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List of the most shark infested beaches in the USA

The Most Shark-Infested Beaches in the USA You Can (Safely) Dip Your Toes In

Jumping into the ocean is an encapsulating experience. The great blue expanse of water holds her secrets close, and perhaps none more famously than the ocean's ultimate predator — the shark. For beach lovers and adventurers, the thrill of the unpredictable is part of the pull to the surf, but with a guide to the most shark-infested beaches in the USA, you can safely enjoy the splendors of the sea while still getting your pulse racing. Explore these hotspots for shark activity and learn how to appreciate these majestic creatures from a distance.


The International Shark Attack File (ISAF) is a world database for known shark attacks since 1958.THis database does cover the world, not just the USA, they keep track of locations, bites that are fatal and non-fatal. This is where I went to help me gather some information for this blog post. Of course, as you imagine Florida is top of the list, but next on the list is Australia. So just remember when visiting most of these beaches on this blogs post most have less shark bites than Australia. The Florida Museum of Natural History is where the ISAF is located. This is in Gainesville Florida where the University of Florida is located. which makes sense since Florida is the shark bite capital of the world. Shark bites and Shark attacks are basically the same things, but the word "attack" tends to make the fear of the ocean worse. You  always no matter where you are swimming have the chance of being bitten by a shark, so always be aware, but this blog is more about the information not to scare you away from ever dipping your toes in the ocean water again.

Since 2012 shark bites tend to be on the rise, but some years are lower than others. For example, due to my shark research only 36 confirm shark bites happened in 2023 where back in 2021 there were 47. And since 2012 there were 4 years where no bites were fatal. These statistics are for the United States only and cover a variety of species of sharks. The good news is shark fatalities are extremely low compared to the millions of people swimming in the ocean all over the United States.

The Shark Bite Capital, New Smyrna Beach, Florida- the most shark infested beach in the USA

ocean picture with pier

New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County Florida, shadowed by the alluring darkness of its nearby Disney realm, has earned an unusual moniker—Shark Bite Capital of the World. Cloaked in beautiful sun and lapping waves, it’s within New Smyrna's safe shallows that you'll find the Atlantic's greatest concentration of shark-human interactions. Not to worry, the sharks here are more like curious teenagers; they give test-nibbles, and it’s rare for these incidents to be serious. Nonetheless, the thrill of sharing a wave with the water's guardian adds a dash of salt to your seaside escapades. Just remember that Florida's New Smyrna Beach is not the only area of Volusia County where sharks can be lurking close to the coastline, although it is the most dangerous beach for bites in the USA. Daytona Beach located just up the road is in the same county. Sharks will like the spring break visitors there also.

The Panhandle's Predators

The Florida Panhandle's powder-fine sands attract the frolicking spirits of young and old. Its shallow waters host a remarkable variety of marine life, with many types of sharks like bull sharks, blacktip sharks, and the occasional hammerhead adding to the diversity. Sun-soaked and submerged, the Panhandle remains an ecosystem in motion, and its shark population underscores the critical role this region plays in the survival of many species. Although this is not the most dangerous place for sharks in Florida, it had to be mentioned just due to the variety, and generally hammerhead sharks are not dangerous to humans, but they can be curious. This includes all of the Emerald Coast so there are many beaches that can be named. Destin, Fort Walton and the several other beaches of this area have a risk. Sand Tiger Sharks or Nurse sharks can also be spotted but also, they general are not the type of sharks that cause unprovoked shark bites. These usually are nocturnal sharks and have only caused 36 non-fatal bites since the ISAF has been tracking them. 

The Sharks of Hawaii's North Shore

Hawaii beach

Hawaii's North Shore, a mecca for surfers, continues to lure adrenaline junkies for the promise of perfect tubes. Yet in the turquoise backdrop lurk the magnificent and increasingly protected sharks of the Pacific. From the graceful Galapagos sharks to the monumental tiger sharks, these waters speak to the harmonious balance between ocean and land, a testament to conservationists and their tireless efforts to educate. The Hawaiian waters are perfect for the sharks, the yearlong water temperatures and the diversity of life int the ocean here keeps the sharks well fed and thriving here. Here, in Hawaii, even the sharks dance to the rhythm of the hula. lol

South Carolina's Swarming Sharks

Charleston Beaches like Folly and Isle of Palms. or even up the coast a couple hours to Myrtle Beach; South Carolina may sound like a great beach escape, and they are, but they're also luxurious to the area's rich aquatic life. The waters are surrounded by a bustling shark population such as the bull sharks and the infamous great white sharks. The combination of warm waters from the Gulf Stream and the propagation of multiple inshore species during the summer season make every splash a potential playground for these predators. Every few weeks you will hear about a large great white shark being spotted due to it being tagged in the past off the coast of South Carolina. Shark encounters are a common thing for South Carolina as it ranks #3 on the list for the number of shark attacks in the USA.

