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Why a Big Island Manta Rays Night Swim is SO Popular

Big Island manta ray night swim

If you are an ocean super fan, you may already know about the night time aquatic experience quickly growing in popularity on the Big Island of Hawaii: manta ray night snorkels. Facilitated by trusted local tour boats, these close encounters allow you to come face to gills with some of Hawaii’s greatest gentle giants.

With the sudden rise in popularity alongside budding questions surrounding how the experience works and how you might get the chance to snag your spot aboard one of these boats, we wanted to put together this guide that dives into this adventure!

Manta Ray Night Swims are an Unforgettable Encounter

A manta ray night swim is surely unlike anything you may have ever experienced. While these creatures’ wingspan can reach up to 16 feet across, they are still some of the gentler creatures in the ocean. Feeding on microscopic creatures and devoid of teeth or a spiked tail like other large underwater animals, manta rays are as thrilling as a close encounter as they are safe.

You’ll notice as you hover along the surface of the bay, likely holding onto the in-water flotation device provided by your boat and guide, that the manta rays participate in a sort of dance below. These dances can consist of barrel rolls, which are a way that manta rays feed on the tiny microplankton attracted to the artificial light the tour has created. These manta rays start towards the ocean floor and crescendo into a backflip skimming right under where you are at the surface. These encounters are incredible and you will get the chance to learn so much more about why and how these animals are interacting with your group.

The Thrill of Swimming with Manta Rays at Night

There are multiple factors that draw association between a manta ray swim and a thrilling adventure. The fact that your tour boat will likely leave the dock just after sunset, the sheer size of the manta rays, and the shadows cast onto the ocean floor, all contribute to this idea of an exciting thrill ride. While this can be a heart pounding adventure at times, it is underscored by the security in knowing that you will be guided by an experienced team both in and out of the water and if you pay attention to their instructions, this excursion is totally safe.

If you are someone wondering what are the hard and fast rules to ensure that your night time manta ray swim is going to be as safe as possible, our suggestion beyond keeping an ear open for everything your guides have to say both on the boat and in the water, is do not touch the animals. This idea goes beyond personal and marine safety but it preserves the habitats and experiences you will have for future adventurists to the Big Island! What can be assured is if you follow these guidelines you are in for an unmatched trip of fun!

Manta Ray Night Swims are Safe and Exciting

Building on this last point, despite the thrill associated with this ocean adventure, a manta ray night dive with a trusted snorkel tour group is safe and exciting for everyone! The greatest question that may arise when you book is what length of prior experience may you need to set off on a night snorkel. While every company may have different regulations or stipulations, it is widely accepted that some swimming and snorkeling experience is preferred. The reason being, when you enter the water you will be equipped with a wetsuit, mask, and snorkel (some tours will also provide pool noodles or fins to help you float); comfort using a snorkel for long periods of time or floating at the surface of the ocean, which ebbs and flows, will allow you to more easily establish regular breathing and calm in order to enjoy the close encounters that will arise when the manta rays come to the surface.

Seeing large creatures rise from the shadows of the oceans, in concept, is a bit scary– while manta rays are docile creatures you may feel a moment of panic as they come close. We can assure you there is nothing to fear but this does deter some that aren’t used to the animals of the ocean. However, if you are looking for a unique experience where the memories will last a lifetime, then be sure to book your manta ray tour in Kona as soon as possible!