Kona, Hawaii’s legendary manta ray night dive is widely considered to be the most memorable dives on Earth, but you don’t have to be a scuba diver to experience it as snorkeling options, even for beginners, are available too.
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The Big Island Manta Rays
The manta rays that live in the waters that surround the Big Island are the second largest species of manta rays on the planet. They can grow up to a wingspan of an astounding 18 feet, though most you’ll see in this area have a wing span of around 12 feet. The animals eat plankton which they filter out of the water by swimming with their massive mouths wide open.
While Hawaii isn’t the only place in the world for swimming with mantas, it does offer the unusual experience of swimming with them at dinner time.
By going after dark to one of the “feeding stations,” where bright lights attract the rays, you’ll see them gracefully swooping through the water as they feed, turning and somersaulting in the light beams, for an unbelievably surreal experience.
A Snorkeling or a Diving Tour?
The tour operators follow strict guidelines in order to protect this incredible creatures, and there are multiple companies around the Kona coast that can take you on either the night manta ray dive or snorkel.
A snorkeling tour means you’ll be staying near the surface of the water, typically holding a flotation device with lights attached, which attracts the manta rays’ meal: plankton. On a diving tour, you’ll sit on the ocean floor, watching the rays from below. To join these tours you’ll need to be SCUBA certified.
Where to Go
The original manta ray night dive location is also the most successful: Manta village which sits in front of he Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa, located about seven miles south of Kona.
As with all wildlife in their natural habitat, the rays come and go as they please, but Manta Village
has consistent sightings about 90% of the time.
For more information, visit the official website