Are There Sharks in Aruba? (Types, Photos & Attacks)

Aruba is one of the world’s best-known travel destinations, and for good reason. It’s a Dutch Caribbean island nation with some of the world’s most stunning beaches, pristine shallow waters, and ocean views.

Plus, it’s home to a fantastic culture and renowned dining scene. It’s no wonder Aruba is on so many bucket lists.

Aruba has plenty to offer, including the famous Palm Beach and other cities, Arikok National Park and other nature preserve areas, the renowned Bubali Bird Sanctuary, and world-class nightlife, dining, and cultural sights like the Alto Vista Chapel. .

Of course, Aruba is also home to legendary white sand beaches, stretching for miles around the island. It’s hard to go wrong with any beach on the island, but some of the top spots are Eagle Beach, Arashi Beach, and Boca Prins Beach.

With any beach getaway, most people have some natural concern for sharks and other marine animals. So let’s discuss:

Are there sharks in Aruba? How common are shark attacks near Aruba?

Photo by Fredrik Rubensson/Flickr

Some of the most common sharks found in Aruba are:

  • Blacktip reef sharks
  • Great hammerhead sharks
  • Whale sharks
  • Nurse sharks

Fortunately in Aruba, sharks are hardly an issue! The shallow waters and pristine beaches here are actually some of the safest of their type as far as shark danger goes — records show there has never been an officially recognized shark attack in Aruba itself, and only one in the broader region.

But, of course, sharks exist in all of the ocean waters of the world, and if you partake in swimming or diving over open water farther offshore, you may catch a glimpse of some Aruba sharks.

Types of Sharks in Aruba

Due to its location, sharks in Aruba are less common than other popular beach destinations like the Florida coastline or Australia’s Gold Coast.

Sharks do exist in the region, but the landmasses and ocean currents mean that Aruba sharks spend most of their time swimming in the deep ocean, and not close to shore.

If you also like to spend time swimming or diving in the deep ocean, these are some of the shark species you may be lucky enough to catch sight of in the region.

Blacktip reef sharks

Public Domain

As implied by their name, reef sharks are common in and around coral reefs, particularly in the Caribbean.

Reef sharks here are quite small relative to the world’s sharks, and can grow to about three feet in length.

They’re not considered a threat to humans.

Behaviorally, they actually tend to avoid contact with humans — even in more open waters, they don’t typically pose any threat to swimmers or divers.

Like many others, blacktips are at more risk from us than we are from them, as they have historically been hunted for their high value in fishmeal, liver oil, leather, and meat.

Great hammerhead sharks

By Albert kok – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

With their unique look, hammerhead sharks are some of the most identifiable sharks.

There are many different species of hammerhead, and they can be found in most of the world’s oceans and coastal waters. The hammerheads in the Caribbean are great hammerheads, which is the largest of the various hammerhead species, with adults averaging at around 15 feet in length.

Hammerheads are also some of the most overfished sharks. High demand for their fins — which are a delicacy in many countries — has led many of the species to be endangered.

Hammerhead sharks are large and can be capable of dangerous bites, particularly if provoked, which can be seen in an agitated change in their behavior. That being said, great hammerheads are also known to be quite docile, noninteractive towards humans, and even shy.

Whale sharks

By Abe Khao Lak – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

That’s right, the Aruba region is home to whale sharks, the largest fish species on the planet and one of the largest animals overall.

Whale sharks can grow to a whopping 32 feet in length, dwarfing most other shark species, including great whites.

The same thing that keeps beaches safer from sharks in Aruba makes whale sharks more common than in other coastal regions: the presence of deep, open water!

Given their size, it’s no surprise that these sharks don’t spend much time in shallow water, though they occasionally venture into near-shore regions like lagoons.

However even then, whale sharks are not considered harmful to humans. Quite the contrary — they’ve earned the nickname “gentle giants” and can make excellent swimming partners for divers given their curious and social behavior.

