Divers all over the world dream of a diving trip to swim with manta rays. These animals, the largest rays of the animal kingdom, up to 7 meters in diameter, evolve with exceptional grace. Beyond the power and finesse of this amazing fish, it is the connection that it is possible to establish with these exceptional animals that is the most striking. Indeed, a study shows that these fish have the largest brains in relation body size ratio. They are also totally harmless and easily distinguish themselves one from another due to their different appearance. Although scuba diving allows you to approach them closely, it is also possible to snorkel with manta rays in different parts of the world. It is time for you to leave for an unforgettable dive experience. It is possible to dive with manta rays at many places and in most tropical seas in general but we have selected for you the best destinations for diving with manta rays.
DIVE WITH MANTA RAYS IN AMERICA
Socorro Islands, MEXICO
The famous island of Socorro is one of the 4 islands composing the Revillagigedo. Of volcanic composition, this island is located about 600 kilometers from Baja California, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. A large community of nearly 500 giant Oceanic Manta rays also called Manta birostris. This ray family is the largest in the world and most of them exceed 5 meters wingspan and they can weigh up to 1500 kilos. You can also dive with manta rays on the island of San Benedicto and in particular on the exceptional diving site The Boiler. Beyond the Manta rays, you can snorkel with tiger sharks, silky sharks and humpback whales. Just that. The best period for diving with manta rays at Socorro is from May to June.
DIVE IN ECUADOR
Cabo Marshall, GALAPAGOS
In the Galapagos, you might do many dives without meeting any manta rays. However, on the north coast of Isabela Island, in Cabo Marshall, you are almost sure to meet this extraordinary animal. Furthermore, the rays are just enormous, surrounded by a multitude of pelagics and fish such as hammerhead sharks, white shark sharks or large parrotfish. Another peculiarity of the region, the corals are magnificent and of black color, giving the graceful manta an exceptional contrast. Also, be aware that cabo marshall is only accessible by liveaboard diving cruise. Best time for diving with manta, from June to October
ISLAND OF THE PLATA
Ideally, we recommend organizing your diving trip from June to October. This small island that lies between the Galapagos and an hour and a half from the coast of Puerto Lopez in Ecuador hosts the largest colony of oceanic giant manta rays with nearly hang on 2000 individuals arriving from the Pacific between June and October every year. The island did not have diving centers to discover its wonders underwater until very recently. Finally, be aware that this dive trip depends heavily on weather conditions that can sometimes be mild and prevent the practice of diving for several weeks.
The main characteristic of Hawaii is we usually dive with the manta rays at night. Indeed, during these night dives with manta rays, the light coming from the torches attracts the plankton that feeds on light. The latter attract our pelagic friends. Indirectly, scuba diving in Hawaii is like helping the Manta to feed. The experience is particularly striking because you usually find yourself literally surrounded by rays. You can dive with manta rays all year round.
MANTA RAY IN ASIA
Koh Bon, Similan and Hin Daeng and Hin Muang in THAILAND
Thailand is obviously one of the most popular dive experiences. But Thailand is particularly known for its fine sandy beaches, its colorful culture and its delicious food; its translucent waters hide a very rich and diverse fauna. Some islands and diving sites are known to offer magnificent dives manta ray. The best places to dive with large pelagics in thailand are the similan islands, hin daeng and hin muang and koh bon.The best season for diving in Thailand in the Adaman Sea is from February to April.
At the beginning of the year, the currents are particularly strong and carry many plankton along the Adaman Sea coast. The rays come during this period to feed in Thailand but also to spend many hours in the washing stations where cleaner fish come to feed. To dive in the similan, you will either have to book a diving cruise or stay on the coast in Kaho Lak where the hotels and diving centers of the region are located. Indeed, the similan islands remain wild and do not have the infrastructure to visit the seabed. The best period for diving in the similans islands extends from December to May.
The island of Koh Bon is located about an hour north of the Similan Islands. The pinnacle of Koh Bon is particularly known for its high concentration of manta rays that evolve around the peak. If you do not disturb them, the rays will rotate around you during long minutes. Beyond the manta rays, you can dive with whale sharks, eagle rays or reef sharks. Ideally, we advise you to organize your dive trip to Koh Bon from February to April.
