Scoring great waves could mean surfing with great whites!
Sharks inhabit a dark place in the recesses of many a surfer’s mind, and for most that’s where it stays, in their imagination. But for some surfers it’s a daily gamble, they know those fearsome fish are out there, they have a pal who was bitten by one, they might've even been attacked by a shark themselves. Still, even the threat of being mauled by a man-eating beast won’t keep them from paddling out and catching a few. If you think you've got the balls for it then step right up, here are the sharkiest surf spots on the planet!
Byron Bay, Australia
This chilled-out hippy surf town, where backpackers are drawn like moths to a flame, holds a dark secret that it would rather no-one knew about… so here it is! Byron Bay leads the way when it comes to shark attacks in the lucky country, with 13 attacks since 1990. Two of these attacks were deadly. Right next door at Ballina, which ranks second in the list of Australia’s shark hotspots, there have been at least six attacks and one fatality. Even though these two surf spots lead the rankings when it comes to shark attacks, there are plenty more happening across this vast country, 295 and counting over the last 27 years.
That one might look small, but just wait until you see his big brother...
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Welcome to the shark capital of the world! You probably already know that Florida consistently ranks number one for the most shark attacks in the world, but thankfully very few of them are fatal. Surfers hit up spots all over the Atlantic coastline of the Sunshine State, but there’s one beach that seems particularly attractive for these feared fish. Where you ask? It’s none other than New Smyrna Beach! In September last year, there were three separate attacks here on the same day, which might just have set a new record. The International Shark Attack File once awarded this place the accolade of being ‘the sharkiest place on earth’ but the local tourist board didn't deem it worthy of promotion.
Just under the surface there are lots and lots and lots of sharks
Boa Viagem, Brazil
Here we have an alarming example of human intervention creating a haven for sharks. The beaches around Recife were once no more sharky than anywhere else in Brazil, but the construction of Port Suape during the 70s changed all that, with the dredging of estuaries sending bull sharks out to nearby bays. The pollution brought by shipping also attracts tiger sharks to the area, combining to make the beach of Boa Viagem a notorious hot spot for sharks. This disturbing footage shows a shark attacking a swimmer off the coast of Recife, so if you’re squeamish don't watch it!
Be warned, there’s blood…
Jeffreys Bay, South Africa
What with pro surfer Mick Fanning being attacked by a shark ON LIVE TV at the perfect righthand point break J-Bay, this spot makes the list thanks to its sheer notoriety. The honest truth is that there are great white sharks all over South Africa, and probably a lot worse places to be attacked in the country due to isolation. However, Jeffreys Bay has solidified itself as an undeniably sharky surf spot, and it’s a testament to lure of this wave that surfers still brave the water to try and scratch into what could be the wave of their life (and quite possibly the last).
Watch Mick box his way out of a shark attack!
The Red Triangle, California
Ok, so this isn't strictly a surf spot, but the Red Triangle contains a whole bunch of great surf spots, including Mavericks, Ocean Beach in San Francisco, and Moss Landing in Monterey Bay. Wondering what the Red Triangle is? It’s where the largest number of great white shark attacks occur, more than anywhere else on the planet. Roughly stretching from Bodega Bay in the north, out to the Farallon Islands, and back down to Point Sur, the Red Triangle is teeming with blubbery seals which keep the great white numbers high. October is the worst time for attacks, so bad in fact that local surfers have given this month the nickname ‘Sharktober’.
Your friend was bitten by a shark? Give this painting to commemorate the event!
Réunion Island, France
Even though Réunion Island is nestled in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar it’s actually part of France, all thanks to the days of European colonization and exploitation! But that’s got nothing to do with sharks mercilessly attacking people there… unless of course, the increasing numbers of people in the water is equating to more shark attacks? Just some food for thought. Either way, Réunion Island has now earned an irrefutable reputation as a dangerous place to surf. The latest attack here was fatal, marking the eight death in six years, and bringing the total number of attacks since 2011 up to 20. Hell, the government has already tried to ban surfing there, apart from at a few spots that are protected by shark nets (just so you know, the best surf spots aren’t protected).
Are these waves worth the risk? You decide!
Ok, so this is a kinda wildcard when it comes to sharky surf spots, but the quiet Balinese coastal village of Balian is no stranger to sharks. Being a river mouth break with murky water it’s home to lurking bull sharks, and they’ve taken a bite out of surfers more often than you might think. Last year an American surfer was airlifted to Singapore after having a chunk gnawed out of his arm, and this year 48-year-old Aussie surfer Daniel Qeran suffered a nasty nip on his right hand. There have been 6 shark attacks here in just as many years, but records going back further are sketchy. Bali isn't renown for shark attacks, but Balian is starting to get a bit of a reputation…
Looks alright, but there’s probably no-one out for a reason.
Honolua Bay, Hawaii
Out of all the Hawaiian islands, it’s Maui that comes out on top when it comes to shark attacks. The International Shark Attack File has recorded more unprovoked shark attacks on Maui than all the other islands combined, a total of 64 since 1828. So if you’re lucky enough to score the reeling righthand point of Honolua Bay, it’s pretty likely there will be tiger sharks nearby. The fickleness of this wave means it isn't surfed all year round, with the beach closed due to shark sightings more often than when the point is firing. But just around the corner at Kahului Harbor a bodyboarder was chomped on the leg, with the whole ordeal caught on camera…
In the words of Kai Barger, “His heel was just hamburger meat!”
Reckon we’ve missed a shark infested surf spot off the list? Then tell us all about it!