Imagine gliding along in the water and suddenly having a gigantic manta ray or two enter your field of vision. The gigantic reef manta rays that are native to the Hawaiian Islands in Kona have wingspans ranging from 12 to 15 feet, with some being as big as 18 feet. When you take manta ray tours in Kona, you’re in for an amazing treat! Big Island manta ray tours have been listed as one of the top attractions to experience in life, according to the Travel Channel.
The best time for seeing manta rays is at night. When bright lights shine either in the form of dive lights off of a vessel or lights that shine downwards from a float being held by snorkelers, it attracts plankton, which is a main source of food for manta rays. You’ll thrill to the unique sight of manta rays swimming, flipping, and somersaulting in the water as they keep their mouths open to sweep for food.
Manta Ray Tours on the Big Island
Your Hawaii Ocean Adventure Begins Here
Two Types of Manta Ray Tours
When you choose manta ray tours in Kona, you have a choice between manta ray diving tours or manta ray snorkeling tours. Diving tours are normally reserved for those who are certified in scuba diving. When you’re on a diving tour, you’ll usually sit on the floor of the ocean watching manta rays swim above your head. They can come close to you when you view them this way.
The other way to experience manta ray night tours is by snorkeling. This provides an exceptionally easy way to get up close and personal with these giant sea creatures. You’ll normally hold onto a board that has bright lights attached to the bottom of it. Lights shine downward, attracting plankton, which in turn attracts manta rays. These fish are known for coming very close to the water’s surface when they’re focused on feeding.
Enjoy the Manta Rays in a Safe Way
You’ll want to enjoy viewing manta rays in the way that’s safest for them. If you get too close, your snorkel fins and your snorkel can hurt the manta ray’s skin if you brush up against it. Even something that seems like a gentle touch can remove a protective coating that is on their skin, and cause them to quickly leave. This is the main reason that free snorkeling is not allowed.
It’s always best to follow the instructions of your tour operators and tour guides for the safest and most enjoyable experience. You’ll have a better time and be amazed by the sightings of majestic manta rays. There is nothing else in the world quite like it!
The Rare Occasions When No Manta Rays Show Up
Tour operators cannot guarantee that you’ll always encounter manta rays when you’re out on manta ray night tours, but most times you’ll see them. If you happen to have an unlucky night, many tour operators are happy to let you re-book your tour for another night. This is why it’s advised to book your manta ray diving tours or snorkeling tours early in your Hawaii getaway.
Many tour operators stay aware of the best places to see manta rays and take you to those exact spots. The two most popular manta ray sighting spots near Kona have interesting nicknames, “Manta Heaven” and “Manta Village.” In Manta Village, manta rays are known to show up 92 percent of the time. These are the main spots where you have the best chance of seeing these gentle, graceful giants of the deep. Another spot that is lesser known and not used as frequently is near the Kohala Coast Resorts in Waikoloa.
Interesting Facts about Manta Rays
Hawaiian reef manta rays are gigantic in size and renowned for their gentleness. They have no teeth, barbs, or stingers that could harm a person if you should accidentally come in direct contact with them. The Reef manta rays of Hawaii spend their lives contentedly living in Hawaiian ocean waters. They do not migrate.
It’s fascinating to watch them as they scoop plankton in their open mouths. They’re very efficient feeders! Many of them also have names and will come close to people. Manta rays can live up to 50 years of age, and can weigh up to 3,000 pounds. Interacting with these gigantic, magnificent creatures creates memories that last a lifetime.
A Uniquely Hawaiian Experience
Swimming with manta rays can be done in other places in the world, but in those places, you’ll usually see manta rays while other smaller creatures are cleaning their skin. Only on manta ray tours in Hawaii will you actually get to watch them during their feeding time and when they’re in full feeding mode. It’s something you must experience for yourself, and it’s always a magical adventure when you visit the Big Island of Hawaii.