Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Hawaii Vacation Blog

Shark Attacks in Hawaii

a fish swimming under water

Of course, we have sharks in Hawaii… I mean we are surrounded by water, their natural habitat. And unfortunately, attacks by sharks do happen, however, I hasten to reassure you that shark attacks in Hawaii are a rare thing. 

“By comparison, more people are killed by dogs in the U.S. every year than have been killed by shark attacks in the last 100 years.” ~Hawaii Shark Encounters.

The last fatal shark attack in Hawaii occurred in December 2020, when a 14-foot tiger shark attacked a surfer in Maui. According to the International Shark Attack File, there have been 182 shark attacks in Hawaii in almost two centuries.

What island has the most shark attacks? 

Shark attacks in Hawaii

Three or four shark attacks occur per year on average in Hawaii islands and most attacks are non-fatal. Maui Island has had the most shark attacks of all the Hawaiian Islands; about 70 reported shark attacks on its coastlines, with Makena Beach having the most attacks. Here is a graph with the numbers of shark attacks in Hawaii.

What to do in case of a Shark Warning?

Shark Warnings happen every month in Hawaii. It helps to keep an eye on local news if you like to stay informed.

Some Local News Twitter Accounts to follow:



The lifeguards at the beaches in Hawaii will put up warning signs on the beach in case of a shark sighting. If you see this sign it is probably smart to stay out of the water.

How to stay away from sharks?

  • Do not swim if you have a wound

Sharks can detect very faint traces of blood in the water at a significant distance from the wounded or cut source.

  • Don’t urinate in the ocean

It can be a challenging task sometimes, but we highly recommend waiting until finding a restroom. Since just like blood, sharks are attracted to urine.

  • Don’t swim in heavily fished areas or anywhere near active fishermen

The gutted fish and bait will attract sharks. Sharks can easily find Fishermen due to the spilling of chum.

  • Don’t swim at night or during twilight hours

Sharks primarily hunt at night because they are nocturnal. Most believe that they choose sun up and sun down to feed because of the transition that most fish go through to focus on the changing light. Moreover, sharks use their sense of smell more than their eyesight. This allows them to hunt in murky waters with poor visibility.

How to survive a shark attack? 

  • Stay calm and move your body in a vertical position
  • Don’t play ‘dead’
  • Poke his eyes
  • Fist fight 

Watch the video below to learn more about how to survive a shark attack.

5 Tips how to survive a shark attack

Still want to see sharks in person? For all adrenaline junkies-Shark Dive In Hawaii. There are multiple companies on Oahu offering Shark Dives. Click here to see an overview of the companies offering shark dives in Hawaii. All of them start in Haleiwa, a little town up on the North Shore of Oahu. Some of the companies that offer shark dives use cages, others don’t.

Watch Sharks of Hawaii documentary on Amazon Prime.