The 9 Most Shark-Infested Beaches On Earth

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Updated: September 26, 2023
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Sharks are divisive animals. These fascinating creatures, both beautiful and lethal, have come under a lot of scrutiny and hostility over the years, especially because of their connection to fatal shark attacks. Sharks come in 500 distinct species worldwide, 400 of which live in Australian waters. 

Nevertheless, shark numbers are steadily declining, with an estimated 100 million sharks being captured and slaughtered yearly by fishermen. While you often hear about shark attacks in Australia, they happen all over the world. 

Here at A-Z Animals, we’ve done the research to bring you the 10 most shark-infested beaches on the planet! These are the locations you should mark on your maps if you want to look for these magnificent marine animals or if you want to know where to avoid swimming. 

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South Carolina

Folly Beach, South Carolina

Folly Beach is a popular tourist destination near Charleston. There have been 37 recorded shark attacks in Charleston County.

©iStock.com/ABEMOS

Shark attacks have happened 107 times in South Carolina since 1837. Although they occur everywhere over the state’s shoreline, 37 of the attacks took place in Charleston County, which is home to a number of beach communities, and 36 occurred in Horry County, which is where renowned Myrtle Beach is located. 

You can find a wide variety of shark species in the seas around South Carolina. The sandbar and bonnethead sharks are among the species that are typically calm. There are also more aggressive species, such as the bull and tiger shark in the area. These sharks have good breeding and feeding grounds in the offshore estuaries of South Carolina.

Maui, Hawaii

Beach in Maui

Maui records the most attacks of any Hawaiian Island.

©iStock.com/drewsulockcreations

Hawaii hosts more than 10 million tourists annually, and most of them head right to the beach. With the islands laying in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, its no surprise that the islands are a hot spot for shark attacks. 35 shark attacks were reported from 2000 to 2015 exclusively, with the number fluctuating as the years passed. 

In 2012, Maui was the site of more than 60% of all shark attacks in Hawaii, setting a record high. Beaches that are known to have high shark populations nearby include Makena Point, Kalama, Paulauea, and Olowalu. As with all numbers on this list, just remember that Hawaii sees 10 million visitors a year but many years see just one or two unprovoked attacks. In short, if you show caution, the odds of being attacked by a shark are extremely low.

California Coastline

Solana Beach

Aerial view of Solana Beach with Pacific ocean during sunny day, coastal city in San Diego County, California. USA

©iStock.com/Thomas De Wever

Three shark attacks occurred in California in 2021, with one fatal incident. Overall, 132 unprovoked attacks have been recorded in the state since 1837. Shark attacks are far more likely to happen in California towards the northern shore, in the famed Red Triangle. 

One side of the Red Triangle consists of about 90 miles of coastline in Northern California that stretches between Point Reyes and Monterey Bay. From those two places, lines continue to meet west of San Francisco, just past the Farallon Islands. Many seals may be seen in these seas, and great white sharks also frequent these areas.

California is third in the US for the number of unprovoked shark bites behind Florida and Hawaii. Beaches with a notable number of shark attacks include Solana Beach in San Diego County. Near Los Angeles sharks are frequently found in Santa Monica and the Santa Barbara coast.

Papua New Guinea

Barrier Reef - New Ireland

New Island is at points just 6 miles wide but is 224 miles long, providing ample coastlines and habitats for sharks to hunt in.

©iStock.com/Velvetfish

The eastern half of New Guinea, the biggest tropical island in the world, is known as Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea, which is located in the Pacific Ocean, has recorded 48 shark attacks since 1848. It’s unclear if the shark attacks in Papua New Guinea are related to divers and other visitors or to the native practice of shark fishing. Some Papua New Guineans still engage in the ancient art of shark calling, notably in the province of New Ireland. 

Shark callers assert that they may communicate with shark spirits by calling them with rituals and ceremonial music. The caller clubs and nooses the shark as it approaches the boat and brings it back for all to dine on. 

Bondi Beach, Australia

Bondi Beach

People relaxing on the Bondi beach in Sydney, Australia. Bondi beach is one of the most famous beach in the world.

©iStock.com/master2

This beachfront on Australia’s east coast undoubtedly has a lot of sharks because it has protection netting in place in order to keep the finned predators away from swimmers. Violent events have elevated this beach to the top of several lists of the world’s shark-infested beaches. Just north of this beach, a young lady was attacked and slain by three bull sharks in 2006. 

A 16-year-old bodyboarder was killed by a bull shark in this area in 2008 as well. A short time later, in the same waters, a surfer and two divers also had near encounters with the predatory fish. Fortunately, they made it out alive. This eastern Australian coastline has among of the greatest shark attack percentages in the world due to the abundance of sharks and the number of people swimming in the sea. 

Recife, Brazil

Racife Brazil Beach

Recife has a famous urban beach that stretches along its coastline.

©iStock.com/1219393229

Numerous shark attacks have occurred in Brazil at the well-known Recife Beach in the Pernambuco region. Even though residents know to be careful swimming in the waters, tourists nonetheless enjoy visiting the lovely beach. The development of Port Suape, which requires the excavation of estuaries and the construction of long docks across the ocean, is said to be the cause of the shark issue, which is a recent issue. 

According to the BBC, there were problems with the new port, particularly for bull sharks. In Pernambuco, Brazil, there have been 59 shark attacks since 1931. According to shark attack data, 27 of them resulted in fatalities, with the most current one being in 2013.

