#PlasticCrisis: The 8 Most Polluted Beaches & Coastlines In Asia

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Asia is home to many of the planet’s wonders, including beautiful fine sand beaches and coastlines. However, due to years of plastic pollution, marine litter and waste mismanagement, many of these beaches are no longer as pristine as they once were. In fact, Asia’s coastlines are chocking in waste – the region is now home to many of the world’s most polluted beaches. 

Da Loc Beach, Thanh Hoa Province, Vietnam

Source: Reuters / Kham

Located just south of Hanoi, Da Loc beach in Thanh Hoa province used to be peaceful and clean. But after decades of waste accumulation, this beach is now suffocating under a whole seabed of plastic waste. One of the main reasons for the severity of plastic pollution in this beach is the heavy use of plastic bags by fishermen, who often throw them into the water after a single use. This isn’t just a localised problem in the province, with the whole country suffering from plastic pollution, earning Vietnam the title of the world’s fourth largest producer of plastic waste. 

Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai, India

Source: CNN

Chowpatty Beach in Mumbai is one of India’s most polluted beaches. Just under the foot of Malabar Hill, many locals used to regularly visit the promenade for a break from the bustling city centre. Now, it has been completely transformed into a filthy beach with sand turning black due to oil exposure and garbage that has heavily impacted its marine ecosystem. 

Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia

Source: Sonny Tumbelaka / AFP

Bali is a popular tourist destination, but this has had devastating consequences for the island’s beaches. Once a picturesque stretch of blue waters and sparkling sand, Kuta Beach is now dangerously polluted. The pollution doesn’t just come from tourists though- according to locals, strong water currents mean foreign trash can be carried to the shoreline. The pollution is so bad that the island declared a “garbage emergency” in 2017 and authorities sent in workers to cleanup the massive volume of junk landing on its shores daily. 

Juhu Beach, Mumbai, India

Source: Kartik Chandramouli / Mongabay

Juhu is another beach in Mumbai inundated with trash. Despite authorities ordering workers to clear the mounds of garbage littered on the shoreline, the waste just keeps landing back on Juhu Beach. Locals have traditionally enjoyed the destination to hang-out and relax, and hopefully the city’s recent ban on plastic will help to recover the beach for the public.

Ochheuteal Beach, Shihanoukville, Cambodia

Source: TripAdvisor

The town of Sihanoukville in Cambodia is home to a popular tourist beach called Ochheuteal Beach – better known as “Serendipity Beach”. However, after years of families choosing the destination for their summer vacations and irresponsible littering, the beach is now full of plastic and other waste. Many travellers now recommend going to nearby beaches and avoiding the once “serendipitous” beach.  

Maya Bay, Thailand

Source: AP Photo / picture-alliance / S. Lalit

Due to thousands of tourists swamping in after Hollywood movie The Beach was filmed there, the government took action last year to close Maya Bay until 2021. The bay, part of the famed Koh Phi Phi islands, is popular for its several stunning beaches enclosed by 100 metre tall cliffs on three sides. After being made famous, marine biologists have reported that corals have virtually disappeared and aquatic life is in severely decline with many endangered species. 

Freedom Island, Manila, Philippines

Source: Reuters / Eloisa Lopez

One of the worst beach destinations in Southeast Asia is Freedom Island, located in the shores of Manila Bay. The coastline has been littered with mounds of single-use disposable plastics, many of them produced by companies like Unilever and Nestlé – who have been called out on by local green activists. Between January and May this year, the cleanup of the shore has led to a whopping 100,000 square feet of trash taken away – though there is is still a long way to go to get it back to pre-litter conditions. 

Fujiazhuang Beach, Dalian, China

Source: Irish Times / VCG

Fujiazhuang Beach has the unfortunate (or fortunate depending on how you look at it) reputation for being the most crowded beach in the world, with almost 50,000 people visiting this 500 metre-long beach during peak season. The beach is so packed that there are public service announcements to remind people to stop littering, and even to avoid swimming to prevent diseases from spreading. With that many people crowding on the shore, it is unsurprising that Fujiazhuang is crammed full of plastic and other food packaging waste. 

Lead image courtesy of AfriramPOE / Shutterstock.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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