Shark Attacks and Shark FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) in Maui, Hawaii

The picture above is a photo of a grey reef shark at the Maui Ocean Center.

We get a lot of questions around shark attacks and questions about sharks in the waters of Maui, Hawaii.  This short guide should help to answer most shark related questions and provide insight into vacationing Maui.

What do I do if I see a shark in the water?

First off, if you see a shark in the water you need to remain calm.  It is not looking for you, most shark attacks occur because the shark is confused by the person while searching for something else. Breathe normally and try to control your heart rate.  Do not let yourself get excited or panic.  Remain calm and try to remember that sharks detect sounds and the electric fields given off by living things.  Slowly and quietly make your way to the shore, boat, kayak or paddleboard.

How common is it to see a shark in the water?

For over 3 years I have spent a lot of time snorkeling around Maui and I have never seen a shark until I visited a cave where I was told they live.  So I have never seen one swim by while looking at the coral and reef fish along the shore.  On the other hand, some friends who have moved here a few months ago have seen 2 black tip reef sharks while they were out snorkeling.

Seeing a shark in nature is a lucky occurrence.  It is also a rare occurrence.  So relax, you have very little to worry about in the warm Hawaiian waters.

How many shark attacks happened in 2013?

There were 13 reported cases of shark attacks in Maui during 2013.  There were also 1.5 million people who visited the island of Maui in 2013.  If you do the math on this, you would find that you have a .00000086% chance of being attacked by a shark in Maui.

You can reduce this chance even closer to a 0% chance of a shark attack on Maui if you follow the advice below on how to avoid seeing sharks in Maui.

How can I avoid seeing a shark in the water?

The majority of shark attacks that happened on Maui in 2013 could have been avoided by following these tips:

  1. Stay out of the water before 8am and after 4pm.
  2. Do not go in the water if it rained the day before or the day you are at the beach.
  3. If the water is brown or murky do not go in.
  4. Do not swim near people fishing.
  5. As it is with the pool, do not pee in the ocean either.
  6. Take off anything that light can reflect off from before going in the water (all jewelry).
  7. Do not go in the ocean with an injury, open sore, open wound, fresh stiches, or with any cuts of the skin.

If you want to avoid going in the ocean due to fear of sharks, you are not alone.  As an alternative, we suggest renting a scooter from the Maui Scooter Shack and seeing the ocean life at Maui Ocean Center “The Hawaiian Aquarium.”  Located at 192 Ma’alaea Rd. Wailuku, HI 96793. Phone: 808-270-7000 | Website:

What are the different types of sharks in the waters around Maui?

There are over a dozen different shark species that are in the Hawaiian waters.  The most common shark that snorkelers can see is the black or white tip reef shark.

Keep in mind, Hawaii is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, some of the sharks found around Hawaii include: White Tipped Reef Shark, Tiger Shark, Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Galapagos Shark, Grey Reef Shark, Sandbar Shark, Whale Shark, Six Gill Shark, Great White Shark, Black Tipped Reef Shark, Pigmy Shark, Cookiecutter Shark, Dogfish Shark, and the Oceanic Whitetip Shark.

Not all the sharks listed above are near land.  For example, the six gill shark is not known to come above depths of 1,000 feet.