Best Manta Night Dives
Night diving and manta rays? It's not only a beautiful combination but a pretty unique one in the diving world. Check out our top picks for diving with these amazing creatures at night.
Kona's justifiably famous Manta Night Dives are the mother of all after-hours encounters.
Just off the picturesque Kona coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, there’s a chance to party with the big boys each night. The world-famous Manta Night Dive, started by area dive operators in the 1990s, features dozens of massive manta rays performing mind-blowing choreography under a bright, man-made light show. Illuminated by floating rigs of powerful spotlights, as many as 20 graceful filter feeders swoop and dive in a feeding frenzy on the plankton and other tiny organisms drawn to the lights. Lucky divers watch the show from the shallow bottom while snorkelers get a different vantage point floating above. “The amount of light at the site is tremendous, so it’s very different than a typical night dive,” says Keller Laros, a dive instructor for Jack’s Diving Locker and president of the Manta Pacific Research Foundation. Watching “these large, graceful sea creatures swimming just overhead, performing a beautiful ballet in an illuminated underwater theater is spectacular. People are usually blown away seeing such large ocean animals so close.”
La Paz, Mexico
Mexico’s Sea of Cortez is home to heaps of manta rays.
Mexico’s Sea of Cortez is home to heaps of manta rays, which can be encountered at feeding and cleaning stations throughout the year at a variety of sites along the long, slender sea that borders the Baja California peninsula.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
A manta glides above a cleaning station in Raja Ampat.
At Manta Sandy, a prolific cleaning station ringed by small coral-head formations in the famed Dampier Straits, the winged wonders can be found ridding themselves of parasites — thanks to helpful cleaner fish — in a show that can go on for hours.
Hanifaru Bay, Maldives
The Maldives is a hot spot for manta action.
This marine protected area is a hot spot for manta action, where lucky snorkelers can witness feeding aggregations of more than a hundred individuals at a time — and whale sharks too, for a truly fortunate few).