Everyone who lived through ‘Jaws’ in the 1970s has a vivid memory of what it must look like for a shark to lunge at you with those dead eyes and sharp glistening teeth. Most people wouldn’t want to venture anywhere near a body of water where that sort of demise might be waiting for you. But there are places around the world where sharks seem to want to gather and await adventurous souls.
Gansbaai, South Africa
South Africa is home to some of the world’s most shark-infested waters. In fact Gansbaai, South Africa, is in the area known as ‘Shark Alley’. Gansbaai is a popular holiday resort and fishing town, and it’s also the great white shark capital of the world. Great white sharks are probably the most terrifying sharks in the world, because of their giant mouths and lifeless eyes. These intimidating sharks have been feared in many movies such as Jaws. There are so many of these notoriously frightening beasts in the narrow channel between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock, that one of the most popular tourist attractions in ‘Shark Alley’ is shark cage diving.
For a few hundred dollars, tourist boats will take divers to the shark-infested waters, drop them overboard in a cage, and dangle raw meat in the water waiting for the shark to approach the cage. If you don’t feel brave enough to jump in a cage with other fearless tourists to be dangled in front of a great white, you can take a safer approach to seeing sharks by taking a boat tour of Shark Alley and just staying above water. You can watch the sharks feasting on seals as you sit on deck. No matter how you like watching your sharks, you can’t go wrong in Gansbaai, home to the greatest numbers of great whites in the world.
Kosi Bay, South Africa
Another shark-infested South African location is Kosi Bay, Kwa-Zulu-Natal. Kosi Bay is actually a series of four lakes in the KwaZulu Natal preserve, which connects to the Indian Ocean. Although the area is picturesque and serene, just beneath the water lurks the most aggressive of all sharks, the Zambezi sharks, or bull sharks. These sharks aren’t just relegated to the ocean―they have been known to swim into freshwater lakes and estuaries looking for a meal. In fact, in the United States they have been spotted swimming up the Mississippi River, as far north as Ohio. So if you thought swimming in a lake or river would keep you safe from a shark attack, you might want to think again.
Speaking of the United States, there are two locations stateside that have their own deadly reputations. Bolinas, a small beach in northern California that is known for its reclusive residents, is also known for not-so-reclusive great white sharks. Bolinas and nearby Stinson Beach are part of the ‘Red Triangle’ in northern California, where great whites are known to patrol the waters in huge packs. Surfers along this area of the coastline are brave enough just for sticking it out in the cold waters, but braving the sharks makes them even more courageous. The wet suits they wear make it even worse―they look very much like a sea lion, which is a great white’s favorite meal. In 2002, a 14-foot great white leaped out of the water and grabbed a surfer, who survived but needed 100 stitches to close his four bite wounds.
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
New Smyrna Beach, Florida, holds the dubious reputation as being the ‘shark attack capital of the world’. In New Smyrna Beach, sharks are known not only for accidentally biting people, but also for just bumping into them in the surf. The sea along this popular beach resort town is teeming with tiger, blacktip, and spinner sharks. Although these species of sharks are not as aggressive as bull or great white sharks, they have been known to attack humans by accident, usually surfers. But there are a huge number of people in the water almost year-round in this area, and floating people are easily mistaken for sea turtles or other prey, when you’re looking at them from beneath the surface. More people have been attacked by sharks off the coast of New Smyrna than any other place in the world.
But as frightening as shark attacks are, even worse is the idea of fatal shark attacks. A small seaside town on the Atlantic coast of Brazil, Recife, is the most fatal place for shark attacks in the world. Since 1992, there have been more than 50 shark attacks, with 16 of them fatal. The lovely urban beach, sunny days, and gentle offshore breezes make the area beautiful, but the beach has earned a reputation as the most deadly shark attack spot in the world, because of the high concentration of aggressive and dangerous bull sharks.
If you’re tired of just lying in the sun working on your tan and you long for something a little more spine-tingling, then check out one of these spots for your next vacation. But if your vacation goes from spine-tingling to spine-chomping, don’t say we didn’t warn you.