The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the most popular tourist spots in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is the youngest island and still growing in size as new territories are generated by the Kilauea volcano’s lava pouring into the nearby sea. Its beautiful setting has gorgeous beaches, hidden waterfalls, lush forests, spectacular volcanoes, and a lot more to explore.
Speaking about the things to do on the Big Island, are you looking for an unforgettable Hawaii activity to add to your vacation itinerary? Why not try snorkeling with manta rays? This is a great option if you’re looking for a unique adventure and magical experience.
Before that, check out our Big Island vacation rental in either Kailua-Kona or Keauhou to begin your Hawaiian vacation.
A Brief Introduction to Manta Rays
Manta rays are the world’s largest rays. They are quite mysterious because not much is known about them. They tend to move slowly and gracefully through the water. People call them the “gentle giants of the sea”. You can find these majestic creatures living in temperate, subtropical, and tropical waters.
While they might look intimidating, manta rays are very harmless. They are filter feeders that eat plankton and small fish. They are also one of the few animals that can swim backward.
The rays are curious by nature and they are often attracted to snorkelers and divers. This makes them the perfect animal to interact with while snorkeling or diving. Snorkeling with the manta rays is one of the top things to do in Hawaii.
The Best Spots to Snorkel with Manta Rays on the Big Island
The Kona Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii is home to three areas where tourists commonly see mantas feeding at night. The chances of seeing a manta ray are 60-80% if you go diving at night.
Manta Village (South Kona)
Kaukalaelae Point, better known as Manta Village, was the first manta ray viewing site. It’s located in Keauhou on the west coast of Hawaii’s Big Island.
Manta Village is widely recognized as the most successful location to snorkel with mantas, with a 96 percent success rate.
Manta Heaven (North Kona)
Manta Heaven is a scuba diving site in Makako Bay, near Keahole Point, the western tip of Hawaii. It’s adjacent to the Kona International Airport. At present, the dive site is known as Garden Eel Cove during daylight hours.
Manta Village is also known for manta ray night dives. The Manta Heaven location has a lower success rate than the Manta Village site, with 90 percent, but it is still excellent. The sheer number of mantas may be the main selling point for this destination.
Manta Point (Kohala)
Manta Point, situated at the end of Kauna’oa Bay not far from Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Kohala Coast, is a safe haven for plankton due to the expansive light beaming into the water. The good news though, is there are loads of tour operators that provide night snorkeling in this vicinity so you can swim with manta rays!
These areas have a high chance of seeing mantas because they offer food year-round. Lights placed underwater attract plankton, which mantas eat. Therefore, their curiosity brings them here at night time when most other animals would leave due to fear or refuge issues – but not for long!
Manta Rays Snorkeling Tours on Big Island
Visitors can try snorkeling with the giant rays on the Big Island. These iconic ocean dwellers are often spotted gliding through the waters just off the coast of Hawaii, making for a truly unique and memorable experience.
Manta rays are popular viewing attractions on the Kona coast, and several tour operators provide ray snorkeling excursions that let you get up close and personal with these magnificent animals.
Moonlight Manta Ray Snorkel
Experience the beauty of a moonlit sail on our spacious trimaran, the Hokulani, to reach Manta Ray Village.
The manta ray night snorkel is a must-do while on vacation in Hawaii. It’s a unique opportunity to get close and personal with giant rays as they feed and socialize with other underwater creatures. Experience an unforgettable experience at night, when manta rays glide through the water gracefully.
Sunset Manta Ray Snorkel
Sail to the World Famous Manta Ray Village off the Kona Coast aboard Hokulani, Sea Paradise’s spacious 45-foot trimaran. As you enjoy a breathtaking Hawaiian sunset, you’ll be preparing for an otherworldly and unforgettable experience.
The manta ray snorkeling tour has a duration of about one to two hours, which gives you plenty of time to explore the underwater world and snorkel with these rays. The tour includes all snorkeling gear, so all you need to bring is your sense of adventure!
There are many different tours to choose from, so it’s important to do your research and pick the one that’s right for you.
Be sure to wear a wetsuit or other protective clothing. Most tour operators provide wetsuits for their guests, but it’s always a good idea to check in advance.
Tips for Snorkeling with Manta Rays
There are a few things to keep in mind when snorkeling with manta rays:
- Wear a wetsuit or rash guard to protect your skin from the sun and stinging jellyfish.
- Use reef-safe sunscreen to protect the fragile coral ecosystem.
- Don’t touch the rays or other marine life. Respect their space and observe from a distance.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times and stay close to your snorkeling guide.
Snorkeling with these gentle giants is an unforgettable experience that everyone should have on their Hawaiian vacation. With these tips in mind, you’re sure to have a safe and enjoyable snorkel!
FAQs About Manta Rays
Can You Touch Manta Rays?
No. It is generally discouraged to touch manta rays, as they are wild animals. Manta rays are covered with a thin layer of mucous that protects them from bacterial illnesses. Touching the mantas exposes them to infection by removing some of the mucus.
Is it Safe to Swim with Manta Rays?
Yes. Manta rays are gentle giants and pose no threat to humans. In fact, swimming with these rays is one of the safest things you can do in the water!
Do Manta Rays have Stingers?
No, manta rays do not have stingers. Their large size and powerful tails can deliver a serious blow if they feel threatened, but they are not equipped with any venomous weapons.
What is the Biggest Threat to Manta Rays?
The biggest threat to manta rays is humans. The rays are often hunted for their meat, oil, and skin. They are also accidentally caught in fishing nets. As a result of these threats, manta ray populations have declined in recent years.
What Happens When No Manta Rays Show Up on a Tour?
If no manta rays show up on a snorkeling tour, the tour operator may offer guests a refund or the opportunity to reschedule. Most tour operators have a no-show policy in place to protect against this possibility.
What Time is the Best Time to See Manta Rays in Hawaii?
The best times to see manta rays in Hawaii are during the late spring, summer, and early fall. The conditions of the ocean are more ideal then. And the best time of the day to see the rays in Hawaii is at night. Manta rays are attracted to the light, so they can be seen feeding at the surface of the water.
Snorkeling with manta rays is an experience you will never forget. The grace and beauty of these creatures as they glide through the water is a sight to behold. If you are planning a trip to Hawaii, be sure to add this activity to your list – it’s well worth it!