There are some waves that you really don’t ever want to encounter when you’re swimming in the ocean. Square waves!

Square waves look like a giant chessboard over the ocean. It’s pretty awesome but be aware, they are incredibly dangerous. If you don’t get out of the water as soon as you see these things, your life could be at stake!

So what are these waves anyway and where do they appear?

Don’t you have time to watch the full video?
Here are all TIMESTAMPS + full TRANSCRIPT !


01:22 — Where you can see square waves
02:23 — How they come to be
03:48 — The perfect storm
05:46 — Other dangerous bodies of water
06:00 — The Boiling Lake
07:03 — West End, Grand Bahama Island
07:48 — The East and North Coasts of Barbados
08:22 — Condado Beach


If you look off the western coast of France, you’ll see the Isle of Rhe. This island is a mere 19 miles long (30.5 km) and 3 miles wide (4.8 km). Thanks to its beautiful blue waters, clean sandy beaches, and stunning lighthouses, this place is a very popular vacation spot but perhaps the coolest part about it is what you see just beyond the shore: square waves. This strange wave pattern looks like a giant chess board over the ocean… Many visitors to the island become captivated by these waves and go to high up places, like nearby lighthouses, to take pictures of this natural phenomenon. They say that, when looking down at these square patterns in the water, it’s almost as if there’s some sort of metal grid underneath it. Andwhile these wave patterns are truly fascinating, the people who choose to enjoy them from afar are doing it right. They know to stay out of the water!

To understand how these square waves came to be, it’s important to know how waves occur in the first place… Generally, waves can travel many miles over the surface of the water depending on local winds and weather, and even on days when the weather seems somewhat calm, storms located elsewhere can sending crashing waves that affect the surrounding calm waters. When waves travel onto the shores of distant lands, they’re called “swells”. This is different from a wave that occurs from local wind… When two different swells coming from opposite directions meet, it’s known as a “cross-sea”: this is what generates these square waves you see near the Isle of Rhe. This French island is actually located in a spot where 2 seas come together… As the 2 seas with different swells knock into each other, they start to blend together but they don’t blend the way to bodies of water normally mix together (like a waterfall spilling into a lake), because these 2 seas have totally different weather conditions, a unique pattern emerges when they collide. They create a riptide that’s stronger than your average wave, way stronger than what you’ve probably experienced at the beach with regular waves. If you were to get stuck in these crisscross waves, chances are you wouldn’t be able to get out!

While these waves are one of the reasons why people flock to this island, they can still expect to enjoy calm relaxing waters most of the time. The cross sea only occurs during certain times of the year, in specific weather. Plus it’s common knowledge around Rhe to steer clear of the ocean when these square waves appear, so it’s not often that you hear about anyone getting caught in them because most people know better. Since a lot of the people on the island are tourists, there are plenty of signs around warning them to get out of the water during this time, however, not everyone gets the memo. There have been a handful of cases where people got caught in the cross, but thankfully and luckily they managed to get out safely.
These square waves have become somewhat famous over time, given that there’s really no other place in the world that boasts a cross-see like this one. In fact, no one has ever spotted square waves anywhere but the island of Rhe!

However, there are swells that can be found throughout the oceans of the world and a cross-sea can take place. But if the angle they approach each other at is more shallow, the wave may actually look like it’s coming from the same direction even when it’s not. Not to mention swells can slowly lose a momentum, as they drift further and further away; so their crest, or the top of the wave, appears more round and less jagged… The island of Rhe specific wind and weather patterns are literally the perfect storm and create a cross sea that people can clearly recognize! If you’re thinking about planning a trip to the beautiful island of Rhe, just be sure to check the weather forecast ahead of time to make sure you’ll be able to swim in the water without risking your life. Bon voyage!

While the island of Rhe is the only place in the world where you can witness such a clear cross-sea, here are some other dangerous bodies of water that will have you saying “no thanks” to a quick dip:

#1 – THE BOILING LAKE, Island of Dominica
The Boiling Lake on the Island of Dominica is one body of water you’ll definitely want to stay away from. Can you guess why? Well, the name of the lake does kinda give it away. Although this Boiling Lake may look like a giant relaxing jacuzzi, it’s anything but. The lake sits on the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, which is a Dominica World Heritage Site. It’s actually a flooded sinkhole type basin, otherwise known as a “fumarole”. You’ll typically find fumaroles near volcanoes, that let out steam and gas from their molten lava deep down below the Earth’s crust… Throughout history this Lake has gone through phases of cooling, drying, and boiling, and it’s still quite unpredictable. Today, while some people do swim in this lake, it’s very risky. From high heat to strong gas emissions, there are plenty of reasons to stay out of the Boiling Lake!
#2 – WEST END, Grand Bahama Island
A nice, relaxing day in the Bahamas can quickly be ruined by surrounding people yelling the words “RUN!! SHARK!”. If you agree, you’ll probably want to steer clear of the town of West End on Grand Bahama Island. This deadly beach is known for being one of the most shark-infested beaches in the world… However, if you are brave enough, tourists are invited to actually interact with these sharks! Of course you’ll be behind the bars of a giant cage being maneuvered and supervised by professionals. Not exactly relaxing but still kind of cool!

#3 – EAST AND NORTH COASTS of Barbados
Don’t let this beaches’ gorgeous sunsets fool you. This place is dangerous! While the south and west coasts of Barbados are ideal for swimming and snorkeling, the east and north beaches have incredibly strong tides that can be quite treacherous. These powerful waves are great to admire from afar, but people on the beach should be careful not to go too far into the water!
#4 – CONDADO BEACH, Puerto Rico
Condado Beach in Puerto Rico is a desirable destination in the city of San Juan. However, the beach’s mighty waves and powerful current make this a very dangerous place to go swimming. Its undertow is strong, so surfers should beincredibly cautious in these waters! While many people still go in the water here, especially tourists, it’s important to swim responsibly and to come ashore if you see the waters are getting rough. Your safety should always be priority number one!

By baba

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