Shark Attacks In Hawaii: Do They Happen Near Tourist Beaches? Maui, Oahu, Big Island, Kauai

Meta: Are you planning on going to Hawaii, but concerned about the chances of being attacked by a shark? Keep reading to discover where these attacks happen!

It is said that shark attacks in Hawaii are a rare occurrence, but they do happen now and then. In fact, the last shark attack which ended up being fatal in Hawaii was in December 2020. This attack took place just off the Maui beach, but it also caused the Maui surfing competition of that year to be postponed as well. 

Shark Attacks In Hawaii: Do They Happen Near Tourist Beaches? Maui, Oahu, Big Island, Kauai

Before that, the known death due to a shark attack was in May 2019 on Maui. However, there was an unofficial attack on the Big Island in October 2019.

In this article, we will be going into further detail about shark attacks in Hawaii. We will be uncovering whether they happen near the tourist beaches of Maui, Oahu, Big Island and Kaui

When Did The Last Shark Attacks In Hawaii Occur?

It is known that there were 8 shark attacks in Hawaii in 2021, yet none of these were fatal. These took place in various places over Hawaii, including Maui, Oahu and Kauai.

They often occurred from the victim surfing or swimming in the waters. So far, there have been 2 known shark attacks in 2022. 

In 2020, there were around 6 official shark attacks that were recorded in Hawaii. These attacks took place on the popular tourist beaches.

3 of these attacks took place on Maui, with 2 on the Big Island, and only one took place on Kauai. 

However, there was one fatal attack that took place in 2020, and this is the attack that took place on Maui. The fatal attack happened in West Maui, on the Honolua Bay, to a surfer.

Honolua Bay In Maui

Honolua Bay is a popular tourist destination, as it plays a big part in marine life conservation in Maui. It is also a great place to go snorkeling. Alongside this, Honolua Bay is the ideal place in Maui for surfers to find some of the best waves in the world. 

However, in December 2020, there was a reported shark attack at his bay. Where the victim was a recreational surfer who was paddling out to get to the waves further out. This is the last known fatal shark attack that has happened, at the time of writing. 

Shark Attacks That Took Place In 2019

During 2019, there were 14 official shark attacks that happened across Hawaii. These shark attacks happened in all four of the Hawaiian Islands. The attacks were in the following places:

  • 1 shark attack took place in Kauai.
  • 2 shark attacks took place on the Big Island.
  • 3 shark attacks took place on Maui.
  • Finally, 5 shark attacks happened on Oahu.

 These are all the shark attacks that happened on these islands. However, there are in fact 3 extra attacks that took place between Molokai and Oachu in the Sahel area. 

When some further investigation took place, it was discovered that the majority of these shark attacks had been provoked and weren’t an accident. What we mean by this is that these attacks happened due to a swimming with sharks tour, or due to fishing. Both are considered provoked incidents. 

Out of all of these attacks that took place in 2019, only one of them was deadly. The fatal shark attack took place on the shores of West Maui.

Can You Go On A Shark Tours In Hawaii?

Swimming with sharks is a popular activity to do in Hawaii. In addition to this, you don’t need to be a professional driver to take part. There are various sharking diving tours that you can complete in Hawaii. The most popular one being found on the coast of Oahu. 

How Many Fatal Shark Attacks Have Occurred In Hawaii?

Shark attacks have been recorded in Hawaii for many years. Out of all the shark attacks that have been officially reported, only 6 of these attacks have been fatal. All of these deadly shark attacks have occurred on Maui. The deadly shark attacks took place in 2004, 2015, 2019, 2020, and 3 deadly attacks took place in 2013. 

Also, there is an unofficial deadly shark attack that took place in 2019 on the Big Island. This is seen as an unofficial report, because the diver’s body was never found.

All that was found was parts of their clothing, which was covered in marks that seem very consistent with shark bites. Hence, the missing diver is seen as an unofficial fatal shark attack. 

