5 California Beaches With The Most Shark Attacks

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Updated: May 18, 2023
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Last year, 4 confirmed shark attacks occurred in the Golden State of California. While this figure pales considerably compared to Florida and Hawaii which had the most attacks, these states, unlike California, didn’t record any fatalities.

The area with the most recorded shark attacks is La Jolla in San Diego County.

In fact, in 2021, there was only 1 recorded shark-related fatality in America, and it occurred in California’s San Luis Obispo County. This year, the state has 2 recorded incidents, bringing its total since 1882 to over 130! If you’ve ever wondered what California beaches record the most shark attacks, keep reading.

Where Did California’s Last 6 Shark Attacks Occur?

California’s last 6 shark attacks occurred between last year and this year, 2022. Last year, 4 shark attacks occurred in North Salmon Creek Beach, Gray Whale Cove State Beach, Catalina Island, and Morro Strand State Beach, located in Sonoma, San Mateo, Los Angeles, and San Luis Obispo Counties, respectively. The only recorded fatality was on Morro Strand State Beach.

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This year, there have been 2 recorded attacks in California. These attacks occurred in Pacific Grove in Monterey County and San Miguel Island in Santa Barbara County. Luckily, none of those two incidents resulted in a fatality.

Let’s take a detailed look at each of these incidents.

Gray Whale Cove State Beach, San Mateo County, June 25th, 2021

Gray Whale Cove State Beach

On the 25th of June 2021, a Californian snorkeler diving for crabs was attacked by a great white shark.


The first California shark attack of 2021 occurred in Gray Whale Cove State Beach on the 25th of June, 2021. According to CNN, the incident occurred around 9:15 in the morning. A great white shark attacked a Californian snorkeler diving for crabs on the ocean floor. The juvenile shark bit his upper right thigh, but he survived.

Catalina Island, Los Angeles County, June 30th, 2021

Catalina Island

On the 30


of June 2021, a minor was attacked by a suspected great white shark.


The second Californian shark attack victim of 2021 was a minor at a Boy Scout’s Camp on Catalina Island. According to Tracking Sharks, the suspected great white shark lifted their boat slightly out of the water before grazing the victim’s hand with its sharp teeth and detaching it almost completely. However, the young man was rushed to the hospital in time, and his finger was saved.

North Salmon Creek Beach, Sonoma County, October 3rd, 2021

California’s third shark attack victim of 2021 was surfing in North Salmon Creek Beach’s Bodega Bay when a great white shark clamped its teeth on his leg and dragged him down. When he realized what was happening, he punched the shark in the face, but his punch landed on the shark’s teeth which injured him even more. 

Luckily, the shark let his leg go, and he pushed it away before swimming atop to call for help. He survived the attack but was still in considerable pain even one month after the incident, per Press Democrat.

Morro Strand State Beach, San Luis Obispo County, December 24th, 2021

Morro Strand State Beach

On the 24


of December 2021, a bodyboarder was killed at Morro Strand State Beach by a suspected great white shark.

©randy andy/Shutterstock.com

The last attack in California last year occurred in Morro Strand State Beach. The victim was bodyboarding and was strapped to his bodyboarding board when a suspected great white shark attacked him. Reports from the San Luis Obispo Tribune show that he sustained head, right shoulder, and right chest cavity injuries. Sadly, he didn’t survive the attack.

Santa Barbara County, February 26, 2022

Santa Barbara

On the 26


of February 2022, a diver was attacked in Santa Barbara County by a great white shark.


The first California shark attack of 2022 occurred on the 26th of February, 2022. According to Tracking Sharks, a diver in a group was attacked by a great white shark while searching for lobsters. However, some other divers in the area were spearfishing, which is known to provoke sharks. The shark bit her feet, but her long fins protected her from a bit of the attack. Although the diver sustained injuries to her foot, she survived.

Pacific Grove, Monterey County, June 22nd, 2022

Pacific Grove

On the 22


of June 2022, a diver was attacked in Pacific Grove by a great white shark.

©iStock.com/Gary Tognoni

This year’s second and hopefully last shark attack in California took place in Pacific Grove. The victim was swimming when a suspected great white shark attacked him. Luckily, he survived the attack despite sustaining injuries to his leg, arm, and torso. According to the Monterey Herald, the patient was successfully treated and is expected to make a full recovery.

What California Beaches Record The Most Shark Attacks?

According to the International Shark Attack File, California’s top 5 counties with the most shark attacks are San Diego, Humboldt, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Monterey. Some beaches in these counties have never recorded a shark attack, while others have recorded multiple incidents. Here are 5 California beaches that have recorded seven or more shark bites.

La Jolla

La Jolla

San Diego’s La Jolla has recorded more shark attacks than other California counties.


La Jolla is a smart seaside area or neighborhood with tens of beaches and expansive coastlines. Its beaches have recorded the most shark attacks in California, with at least 12 bites (7 unprovoked). Not surprisingly, it is located in San Diego, which has recorded at least 35 bites (about 20 unprovoked), more than any other California county.

San Onofre State Beach

Heather Broccard-Bell

San Onofre State Beach has recorded at least 8 shark attacks.


Located in California’s San Diego County, San Onofre State Beach is a 3,000-acre park and one of California’s most visited state parks, which explains the high occurrence of shark attacks. The park has recorded at least 8 shark attacks since its establishment in 1971.

Humboldt Bay

Humboldt Bay

Humboldt Bay has recorded at least 8 shark attacks.

©EWY Media/Shutterstock.com

Humboldt Bay is a natural bay located in Humboldt County. The bay is also a bar-built coastal lagoon known for its many species of flora and fauna. It is believed to house up to 100 plant species, 100 fish species, 200 bird species, and 300 invertebrate species. It’s no shocker that the bay has recorded at least 8 shark attacks.

Salmon Creek Beach

Salmon Creek Beach

Salmon Creek Beach has recorded at least 8 shark attacks.


Salmon Creek Beach is an almost 2-mile-long beach in California’s Sonoma County. The north and south salmon creek beaches are popular tourist locations, especially for surfers when the waves are good. Salmon Creek Beach has recorded at least 8 incidents since its establishment and even recorded a non-fatal incident last year, 2021.

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach has recorded at least 7 shark attacks.


Despite its name, Huntington Beach isn’t a beach but a 28.33 square-mile city in California’s Orange County. This beach has had at least 7 reported shark attacks since its establishment. Huntington Beach is Orange County’s 4th largest city and is known for its 8.5-mile-long beach. Its lovely climate, beautiful sands, and mostly temperate waters make it a great location for surfing and have rightfully earned it the “surf city” nickname.

Summary Of The 5 California Beaches That Record The Most Shark Attacks

RankBeachLocationNumber of Attacks
1La Jolla BeachesSan Diego County12
2San Onofre State BeachSan Diego County8
3Humboldt BayHumboldt County8
4Salmon Creek BeachSonoma County8
5Huntington BeachOrange County7

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/m-kojot

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  1. Florida Museum, Available here: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/shark-attacks/maps/na/usa/california/
  2. CNN, Available here: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/06/26/us/bay-area-shark-attack-man-hospitalized/index.html
  3. Monterey Herald, Available here: https://www.montereyherald.com/2022/06/24/pacific-grove-shark-attack-victim-stable-will-make-full-recovery/
  4. Tracking Sharks, Available here: https://www.trackingsharks.com/shark-bites-15-year-old-off-california-coast-7-year-old-bitten-by-shark-in-north-carolina/