I started to admire manta rays when I was young and dreamed of going to a destination to see Manta Rays. Marine life has always intrigued me, especially manta rays. The word manta in Spanish means blanket which is what these creatures resemble as they gracefully glide through the water. They are also knowns as “devilfish” due to their evil appearance from their horn-like cephalic fins. These giant beauties have a wingspan of over eighteen feet and can way up to 2,200 pounds! (997.9032 kilos) Mantas are filter feeders and eat zooplankton. Their tails don’t sting like their cousins the sting rays, so they are a safe animal to be around. In order to have a close encounter with these magnificent animals, you need to dive with them during their migration season. You can find places to interact with them in the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, The Galapagos Islands, the Great Barrier Reef, Fiji, Hawaii, Indonesia, the Maldives, Micronesia, Spain, Thailand, and Western Australia.
1. Cabo Marshall, Galapagos
It is possible to encounter majestic manta rays all around the islands, but if you dive off the northeaster shore of Isabela Island, there is an extremely high chance of sighting them. This site is also home to many other sea creatures like hammerhead and white-tipped reef sharks, parrot fish, and puffer fish. The unique black coral compliments the black and white giants soaring around the area. Be sure to book a dive boat excursion because Cabo Marshall is not accessible by land.
2. Yap, Micronesia
Yap is a cluster of islands in Micronesia, well-known to divers. It is quite out of the way of typical travel, but it will certainly tickle your fancy for diving with amazing marine life. The clarity of the water is unbelievable. It is perfect for witnessing the manta rays barrel and twirl in the pristine water with amazing drop offs.
November to May is the best season to catch mantas swimming at Mi’il Channel. Manta dives are possible in both Mi’il and Goofnuw Channels during the summer months. The venture out to Yap to see mantas is worth the trip!
3. Lady Elliot Island, Great Barrier Reef
One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, The Great Barrier Reef houses some of the most incredible marine animals and corals. When choosing where to check of diving at the Great Barrier Reef of your bucket list, choose Lady Elliot Island for the best chances of seeing manta rays. It is home to up to 450 manta rays. It is a very small island, however, it is renowned for its snorkeling and SCUBA diving. The best time year to find the mantas there are in the fall and winter months.
The Maldives are gorgeous remote tropical islands out in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Here you can find many complex coral reef formations along the atolls creating circular lagoons an many channels that make interesting dives. To spark your interest even more, it is easy to find manta rays feeding on the abundant food sources and at cleaning stations. May to November is monsoon season, which means massive manta rays will be migrating through the area. It is common to see multiple mantas hanging around these islands, making it an extraordinary experience.
5. Kona, Hawaii
All year round, you can easily find manta rays on the east coast of the big island of Hawaii near Kona. Kona offers divers a spectacular manta ray experience with night dives. Large lights are planted on the ocean floor and the boats shine lights from above. Plankton is attracted to the lights so mantas come and enjoy an easy dinner. Watching the agile mantas lit up under the dark ocean is truly an incredible experience.