Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

The Night of Many Mantas

Posted from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii at 10:38 pm, September 4th, 2022

I’m doing a poor job of writing daily entries, so here’s another catch-up of our time on the Big Island thus far.

We arrived on Thursday, and booked a full day of scuba diving for Friday. The two morning dives were fun but mostly uneventful – a few sea turtles, a bunch of morays, tons of reef fish. The evening dive, however, was the one we’d been looking forward to. At sunset we were moored near the airport, and the divemasters gave us instructions before we descended forty feet into darkness. Immediately two huge rays were gliding over us, and as we settled into our place around the underwater “campfire” of dive lights, more and more giant manta rays began appearing. For the next forty-five minutes we were treated to a show with a cast of over twenty different mantas, some of which were nearly sixteen feet across. Having giant rays glide by close enough to touch (which we didn’t of course, although the rays bumped into people on multiple occasions) was a magical way to spend an hour. After getting out of the water we were told that the average night sees 2-3 mantas present, so we got an amazing show.

Our next day we had scheduled a pelagic snorkel, where we headed out to deep water looking for sharks, whales, or whatever might be around. The company we booked through initially had boat issues, so they re-booked us with Wild Hawaii Ocean Adventures, and we somehow found ourselves heading out to sea at 9am aboard an 11m long Navy SEAL assault vessel, cruising in mile deep water looking for sharks to swim with. Sadly it seems we had used up our good karma with the mantas, so our four hour adventure did not include any big animals, but we did get to do some short snorkels in both shallow and deep water, and cruising around at 35 mph in a fast attack boat is not the worst way to spend a morning. Finishing up our 48 hours of activities, we closed out the night with a luau at the resort, where I ate and drank enough to last for several meals.

Today was a rest day, and after a late (6:30am) wakeup we lounged before doing a loop up to Hawi and Waimea, where we had a great view of the summit of 13,796 foot Mauna Kea volcano, as well as some amazing coastline views.

Audrey’s manta ray video.

3 responses to “The Night of Many Mantas”

  1. We’re headed to the Hawaii tomorrow and we’re trying to decide between the manta ray tour at night, or the sea turtle tour during the daytime. If you had to choose, which would you do? Also, what tour company did you do the manta ray dive with?


    1. We used Manta Ray Divers (https://www.mantaraydiveshawaii.com/) and thought they were great. Trips book up way in advance, so book early. We see sea turtles a lot while snorkeling or diving, but this is the only place in the world where you’re likely to see groups of mantas feeding at night, so I’d definitely choose the manta trip if you can get on one.

      1. We went last night with Ocean Encounters (they had 2 spots left for our last minute booking) and it was AMAZING! Outside my comfort zone but I’m so glad we did it! Thanks for the inspiration!

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