The Beach Named One Of The Most Dangerous In The Caribbean

No one wants to think about shark attacks while on vacation, but if you're hitting up a beach destination, the chances are it might cross your mind. In some parts of the world, there's no reason to worry. In other areas, the worry is legitimate. It certainly is if you're visiting one of the world's most dangerous places to swim. Some beaches, like Ocean Beach in California, are deadly for their powerful rip currents, while others are dangerous because of shark infestations.

While shark attacks are a reality, they're not something that should cause you undue anxiety. According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, the odds of being attacked by a shark are one in 3.7 million. Nevertheless, shark attacks remain high in public discourse because they're such a shocking thing, and part of ocean folklore, thanks to movies like "Jaws" and "The Shallows." But just because the odds of an attack are slim doesn't mean they're impossible. This is certainly the case for West End on Grand Bahama Island, the most dangerous beach in the Caribbean, according to Oyster.

West End is shark infested

It's no casual thing to enter the waters on Grand Bahama Island's West End. There are several different kinds of sharks that frequent the area, including tiger sharks, bull sharks, hammerhead sharks, lemon sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks, and nurse sharks. In 2023, a tourist from the United States was bitten at West End while fishing. In fact, Grand Bahama Island itself has lots of sharks. In June 2023, Heidi Ernst, an experienced scuba diver, lost her leg after a shark bit her. "There was blood everywhere," she told The Gazette. "I was dying. I was going to bleed to death. I was afraid I was going to die and was in severe pain." Ernst knew that she wouldn't be able to save her leg.

In fact, there are so many sharks near West End that tourists can go cage diving in the area to experience close-up encounters with sharks. With this in mind, it's safe to say that West End might be a riskier spot for swimmers. 

It's worth noting that West End's reputation is relegated to the Caribbean, and doesn't have the dark legacy of Réunion Island on the Indian Ocean. The area has become so hazardous due to shark attacks that swimmers and surfers are simply not allowed to enter the water unless they're in a designated protected area.

How to stay safe when swimming in known shark areas

After a swimmer died in the Bahamas in September 2022, many tourists wanted to know how to stay safe while still enjoying this area of the Caribbean. WESH 2 News contacted shark expert Dr. Gavin Naylor of the University of Florida. "There have been more shark bites on humans than anywhere else in the Caribbean, but that's largely because the Bahamas are a tourist destination," Naylor told the news outlet. "There are millions of people swimming and snorkeling, and it's an area where there are a lot of tropical sharks."

Naylor noted that shark attacks are rare, and frequently an issue of poor visibility. To stay safe while swimming in areas like West End, don't swim at dawn or dusk. Certainly don't go swimming if you've seen sharks in the water; you can't assume that they're safe. Don't wear shimmering jewelry or anything else that would glint and sparkle. Don't swim with pets, who move erratically in the water, drawing a shark's attention. Avoid swimming in murky water and if you see a shark, get out of the water as calmly as possible. Follow all markings on the beach and adhere to lifeguard warnings.