Snorkel with the Manta Rays
Imagine seeing a large, mysterious creature gliding like an acrobat through crystal clear ocean waters. Hauntingly beautiful and graceful, what is it you saw? You have seen a manta ray, the largest of the rays, reaching wing spans up to twenty feet and weighing as much as 3,000 pounds.
On the Big Island of Hawaii, you can snorkel with manta rays at night! Manta rays are filter feeders, meaning they feed on plankton and other tiny marine organisms. When people set up bright lights on the shoreline or the front of a boat, the plankton are attracted to the light and the rays follow for the feast!
Unlike stingrays, mantas don’t have barbs on their tails. And, although they are related to sharks, they pretty much only eat plankton. They are also curious creatures, with the largest brains of any fish species!
Watching these gigantic marine creatures glide through the water around you is an unforgettable experience. Just watch our video below to see why!
Want to snorkel with the manta rays? The most popular way to see them is to take a boat to their common feeding sites. Depending on the company, you can take a large snorkel tour boat, fishing boat, or kayak to see the manta rays. Typically the boats will have a bright light to attract the plankton and mantas. The following companies offer boat and kayak tours to snorkel with the rays near Kona:
- Fairwind Hawaii Ocean Cruises – Large boat (Hula Kai) – Keauhou Bay in Kona
- Sea Paradise Snorkel & Sail Cruises – Catamaran – Keauhou Bay in Kona
- Ocean Encounters – Fishing Boat – Departs from Honokohau Harbor in Kona
- Kamanu Charters – Zodiac or Catamaran Boat – Departs from Honokohau Harbor in Kona
- Aloha Kayak Co. – Kayak to snorkel with mantas in Keauhou Bay
If you are a licensed diver, you should check out the SCUBA tours offered by Jack’s Diving Locker or Big Island Divers. Both of these companies offer spots for snorkelers as well as SCUBA divers – perfect if you have your SCUBA certificate but you’re traveling with non-divers.
If you don’t want to snorkel or scuba, you can also see manta rays from the viewing areas at some local resorts – where the hotels put out bright lights so you can watch them from the shore. At Kona’s Sheraton Keauhou Bay, you can see manta rays from the Manta Ray Learning Center – right next to the Rays on the Bay restaurant. On the Kohala Coast, you can view the rays at the Mauna Kea Beach Resort where they have set up a light to attract them to Manta Ray Point.
Whether you swim with the mantas or just watch from the shore, make sure to get a glimpse of these amazing creatures on your Hawaii vacation!