When Are Sharks Likely to Attack in Hawaii?

Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > When Are Sharks Likely to Attack in Hawaii?

According to Hawaiian oral tradition, Hawaii shark attacks were most common during the late summer and fall months; or, as they put it, “when the wiliwili tree blooms.”

Turns out, they weren’t too far off from what scientists are now finding out. A recent study shows that female tiger sharks migrate to the Hawaiian Islands during these months to give birth. The migration and pupping season go hand-in-hand with increased shark bites.

However, scientists do not want people to start drawing their own conclusions about the recent shark attacks off of Maui waters. Other factors come into play, like shark behavior, etc.

Of course, we all know that tiger sharks are present in Hawaiian waters all year long. It’s just the late summer and fall months that seem to be the peak in attacks. But with the frequent shark incidents over a month-long period, I am starting to wonder how tourism will be affected. Prior to this, shark attacks seemed to be a Hollywood-type scare we’d only see in movies, like “Jaws.”

Here are the top 10 ways to avoid a shark attack in Hawaii, courtesy of the Department of Land and Natural Resources:

  1. Swim, surf, or dive with other people, and don’t move too far away from assistance. When you book snorkeling, SCUBA, or surfing excursions through Hawaii Aloha Travel, you’re in safe hands — our professional guides know where and when to take guests to minimize the risk of a shark attack.


Swimming in murky waters can be dangerous because sharks have difficulty seeing. If a shark thinks you’re a dolphin or sea turtle, he may try to attack.
  1. Stay out of the water at dawn, dusk, and night, when some species of sharks may move inshore to feed. But be aware that tiger sharks are known to bite people at all times of the day.
  2. Do not enter the water if you have open wounds or are bleeding in any way. Sharks can detect blood and body fluids in extremely small concentrations.
  3. Avoid murky waters, harbor entrances, areas near stream mouths (especially after heavy rains), channels, or steep dropoffs. These types of waters are known to be frequented by sharks.
  4. Do not wear high-contrast clothing or shiny jewelry. Sharks see contrast very well.
  5. Refrain from excessive splashing; keep pets, which swim erratically, out of the water. Sharks are known to be attracted to such activity.
  6. Do not enter the water if sharks are known to be present, and leave the water quickly and calmly if one is sighted. Do not provoke or harass a shark, even a small one.


Although it’s safer to swim with many people, it can be dangerous to make too much commotion in the water. Sharks are attracted to noise and movement.
  1. If fish or turtles start to behave erratically, leave the water. Be alert to the presence of dolphins, as they are prey for some large sharks.
  2. Remove speared fish from the water or tow them a safe distance behind you. Do not swim near people fishing or spearfishing. Stay away from dead animals in the water.
  3. Swim or surf at beaches patrolled by lifeguards, and follow their advice.

Even in high-incidence months like October, heeding these safety tips can reduce your risk of having an unwanted shark encounter. So, make sure you reduce your chances of a shark attack and enjoy the water any time of year!