A Simple Guide to Manta Ray Snorkeling in Keauhou/Kona: Everything You Need to Know
Snorkeling with manta rays is an unforgettable experience that draws many visitors to Kona annually. These gentle giants can grow up to 20 feet wide and weigh up to 2,000 pounds, making them one of the most awe-inspiring creatures in the ocean. If you’re planning a trip to Kona and want to experience manta ray snorkeling, this guide has everything you need to know to make the most of your adventure.
Where to Go
One of the best places for manta ray snorkeling in Kona is Keauhou Bay. This is a sheltered bay with calm waters, making it an ideal spot for beginner snorkelers. There is a second spot farther north in the Waikoloa area that is popular as well!
When to Go
The best time to go manta ray snorkeling in Kona is at night when the rays come to the surface to feed on plankton attracted by light. Manta rays can be appreciated year-round as they are known to take up residence in a single location for most of their lives. Keep in mind that the number of manta rays you see may vary depending on the time of year, weather conditions, and other factors – even hour-to-hour. Manta rays can be spotted during the day, but rarely on purpose.
What to Bring
Before you go manta ray snorkeling, there are a few things you’ll need to bring with you. First, you’ll need a swimsuit and a towel. You may also want to bring a rash guard for added warmth while in the water. Most operators provide a wetsuit top. A hoodie or jacket can help you stay warm on the chilly ride back to your starting point. Operators that have long rides back to Kailua Pier often serve hot drinks. Operators with short, 5-minute, rides back to the Keauhou Pier often do not provide a hot drink because you’d barely have enough time to finish it, and disembarking a boat with your belongings, plus a hot drink in hand, can spell disaster! All operators provide guests with necessary snorkeling gear (mask, floatation devices). You can also bring a waterproof camera or case for your phone to capture manta ray footage. Be warned, the time passes quickly when you’re having fun, and we encourage our guests to spend most of that time taking in the experience.
Tips for Snorkeling with Manta Rays
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when snorkeling with manta rays:
- Stay calm and relaxed. Manta rays are gentle creatures and are not a threat to humans.
- Let the manta come to you. It’s important not to touch the manta rays. This can disrupt their natural behavior, stress them out, and degrade the protective film on their bodies.
- Stay with the group. All operators provide underwater lights to attract plankton, which attracts manta rays. This makes it easier to see them up close. When you’re grouped, everyone has the best chance of witnessing the manta rays up close.
- Listen to your guide. Your tour guide will instruct you on how to snorkel with the manta rays, keep you safe during your adventure, and provide exciting education about the mantas.
Who to go with
Manta ray snorkeling is a surreal experience that can be enjoyed solo or with a group. There are many providers/operators to choose from. We encourage you to select your operator based on the quality of reviews they receive on Tripadvisor and Google, as well as the value they deliver. Explore the unique attributes of each and determine what you want to get out of your manta ray snorkel experience. Many operators are simply there as a low-cost leader cash grab via volume.
Manta ray snorkeling in Kona is an experience of a lifetime that you won’t want to miss. With this guide, you have everything you need to know to plan your adventure, from where to go and when to go, to what to bring, and how to snorkel with manta rays safely and responsibly. Book your manta ray snorkeling tour today and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in Kona!