Are There Great White Sharks In Hawaii?

Are there great white sharks in Hawaii? Well, when most people think of sharks in the waters of Hawaii, chances are that their mind goes to the tiger shark.

Not only is this shark found in great numbers in the waters of the Aloha State, but it’s considered a sacred animal by native Hawaiians and can be found in a lot of their traditional art. 

That said, the great white shark has – as we’ve previously pointed out – a massive range, and that range includes the waters of Hawaii.

And though you’re much less likely to encounter one than you are a tiger shark, the fact remains that they are there, and there is a chance of running into one. 

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the presence of great whites around the archipelago and answer the question: Are there great white sharks in Hawaii?

Do Great White Sharks Live In Hawaii? 

Great White Shark pictures

As we pointed out, great white sharks can be found in the waters of Hawaii. However, the word ‘live’ is not quite accurate here because great whites don’t stay near Hawaii year-round. It’s more of a migratory thing for them. 

The reason for this is quite simple – great whites prefer cooler waters, and the waters surrounding Hawaii tend to be a little too warm for their tastes.

The exception to this is in the period of time between January and April when Hawaiian waters are a little cooler. During this time, great whites can be found in the area. 

Why Can’t Great White Sharks Be Found In Hawaii The Year Round? 

As pointed out above, Hawaiian waters are simply too warm for great whites, and they prefer more northerly or southerly climes.

This is why you’ll find great white sharks in massive numbers off the coast of South Africa, for instance, where it’s much less warm. 

Other places that have great whites in huge numbers are the coast of New England, Australia’s eastern coast, and off the coasts of Southern California and Baja California. 

Is The White Shark Café In Hawaii? 

Great White Shark Habitat Map: 5 Surprising Places You Find Them Worldwide

If you’re a great white enthusiast and a regular reader of our site, then chances are you’ve heard of the mysterious “White Shark Café” – an unremarkable patch of open ocean where white sharks congregate in great numbers during certain parts of the year. 

Since being discovered, the White Shark Café has been a source of immense interest to marine biologists, who can’t quite figure out why sharks make the lengthy journey (with swims of up to 100 days) to what has always been considered the marine equivalent of a ‘desert’.

However, recent studies have revealed one of the reasons for the sharks’ interest in the area – an abundance of light-sensitive fauna that the sharks dive to consume. 

There are still some mysteries as to the sharks’ purposes in visiting the area – male and female sharks have very different diving patterns, for instance – and researchers are still carefully observing the behavior of sharks in the area to unlock the last few secrets of the region. 

So, is the White Shark Café in (or near) Hawaiian waters? Not quite. It’s about halfway between Mexico’s Baja California and Hawaii itself.

This makes it about as close to Hawaii as anywhere, but it’s still 1200 nautical miles from the archipelago.

It has been posited, however, that the Café’s relative proximity to Hawaii is why the great white can be seen in its waters – waters that it is otherwise not indigenous to. 

Shark Attacks In Hawaii

The great white is often seen as a scary shark, and people are often worried about the odds of being attacked by this fearsome ocean predator.

And while this fear is perhaps somewhat justified – great whites perpetrate more attacks on people than any other type of shark – the fact is that the odds of being attacked by one are incredibly low. 

Nowhere is this truer than in Hawaii, where great whites are not even native to the waters. Hawaii has a total of 182 reported shark attacks since 1837.

Of these, only a handful have been great white shark attacks, and the last attack confirmed to have involved a white was in the 1960s – and before that, in the 1920s. 

The reason for the sparsity of great white shark attacks in the waters of Hawaii is simple – the sharks are seldom found there, and when they are, people are less likely to be in the water (as it’s cooler).

It’s far more likely that you’ll be attacked by a tiger shark – but even then, the odds are vanishingly low, given the ratio of attacks versus people regularly in the water. 

Can You See Deep Blue In Hawaii? 

One of the world’s most famous great white sharks is undoubtedly the huge female that has been dubbed ‘Deep Blue’.

This shark has been spotted at Guadalupe Island, Mexico, several times and is world-famous not only for her incredible size (she’s estimated to be around 20ft long, which would make her one of the biggest great whites ever recorded) but also for her docility. 

Several divers, including the controversial Ocean Ramsey, have dived with Deep Blue, and Ramsey has even touched the shark (note: do not try this at home) without provoking any sort of hostile response.

In fact, Deep Blue seems perfectly happy to share the ocean with curious human beings, and it is for this reason that footage of her is readily available. 

One of the places where Deep Blue has been spotted is, indeed, in Hawaii – more specifically, in the waters off Oahu.

Ramsey herself captured one of these extraordinary sightings while filming tiger sharks scavenging the carcass of a sperm whale – a favorite food of older, larger sharks such as Deep Blue, who no longer have the agility to pursue more nimble prey like seals. 

Odds are, then, that in the cooler months, you may well be able to see Deep Blue – or a shark like her. Just find a dead whale and wait to see what turns up! 

So, are there Great White Sharks In Hawaii? While Not Native, They Can Still Be Found There 

The great white shark may not be a native to the waters around Hawaii, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there.

If you happen to be in Hawaii during the cooler months, then the odds are good that you might spot one of these elusive ocean predators. 


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Akula is the founder of Building on a lifelong passion for the world of majestic great whites, he founded the site with a mission to inform and educate people about the world's largest predatory fish, as well as promote shark conservation worldwide.



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