When non-surfers ask surfers if they are afraid of sharks, the surfer will invariably say no. Most of the time, this is a perfectly logical response. However, there are some locations – world class surf locations – where a lack of shark worry requires a congressional level of cognitive dissonance. Here are five great places to ignore statistics.
South Africa is a sharky place. Cape Town is full of great whites, Durban is full of tiger sharks and zambezis (bull sharks), and the coast around Jeffrey’s Bay has a little bit of everything. South Africa’s East coast and Namibia aren’t much better. In fact in most places, you’re more likely to see a mangled seal carcass on the beach than another person. What about Mozambique? Moz’s empty sand points are only home to one of the largest populations of tiger sharks in the world. Unfortunately for your brittle psyche, Southern Africa is home to Jeffrey’s Bay, Skeleton Bay, New Pier, and a host of other world-class spot. When these spots are firing, no one is thinking about fins. You probably won’t get eaten, right?
Recife, Brazil had so many shark attacks on surfers that the government actually banned surfing at that particular beach. Even if you don’t surf Racife (why would you?) it’s pretty safe to say that sharks inhabit other stretches of Brazil’s beautiful coastline. You’re still going to surf it though, considering Brazil gets some of the world’s greatest waves.
Gold Coast Australia
This coast has more quality surf per square mile and more surfers per capita than almost anywhere else on earth. It also has lots and lots of great whites and bull sharks. But hey, there is safety in numbers — you don’t have to be faster than the shark, you just have to be faster than the guy next to you.
The islands are beautiful. The surf is spectacular. The culture is amazing. The sharks are plentiful. People don’t think of sharks when they think of Hawaii, but attacks do happen. That said, getting punched in the face for being an a‑hole is more likely than getting chomped on by a tiger shark, but surfers should still be on the lookout for lurking shadows.
Unless it’s hurricane season you’re probably not going to travel to Florida to surf. However, if you live there, or you end up there, as a surfer, you’ll probably be out on the water. Florida is warm and consistent and while it’s not a terrible place to be a surfer, it is the shark attack capitol of the country. Florida had 26 attacks in 2012 but really, the sharks in the Sunshine State probably wont kill you. An attack is more likely to produce a cool scar and a cool story than it is to take a limb. Still, you need to ask yourself, is that waist high closeout really worth it?