When a manta ray first soared over my head I let out a loud squeal of excitement underwater that could be heard by any diver within a few feet of me. I expected to see them of course, but I never imagined how big and graceful they would be.
The team at Kona Honu Divers on the Big Island of Hawaii choose the perfect spot in the bay where manta rays gather for their evening meal. Our Divemaster gave us our briefing and told us many times to not touch the manta rays. This goes without saying for all diving encounters. Look but don’t touch. We were also instructed to hold our lights higher than our heads so that the rays can swim over us.
Once darkness fell in the night sky we plunged into the water one by one and followed our Divemaster to the bottom. We settled in at about 35 feet below the surface. Then we gathered around the powerful lights in a large crate. Light attracts plankton and other small marine life. The manta rays see the light as a dinner bell and swim over to our area to feast on the plankton.
An hour later, my gauge was down to 500 psi which meant I was low on air. I had to force myself to breakaway from the show to get back up to the surface. It’s not always guaranteed that you will see manta rays on this night dive. I feel lucky to have watched them on a couple dive trips to the Big Island in 2006.
If you plan a trip to Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii I would highly recommend this experience. If you are not a certified diver there are snorkeling options, but it is not as incredible as being underwater right there with the mantas. Make sure you choose a reputable dive company like Kona Honu Divers or Jack’s Diving Locker.