Image Courtesy of www.hawaiiactive.com
The highlight of our final week on the Big Island of Hawaii, was a night snorkel with the Manta Rays. The image above is a dive with Manta’s, but I thought I would include it so you could get an idea of how large these animals can be. The ones we were in the water with were not quite as large as this guy. Maybe the wing span of a sofa, tip to tip. We did our excursion with Hawaii Islands & Ocean Tours (www.HawaiiIslandOceanTours.com), which offers the Manta experience in a small group size of 6 people. Highly recommend this local, family run business. We did take the kids on this excursion and yes there was some prep involved.
First, we took the kids down to the Sheraton Hotel to Rays on the Bay where we went through a free informative talk about the Manta’s. While listening to the talk, you overlook the Bay where the night snorkel takes place and you are able to watch it in action, as well as, see the Manta’s feeding in the waters below. After all this, the kids figured they were brave enough to do it.
Image courtesy of murreandthepacific.com
So away we went, and I have to say, it is quite something to jump off a boat into the ocean, in the dark, with nothing on but a snorkel and a swimsuit while you see these giant dark figures swimming below. After flinging yourself off the side of the boat, you grab hold of a light broad and hook your feet on a noodle so they don’t dangle down into the water. Once everyone is in place around the light board all you do is wait for these magnificent creatures to start feeding on the smorgasbord of plankton right before your eyes. Even watching the microscopic plankton all around you is pretty cool.
Image courtesy of tombarefoot.com
It is the light on the board that attracts the plankton and thus the Manta is attracted to the board. These giant filter feeders glide through the waters inches below you while doing giant barrel rolls, turns and nose dives…graceful ladies they were. Actually, I did see one male Manta in the group and he seemed equally as graceful.
Image courtesy of Hawaii Island & Ocean Tours
After 30 minutes in the water, Lydia was done so we went back to the boat while the boys stayed out for another 15 minutes or so. Once we were all back in the boat it was a quick 10 minute ride back to the dock. Because we were so busy enjoying the moment, we didn’t really take any pictures. We did however, take some video footage of our Manta encounter and if you want to see it check it out below.
A truly exhilarating experience.