San Francisco, Bodega Bay, and Surf Beach- the West Coast's Undersea Theater

California Coast

The golden coast of San Francisco, home to swaths of sunbathers and the backdrop for Baywatch, also houses an audience of a different sort. Sharks here favor tranquility as they glide in the shadows cast by the Golden Gate Bridge. In view of the hallowed halls of Alcatraz, various shark species enjoy the churning tides from shore to the small stretch towards Bodega Bay. The underwater theatrics in this region are awe-inspiring and, with a pinch of ardent respect, a spectacle to remember. This area is known to be part of the red triangle. Santa Barbara's Surf Beach might be the quintessential California coastline scene—surfboards, sun-kissed shoulders, and bonfires beneath the star-strewn skies of a carefree summer. But this section of coast is also a haven for sharks, particularly the mighty great white shark. Occasional encounters serve as a reminder that the ocean’s secrets are as deep as her depths but are not to be feared, only respected. The heart of California is full of many varieties of sharks, so the risk of a shark attack is there, but do not let it stop you from enjoying the beautiful beaches of this area

North Carolina's Not-So-Secret Shark Attacks

A summer's day on Carolina's Outer Banks typically guarantees endless sun and sand. However, venture into the water, especially near Cape Hatteras, and it's not the lighthouse's light that will have your attention. With a surprising number of unprovoked shark attacks reported, this area busies itself considerably more with the likes of blacktip and spinner sharks. The Outer Banks are steeped in maritime history, and nothing quite claims that lineage like the silent, gliding presence of these magnificent creatures. Great White Sharks are known to be located all over the coastal area. From Massachucettes to Texas, but some of the largest ever tagged have been spotted off the coast of North Carolina. Just remember that when you are taking a swim in the Atlantic Ocean.

Ocean City, Maryland's Maritime Spectacle


Ocean City, known for its cotton candy skies, boardwalk bustle, and now, its burgeoning shark sightings. This paradise by the Atlantic is a favorite destination for those seeking sun, but the number of sharks around Maryland's shores, including the elusive dogfish and massive sand tiger, underscores the crucial work needed to maintain the delicate balance of this aquatic ecosystem. The shimmering city lights bring the beach to life, but these coastal waters belong to the ocean's most ancient rulers. I mention Ocean City because there have been many sightings but actually attacks happen more often in Texas, Oregon, and Georgia before Maryland

Cape Cod Sharks: A Heritage of Horror?

Cape Cod's rich maritime history is one of trepidation and respect for the sea's denizens, showcased by iconic stories like 'Jaws'. The apex predators one admires and fears through cinema can still be found patrolling the Cape’s waters. Cape Cod hosts a thriving great white population, lured by the warmth of summer's inshore feeding grounds. Yet, even here, amid the tension of man and beast, Cape Cod teaches an enduring lesson in the coexistence of ecosystem and humanity. Personally, Cape Cod sharks always get a bad rap, due to the movie Jaws. For the most part this is one of the least likely areas to get a shark bite on the east coast of the United States.

Shark Hotspots Across the Map


From Hawaii to the Carolinas, and the Gulf of Mexico to the Chesapeake Bay, the United States boasts a diverse range of shark habitats. With species varying from the massive whale shark to the lean, athletic mako, these underwater dancers keep the stay at your chosen beach less like a vacation and more like a trip to a national shark-themed park. Each shore carries a story, a dance with danger and delight, and the possibility to witness a miracle of the natural world. In the past 2 years there has been an increase in shark attacks in New York, especially off the coast of Long Island. 13 over the past couple years with 4 happening the same weekend by Sand Tiger Sharks.

Hilton Honors

Enjoying the Sea's Apex Predators

Encountering sharks in their natural habitat is awe-inspiring and represents a rare opportunity to witness nature's wonders up close. To maximize the experience, it’s crucial to research local waters and understand guidelines for shark interaction. Whether admiring from a boat or participating in a responsible shark-diving experience, ensure your experience is safe for both you and the sharks. 

Remember, the ocean waters will always be a place of mystery and adventure, and sharks are an integral part of that charm. Each sighting, each paddle through shark-infested waters brings us closer to appreciating these magnificent creatures and understanding our role in their survival. These beaches are not just about soaking in the sun; they're also about immersing ourselves in the awe of nature. 

Pack your sunscreen, your snorkel gear (maybe a shark cage), and your respect for the marine world. Set your compass for adventure and join the ranks of thrill-seekers who cherish the serenity and might of the sea's most storied inhabitants—sharks. When you do, the ocean will echo with the exhilarating blend of your laughter and the powerful swishes of your new, toothy acquaintances. Remember to keep swimming — but with an enthusiasm that would make even the toughest reef shark smirk with approval.

cruise critic

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