Hawaii Shark Infested Waters: Where All 8 Bites Happened Last Year

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Updated: January 24, 2023
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The State of Hawaii is one of the most popular states in the United States of America. Hawaii is known worldwide for its tourist attractions as well as its many lovely beaches. Not too shockingly, it is also known for shark attacks.

According to the International Shark Attack File, there have been 182 recorded shark attacks in Hawaii in almost two centuries. The culprit sharks often responsible for shark attacks on the Hawaiian Islands are the tiger sharks and whitetip reef sharks. In this article, you’d find out about Hawaii’s 2021 shark attacks.

How Many Shark Attacks Occurred in Hawaii in 2021?

The Hawaii Government recorded 8 shark attacks in the state in 2021. This includes provoked and unprovoked attacks.

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Why Do Most Shark Attacks Occur?

Great White Shark attack swimmer

Most shark attacks occur due to the increased interaction between sharks and humans within nearshore waters.

©Willyam Bradberry/Shutterstock.com

Contrary to popular rumors, humans are not a part of the diet menu for sharks. According to annual trends, the major reason for shark attacks on humans is the increased interaction with humans within nearshore waters.

Human water activities such as surfing and other board sports make up about 51% of shark encounters that have led to shark attacks around the islands. Other activities like swimming, wading, snorkeling, and body-surfing make up the rest of the percentage.

How Often Do People Get Bitten By Sharks In Hawaii?

Between 2012 and 2021, there have been 3 fatalities of the 76 recorded shark attacks in the State of Hawaii. Despite the state’s population, which varies yearly due to the influx of tourists, getting bitten by a shark is still an extremely low possibility. A lot of people do not even get to encounter a shark.

Of all the 8 biggest Hawaiian islands, Maui has the highest probability of a shark attack as there have been 71 recorded shark attacks on the island, 29 more than its second, Oahu. Against the population numbers, the Hawaiian islands’ waters are relatively safe if they are treaded with caution.

Does Hawaii Have Shark-infested Waters?

Great white shark

Hawaii’s island chains are known to have shark-infested waters.


The island chains of Hawaii are known to have shark-infested waters. According to the Department of Land and Natural Resources of Hawaii, the island chain has about 40 known shark species in the waters close to its shores. However, sharks are not a common sight along the sandy beaches of the Hawaiian islands. Of the 40 species, only 8 shark species are commonly sighted near the state’s shore-waters, some of which are the whitetip reef, scalloped hammerhead, and sandbar sharks.

Makena Point is believed to have the largest gathering of sharks in Hawaii. Sightings of tiger sharks are quite common from Makena Beach on Maui Island.

Where the 8 Bites Happened Last Year in Hawaii

Animal migration - Humpback whale

Hawaii’s 8 bites occurred in Hawaii county, Maui County, Kaua’i County, and Honolulu County.


According to the State of Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), there were 8 bite incidents within the state in 2021. They took place in Hawaii county, Maui County, Kaua’i County, and Honolulu County. Maui and Hawaii counties tied for the highest number of incidents, with 3 each.

Hawaii County

Hawaii’s first attack occurred very early in the year, on the 2nd of January at 7:30 am. The victim was attacked by a shark while swimming and suffered lacerations to the lower right leg. The attack occurred on Anaeho‘omalu Beach, about 100 yards from the shore.

Maui County

Maui County’s Kahekili Beach Park was the location for the second shark attack on the 22nd of January at 7:20 am. The victim was swimming 80-100 yards from the shore when an 8-10 foot-long shark attacked them. Although the victim survived, they suffered lacerations to the lower right leg.

Kaua‘i County

Hawaii’s 3rd attack occurred in Waiokapua Bay, about 100 yards from the shore. The victim was surfing and was attacked by a 12-14 foot-long tiger shark. Luckily, there was no injury to the victim as the shark only bit the nose of the surfboard. This incident took place on the 6th of February, 4:30 pm.

Hawaii County

This attack took place in Kūkiʻo Bay in Hawaii County at 8:50 am on the 20th of April. The victim was attacked by a tiger shark while swimming approximately 500 yards from shore. The shark was approximated to be about 8-10 feet in length. The victim survived but suffered a laceration to the right leg below the knee.

Honolulu County

Honolulu’s Island of O‘ahu was the location for the fifth attack. On the 3rd of May at 3:30 pm, a requiem shark approximately 5-6 feet in length attacked a person surfing about 10 yards from the shore. The victim survived but suffered multiple lacerations to the left leg below the knee.

Maui County

The sixth incident occurred on the 15th of May, 2021, at 4:40 pm, just 400-500 yards from the shores of Kanaha Beach Park. The victim was kite surfing, so this was considered a provoked incident. They were attacked by a 5-8 foot-long tiger shark and suffered minor lacerations and puncture wounds to the lower back but survived.

Maui County

Hawaii’s seventh incident took place in Mala Wharf, located in Lahaina, Maui County, at 10:30 am on the 7th of November. The victim was spearfishing about 200 yards from the shore. Consequently, this incident is considered to have occurred due to provocation from the victim. The victim was attacked by a requiem shark about 4 to 6 feet long. They suffered lacerations to the upper right thigh but did not die.

Hawaii County

The last incident of the year occurred in Banyans in Kailua-Kona. Kailua-Kona is a 19.19 square mile (49.71 km²) town located on the west coast of the Big Island. Around 6:00 pm on the 4th of December, a white shark, approximately 15 feet long, attacked the victim, who was surfing about 130 yards from shore. The victim suffered lacerations to the left forearm but didn’t die.

How Many People Died In Hawaii From the 8 Shark Attacks?

Luckily, none of the 8 incidents in Hawaii were fatal. It is a fact that most shark attacks do not result in death since only a few shark species actually eat humans. In 2021, only one fatality was recorded in the USA.

Why Did The International Shark Attack File Record Only 6 Attacks in 2021 in Hawaii?

According to the International Shark Attack File, there were only 6 shark attack incidents. This is because the ISAF only records unprovoked incidents- that is, attacks that occurred due to no fault of the victim. Hawaii’s 6th and 7th attacks were considered provoked because of the victims’ actions at the time of the attacks.

What State Had A Higher Number of Shark Attacks Than Hawaii?

The state of Florida had a total of 28 unprovoked bites recorded. This isn’t a surprise, as Florida has topped this list for years. One reason for the high number of shark attacks is that the state is located between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico and has almost 200 beaches. 

According to the ISAF, the attacks occurred in Volusia County, Miami-Dade County, Brevard County, St. Lucie County, Martin County, Manatee County, Broward County, Palm Beach County, and Saint Johns County. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tomas Kotouc/Shutterstock.com

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