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Everyone has heard about shark attacks on the California coast over the years, but where do they happen the most? We decided to map all of the California shark attacks starting in the year 2000 to today so we could see the areas with the highest concentrations.

Sure, some beaches, like Surf Beach near Vandenberg Air Force Base, are notorious for shark attacks. That beach alone has four attacks including two fatal great white shark attacks since 2008. Other areas are not known for shark attacks, but when you put them on a map the dangerous areas are very clear.  And the worst area is… everywhere!

Shark attack sign california bryce (Medium)

Shark attacks have happened in recent years from Imperial Beach near the Mexico Border up to the Klamath River Beach near Oregon. Documented incidents have occurred in every single county along the California Pacific Coast since 2000! From this data we have determined that few open water areas are completely safe from sharks. Keep in mind that even if there are no recent shark attacks in an area, that doesn’t mean it is shark-free.

The proper way to look at the real risk to humans in the water would be to look at the quantity of shark attacks compared to the number of people who are regularly in the water there. For example, Surf Beach might be the deadliest beach in the state because it is a remote beach with cold water and is only used by a small amount of surfers on any given day. By contrast, the Huntington Beach area has had the same number of attacks (four) but has thousands of people in the water on sunny days. Clearly, Huntington Beach has a lower risk of shark attacks than Surf Beach.

The majority of those attacked were surfing, but many were out enjoying some other water-based activity. About 30 were in the ocean swimming, scuba diving, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. One was windsurfing and another was in an outrigger canoe. So unless you are in a boat with a solid hull, the shark attack risk is present when you are in or on the water just about anywhere in California.

IMG_1178 surfer at huntington beach pier bryce (Medium)Surfer heading into the “relatively” safe waters of Huntington Beach

The map above is based on data from the Shark Research Committee. They keep an up-to-date list of the shark attacks on the West Coast. Below is a list of the beaches where shark attacks have occurred since 2000. The beaches at the top of the list have the highest quantity of attacks.

Beaches on this map

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    Surf Beach at Vandenberg AFB

    Surf Beach is a public beach located on Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, CA. Access to Surf Beach is from the Amtrak train stop parking area along West Ocean […]

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  • Samoa Dunes Rec Area Bryce June2015 (8)

    Samoa Dunes Recreation Area

    Samoa Dunes Recreation Area is a sandy off-highway vehicle play area on Samoa Peninsula near Eureka. The recreation area is located on the south end of the North Jetty at […]

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    Mavericks Beach

    Mavericks Beach at Pillar Point near Half Moon Bay, CA is the site of the annual big wave surfing competition called Maverick’s. The big wave surf area is located a […]

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  • San Onofre Surf Beach Old Mans BryceApr16 (11)

    San Onofre State Beach – Surfing Beach (Old Man’s)

    Old Man’s Beach at San Onofre State Beach (officially called “Surfing Beach” by the park) is located north of Oceanside in northern San Diego County. Access to this area is […]

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  • North Salmon Creek Bodega Bay Bryce Sept2015 (13)

    North Salmon Creek Beach

    North Salmon Creek Beach is right off Coast Highway 1 just north of Bodega Bay. A large parking lot is available, but it can fill up in the summer so […]

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  • San Onofre SB Bluffs Bryce Apr16 (3)

    San Onofre State Beach – Bluffs Beaches

    San Onofre State Beach is located between Oceanside and San Clemente, CA. The main area of this state park, which is called “Bluffs Beach,” has a long continuous parking lot […]

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  • Gaviota State Beach Bryce Feb2016 (9)

    Gaviota State Park Beach

    Gaviota State Park Beach is a south-facing beach below a tall train trestle about 30 miles west of Santa Barbara and 25 miles southeast of Lompoc. The bridge has been […]

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  • Moonstone Beach Trinidad Bryce June2015 (2)

    Moonstone Beach County Park

    Moonstone Beach County Park is at the north side of the Little River mouth near Trinidad. The beach is popular with surfers and also with families that can play safely […]

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  • Sunset at Dillon Beach California

    Dillon Beach

    Dillon Beach on Bodega Bay is privately-owned by the Dillon Beach Resort, but for a small fee anyone can enjoy this beautiful beach. The beach is located in the small […]

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    Bolsa Chica State Beach

    Bolsa Chica State Beach is a three mile long wide sandy beach in Huntington Beach, CA. It starts at Warner Avenue and extends south to Seapoint Avenue. North of Warner […]

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    Arroyo de los Frijoles Beach

    Arroyo de los Frijoles Beach is the southern beach at Bean Hollow State Beach. The parking lot is right off Highway 1 about three miles north of the Pigeon Point […]

