Hawaii has long been famous for its unmatched marine life, and visitors have been famously greeting whales, dolphins and turtles for years. However, there’s also a lesser known gentle giant of the ocean that vacationers come face-to-face with – the manta ray. The warm, volcanic waters of the Kona Coast provide a haven for these creatures in their search for plankton.
Visitors to the Kona Coast have a unique opportunity to get up close to these graceful animals, with an expertly led after-dark snorkel session. You’ll be led to their congregation spot, where lights have been placed at the bottom of the ocean, attracting clouds of plankton, which attract the mantas!
The creatures glide through the water, with their mouths constantly open, filtering the tiny food particles as they swim. During your night snorkel, you’ll often be within a foot of their underwater acrobat show.
Night Snorkelling History
Snorkeling with the manta rays began in the early 1970s thanks to a coastline hotel, whose bright lights shone into the ocean, attracting plankton and the hungry mantas. However, this location was highly exposed and the divers and snorkelers who dared swim in these parts were unprotected from the ocean swells.
Some years later, coinciding with the closing of the hotel and the switching off of their lights, the manta rays began congregating in a new spot. The warm afternoon sun, near Kona Airport, provides a literal hot spot for plankton and the calm bay is highly accessible and safe for visitors.
Your Manta Ray Experience
Early manta ray encounters where designated for scuba divers only, but over time it was realized that uncertified snorkelers can float at the top of the ocean and take in all the action, too. Now you can experience this once in a lifetime event, just half an hour from Hilton Waikoloa Village.
Set off with Adventure in Hawaii and watch the giant mantas swoop thousands of plankton into their mouths. With no experience necessary, your provided wetsuit will keep you warm and help you float as you hold onto the brightly lit floatation platforms, attached to the boats.
Manta Ray Excursions
Manta rays have no teeth, stingers or barbs and the activity is safe for both animals and humans.
Manta Magic – Hawaii Oceanic
- Duration: 2.5 hours
- Tour includes: Beverages, snacks and complimentary photos
- Gear Provided: All snorkel gear, wetsuits and flotation devices
Manta Snorkel – 40 Foot Speedboat
- Duration: 3.5 hours
- Tour includes: Cold and hot beverages plus a variety of dry snacks
- Gear Provided: Wetsuits, all snorkel gear, flotation devices as needed, lights and 12-20 photos of your trip
Hawaii’s Animal Paradise
The variety of wildlife that call Hawaii home is unlike any other in the world. The land and sky are filled with flamingos, cockatoos and macaws while the ocean is packed with tropical fish and sea-turtles.
With dry land activities, or more fun to be had offshore, your Hawaiian vacation is guaranteed to be unforgettable. Looking for more animal adventures? Swim with dolphins at our onsite sea sanctuary or visit the local islands and discover the exotic wildlife on Hawaii’s doorstep.