HIN DAENG and HIN MUANG
The famous dive sites of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang represent an almost mandatory crossing point for the manta rays that evolve in the Adaman Sea. Indeed, these two pinnacles, located next to each other, between koh lanta and Koh Phi Phi, are undoubtedly part of the best diving sites of Thailand. Indeed, it is not uncommon to dive with dozens of manta rays but also whale sharks, reef sharks or eagle rays. To get there you have to book one of the diving centers of Koh Phi Phi or Koh Lanta or book a diving cruise. The best time to dive in Hin Daeng and Hin Muang is from December to April.
A trip to Indonesia is definitely one of the best diving experiences.Indeed, the 17,000 islands that composes Indonesia has almost 25% of the fish species and nearly 15% of the coral types in the world. Three major regions stand out in terms of scuba diving.
KOMODO and FLORES ISLANDS
The Flores Islands and the Komodos are probably the most famous sites for diving with manta rays. You can see manta rays all year round as they migrate from north to south depending on the season. Plankton being particularly dense in these islands, rays abound to feed. Best period to dive with manta rays extends from June to September mainly for visibility.
NUSA PENIDA, BALI
Bali is usually a compulsory crossing point for all diving holidays in Indonesia. This small corner of paradise, although very touristic keeps its authenticity. In addition, several hundred manta rays can be observed throughout the year. But to see these legendary creatures, you will have to dive on the island of Nusa Penida and ideally on the dive site called Manta Point but be careful, the currents can be relatively strong. With a little luck you could also dive with Mola Mola. Ideally, we recommend to organize your diving trip in Bali between August and October.
Raja Ampat is undoubtedly one of the best dive sites in the world. The corals are extraordinary, the fauna abundant and colorful. And especially the manta rays are very numerous there. There are also many nudibranch and macro life in general which makes it an extraordinary place for underwater photography.
To dive with manta rays, you should go to Raja Ampat from October to May and more precisely from December to March.
The best diving sites to see Manta Rays are “Manta Ridge”, “Manta sandy”, “Eagle rock” and “Wayag lagoon”
The best diving sites to swim with oceanic manta rays bigger are “Blue Magic” and “Magic Mountain”.
The Maldives are obviously ranked as one of the best dive sites in the world. Its 1,200 islands and transparent waters as well as its pelagic fauna allow diving with manta rays, whale sharks, and many other species of sharks and fish. Beyond its fauna, the flora and the corals present in the heart of its calm lagoons are of almost unparalleled diversity. The most known atolls for diving with manta are Ari and Baa. It is advisable to book your trip diving from May to November to swim with manta rays.
The Atoll of Ari is the main atoll of Maldives and the most visited of the country. It is mainly thanks to the very high concentration of plankton that the rays come to visit the Atoll and although the mantas are wandering all over the atoll, the diving sites of Madivaru Manta point and Paneton are probably the most frequented by our friends with long wings. If you are traveling to the Maldives during the south west monsoon from June to November, we strongly advise you to book a night dive at the Fesdu to watch the feast of our pelagic friends. It is one of the only diving spots in the world to make night dives with manta rays.
To the north of the great atoll of Ari, the small atoll of Baa benefits from a geographical situation and a shape allowing a very high concentration of plankton in Baa in general but in the bay of Hanifaru in particular. The geographic position of the bay allows a high concentration of plankton which, thanks to the current, is found in the center of the bay. Nearly 1600 individuals have been counted in this bay, which represents nearly 40% of all the manta rays present in Maldives. Wow !
Scuba Diving in Oceania
Rangiroa, Fakarava and Bora Bora in FRENCH POLYNESIA
French Polynesia is simply a paradise, made of turquoise waters and large coral barriers, which Maori culture, turned towards the sea and the magnificent fishes of the Pacific, complements subtly. This magnificent diving experience will fill you of wonderful images if you know how to surrender to it. Although Polynesia is particularly known for its gray sharks and hammerhead sharks, it is possible to observe magnificent manta rays throughout the year. To dive with manta rays, we advise you to organize your diving trip in French Polynesia from June to August.
The atoll of rangiroa, located in the Tuamotus is particularly known for its famous passage of Tiputa as well as that, less known, of Avatoru. Although it is mainly for its sharks that the pass is cited in the list of the best diving sites of the world, the manta rays are quite numerous there. They come in large group during their migration in order to enjoy the strong currents.
The Fakarava Atoll, which is also located in the Tuamotu is particularly known for its northern and southern passes in which you will be almost certain to be able to dive with hammerhead sharks. They come by thousands and create what we call a Shark wall. Be aware that this atoll is very regularly visited by many groups of manta rays.
