Kosi Bay, South Africa
Located in KwaZulu Natal in a dramatically beautiful, unspoiled corner of South African paradise, Kosi Bay is a series of four lakes that eventually connects to the warm Indian Ocean through an estuary abundant in flora and fauna. Zambezi sharks (the South African name for famously aggressive Bull sharks) are known for making forays in search of food deep into freshwater lakes and rivers, and this is certainly evident in the fish-rich waters of Kosi Bay.
“Shark Alley,” Gansbaai, South Africa
“Shark Alley” is a narrow channel between two small islands off the coast of Gansbaai, a charming fishing village east of Cape Town. It is also home to one of the densest populations of Great White Sharks in the world—and so if you’re keen to cage dive with this much-maligned beauty of the deep, here’s a good place to do it.
Australia’s coastal waters are filled with sharks of all kinds, but if you’re traveling Down Under there are a few things you should know. While the highest number of attacks occur on the east coast (in areas of densest population), most fatal attacks occur in the colder southern waters — home of more seals and more Great Whites. We decided to put Brisbane on our list because of a recent local news headline: “Shark mauls horse in Brisbane River.”
Bolinas Beach, Northern California
This tiny enclave north of San Francisco is notorious for its bohemian ways and its desire to keep the rest of the world at bay (apparently townsfolk frequently remove the turn-off sign on Route One). But that doesn’t keep the sharks away. Like its neighbors Stinson Beach and the Point Reyes Seashore, Bolinas is located smack dab in the middle of the Red Triangle (a region marked by its high density of great white sharks).
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
What do you get when you mix sub-tropical weather with gorgeous white-sand beaches in a charming central-coastal Florida town that offers everything? Lots of tourists. And what do you get when you mix tourists with sharks — most of which can’t always tell the difference between a human and a fish? “Shark attack capital of the world.”
Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
Swimming at Umhlanga Rocks — a popular beach resort on the KwaZulu Natal coast just north of famously sharky Durban, South Africa — is perfectly safe. Umhlanga Rocks was one of the first shark-infested spots to benefit from protective nets in the 1960s, and to this day serious attacks have been dramatically reduced. However, the Natal Sharks Board is now rethinking its policy. The underwater barriers do keep out great whites, bulls, and tiger sharks, but they also kill a number of harmless creatures, too, including dolphins, rays and turtles.North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Oahu boasts the second-highest number of confirmed, unprovoked shark attacks recorded in the Hawaiian island chain since 1882. If Oahu’s infamous North Shore waves aren’t enough to make you think twice before entering the water—can you say Bonsai Pipeline?—here’s something that might. Just three miles north the shark presence is so consistent that at least one “shark encounter” tour guide won’t ask you to pay if you don’t see any of the beautiful creatures.
Recife, a lovely beach town on Brazil’s northeast coast, boasts a coral reef that attracts surfers and copious numbers of sharks that come to feed in the area. Which is why, according to the ISAF’s regional map of “confirmed unprovoked shark attacks," the state of Pemambuco boasts the highest number of shark attacks by far for all of South America. And why, when you visit the balmy beachside paradise, the locals will tell you to stay close to shore. Very close.
Kahana, West Maui, Hawaii
Since 1882 there have been just over 100 reports of unprovoked attacks in the entire Hawaiian island chain (the most, 34, occurring off of Maui). When you compare this to population size (roughly 1.2 million) and the many millions of annual tourists, that total is happily low. However, Hawaii is home to about 40 different shark species, including the occasionally aggressive tiger shark, and so incidents (including fatalities) do occur.
West End, Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas
Stories of shark attacks in the Bahamas and Caribbean are as old as the region’s tales of piracy, walking the plank, and buried treasure. The region is replete with sharks of all types, including blacktips, hammerheads, and bull sharks. According to the ISAF, Grand Bahama Island has seen only 4 unprovoked attacks since 1749 (none fatal), but that’s still more than all others in the Bahamas. And besides, West End on Grand Bahama is home to what experienced divers call “Tiger Beach”—a spot 20 miles off this coastline that “a lot of very big sharks call home.”
Wherever this happened...