Manta Ray Night Dive

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 If you have never seen a manta before, please go google them, youtube them look at pictures of them& read about them!!! Because they are one of the most fascinating creatures EVER. Their grace and elegance in the sea is why they earned the nickname “Gentle Giants of the Sea”. 

Since my parents moved to Hawaii in 2016 I have spent several months on the Big Island of Hawaii. Which is why I’m obsessed with anything Hawaii-themed!! Anyways, spending all this time in Hawaii has allowed me to learn a lot about all the incredible things that the Big Island has to offer! One thing that I learned is that  the Big Island of HI is one of the only places in the world that manta rays live and that you can actually SWIM WITH THEM! HOW FRICKIN COOL. Once I realized that you could get in the water and swim with them, I knew I had to try it out!!!

There are a bunch of different tour companies in Kona that will take you out in the ocean to see the mantas–so it was very easy to book our excursion. Josh & I booked our trip through My Kona Adventures and they were phenomenal. 100% recommend. 

Another super cool thing about this tour is that IT’S AT NIGHT. Because the best time to go diving with mantas is when the sun goes down….BUT WHY?! 
Well, the primary food source for mantas is zooplankton.  And zooplankton are attracted to light. So, all of these tour companies go out into the ocean in the middle of the night with a big floating light (honestly it’s like a giant surfboard with lights all around it, shining down into the ocean). This huge light attracts zooplankton & thus, brings the mantas near us divers!!! How darn cool. 

The evening of our dive, we met our group (only 4 other people) in Keauhou Bay  and got into our little boat!! Our scheduled time was about 7:45, which was the PERFECT time to go because we got to see the gorgeous Hawaiian sunset from the Keahou Bay beforehand. It was perfection. 
It was only a 5 minute boat ride until we found our docking place in the middle of the pacific! While on the ride out, our tour guide got us all set up with our snorkel mask, flippers and ankle floaties!  
Not going to lie, I was a little uneasy jumping out of the boat into the black ocean….all I could think about was the Jaws theme song. But it’s okay, it all was fine. No sharks! 

All of us were instructed to “hang onto the lightboard and just float”. Because we had ankle floaties on, it really was easy to just float on our bellies and watch the zooplankton gather under the light. 
It was INSANE how quickly the plankton gathered underneath the light….it looked like we were in a snow globe underwater! 

Before we knew it MANTAS WERE COMING TOWARDS US. They would pass underneath us & next to us, grabbing mouthfuls of plankton as they swam by. I couldn’t believe how HUGE they were!!! The biggest manta that swam near us was 11 feet across!! But their wingspan can get up to 20 feet wide!! WHAT!?!
While one swam underneath us, it brushed up against my belly!! Talk about a crazy feeling! 

Anyways, this experience was one of the most amazing things that I have ever done. It was incredible to see these gentle giants up close & it made me wish I lived on the Big island full-time so I could go out with them more! 
If you are ever on the Big island of Hawaii I 10000000% recommend booking a tour and going out to see the mantas!!!! 

Since most people aren’t familiar with Manta Rays and their inherent awesome-ness here are some facts about them:::::

*they can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds.

*the manta ray, unlike other rays, does not have a spine on its tail for defense.

*Mantas can live for at least 50 years 

Moral of the story, Hawaii is awesome. Mantas are awesome. & the ocean is awesome. 

*like whales, mantas can leap out of the water….sometimes even flipping in the air! 

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