As a result, since 2004, there have been around 6 to 7 deadly and fatal shark attacks throughout Hawaii. This is with Maui coming in at first place, as the deadliest island for shark attacks in Hawaii.

Although, research and scientists have discovered that it isn’t just some stroke of bad luck that has caused Maui to have the most shark attacks. It appears that sharks prefer Maui’s shore the most, thus it is more common to come across a shark here, than the other Hawaiian islands. 

Total Shark Attacks In Hawaii

Since records began in 1995 to 2022, there have been around 148 shark attacks. In the last 10 years, there have been around 79 shark attacks in Hawaii. Yet when it is broken down, it doesn’t look too bad.

  • 2 attacks in 2022.
  • 8 in 2021.
  • 6 in 2020.
  • 14 in 2019.
  • 3 in 2018.
  • 5 in 2017.
  • 10 in 2016.
  • 10 in 2015.
  • 6 in 2014.
  • 14 in 2013.
  • 11 in 2012.

All of these figures have been taken from the State of Hawaii Shark Incidents List. This list includes provoked and unprovoked shark attacks. In addition, it also includes anyone who has been physically injured, or their equipment attacked by a shark.

This can include a shark biting a surfboard or paddleboard, but the human was untouched and unharmed.

If you are a true shark fan and are interested in their attacking behavior. It may be worth you looking over the International Shark Attack File. This is a long list of all the unprovoked shark attacks from all over the world.

It uses an interactive map so that you can get a closer look at these areas, and what has happened there. 

Locations of The 2019 Shark Attacks In Hawaii

Shark Attacks In Hawaii: Do They Happen Near Tourist Beaches? Maui, Oahu, Big Island, Kauai

In 2019, there were 14 shark attacks incidents across Hawaii. All the incidents we are going to be discussing have been reported by the Hawaiian State Government.

In this section, we will be talking about some of the incidents that took place in 2019 and the locations that these took place as well. Some of the incidents even made the news in Hawaii. 

Shark Attacks That Happened On Oahu

There were 8 attacks on Oahu during 2019. Three of these attacks took place on the Kaiwi Channel, while swimming just 11 to 12 miles from the shore in March, April and July. While 4 attacks happened in Haleiwa during May and September during boat tours that were only a couple of miles away from the shore.

Then on Makaha Beach, there was an attack while a young man was surfacing only 100 yards away from the shore during August 2019.

West Oahu On Makaha Beach

You can find Makaha Beach on the western side of Oahu. This isn’t a very popular tourist area, which makes it one of the quieter areas of Oahu. In this shark attack, a young surfer was lucky that he was unharmed, when a shark bit off a huge chunk of his surfboard. 


On the North Shore, you will find Haleiwa. Unlike Mahaha Beach, Haleiwa is a very popular tourist destination. However, all the shark attacks appear to be happening a few miles away from the shore, instead of being anywhere near the beach itself. 

In May 2019, there was a reported shark attack at Haleiwa. However, there aren’t many details surrounding this shark attack. Although it has been considered in the record books as a provoked incident.

Then in September of the same year, 3 people were attacked by either 1 or 2 sharks. This attack happened around the same time a boat tour was taking place, which had traveled up to 3 miles away from the shoreline.

Thus, once again, this was considered another provoked shark incident. 

Kaiwi Channel

The Kaiwi Channel can be found between the Molokai and Oahu islands. Three shark attacks have been reported to have occurred here in 2019. Even though these attacks have taken place in the channel, they are officially reported as Oahu attacks. 

All three attacks have been reported to have taken place up to 12 miles away from the shore. However, normally, many tourists don’t go near the Kaiwi channel. 

Shark Attacks That Happened On Maui

On Maui only one fatal shark attack happened during 2019. It happened on Honokowai, while the person was swimming. Yet the unfortunate swimmer was only 120 yards away from the shore. This incident happened in May 2019.

