When it comes to popular tourist sites, especially those with beaches and marine attractions, Hawaii is a name that always comes up. The state is made up of eight main islands that most people are familiar with as well as numerous other islands that are smaller and less well known. When tourists visit this enchanting region, they invariably come, at one point or another, to its beaches. Their only concern, however, with these beaches is the presence of sharks. While few of these tourists enjoy seeing them, if you’re like us (or most humans), enjoyment wouldn’t be the feeling you get from seeing a shark. So, for tourists about to visit, the question stands: Does Hawaii have shark-infested waters? That is what we will discover.
First, we must define what we mean when we say shark-infested waters. For a body of water to be “shark-infested,” it should have a large amount of sharks and therefore considered dangerous for humans.
A vital part of aquatic life, sharks are found all over the world in varieties of different species. Maui’s beaches in particular, due to their shallow waters, attract different types of sharks. Some of these include the popular white reef, scalloped hammerhead, and white and black reef tip.
If the rest of Hawaii is like Maui, then it’s safe to say that it is somewhat shark-infested.
Are Hawaii’s Beaches Shark-Infested?
Answering the question of whether Hawaii has shark-infested waters or not, the answer is that Hawaii’s waters house around 40 different species of sharks. These species include popular sharks, such as tiger sharks and hammerheads, and has a vast range, from giant whale sharks to tiny Pygmy sharks.
So, in short, Hawaii’s waters are shark-infested, but encountering one is extremely rare because sharks actually avoid confrontation with humans. Unless said human has an open cut. In that case, they do not avoid confrontation.
Visitors’ reports have described seeing the following shark species most frequently in Hawaii’s waters:
- Whitetip Reef
- Blacktip Reef
- Galapagos sharks
- Scalloped Hammerhead
- Gray Reef
- Tiger Shark
These are the eight species most commonly found in Hawaii’s waters. The vast majority of sharks are not dangerous or a cause for concern. Unless you are openly bleeding or provoking a shark, there’s nothing to worry about.
How common are shark attacks in Hawaii?
The majority of shark species that swim around Hawaii’s beaches do not pose a threat to humans.
Of the sharks that are known to cause harm to humans, the Great White shark is considered the most dangerous. Luckily, it is unlikely to be seen in Hawaii. The Hawaiian Islands have not reported any Great White shark attacks on humans so far, but there have been some shark attacks reported. In 2019, fourteen shark attacks were reported, but in most of these cases the shark was provoked.
To see more of these statistics, such as date or time of attack, type of shark, location of attack, visit this link: Department of Land and Natural Resources, Government of Hawaii. Also check out this informative graph about these incidents.
From the data provided we can come to three conclusions: One, shark attacks are less likely than you’d think. Two, most cases of shark attacks are provoked. And three — the most reassuring — there is little to no chance of a shark attack being fatal.
The Dangerous Shark In Hawaii’s Waters
Tiger sharks are one of the most dangerous and common predators around the Hawaiian Islands.
To help you identify this type of shark, there are several distinctive features. In terms of size, this shark weighs around 1400 pounds and has a length of up to 16ft. Regarding its physical features, it has a broadly rounded snout with curved, serrated teeth. The younger tiger sharks have spots that develop into stripes with age.
Tiger sharks are not picky eaters. Their diet consists of a wide selection of marine animals and, if these marine animals are not around, whatever else is available and edible. They’ll eat anything they find, from common foods such as fish and lobsters to less common foods such as birds, turtles, and (when all else fails) trash.
Hawaii’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. A fear of sharks should not discourage you to visit, as getting the chance to see these animals in their natural habitats is a unique and mesmerizing experience. Hawaii does have shark-infested waters, but as can be seen from the data, it is highly unlikely that a shark attacks you, even more unlikely that it causes actual damage. In short, sharks are not animals to fear, that is, unless you provoke them. Then they might be a cause for concern.