Gansbaai, South Africa

Shark Alley, South Africa

Gansbaai is home to “Shark Alley” a spot popular with marine mammals that attracts great white sharks.

©iStock.com/Maxine Weiss

Despite the fact that there are other places in the globe where you may see great whites, Gansbaai is among the greatest due to its position. The confluence of the currents in the Atlantic and Indian oceans results in nourishment and migratory prey. Shark Alley most likely has the largest density of great white sharks anywhere in the world as a result of its geographic position. 

It is where Discovery Channel film teams go to find the best shark content. There is a high likelihood that footage showing great white sharks breaking the water with their jaws open is shot close to this location. 

Wondering what a shark tour entails? Well, you could board a boat and go on a pleasant, secure excursion. However, visitors can drop into the water in cages to get up and personal with great white sharks if they really want to get their hearts racing.

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

New Smyrna Beach has seen more shark attacks than any other beach in the United States.

©iStock.com/Javier_Art_Photography

The International Shark Attack File estimates that Florida has the most shark attacks worldwide each year. The location of New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County is where a disproportionate amount of them take place. According to ISAF data, 303 shark attacks have occurred without warning.

An unprovoked attack is when the swimmer or surfer wasn’t actively trying to feed or interact with the animal. There have been over twice as many as Brevard County, the next-highest area of Florida since records began to be recorded in 1882. The murky water caused by extensive rain runoff may be one factor in Volusia’s higher rate of shark bites.
New Smyrna Beach is the beach with the most great white shark infestation in the world.

RĂ©union Island, Indian Ocean

Reunion Island Beach

Scenic view of palm trees on Grande Anse beach, Reunion Island

©iStock.com/Infografick

A French-owned island in the Indian Ocean, 130 miles off the coast of Madagascar, Reunion Island is home to breathtaking cascades, luscious, emerald landscapes, stunning beaches, terrific surf, and plenty of sharks. 

Despite the fact that there haven’t been many assaults off the coast of Reunion Island recently, the amount of attacks on divers, swimmers, and surfers per capita on this tiny, uninhabited island is among the highest in the world. 24 shark attacks have occurred off the coast of this island since 1980, with 13 of them resulting in fatalities.

Two-thirds of the most aggressive shark species are the bull and tiger sharks, which both patrol the waters close to this island.  Even though relatively few people visit this little island, those who do should take additional precautions when swimming in the area’s waters.

Honorable Mention: More Shark-Infested Beaches

Blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus).

Blacktip sharks don’t have great eyesight.

©Vladimir Wrangel/Shutterstock.com

In Florida, there are four other beaches where sharks are often spotted.

  1. Cocoa Beach, Florida—This area of Canaveral Bight is only one hour from Orlando. It is a gorgeous beach with great scenery. You can go on a tour to watch dolphins, and you are also likely to spot a shark. Beware of rip currents here.
  2. Melbourne Beach, Florida—If you travel a bit south of Cocoa Beach, you can visit Melbourne Beach. There have been six shark attacks here in the last dozen years. The increased rate of shark incidents is likely due to the larger number of people at this location. It is also a great snorkeling spot, so there are more people in the water.
  3. Ormond Beach, Florida—Located north of Daytona is a beautiful surfing beach called Ormond Beach. The seas are rough here, and sharks can easily ambush their prey. Scientists track sharks here, and there are about 5 sharks in the water every day. If you don’t like to surf, check out Granada Boulevard or the shark-free Tomoka River.
  4. Jacksonville Beach—This beach is nearly 22 miles long. There have been three fatal shark attacks here in the last dozen years. The most common sharks to see at this beach are snipper sharks and black tip sharks. Regardless, there is still a lot of surfing, fishing, and swimming at this beach.

What Do I Do If I See a Shark?

Reef shark headbutts diver

Do not make sudden movements if you see a shark. Maintain eye contact and back away slowly.

©Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock.com

If you ever find yourself swimming and you spot a shark in the water, it’s important to remain calm and take the necessary safety precautions. Here are a few things you should do if you see a shark while swimming:

  • Avoid sudden movements that could startle the shark.
  • Don’t swim away quickly, as it may trigger a predatory instinct.
  • Keep your eye on the shark at all times. In fact, make eye contact. Sharks prefer to ambush prey from behind or below and are less likely to strike if you are facing them.
  • Try to exit the water as soon as possible.
  • If you can’t leave the water, do not thrash your arms and legs around.
  • Do not wear jewelry or shiny metal objects. They look like fish scales to sharks.
  • Stay in a group and move together to make yourself look bigger.
  • Don’t swim with open wounds. Sharks really can smell blood in the water.

Remember, sharks can be unpredictable, so it’s important to use caution if you ever see one while swimming. By following these steps, you can stay safe and minimize the chance of a shark attack.

Summary Of The 9 Most Shark-Infested Beaches On Earth

NumberLocationNumber of Shark Attacks
1South Carolina107 since 1837
2Maui, Hawaii35 between 2000-2015
3California Coastline132 since 1837
4Papua New Guinea48 Since 1837
5Bondi Beach, Australia13 since 1929
6Recife, Brazile59 since 1931
7Gansbaai, South Africa5-10 per year
8New Smyrna Beach, Florida32 between 2010-2023
9Reunion Island, Indian Ocean24 since 1980

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/abadonian


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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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