happy sunbathing!