Although Bora Bora is not strictly speaking one of the best places in the world to dive with manta rays, we wanted to add it in this ranking because the protected site of ANAU is one of the largest washing stations of the pacific ocean. This dive site is protected and it is only possible to dive there in the morning. The visibility can be bad but you are very likely to meet our imposing friends in full grooming session.
Australia has countless exceptional dive sites. The country is particularly known for its great barrier reef and especially for some islands such as Lady Elliot where you can dive with manta rays. On the west coast, Coral Bay, near Ningaloo, is less crowded with divers but our pelagic friends love that place. We recommend that you organize your diving trip in Australia between June and August.
The great Barrier Reef and LADY ELLIOT ISLAND
The island of Lady Elliot is also nicknamed the “house of the manta rays” and one understands why. Indeed, the rays are found throughout the year and especially during the Australian winter, during which time you can dive with more than 100 of them on the same dive. The best time to dive on the Great Barrier Reef with manta rays is from June to August.
Across the country, on the west coast, Coral Bay, near Ningaloo is visited by more than 600 manta rays per year. After the densest season, the breeding season, from November to February, offers a special show with sometimes 15 males fighting to reproduce with only one female. The best time for diving with manta rays on the west coast of Australia is from June to November.
Yap and Palau in MICRONESIA
Micronesia, which is located in the South Pacific is clearly one of the best dive experiences imaginable. Particularly known for its transparent waters and its concentration of shark, Micronesia is also a great castaway destination for a manta ray trip with very few tourist.
Yap is one of the four state of Micronesia and encompasses nearly twelve atoll and 139 islands for only 12,000 inhabitants. The main island has its own airport. The corals surrounding these numerous islands and atolls inhabit a particularly rich fauna with about 150 resident manta rays. The latter are particularly happy there because Yap has one of the highest concentrations of cleaning stations on which you are almost certain to dive with the mythical animal. The manta diving usually takes place in the Mi’il Channel and Goofnuw channel. You should also have the chance to dive with Mandarin fish and many species of sharks.
The best time to dive with manta rays extends from September to May and more particularly from December to April, when rays from other regions come to mate.
For information, Palau has always been a pioneer in terms of seabed conservation. The small state created the world’s first shark sanctuary and duplicated the model by creating reserves for whales, dolphins and dugongs. The defense of their natural environment is even inscribed in the constitution and is taught to children at primary school. Although it has long remained in the shadow of Yap, Palau has developed its tourism and is now inhabited by nearly 400 manta rays. The Independent State is considered to be one of the places in the world where you will most likely see manta, especially on the dive site called German Channel and it’s exceptional cleaning station that is in the top 5 of the best dive sites in Palau. The diving site will soon be classified as a protected marine reserve. The dive site Devilfish City is also particularly known for diving with manta rays. Small tip, do not hesitate to do a night dive with manta rays in Palau. Believe us, it is not to be missed.
We advise you to organize your diving trip in Palau from October to May.
The Fiji Islands, located to the west of Australia, are an exceptional destination. You can dive or snorkel with manta rays in Kadavu, Namena, Wakaya, Taveuni or Yasawas. It is important to note the exceptionally high concentration of washing station of manta rays. There are nearly 300 individuals over the period from June to October. To dive with manta rays in Fiji, you should organize your diving trip from June to October.
Manta Rays in Africa
Thanks to a current and a particular geographical position, Mozambique’s waters are particularly rich in plankton and, as a result, its 200 kilometers of coastline are particularly frequented by manta rays. Approximately 900 reef manta and 100 large oceanic manta rays were counted. But, beyond plankton, Mozambique has other interesting features. On the one hand, unlike Micronesia cited above, the female manta population represents 75% of the individuals. In addition, they spend much more time in cleaning stations than anywhere else in the world. You may wonder if Mozambique female manta, just like human women likes to spend a lot of time getting themselves beautiful before going out. Well, no, it has nothing to do with it. In reality, they spend more time in a washing station to clean the wounds due to the many shark attacks they are the victims of. For divers, this means that it is much easier to dive with manta rays in Mozambique than anywhere else in the world as it is easy to find them and observe them while they are wandering in the cleaning stations.
Last surprising and particularly shocking fact related to the manta rays of Mozambique; The population declined by almost 90% between 2003 and 2011 mainly due to hunting. Fortunately, some measures are being taken by the government to protect these magnificent pelagics.
It is possible to dive with manta rays in Mozambique throughout the year.
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