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Manta Ray Facts: 10 Must-Know Facts Before Your Kona Adventure

Manta Ray Facts

As one of the largest creatures in the Pacific Ocean, there are tons of manta ray facts out there. If you are planning a trip to the Big Island, you likely have looked into a night snorkel with manta rays in Kona, and are likely wondering what a close encounter with these gentle giants would entail.

We gathered our list of the 10 most frequently asked questions and most interesting manta ray facts so you will feel prepared taking part in this adventure!

1. How Big Manta Rays Can Get

There are two main species of manta rays who live around the Big Island of Hawaii. The one that you will be encountering aboard a manta ray night snorkel is the reef manta ray– these creatures usually reach around a 14 foot wingspan. The oceanic manta rays that live offshore can reach up to a 22 foot wingspan! 

2. Manta Rays Thrive in Tropical Environments

There is a reason that the Big Island of Hawaii is a premier destination for snorkeling with manta rays! These creatures prefer tropical environments like those found on the Kona Coast.

3. Can Manta Rays Hurt You?

Manta rays do not have barbs, stingers, nor teeth– nor are they naturally aggressive– in short they are not dangerous to humans in a predator sense. But these creatures are big and accidents do happen, be sure to pay attention to your local guides and captain both aboard the boat and in the water, on any Kona manta ray excursion.

4. What Manta Rays Eat

Manta rays are not carnivores, in fact the backbone of a manta ray close encounter on the Big Island is relying on their preference towards phytoplankton. Mantas are filter feeders, eating microscopic organisms in the water.

5. Where Manta Rays Live in Kona

The Kona colony of manta rays are seen at the same three places along the coast. One of these locations, Manta Village, is a popular area for night snorkel tours to go.

6. There Are Around 320 Catalogued Manta Rays in The Big Island, Hawaii

While this database has not been updated since the 90s, there are familiar faces around the Kona Coast in the form of manta rays. So, if you venture out with one of Kona’s local manta ray boat tours, they may let you know which mantas you are coming face-to-gills with!

7. Manta Rays Are Intelligent Creatures

Manta Rays are big brained, they quite literally have large brains and are thought to be intelligent creatures. They are thought to be the most intelligent fish which could contribute to their behaviors.

8. Manta Rays Don’t Sting

Unlike their cousin the stingray, mantas do not have barbed tails or “stingers”. This is a large reason why manta rays are seen as generally “harmless” creatures to humans who come into contact with them.

9. Manta Rays Live to be Over 45 Years Old!

Manta rays are thought to live anywhere from 50 to 100 years old! Which is another reason why the catalog of Kona’s manta from the 90s still might be accurate today

10. Manta Rays Can’t Stop Swimming

One crazy manta ray fact is that they can’t stop swimming. When a manta ray stops swimming they die. A manta ray breathes through being in perpetual motion, when you see a mata ray aboard a night snorkel tour in Hawaii, you’ll notice they are constantly active.


These are our picks for the top 10 best manta ray facts– if you’re interested in experiencing a closure encounter with these gentle creatures, then be sure to snag your spot aboard a night manta ray snorkel tour.