Shark Attacks In Hawaii: Do They Happen At Tourist Beaches?

Yes, sharks attack do happen near tourist beaches but it is important to keep in mind that shark attack happens very rarely. In 2022, there are two reported shark attacks in Hawaii, one from Kailua-Kona, Kahalu‘u Beach Park, a tourist beach, and the other from a scuba diving incident in Kailua-Kona, Keahole Point which was considered a provoked incident. If you want to know more about shark attacks on the Hawaiian Islands, continue reading in the following sections.

Key Takeaways:

Yes, there are reports of shark attacks on popular beaches for tourists in Hawaii but on rare occasions. If you’re worried about possible shark attacks there are helpful precautions that you can practice to avoid attacks during your vacation.

Reported Sharks Attacks on the Hawaiian Islands

Number of Reported Sharks Attacks on the Hawaiian Islands

If you’re one of the many who are curious about the number of shark attacks on the Hawaiian Islands, here’s a brief overview of the number of shark attacks for the past five years:

  • 2022 – 2 shark attack reports as of September
  • 2021 – 8 shark attack reports
  • 2020 – 6 shark attack reports
  • 2019 – 14 shark attack reports
  • 2018 – 3 shark attack reports

Shark Attacks on Tourist Beaches

Shark Attacks on Tourist Beaches

The number of shark attacks goes down if we filter it further just to the number of attacks that happen on tourist beaches in Hawaii. See below for a list of how many shark attacks on each tourist beach location:

Maui – Honolua Bay, Wailea Beach, and Kahekili Beach

Maui has some of the best Hawaiian Island beaches namely Honolua Bay, Wailea Beach, and Kahekili Beach. Each has had one report of a shark attack for the past three years.

The Honolua Bay in West Maui which is one of the best beaches in Hawaii had a reported incident of a Maui shark, specifically a tiger shark attacking a surfer on December 8, 2020. The surfer had severe left leg lacerations.

A tourist was attacked by another tiger shark in Hawaii while paddle boarding at Wailea Beach on February 5, 2020, but the shark only managed to bite the paddleboard without harming the tourist.

The Kahekili Beach shark attack happened on January 22, 2021, when a tiger shark attacked a tourist who was swimming in the ocean at around 80-100 yards away from the shore.

An attack in Kalama Beach Park was also reported on December 3, 2019, by a tiger shark. The tourist that was on his Hawaii vacation was on a paddleboard and luckily incurred no injury. The shark only managed to attack the inflatable paddleboard.

Kaua‘i – Davidson’s Beach and Waiokapua Bay

The Davidson Beach shark attack happened on January 6, 2020, when an unknown shark species attacked a surfing tourist that caused a right-hand laceration.

The incident at Waiokapua Bay on the other hand was from a tiger shark that managed to bite the nose of the surfboard and didn’t cause any injury to the surfer. The Waiokapua Bay shark attack happened on February 6, 2021.

Big Island of Hawai‘i – Makaīwa Bay and Kūkiʻo Bay

A shark attack in Makaīwa Bay in the Big Island was also reported on December 4, 2020, against a tourist who was doing standup paddleboarding. The shark type was unidentified and with no injury incurred by the tourist as the shark only manage to bite the paddleboard.

The Kūkiʻo Bay shark attack in Big Island was again from a tiger shark that attacked a swimming tourist approximately 500 yards from shore. The tourist had a right leg laceration from the attack.

O‘ahu – North Beach

The famous North Beach in Hawaii had a reported shark attack incident on April 20, 2021, from a tourist who was surfing at a distance of around just 10 yards from shore. This incident is one of the Oahu shark attacks where the tourist incurred multiple left leg lacerations from shark bites.

Kailua-Kona – Kahalu‘u Beach Park

Another reported attack in Kahalu‘u Beach Park was reported on February 9, 2022. The floating tourist was bitten by a cookie-cutter shark on the right foot and calf 1.5 miles away from the shore.


Deadly Shark Attacks on the Hawaiian Islands

Deadly Shark Attacks on the Hawaiian Islands

Among the reported incidents, there are fatal shark attack incidents. The March 31, 2018 incident in North Kona, Kūki‘o Beach from a tiger shark caused not just severe lacerations to the forearms but also the loss of the right leg below the knee for a tourist.

Another incident in Honokōwai, Maui, was an attack on a swimming tourist by an unknown shark specie that caused a loss of a left leg at the knee and lacerations to the hand and left arm.

A swimming tourist in Kaiwi Channel in O‘ahu was bitten on the lower abdomen by a cookie-cutter shark.

The Honolua Bay incident mentioned earlier was also considered a fatal shark attack that resulted in severe leg lacerations.

Provoked Incidents of Shark Attacks

Provoked Incidents of Shark Attacks

Provoked shark attacks are attacks done by shark species when they feel threatened or are being fed. There have been no reported provoked shark attacks in Hawaii for the past three years.

The last reported attack that was considered provoked shark attack in the Hawaiian waters was back on September 18, 2018, from a Galapagos shark. The shark bit the swimming tourist who incurred puncture wounds and lacerations from the attack.

Unprovoked Incidents of Shark Attacks

Unprovoked Incidents of Shark Attacks

The majority of the reported shark attacks in Hawaii are unprovoked attacks and happen while the tourist is swimming, surfing, or paddle boarding.


