We all want more adventure in our lives. New journeys take us to places we might only have dreamt of otherwise. But the world is as exciting as it is scary. Just because you can go someplace doesn’t always mean you should. That’s the tricky thing about adventure—knowing when to take a risk and when to step back and retreat to safety.
Lakes, oceans, and rivers are some of those uncharted territories where you’ve got to use your best judgment. A beach with hundreds of swimmers is probably safe. An isolated lake where no one’s around for miles? Maybe not. Even if the water is warm and crystal clear, be careful if you see a caution sign. It’s probably there for a reason. Remember, appearances can be deceiving.
Here’s our list of the Top 10 Places You Should Never Go Swimming.
- BOILING LAKE
Is a lake so hot it boils? It’s not your imagination, it’s Boiling Lake. Situated in the Caribbean island of Dominica, this lake’s temperature gets as high as 197 degrees F. Touching it is like putting your hand in a pot of boiling water. Actually, it’s not even a lake at all. It’s a hole in the Earth’s crust that’s been filled with rainwater and stream runoff. Beautiful but dangerous.
- LAKE VOSTOK
Searching for an icy lake in Antarctica sounds like an exciting adventure, but chances of survival are slim to none. Lake Vostok sits beneath miles of ice, so even if you find the right spot, you won’t be able to reach its waters. That takes a team of scientists, and even they have problems. The water can reach up to –128 degrees F. Good luck swimming in that!
- THE AMAZON BASIN
Technically, South America’s Amazon Basin isn’t exactly a lake. It’s drainage from the Amazon River and its tributaries. Crisp blue water makes it tempting to swim in, but there’s one big reason not to—candiru. Also called toothpick fish, these tiny creatures can get inside your body and make you sick. Like, really sick. And you’ll never even see them coming. Best to just stay away.
- MOUNT RAINIER CRATER LAKE
You won’t be able to see Mount Rainier’s crater lake from a distance. To view Washington’svolcanic lake, you’ll have to travel through a series of caverns filled with dangerous gases like sulfur dioxide. If you actually manage to reach the lake in one piece, you’ll be met with layers of snow and ice covering the water. Let’s leave this one to the scientists.
- LAGUNA CALIENTE
Laguna Caliente, situated in the Poás Volcano in central Costa Rica, is one of the most beautiful lakes on Earth, and one of the most deadly. Dip your toe into its waters and you might not get it back. The reason? Poas is still an active volcano, and its lake is as acidic as a car battery because of it. Authorities often block it off so people can’t even get close. Better safe than sorry.
- NYRIRAGONGO CRATER'S LAVA LAKE
This is one of those lakes that can roast a hot dog from a hundred yards away. Get too close, and it’ll roast you just as easily. Nyiragongo Crater's lava lake sits deep inside Mount Nyiragongo, a very active volcano in the Virunga Mountains of Africa. You can’t even get close to it without feeling the intense heat. This is one lake you want to skip.
- QUILOTOA CRATER LAKE
Quilotoa crater lake, located in Ecuador, is one of the more unusual lakes on this list. It’s dangerous for a variety of reasons, one of which is altitude sickness. This lake sits 12,500 feet above sea level. Many people who make the trek find themselves getting dizzy. The water itself is also highly acidic and quite cold. You can go boating on it, but swimming is a big no-no. Our verdict? Approach with caution.
- LAKE KARACHAY
This small but beautiful lake in Russia used to be a great swimming hole until it became a nuclear dumpsite. That’s right, Lake Karachay is radioactive. Take a swim in it, and you won’t live to tell the tale. Less than an hour in its waters is enough to do serious damage. The lake is so dangerous that they finally filled it in with cement blocks. Play it safe on this one, keep away.
- LAKE MONOUN
Lake Monoun in the Oku Volcanic Field in Cameroon is deceptive. It looks beautiful and serene, but it can explode at any second. Literally. Ever hear of limnic eruption? It’s when a pocket of toxic gas builds up in the water and then explodes. When this happens, it can and will kill anyone standing too close. Lake Monoun erupted in 1984 and again in 1986. When will it go again?
- BERKELEY PIT
The Berkeley Pit in Montana used to be a copper mine, which explains the strange contaminants found in its waters that make swimming here impossible. Arsenic and lead are two of the biggest offenders. Not only that, but the water is so acidic it can actually burn your internal organs. One mouthful is all it takes. Our advice? Keep your distance.
So what do you think? Would you risk your life for the sake of a dip? Remember, the explorer who makes it out of their adventure alive gets to explore again another day. Not everything in life has to be dangerous just to be fun. Take a look at the waters we’ve mentioned here if you must just make sure you stay far enough back to keep from getting hurt. These ten sites are special cases were standing on the shores is just as dazzling as going into the water.
Wherever your next trip leads you, make sure to mark it on a Newverest Trek Scratcher. It’s the interactive way to keep your memories alive and plan out your next journey. Never forget where you’ve been, and always look forward to the places you’ve still yet to go.