Top 5: Worst Beaches in The World for Plastic Pollution

Mass tourism, irresponsible consumption and poorly planned infrastructure are putting our beaches in danger! See below for a list of the TOP 5 DIRTIEST beaches in the world to avoid when you travel.


1. Kamilo Beach, Big Island, Hawaii, USA



Popularly known as “Trash Beach”, Kamilo Beach on Hawaii’s big island appears on every list for world’s dirtiest beaches. It’s located in the backyard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the North Pacific Gyre (we learned about in THIS article), which continuously dumps trash from around the world on Kamilo’s shores.

90% of the trash on Kamilo is plastic![1]


2. Haina Beach, Dominican Republic


Eduardo Muñoz Ordoqui


In addition to the plastic pollution, beach-goers need be wary of lead poisoning in the sand and soil as well as industrial waste flowing down the rivers. Haina Beach is commonly referred to as the “Dominican Chernobyl” for having the highest incidents of lead poisoning in the world from an illegal lead-acid car battery recycling smelter. Beyond the lead, high quantities of formaldehyde, ammonium and sulfuric acid are emitted from manufacturing plants, power plants and oil refineries in the area.[1]

While the Dominican Republic is a beautiful place to visit with many areas to help protect and watch nesting sea turtles, avoid Haina on your next visit and spread awareness to help citizens advocate for basic rights to clean air and clean water!


3. Juhu Beach, Mumbai, India


Ganeshe Vanare


Plastic pollution is a major issue in India where waste management infrastructure is less established than in Europe and North America. It is not uncommon to see burning plastic pyres along the side of the road, posing a significant public health concern.

GOOD NEWS: Beginning with legislature banning plastic in the country’s capital, New Delhi, India has now pledged to be single-use plastic free by 2022! Mumbai implemented a plastic ban on June 23, 2018, and within a week they had already collected $5,800 in fines.[2]  


4. Freedom Island, Manila, Philippines 


Daniel Müller/Greenpeace 


The Philippines is the third largest contributor to plastic pollution in the ocean. Based on a recent audit by Greenpeace, the primary pollutant on this beach near downtown Manila is plastic packaging from small sachets of food and personal care products.[3] This is a common issue in low-income countries, where people can’t afford to purchase larger portions and where small plastic packages are made cheap and accessible.

Nestle and Unilever are two of the biggest culprits responsible for creating the packaging found littered on Manila’s beaches. 


5. Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia


EPA Victoria


More than 300 drains empty out into Port Phillip Bay![4] Due to a series of poor infrastructure design choices for sewage and stormwater management in Melbourne, Port Phillip Bay now accepts drainage from ten municipalities. Heavy rainfall floods the system, releasing sewage and bacteria into the bay where the local EPA commonly detects unsafe water quality. High levels of faecal matter pose public health concerns as there is a 5-10% risk of infection and illness.[5] In addition, authorities estimate that 800 million pieces of plastic (74% of which are microplastics) are washed down river into the bay every year.[6]

Definitely avoid swimming in Port Phillip and recognize that a combined sewer overflow (CSO) system poses both environmental and public health concerns! We have a CSO system in place here in New York and citizen science measurements organized by the Riverkeeper demonstrate that there are high levels of faecal matter in the waterways surrounding NYC after heavy rainfall.



We don't need to sit idly by as we destroy our home...


TAKE ACTION: Be an ocean hero.

  1. Take the survey to help inform future educational campaigns and put your ocean hero skills to the test on Questions 3&4!
  2. Reduce your own single-use plastic consumption.
    1. Check out our Solgaard Sustainability Tips.
  3. Organize a beach cleanup near you.
    1. Remember to collect cigarette butts separately, and reach out to TerraCycle for free shipping labels for sending them in.
  4. Keep the pressure on corporations like Nestle & Unilever to honor the commitment they made to reduce plastic in their packaging by signing WRAP's Courtauild Commitment 2025.
    1. Sign the Greenpeace campaign.
  5. Spread awareness. As always, spreading awareness of an issue helps increase public attention and policy-makers will be more likely to respond. Share this article via your channels and teach your network how to be more harmonious humans!! <3