After years of dedicated research, we've found that 96.329 percent (±96.329 percent) of people go on vacation just to spend leisure time at the beach, and for good reason; beaches are the best.
But even the Garden of Eden had an element of danger to it, and a beach's beauty is similarly matched by its potential for vacation-ending calamity. Here are just a few of the ill fates that await you at the shore.
These rapid water currents usually form between sandbars, and can pull a swimmer out to sea faster than they can yelp, "Oh crap, I'm being pulled out to sea by a riptide".
Even Michael Phelps isn't strong enough to out-swim these bad boys; your only hope of getting away is to stay calm and swim parallel to the shore until you escape the riptide's pull.
These cute little bastards love hanging out on the ocean floor, which effectively makes them zoological Naval mines for unsuspecting feet; this'll likely result in you scoring a nasty sting, courtesy of their barbed tails.
The good news is that you're probably not going to die like The Crocodile Hunter; the bad news is that the pain can linger for weeks, putting you out of commission for the rest of your Caribbean activities.
Again with the stinging. These floating menaces are bad enough for swimmers, but they’re just plain nasty if you happen to trip over one while you’re ambling down the shore. A jelly’s sting hurts worse than that time your ex-girlfriend dumped you during Thanksgiving dinner; on top of that, some well-intentioned, Internet-educated onlooker might try to urinate on you to neutralize the pain -- FYI, it doesn't work.
Common knowledge says you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than eaten by a shark, as if that somehow negates the fact that shark attacks still happen. Common knowledge is stupid.
Most shark attacks occur within 100 feet of the shore, exactly where you'll be bumbling around on your boogie board -- add in a splash of blood from a coral cut, and you're basically 175 pounds of chum. While most attacks aren't fatal, even a little nibble'll be enough to have you wishing you had a bigger boat.
Few things can bust up a nice day at the beach like a sweaty, naked guy with a full-body tattoo. Case in point, the lovely man pictured above.
Sure, you're partly to blame for not realizing you were visiting a nude beach in the first place, but the signs were all in German, and the place was right near the hotel, and OH MY GOD THAT'S A FUPA.
Also, is it ever somebody you actually wanna see naked who's making use of the nude beach?
While beautiful to behold, coral reefs can also be razor-sharp at times; even the slightest touch can shred you more than Gerard Butler in 300, and an open wound can quickly become infected in tropical waters. Great. Amazing to look at and awful to touch -- nature's version of Lindsay Lohan.
Do yourself a favor and observe nature's beauty from a safe distance.
Sand Hole Collapse
It's not a scene out of the movie Tremors. That tunnel you're digging on the beach might look innocent, but it's actually a heartless killer; if the walls of the hole rise up above your waist, the slightest movement could leave you buried beneath hundreds of pounds of sand. It's no joke; a study back in 2007 found that deaths due to sand hole collapse outnumbered shark attack fatalities.
Don't dig your own grave.
Harmful Algal Blooms
Sounds science-y and nowhere near as threatening as sharks or stingrays, but don’t let harmful algal blooms (HABs) fool you; while they're more immediately dangerous to local wildlife, the toxins released can cause respiratory problems for the people breathing in air near the affected waters.
Right about now you’re probably thinking “Fine, I'll just lay on the sand and not do anything fun at all. That's safe, right?”
Yeah, no dice.
Lying on the beach basically turns you into a buffet for sand fleas, tiny crustacean vampires that want nothing more than to drink your blood. Sitting on a towel won't protect you, as these suckers (!) can jump; your best course of action is to shower immediately after you leave the beach. You should do that anyway, dirtbag.
Gianni Jaccoma is an editorial assistant for Thrillist Travel. He scraped his knee on some coral once, and definitely did NOT scream like a little girl. Follow him to safer shores on Twitter @gjaccoma.