Black sand, hot beaches: Welcome to Brazil's radioactive beach town

Imagine sinking your toes into warm, black sand that's not just sun-soaked — it's radioactive. Welcome to Guarapari, a popular Brazilian coastal town where the beaches regularly register radiation levels up to 55 times higher than the U.S. average.

So what's behind Guarapari's nuclear sunbathing experience? The culprit is monazite, a mineral rich in uranium and thorium that washes down from nearby mountains and mixes into the dark, exotic-looking sand. While lounging on these beaches, you can soak up a radiation dose equivalent to dozens of chest X-rays per hour. "We feel very warm. We found something different from other places," remarked one couple visiting Guarapari's toasty shores.

Despite — or perhaps because of — the radioactive buzz, Guarapari has blossomed into a major resort destination. The city's population has swelled to over 120,000 as curious visitors flock to experience the one-of-a-kind hot sand treatment, said to ease ailments like rheumatism. Though residents' yearly radiation exposure remains well below dangerous levels, Guarapari offers a beach day that truly radiates relaxation — whether you're after a healthy glow or just an electrifying vacation story.

See also: Bananas are radioactive—But they aren't a good way to explain radiation exposure