In general, not a whole lot of people have seen or gotten to dive with a manta ray, which really is a shame. Once you see them up close and personal, you are mesmerized, and instantly fall in love with these majestic creatures.
Being able to dive or swim with giant manta rays, is an experience that no one has ever forgotten. Just watching these gentle giants dance and twirl in front of you, or glide by in groups is enough to get that heart pumping!
Mantas were on my own critter bucket list of course, and I finally got to see them on one of my dive trips to Komodo. I instantly fell in love with them, and have gone out of my way to repeat the incredible experience in other locations.
So we’ve put together this list of just some of the incredible destinations around the world, where you too can enjoy these magnificent creatures for yourself.
1. Bali, Indonesia
Bali is a place where you can see mantas year-round, not just seasonally, so is a great place to see them. They are seen (and studied) around Nusa Penida, so head there and tell your dive operator you are there for some manta action! You can also swim and snorkel with mantas here, so you don’t need to be a certified diver.
2. Komodo National Park, Indonesia
Komodo was the first place I’ve ever seen a manta, and it was incredible. The dive guides sat us in the sand in front of a cleaning station, and soon we were surrounded by 7 mantas, dancing just feet from me. I’ll never forget that. Same as Bali, you can also see the mantas snorkeling here.
Also read: Top Dive Locations in Indonesia
3. Tubbataha, Philippines
Tubbataha is a special place in the Philippines, as well as unique. It’s a world-class dive location, that’s also a protected UNESCO underwater site, where you can see the big guys, like mantas and whale sharks. You won’t want to miss this one!
For more info, check out our Ultimate Guide to Scuba Diving Philippines
4. Baa Atoll, Maldives
During the right seasons, Baa Atol in Northern Maldives will blow your mind. This is the place where you see those photos and videos on BBC, of HUGE school of manta rays congregating together. And you can swim with them too, if you’re not a diver!
Looking for more info? Check out our complete guide to scuba diving in the Maldives.
5. Tofo, Mozambique
Tofo is a great place in southern Africa to see the big dudes. On one trip alone you can run into whale sharks, humpback whales, dolphins, and giant manta rays in Tofo. So if you are in for a long and adventurous trip, this is the one to do!
6. Kona, Hawaii
Kona is another unique dive opportunity when it comes to manta rays. The Kona dive resort sets up giant underwater lights each night to attract plankton, and divers get to watch as mantas come in and dance in the lights. It’s amazing to see!
Have you read our Guide to Scuba Diving Hawaii?
7. Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Cocos Island is another more remote dive destination, that takes a little bit more planning and money. You will need to take a liveaboard from Costa Rica, and will arrive to see some of the most pristine protected reefs in the world, as well as mantas!
There are more than just these 7 incredible scuba destinations in the world, where you can either swim or dive with manta rays, but these should get you started, as well as get you addicted.
The reason it is important for people to see Mantas up close is that it brings awareness, caring, and attention to the species, which can lead to increased protection. And these guys need all the protection they can get!
As Jaques Cousteau once said, one must love something before he will want to save it.