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Bethany Hamilton and Her Shark Encounter in Hawaii

Updated on May 28, 2017

The little island of Oahu I live on is surrounded on all sides by miles and miles of ocean. Visiting the beach is one of our favorite activities. Boating, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming and boogie boarding keep us cool and happy.

I love the ocean, but once in a while I worry about what may be lurking beneath the tranquil turquoise expanse. Here is a true story about a shark encounter.  This was submitted as possible urban legend, but it is real. This was submitted as possible urban legend, but it is real.

Speilberg did such a good job on his movie Jaws , that I still remember it every time I go into the ocean.

There is a very inspirational story about a young surfer girl from the island of Kauai. A movie is being produced on the islands of Oahu and Kauai based on the autobiography of Bethany Hamilton. She has competed and won professional championships for six years after having lost her arm to a shark when she was thirteen years old.

Bethany has the heart and soul of a champion. Born in Hawaii, at age eight she entered her first surfing competition. She went on to win some championship meets and won sponsorships.

She had dreams of becoming a pro surfer, but they were rudely interrupted by a fourteen foot tiger shark. The shark bit it off her left arm close to the shoulder while she was surfing, and swam away with it. She managed to get herself to shore, and eventually lost nearly half of her blood, barely surviving.

Bethany never lost her dream, and only one month after the disaster she bravely went back into the water. She learned to paddle without her left arm, and to keep her balance on the board.

Her surf sponsor never gave up on her either. Rip Curl stood behind her as she went on to wind the NSSA National Surf Championships only two summers later.

By the end of 2009, she was ranked with the top 12 Junior Pro surfers in the world.

She is an inspiration to people all over the world. In the tribute movie, Anna Sophia Robb and Carrie Underwood star in the movie called Soul Surfer which displays the real courage Bethany Hamilton showed.

If you would like to have a shark encounter of your own, there are actually tours in Hawaii that cater to you.

It has been kind of a controversial issue here and other places, but so far, the tours continue.

I live only a few miles from the location on the North Shore of Oahu. The tour actually takes you into the open ocean, over three miles off shore, where you can observe Galapagos and Sandbar sharks in their natural environment from the safety of a cage.

Humans and sharks are safely separated from each other by a floating cage. Guests enter the cage from above and stay on the surface using a mask and snorkel. No scuba experience is required. A large window made of polyglass lets you look into the ocean and watch as sharks glide through the deep blue. How would you like to be face to face with one of these sea creatures? I am not sure I could just stare at them.

You are educated by specialists about shark behavior and biology, conservation issues and about the significance of sharks in mythology and in the Hawaiian culture. Hawaiians see sharks as a revered part of their history and belief system. They are respected for their role in the natural balance of the island's ecosystems.

A markerHawaii Shark Encounters 66-800 Haleiwa Road Haleiwa, HI 96712-1531 -
66 Haleiwa Rd, Haleiwa, HI 96712, USA
get directions

Where you can have your own shark encounter up close and personal.


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  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks mtsi1098. Hope you get to see the movie "Soul Surfer" which is out now, at least here in Hawaii. It is the movie about Beth Hamilton.

  • profile image

    mtsi1098 6 years ago

    amazing story...thanks for presenting this...I remember Jaws also and cannot help thinking of sharks when entering the ocean...well done

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    You are too kind pmccray. I just wanted to make sure everyone knows about this brave girl.

  • pmccray profile image

    pmccray 7 years ago from Utah

    Absolutely amazing hub. Top photo is not only beautiful, but scary. I've read about the subject of your piece, yes she is resilient and courageous.

    A poster child for those who won't let anything stop them in pursuit of their passion. Voted up, rated awesome beautiful and shared. Peace to you friend.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks Ladybird33. She is a remarkable young woman and continues to show her resiliency.

  • Ladybird33 profile image

    Ladybird33 7 years ago from Fabulous USA

    I did read about this story but with it being "Shark Week" on Discovery, it's a huge story right now (sharks attacking people). But this young women is remarkable, no doubt. Great tribute to her!

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    I heard you should knock them on the nose and swim really fast. Not sure I could do it when face to face with a shark though. Thanks quirinocmianojr09.

  • profile image

    quirinocmianojr09 7 years ago

    it's really scarry! i don't know what to do if could see a real one.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    @kaltopsyd - Thank you very much for dropping by my side of the web to check out the shark hub.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thank you Nellieanna. I appreciate your comments and understand your feelings about sharks. It happens very rarely, but sharks do attack from time to time.

  • Nellieanna profile image

    Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

    Amazing story. As a true landlubber, I can't even conceive of encountering a shark. A cougar, perhaps, but not a shark! A rattlesnake up close and personal was enough. I love the water in smaller areas, such as rivers and lakes - and as an idea in the larger sense. I've only experienced seeing oceans briefly and then, only 3 or 4 times in a lengthy life.

    This young woman's story is inspiring. She truly did show a type of great courage and determination which are so admirable. Awesome! Rating it up and awesome, in fact!

  • kaltopsyd profile image

    kaltopsyd 7 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

    Wow that really IS an inspirational story about Bethany. I enjoyed reading this Hub. Thanks!

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thank you Hello, hello. Yes, I am really looking forward to seeing the movie about Bethany.

    @kkalmes - I appreciate your stopping by and leaving comments.

  • profile image

    kkalmes 7 years ago

    Hello Elayne and thanx, nicely written and Bettany is truly heroic.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    I read and saw pictures at that time of Bettany. Thank you for the update.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Yes, it is kind of an old story, but with the new movie Soul Surfer coming out, I got excited about it all over again. She is truly amazing.

  • LianaK profile image

    LianaK 7 years ago

    I remember hearing this story last time I was in Hawaii. She truly is an inspiration. Thanks for sharing her story. Sharks have always scared me.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Glad the shark didn't get hurt either hospitalera. I have seen them at Sea Life Park, well confined in a see-through barrier - that is how I like to watch them. Thanks for the comments.

    Thanks so much Ign Andy - yes, I think that was too close for my taste, but she came out of it amazingly well.

    I'm with you breakfastpop. Not sure I will get over the Jaws movie any time soon.

    I agree with you SilverGenes that Bethany Hamilton showed amazing courage for a young girl. Thanks for your comments.

  • profile image

    SilverGenes 7 years ago

    The oceans are filled with amazing creatures, some of which we have yet to discover. One day, I hope to visit and would tend to want to be in a rural area too :)

    It's hard to imagine going through something like this young woman went through - what courage! Awesome hub~rated UP!

  • breakfastpop profile image

    breakfastpop 7 years ago

    Wonderful story. I have a fear of he ocean these days.

  • Ign Andy profile image

    Ign Andy 7 years ago from Green Home Office

    Such a thrilling and inspirational story. Personally, I want to see up close, but not that close :)

    Nice story.

  • hospitalera profile image

    hospitalera 7 years ago

    I have met a shark once, not an experience i wish to repeat ;-) But thanks, none of us got hurt, nor me, nor the shark! SY