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manta ray snorkeling at night kona

Marine life on the Big Island is magical. Whether you choose to explore the popular reefs of Captain Cook Monument or the Place of Refuge during the early morning or, for adventure seekers, having a close encounter with manta rays just after sunset.

If you are craving an adventure outside of the norm, then we suggest you look into a manta ray night snorkel in one of the populous bays around Kona. When you book your nighttime tour aboard a trusted local boat, you will get the chance to come face to gills with Hawaii’s greatest gentle giant. Keep reading and we’ll dive into what a tour like this entails and how you can find the best tour.

Witness Kona’s Manta Rays’ Magical Dance 

Watch as the graceful manta rays perform an elegant underwater ballet, gliding through the water with effortless grace. This is truly the apex of the night time manta ray snorkel experience. Your tour boat will take you to the middle of the bay, most likely Manta Village also known as Kehou Bay, and equip your small group with an illuminated flotation device. This device will not only attract the manta ray’s favorite food– phytoplankton, but it will shed light on the underwater dance that the rays will perform as they feed.

Manta rays do not have teeth, rather, they open their mouths and filter the phytoplankton, collecting them en mass by completing what is called a “barrel roll”. Barrel rolls are exactly what they sound like; the rays will complete backflips from the near surface right below you to the near-ocean floor. These feeding times pose no threat to the in water observer or the rays themselves, just so long as you are heeding your tour guides instruction and follow the #1 rule in oceanic experiences: do not touch or interfere with the wildlife.

You Will Have a Thrilling Close Encounter with the Manta Rays of Kona

From start to finish, a manta ray encounter is a thrilling experience. When you are looking to book your adventure, be sure to do your research and look at the best rated and top reviewed local companies. Reviews say a lot about the experience that guests have on the tour as well as the expertise of the crew. If you are still overwhelmed by the mass of choice out there when it comes to booking your adventure, you can read more about our recommendations for the best manta rays dives and places to go in Kona.

While the prospect of manta rays feeding on their favorite food mere inches from you can seem scary– these animals are known to be harmless towards humans; you will minimize any risk even further by adhering to your in-water guide’s instructions. If you are someone who gets easily started or does not have previous snorkeling or swim experience then we recommend starting with a daytime snorkel beforehand as these tours are limited to those more experienced.

The Overall Educational Experience of a Nighttime Manta Ray Snorkel

On your manta ray night snorkel tour in Kona, you may learn about manta ray behavior, conservation efforts, and the importance of preserving their natural habitat from knowledgeable guides. These are all important as they can be translated to the greater ecological conservation efforts across Hawaii. As tourism to the islands grows, so does the risk towards the natural landmarks and habitats of the islands. The greatest thing you can do when traveling to Hawaii is to read up on the best practices. We have another article that dives into environmentally friendly guidelines for those planning on going on a Kona snorkel tour.