New Smyrna Beach, Florida
In 2007, there were 71 shark attacks on people worldwide, and 32 of them happened in Florida. Luckily for those involved, none of them were fatal--but a lot of them happened at New Smyrna. The beach has already had some attacks this year, including one on an 18-year-old surfer early this month. If New Smyrna stays on track, it could topple its record from 2001: There were 22 shark attacks that swimming season.
Fletcher Cove, Solana Beach, California
The world's most recent fatal shark attack happened here, just north of San Diego. Normally, such a quiet stretch of sand wouldn't make our list, but after a high-profile event like the death of 66-year-old David Martin, we have to include it. We covered the story--and beaches nearby that have since re-opened--on Monday.
Papohaku Beach, Molokai, Hawaii
You won't find sharks here, but you could still end up in trouble. This lengthy and isolated beach is notorious for its currents and shore breaks. The only thing predictable about them is that they always menace swimmers. And as we noted last year, since you're so far off the beaten path at Papohaku, there may not be anyone around to hear your cries for help should things get dicey.
The beaches around Recife prove what many nature lovers would be happy to tell you: Mess with sharks, and you'll end up sorry. For most of its history, this seaside city never dealt with attacks. Then in 1984, a massive port was constructed and destroyed the habitat of native bull sharks. One in three people attacked off the shore of Recife dies of their injuries, and there have been more than a dozen attacks since the 1992. Bonus danger: Recife has more murders than Rio or Sao Paulo.
Nightcliff, Northern Territory, Australia
You may think of jellyfish as a minor inconvenience at the beach, but in Australia, just about every animal can kill you. The box jellyfish, which washes up on shore this time of year, has enough venom to kill--including a six-year-old in November. The critters have a nasty habit too: The calmer the seas and the nicer the weather, the more likely they are to be close to shore--and close to you. And don't think you'll avoid trouble if they're beached. Even joggers have been stung by washed up box jellies.
Hanakapiai Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
Any stretch of sand with a body count on its sign has to make our Killer Beaches list. If said body count can be believed, Hanakapiai has claimed dozens of lives thanks to powerful currents that can sweep swimmers out to sea. The always-reliable Wikipedia reports that the riptides are so strong, the bodies of at least 15 drowning victims have yet to be found. That should have you cooling your heels if you wanna jump in for a refreshing dip after hiking the nearby Kalalau Trail.
· Global Shark Attack Maps and Stats [LAT]
· Shark Attacks Terrorize Brazil [BBC]
· Jellyfish Menace Swimmers [NT News]
· World's Most Dangerous Beaches [Forbes.com]
· Killer Beaches 2007 Map [Jaunted]