Dancing Manta Rays in Kona

Close shot of a Manta Ray from below
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Dancing Manta Rays in Kona

Did you know that Kona is one of the best places in the world to see manta rays?

The waters off of Outrigger Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa have actually become a regular feeding spot for these beautiful creatures. Many Kona Coast ping and snorkeling companies offer night tours that take visitors even closer to the mantas.

If you’re wondering, manta rays are completely harmless to humans because they have no teeth nor tail stingers. Sting rays are the ones to watch out for, but luckily we don’t have those in Hawaii. Manta rays can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and have a wingspan of up to 20 feet! They are no doubt one of the largest fish in the sea and most graceful, I might add.

Manta rays are majestic creatures that often grace the waters off the Kona coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. These gentle giants, with their wingspans reaching up to 30 feet, are a major draw for tourists and marine enthusiasts alike.

Because they feed on microscopic plankton, the nearby Sheraton Kona resort usually shines powerful lights from the deck to attract plankton for them to eat. That’s also why visitors can easily view them from land – right from the lanai off the Crystal Blue cocktail lounge. How’s that for live nightly entertainment?

Habitat and behavior:

  • Kona boasts several manta ray cleaning stations, where the rays visit to get rid of parasites and debris on their bodies. These stations, typically near cleaning reefs or seamounts, attract small fish that help with the cleaning process.
  • Manta rays are filter feeders, primarily feasting on plankton and zooplankton. They gracefully soar through the water, opening their wide mouths to engulf these tiny organisms.
  • During the night, manta rays put on an unforgettable show. They gather near the surface, attracted by the plankton drawn to the lights of boats. Snorkelers and divers can witness these graceful creatures as they perform somersaults and barrel rolls, filtering plankton with their cephalic lobes (head fins).
  • Conservation and viewing:

    • Manta rays are protected species in Hawaii, and it’s crucial to observe them responsibly. Never touch or chase them, and maintain a safe distance to avoid disturbing their natural behavior.
    • Several reputable tour operators in Kona offer snorkeling and diving tours specifically for manta ray encounters. These tours are led by experienced guides who ensure responsible interactions with these magnificent animals.
    • Some popular viewing spots in Kona include “Manta Village” near the Kona Surf Resort Hotel, Keauhou Bay, and off the Kohala Coast.

Manta rays are majestic creatures that often grace the waters off the Kona coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. These gentle giants, with their wingspans reaching up to 30 feet, are a major draw for tourists and marine enthusiasts alike.

Here’s a glimpse into the world of manta rays in Kona:

Habitat and behavior:

  • Kona boasts several manta ray cleaning stations, where the rays visit to get rid of parasites and debris on their bodies. These stations, typically near cleaning reefs or seamounts, attract small fish that help with the cleaning process.
  • Manta rays are filter feeders, primarily feasting on plankton and zooplankton. They gracefully soar through the water, opening their wide mouths to engulf these tiny organisms.
  • During the night, manta rays put on an unforgettable show. They gather near the surface, attracted by the plankton drawn to the lights of boats. Snorkelers and divers can witness these graceful creatures as they perform somersaults and barrel rolls, filtering plankton with their cephalic lobes (head fins).

Conservation and viewing:

  • Manta rays are protected species in Hawaii, and it’s crucial to observe them responsibly. Never touch or chase them, and maintain a safe distance to avoid disturbing their natural behavior.
  • Several reputable tour operators in Kona offer snorkeling and diving tours specifically for manta ray encounters. These tours are led by experienced guides who ensure responsible interactions with these magnificent animals.
  • Some popular viewing spots in Kona include “Manta Village” near the Kona Surf Resort Hotel, Keauhou Bay, and off the Kohala Coast.

Beyond the beauty:

  • Manta rays play a vital role in the marine ecosystem, helping to control plankton populations and maintain the delicate balance of the coral reefs.
  • Studying manta rays provides valuable insights into ocean health and migration patterns. Researchers use various techniques, including tagging and photo identification, to track these gentle giants and learn more about their lives.

In addition to viewing them from land, as previously mentioned, visitors can take a boat tour right out to Keauhou Bay. The tour company shine bright lights onto the ocean floor, where you’ll see the mantas almost instantly. That’s when you can choose to jump in and swim, float or glide right alongside them.

Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons

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