Preventing Shark Attacks in Hawaii

If you want to avoid being attacked by sharks to avoid minor lacerations or any type of injury, there are steps that you can take to ensure your safety.

Swimming in Groups

When swimming in Hawaiian waters, it is important to stay in groups and not to swim alone. Most shark attacks are more likely to happen to individuals that are swimming alone.

Avoid Swimming at Night

When visiting Hawaii, it is also important to avoid swimming at night or in low-light conditions as sharks are more active during these times including other dangerous sea creatures such as jellyfish.

Wear Brightly Colored Swimwear

When swimming in Hawaiian waters, it is important to wear brightly colored swimwear in the ocean as it will make you more visible to sharks. Avoid wearing dark-colored clothing as it will make you less visible in the water.

Do not Wear Shiny Jewelry and Avoid Swimming in Areas with Many Fishes

You should also avoid wearing shiny jewelry or brightly colored clothing as it can attract sharks.

Another important safety measure is to avoid swimming near areas where there are a lot of fish or other animals as this can attract sharks.

Avoid Swimming in Murky Water

As much as possible, avoid swimming in murky water in Hawaii as this can limit your visibility and increase the chances of being attacked by a shark.

Do Not Splash a Lot

When in the ocean, avoid splashing around a lot as this can attract sharks.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

It is also important to be aware of your surroundings when swimming in Hawaiian waters. Look out for any shark warning signs such as dark-colored water, large schools of fish, or anything that might indicate the presence of a shark.


What to Do When You Encounter a Shark

What to Do When You Encounter a Shark

Another important thing to know is what to do if ever you encounter a shark in an island chain in Hawaii. The following are helpful tips when you encounter a shark:

Do Not Touch or Feed Sharks

As mentioned before, it is important to not touch or feed sharks as this can provoke them and lead to an attack.

Stay Calm and Move Slowly

If you see a shark, it is important to stay calm and not make any sudden movements. You should also avoid making loud noises or splashing around as this can attract sharks.

Get Out of the Water

The best thing to do when you encounter a shark is to get out of the water as quickly as possible. If you are on a surfboard or boogie board, lie flat on the board and paddle slowly to the shore.


What to Do If You Are Attacked by a Shark

What to Do If You Are Attacked by a Shark

If you are attacked by a shark, it is important to try and fight back. Fighting back against a shark is often the best way to discourage it and make it swim away.

However, it is important to remember that every situation is different and you should use your best judgment on how to fight back against a shark.

The following are helpful tips on what to do if you are attacked by a shark:

Hit the Shark on the Nose

One of the most effective ways to fight back against a shark is to hit it on the nose. This will often discourage the shark and make it swim away.

Hit the Shark on the Eyes

Another effective way to fight back against a shark is to hit it in the eyes. This can also help to discourage the shark and make it swim away.

Hit the Shark on the Gills

Hitting a shark in the gills can also help to discourage it and make it swim away.

Use an Object to Hit the Shark

If you have an object with you such as a surfboard, boogie board, or even a spear, you can use this to hit the shark. This can help to deter the shark and make it swim away.


Types of Sharks in Hawaii

Sharks are apex predators that thrive in the islands of Hawaii. With the reported attacks you know that there are dangerous sharks in Hawaii. The reported shark attacks occurred mostly from tiger sharks but there are other dangerous sharks too. It is important to know which sharks you should be on the lookout for when swimming in Hawaiian waters.

The following are some of the shark species that can be found in the Hawaiian waters:

Tiger Shark

Tiger Shark

Tiger Sharks are one of the most dangerous sharks in Hawaii and can be identified by their stripes and spots. They are large sharks that can grow up to 16 feet long and weigh around 2,000 pounds. They are found in all the Hawaiian waters and mostly attack during the day. Most shark attacks are from tiger sharks.

Bull Shark

Bull Shark

The Bull Shark is another dangerous shark that can be found in Hawaiian waters. They are mostly found in the deep waters and can grow up to 11 feet long.

Great White Shark

Great White Shark

The Great White Shark is not as common in Hawaii as the Tiger Shark or the Bull Shark but they have been sighted in the Hawaiian waters. They are mostly found in deep ocean waters and can grow up to 20 feet long.

Hammerhead Shark

Hammerhead Shark

The Hammerhead Shark is not as common in Hawaii but they have been sighted in the Hawaiian waters. They are mostly found in the deep waters and can grow up to 20 feet long.

Blacktip Reef Shark and Whitetip Reef Shark

Blacktip Reef Shark and Whitetip Reef Shark

The Blacktip Reef Sharks like Whitetip Reef Shark are mostly found in the shallow waters and reefs and can grow up to 6 feet long.

Additional shark species that can be found in Hawaii include Galapagos Shark, sandbar, and scalloped hammerhead shark.


Conclusion

Shark attack reports in Hawaii should not hinder you from enjoying a great vacation on the lovely island of your choice. The cases are infrequent with the number of tourists visiting Hawaii each year and should not cause a great alarm for you to postpone your needed beach getaway.

Though, it is always important to take precautions when swimming to make sure that you and your family are safe while enjoying the beautiful Hawaiian waters and have a wonderful stay in an accommodation.

So, the next time you are planning a trip to Hawaii, don’t forget these helpful tips on how to avoid getting attacked by a shark!

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