Nurse sharks

Public Domain

The nurse shark is another common shark species in this part of the Caribbean. Nurse sharks have light brown coloring, can grow to about 10 feet in length, and like to pass the time close to the sea floor or in underwater rock crevices.

They are one of the most gentle species of shark, with very docile behavior, and are considered almost completely harmless to humans. Nurse sharks in Aruba play an important role in the ecosystem.

They’re quite high in the food chain on the surrounding reefs, which means that the nurse shark helps regulate the overall health of the reef systems.

History & Shark Attack Statistics in Aruba

Dangerous shark encounters and shark attacks are exceedingly rare in any location — as a blanket statistic, you’re more likely to be struck by lighting.

That being said, we hear of shark attacks every year. Often, these encounters happen near beaches and coastlines that see huge numbers of swimmers, divers, surfers, or other visitors, coupled with dense shark habitat.

While Aruba absolutely makes the list for stellar beach getaways, its location relative to the oceans gives it an advantage over other beach regions. The sharks in Aruba stay closer to open water, and away from beaches and shallow water where people are most often found.

Because of this, shark sightings in Aruba are rare, not to mention bites or attacks.

In fact, there’s only ever been one shark attack in this entire island region since recording began, and no shark attacks have ever been recorded in Aruba itself. The waters close to shore are well-known for their lack of shark activity.

That being said, shark encounters and a handful of attacks have occurred in deep water in the broader region in the Dutch Caribbean.

The ocean is always shark habitat, and if you’re planning on fishing or diving in open water, it’s always recommended to take the necessary precautions, stay educated on local marine life and conditions, and heed any official statements and local guidelines.

Aruba Shark Safety Tips

Sharks may be uncommon in Aruba, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

If you’re traveling here, or anywhere with ocean recreation, make sure to educate yourself on what to do — and what not to do — while swimming in or near shark habitat.

There are several tips that apply to sharks and shark habitat around the world, including sharks in Aruba.

Don’t go too far from shore. 

The white sands of Aruba rarely see sharks, making them safer than the open waters farther from shore. Groups of people also tend to stay closer to shore — even hungry sharks are much less likely to approach a group than a lone swimmer in the open. Plus, in the event that something does happen, like an injury from a shark or any other marine animal (or simply an injury!), the closer you are to shore, the closer you are to help.

Be mindful of clothing and accessories. 

Things like shiny jewelry or swim suits can be misidentified underwater, resembling fish scales. Bright or mismatched colors can also have a similar effect, and both of these help make you look more like shark prey, and less like a human.

Don’t splash. 

Some swimming and splashing is fine; however, if there are sharks nearby, excessive splashing can also lead to a case of mistaken identity — splashing is something fish and other small marine animals (read: shark prey) do often. It’s also advised to keep pets out of the water for this reason, as it’s easy for, say, happy dogs to thoroughly enjoy splashing in beautiful Caribbean water, and I can’t say I blame them.

Avoid active shark hours.

While less important for shark safety in a region like Aruba that sees fewer sharks, this tip also applies to other marine predators. Dusk and dawn hours are common hunting times, making the water just a touch less safe for people. Plus, we aren’t adapted to see well at these times of day, putting us at an additional disadvantage.

Make eye contact. 

If you encounter a shark, your initial reaction might be to swim away as fast as possible. Don’t. This actually mimics the behavior of sharks’ prey, and reinforces them as predators. Instead, you can show the shark that you are a predator, too, by making eye contact and sticking to slower movements.

Wrapping Up

Shark attacks in Aruba are rare — so rare, that the only one ever recorded happened in the broader region, and not near the Aruba coastline at all.

The pristine white beaches and nearby shallow waters are remarkably safe, thanks to Aruba’s location relative to landmasses and large ocean currents.

If you’re staying here for an onshore vacation, you can rest assured. And if you do plan to take part in recreation in open water, like diving, snorkeling, or boating, there are steps you can take to stay safe in Aruba’s beautiful waters.

For more, see:

Hope this helps!