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    Marina State Beach

    Marina State Beach is a stunning sandy beach that sits below high rugged dunes in Marina, CA. Hang-gliders launch off the dunes and enjoy the ideal wind and launch conditions […]

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    Fletcher Cove Beach

    Fletcher Cove is Solana Beach’s main central beach park located a couple blocks west of the intersection of Highway 101 and Loma Santa Fe Drive. The cove is also known […]

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    Avila Beach City Beach

    Avila Beach City Beach is the large wide sandy beach that takes up the entire waterfront of the town of Avila Beach, CA. The picturesque wooden Avila Pier sticks out […]

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  • Huntington Beach California

    Huntington City Beach

    Huntington City Beach is the center of a long stretch of sandy waterfront for the city of Huntington Beach, CA. This huge asset and the fact that surf’s up regularly […]

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  • Sandspit Beach montana BS-DC Mar2015 (18)

    Montana de Oro State Park – Sandspit Beach

    Sandspit Beach at Montana de Oro State Park is a long beach that starts south of Morro Bay and continues out onto the long sand spit barrier that protects the […]

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  • Samoa Beach Eureka Bryce June2015 (9)

    Samoa Beach

    Samoa Beach is the long strand of beach on the ocean side of the Samoa Peninsula near Eureka. The small community of Samoa with its historic Samoa Cookhouse Restaurant is […]

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    Laguna Creek Beach

    Laguna Creek Beach, near Santa Cruz, is a remote and wide sandy beach with a creek, wetlands, unique rocks, and wild waves. It is located just north of the infamous […]

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    Topanga Beach

    Topanga Beach is the closest Malibu California beach to Los Angeles. The Eastern Malibu coast faces south and Topanga Beach is at the east end next to the Pacific Palisades […]

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    The Hook

    The Hook is a popular surfing spot near the intersection of East Cliff Drive and 41st Avenue in the Opal Cliffs neighborhood of Santa Cruz. There isn’t much in the […]

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    Will Rogers State Beach

    Will Rogers State Beach is a state park operated by Los Angeles County that occupies the entire waterfront of the Pacific Palisades District of Los Angeles. The southern section of […]

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  • The Scripps Pier in La Jolla San Diego California

    Scripps Beach

    Scripps Beach is adjacent to the UCSD Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus in northern La Jolla. The long concrete Scripps Pier is not open to the public unfortunately, but the […]

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    El Pescador State Beach

    El Pescador Beach is the westernmost of three south-facing pocket beaches in Robert Meyer Memorial State Beach. There is a separate parking lot for each of these three beaches on […]

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  • Screenshot 2014-10-30 14.07.58

    Corona Del Mar State Beach

    Corona Del Mar State Beach is on the east side of the Newport Harbor channel entrance in the Corona Del Mar neighborhood in Newport Beach. This is a state-owned beach […]

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  • Silver Shoals Pismo Beach DCBS (4)

    Silver Shoals Park

    Silver Shoals Park is a small grass park with great views and a steep beach access in the Shell Beach area of Pismo Beach. At the south end of the park […]

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    Leffingwell Landing at Moonstone Beach

    Leffingwell Landing is a day-use area at the north end of Moonstone Beach in Cambria. This is a state-run facility that is part of Hearst San Simeon State Park. On site […]

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  • Santa Monica Beach Front

    Santa Monica State Beach – South Beach

    The south part of Santa Monica State Beach is located south of the Santa Monica Pier and north of Venice Beach. On the other side of the pier you’ll find […]

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    Faria Beach

    Faria Beach is located at the north end of the private gated Faria Beach Colony in Ventura County. The county provides a small campground called Faria Beach Park at this […]

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    Terramar Beach

    Terramar Beach is the narrow beach in front of the Carlsbad California community of Terramar. Technically this beach is part of South Carlsbad State Beach, but there are no signs […]

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  • ATV and people on the beach

    Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area

    Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area is the only California State Park that allows non-street-legal vehicles to drive on the beach. To enter this five mile long wide sandy beach, […]

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  • Limantour Beach

    Limantour Beach

    Limantour Beach is a south-facing beach on a sand spit between Drakes Bay and the Limantour Estero esturary. Limantour Beach has a nice large parking lot near the beach. Trails […]

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  • Stinson Beach, California

    Stinson Beach

    Stinson Beach (the beach) is a large public beach within Golden Gate National Recreation Area located in the town of Stinson Beach, California. It’s a popular getaway just an hour […]

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    Ocean Beach

    Ocean Beach is a long beach spanning the entire Sunset District of San Francisco from Cliff House south to Sloat Boulevard. It’s also a wide beach especially when compared to […]

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  • IMG_2958 (Large)

    Imperial Beach City Beach

    Imperial Beach, CA has an impressive beach running the length of its waterfront called Imperial Beach City Beach. This beach is generally located between Palm Avenue and Imperial Beach Boulevard […]