In addition to that, there were two more shark attacks in Maui during 2019, but no one was harmed in these attacks. These took place in September in Kihei, where a surfer was only 150 yards away from the shore.

Then in December in Kihei, a paddleboarder was just 200 yards away from the shore. 


Honokowai is located in the western areas of Maui. In particular, the Kaanapali is a very popular area that is known to have some of the best beaches in Maui. This area is also popular for its resorts and hotels that are very close to the beautiful beaches as well.

Yet in this popular and beautiful area, the fatal shark attack took place. It happened near Honokowai Point, where a holiday-maker from California was staying at his vacation home. With that being said, a similar shark attack happened in the same area in November 2020.

However, in 2020, this incident happened offshore of the Mahina Surf Condo. However, there were warning signs of sharks posted all around the area. Then in December of the same year, another shark attack took place in Honolua Bay. 


Kihei is found on the southern side of Maui. In this area, two shark attacks took place during 2019, but no one was harmed.

In both cases, the incident was reported as just a shark bite, which was only ½ mile north of the Kalama Beach Park. Alongside this, no one was harmed, except for the boards that have a huge chunk being bitten out of. 

South Maui is another popular tourist destination for holiday-makers, with plenty of resorts. Yet in 2020, one of the shark attacks is said to have happened to a group of paddle boarders.

In the report, it is said that a shark was being aggressive and following a small group of people on paddle boards. The group tried to defend themselves using their paddles. Luckily, no one was hurt, and only one paddleboard got damaged. 

Shark Attacks That Happened On The Big Island

All the attacks that took place on The Big Island in 2019, occurred on the Kona side of the island. This is the main area where the majority of tourists are known to stay.

On the Big Island, 2 official attacks took place. One on Kealakekua Bay while someone was snorkeling, and the other took place on Anaehoomalu Bay while the person was paddling.

There is an unconfirmed attack that happened on Kailua-Kona while someone was diving. 

Kealakekua Bay

This is one of the most popular areas on the island to go snorkeling. This attack is believed to have happened only 15 yards away from the shore. It is reported to have taken place in August 2019.

Anaehoomalu Bay

Anaehoomalu Bay is a very popular tourist destination on the Big Island, due to the vast and highly praised resorts. Yet it is reported that in April, only 35 yards from the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort.

The victims were paddling when a shark attacked them. The person in question did not suffer too much damage, but their leg had to be stapled and stitched back into place. 


Another popular tourist destination, but there aren’t man popular swimming areas. The Kailua Bay is where the Ironman triathlon championships begin. It is known that the attack happened south of this bay in October 2019. Although, this is an unofficial case, as the diver’s body has never been found.

It is believed the diver went for a solo nighttime diving trip. Equipment and clothes have been discovered with shark marks, but it is still considered an unofficial case.

Shark Attacks That Happened On Kauai

There was only one shark attack that happened in Kauai in 2019. It has been reported to have happened only 320 yards from Hanalei Bay.

This bay is considered one of the best beaches that you will find or see in Kauai, therefore it is a popular choice for many tourists to go to. 

The victim was surfing when a shark attacked them, luckily it was just a shark bite, and they were otherwise unharmed. Thankfully, people got to him quickly to rescue him, otherwise this would have been another fatal shark attack. Luckily, the surfer recovered, and their leg just needed stitching up. 


If you are planning to go to Hawaii or one of their islands, then it is important to be aware of the danger that there is.

There is no denying that there have been many shark attacks in Hawaii, but the islands also suffer from any natural dangers as well, like flash flooding or getting picked up in the currents. 

If you do plan to go into the water on any of the Hawaiian islands, then you need to be careful. As with shark attacks, many people have become injured or died from participants in activities that involve water. 

We hope you have enjoyed this article, and have a better understanding of the shark attacks that have occurred in Hawaii. A lot of attacks have happened near tourist beaches, thus you should always check with local guidance on swimming in their waters. 

Mikayla Adams