For a downloadable PDF version of this guide CLICK HERE! 

 

Swimming with manta rays is a once in a lifetime experience that can be had right offshore on the big island of Hawaii. Diving with manta rays can also be experienced in other parts of the world, but Hawaii is one of the best spots! Every trip out usually delivers at LEAST a few mantas and having the dive site right in Kona makes it extra convenient.

 

 

ADVENTURE STATISTICS

Time Required: 2-4Hours

Location: Kaeuhou Bay

Difficulty: 4/10 – Must be comfortable in the water at night

Season: Year round

Additional Requirements: Kayak, underwater flashlight, snorkel gear, or a booking on one of the many snorkel/dive tours.

DRIVING DIRECTIONS

From Kona: From Ali Hwy, head south onto Kaleiopapa Street until you reach the end. There is a boat launch there and some spots for parking.

WHAT TO BRING

If doing a self-guided tour:

  • Kayak/paddles: You will need to paddle out to the Mantas
  • Lifejacket: A lifejacket will keep you safe and is nice to float with when viewing the mantas.
  • SUV/Truck: You will need to transport the kayak to the boat launch.
  • Lights/Glow sticks: It is important to strap lights to your boat and yourself so other boats can see you.
  • Waterproof headlamp: It is nice to have a headlamp so you can paddle out without having to hold a light.
  • Underwater flashlight: Lights attract the plankton that the mantas eat. Bring a flashlight so that you can see underwater.
  • Swimsuit: You will be jumping in the water
  • Warm Clothes: It will be chilly when you get out of the water.
  • Towel: You will want to dry off after swimming.
  • Snorkel Gear: Fins, mask and goggles.
  • Gopro/underwater camera: This is an amazing experience and you will want pictures and videos from your adventure.
  • This Guide: Print a copy of this guide to reference throughout the hike

 

If going on a guided tour:

  • Swimsuit: You will be jumping in the water
  • Warm Clothes: It will be chilly when you get out of the water.
  • Towel: You will want to dry off after swimming.
  • Seasickness medication: The water can be choppy and you will be on the boat for a while. If you get seasickness we recommend bringing seasickness medication.
  • Gopro/underwater camera: This is an amazing experience and you will want pictures and videos from your adventure.
  • Other: Anything else your tour guide company recommends.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Safety: It is a popular tour and there are many boats in the area.  Make sure you and your boat is well lit so other boat drivers can see you. Always be aware of your surroundings and where the shore and other boats are.  You will need to have someone in the kayak at all times to make sure it doesn’t drift away.

Mantas: Don’t touch the mantas! Mantas are not dangerous and may swim very close to you but be careful not to touch them. They have a protective mucus that protects them and if you touch them you may harm the manta.

 

** If you are unfamiliar with the area we highly recommend booking a tour.  All the tour companies in Kona are great and they will take care of the entire excursion. They are pros at this are will make sure you stay safe.

ADVENTURE DIRECTIONS

Summary: This is one of the best tours on the Big Island. We highly recommend booking a tour as professional dive/snorkel companies will give you the best and safest Manta Ray experience. We’ve done this tour with Jack’s Diving Locker and had a great time. If you want to have this experience without a tour company read our tips below.

 

Step-By-Step Guide:

Note: We did our snorkel in Keauhou Bay but there is a smaller site at Mauna Kea Beach where you can sometimes see mantas. They turn on a small light on the North side of the bay that attracts the mantas. This is an easier excursion as it is possible to snorkel right from the beach.

 

One of the main places to see mantas is right in front of the Sheraton Kona Resort. The Boat launch is just north east of the hotel. There is parking nearby but you will need to drop off your kayak at the boat launch and then park. It is about a 500m paddle to the site.  At dusk, there will be a bunch of tour boats in front of the Sheraton. Once you have paddled out, there will be clusters of snorkelers with glow sticks and lights.  This is where you want to be to see the mantas!

 

Anderson getting ready to snorkel with the Mantas - Hawaii Big Island - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 1: Anderson getting his gear ready
Paddling to the Mantas - Hawaii Big Island - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 2: Paddling to the mantas

 

Once you reach the boats, jump in! Have someone stay with the boats so they don’t float away too far. Once in the water, you should be able to see the main spotlight at the bottom of the ocean with some divers down there waiting as well. Try not to get in the way of the bigger boats and don’t touch the mantas.

 

Snorkeling with the Mantas - Hawaii Big Island - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 3: Two manta rays
Snorkeling with the Mantas - Hawaii Big Island - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 4: Snorkeling with the mantas

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

Thank you for choosing Epic Trip Adventures as your guide.  We are committed to continually updating our guides to be as relevant and accurate as possible. If you have feedback to improve this guide please leave it in the comments below.

We also want to hear about your Manta Ray adventures.  If you have stories, pictures or even a link to your own adventure video please share them below!

Have fun out there!

– ETA