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  • Starlight Beach on Catalina Island

    Starlight Beach on Catalina Island

    Starlight Beach is near the west end of Catalina Island and marks the western terminus of the Trans-Catalina Trail backpacking route. The beach is set in a cove with rocky […]

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    San Carlos Beach

    San Carlos Beach is located in Monterey at the west end of Cannery Row next to the Coast Guard Pier. This beach is sometimes referred to as Reeside Beach Access […]

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  • IMG_6709

    Huntington Dog Beach

    Huntington Dog Beach is a dog-friendly strand at the northern end of Huntington Beach City Beach. The zone where dogs are allowed on the beach is located between Seapoint Street […]

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  • San Diego California Coast Line, La Jolla Shores in San Diego, California USA

    Children’s Pool Beach

    Children’s Pool Beach, aka Casa Beach, is a small beach with a curved protective wall holding back the rough waves along the La Jolla shore. This wall was built in […]

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  • Morro Rock At Sunrise

    Morro Rock City Beach

    Morro Rock Beach is the city beach between the iconic Morro Rock and Morro Strand State Beach in Morro Bay, CA. This is a wide sandy beach just north of […]

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    Summerland Beach at Lookout Park

    Lookout Park is the main beachfront park in the small town of Summerland, CA. Summerland Beach is right below this lovely park. The park is operated by Santa Barbara County […]

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    Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park

    Pigeon Point is known for the tall picturesque lighthouse in Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park, not for the beaches around the point. South of the point is a […]

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    Pacifica State Beach

    Pacifica State Beach is located in a wide cove in the southern part of Pacifica, CA. The city of Pacifica manages the facilities of Pacifica State Beach and calls it […]

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    Davenport Landing Beach

    Davenport Landing Beach is a short drive from Highway 1 on Davenport Landing Road just north of Davenport, CA. Parking spots can be found along this loop road next to […]

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    Pleasure Point Park Beach

    Pleasure Point Park is a small park on the bluff above a popular surfing spot in the Live Oak area of Santa Cruz. Climb down the stairs from the park […]

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  • Channel Drive

    Butterfly Beach

    Butterfly Beach is located along Channel Drive in ritzy Montecito, CA. This is a popular beach with Santa Barbara area locals, many who walk their dogs at the water’s edge. […]

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  • Sunrise view of the beach from the Klamath River Overlook. Photo couresty of NPS

    Klamath Beach

    Klamath Beach is on a huge sand spit on the south side of the Klamath River mouth in Del Norte County. This driftwood-covered spit protects the entrance to the river […]

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  • Morro Bay State Park

    Morro Bay State Park

    Morro Bay State Park is well-known for its hiking (Morro Bay State Park topo map) and mountain biking trails (not to mention the Morro Bay State Park Golf Course), but […]

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  • IMG_3858 (Large)

    Venice Pier Beach

    The Venice Pier Beach is at the long fishing pier jutting out into the Pacific Ocean from the Venice District of Los Angeles. This area of LA has a reputation […]

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  • IMG_4196 (Large)

    Puerco Beach

    Puerco Beach is the official name for the beach on the western portion of Malibu Road in Malibu, CA. This is a narrow south-facing beach in front of tightly packed […]

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  • IMG_3605 (Large)

    Pismo Beach City Beach

    Pismo Pier juts out into the Pacific from the center of the Pismo Beach waterfront giving visitors a grand view of the beach. Pismo City Beach is best known for […]

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  • Ten Mile Beach Ft Bragg Bryce June2015 (15)

    Ten Mile Beach

    Ten Mile Beach is the long stretch of coastline at Inglenook Fen Ten Mile Dunes Preserve in MacKerricher State Park. The beach, which is actually about four miles long, starts […]

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  • Seaside Beach Fort Bragg Bryce June2015 (9)

    Seaside Beach

    Seaside Beach is just north of MacKerricher State Park where Seaside Creek sometimes flows through the sand to the ocean. A rock sticks up out of the sand at the […]

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  • McNears Park Marin Bryce April2015 (8)

    McNears Beach Park

    McNears Beach Park is a Marin County Park located in the city of San Rafael. The beach here is rocky and located in a muddy part of San Pablo Bay […]

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    Leadbetter Beach

    Leadbetter Beach is a locals beach located just west of the harbor in Santa Barbara. It’s right across the street from Santa Barbara City College so expect to see students […]

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  • IMG_3743thewall (Large)

    Wall Beach at Vandenberg AFB

    Wall Beach is on Vandenberg Air Force Base property north of the Santa Ynez River. Only Vandenberg pass holders and their sponsored guests have access to this beach. Several areas […]

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