Top Ten Places to Dive with Manta Rays

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Majestic mantas feature high on the priority list for many divers. The most elegant member of the ray family is equally at home gliding effortlessly in the most challenging of currents or floating serenely at a cleaning station. And with the largest brain-to-body ratio of any shark or ray, they are some of the ocean’s most curious creatures too. And while these fascinating fish patrol the world’s oceans, these are our top ten destinations for diving with manta rays.
1. Diving with Manta Rays in Mexico

One for the hardier diver, the volcanic island of Socorro is located a mere 26 hours' liveaboard sailing from the Pacific coast of Mexico. This is the realm of the giant oceanic manta and divers travelling from November to May are more or less guaranteed sightings on every dive. However, the best site for playful interactions in undeniably El Boiler at San Benedicto Island, where these gentle giants swoop inches above divers to feel their bubbles tickle their belly.

Best Time to Dive with Manta Rays in Mexico: November - May

2. Diving with Manta Rays in Maldives

The Maldives is a reef manta haven, with sightings possible across the archipelago year-round. For calm seas, blue skies and plenty of manta action, head to the South Ari Atoll from December to April. Those travelling 'off-season' should head north to Hanifaru Bay in the Baa Atoll, where snorkellers can observe a feeding frenzy of up to 200 mantas at a time from June to November. Want to protect and preserve these majestic creatures? Guests of the southerly Six Senses Laamu can become budding marine biologists out on a research trip with the Manta Trust.

Best Time to Dive with Manta Rays in the Maldives: Year-Round

3. Diving with Manta Rays in Micronesia

Yap Island is often referred to as the 'manta capital of the world'. Divers can observe the graceful giants gliding within inches of their heads at cleaning stations along the barrier reef virtually year-round, but numbers peak from December to April which is mating season in the Mi'l channel. Pair this with the world class wreck diving of Chuuk Lagoon for an unforgettable Micronesia diving adventure.

Best Time to Dive with Manta Rays in Micronesia: December - April

4. Diving with Manta Rays in Indonesia

Manta rays have been officially protected in Indonesia since 2014 so the 17,000-island archipelago is a haven for these creatures. And while they can be seen in various areas throughout Indonesia, some of the best spots are in Komodo, Bali and Raja Ampat. The plankton-rich waters around Komodo draw in mantas aplenty, while Manta Point on Nusa Penida, a small island off the south-east coast of Bali, sees these rays flock to be 'cleaned' by wrasse fish. Raja Ampat is easily one of our favourite dive spots in the world, with its beautiful soft corals and macro life, and it also happens to be a great place to spot mantas.

Best Time to Dive with Manta Rays in Indonesia: Year-Round

5. Diving with Manta Rays in Palau

They (read: we) say that the more remote a place is, the better the diving is. Never has this been more apparent than in Palau which, located in the remote western Pacific Ocean, boasts unparalleled marine bio-diversity, dramatic wall diving, Second World War wrecks and colourful reefs galore. But the jewel in its crown comes in some of the world's best manta ray diving. Visit between December and March to witness the unique spectacle of manta ray mating season, which is undoubtedly one of the most epic manta ray diving experiences out there.

Best Time to Dive with Manta Rays in Palau: December - March

6. Diving with Manta Rays in Fiji

Fiji's main claim to diving fame lies in the rainbow colonies of soft coral that carpet the Somosomo Strait, but if you can draw your gaze away from these spectacular reefs a wealth of incredible marine creatures will reveal themselves, including the majestic manta. Aside from the Somosomo Strait, you can also spot manta rays off the Yasawa Islands and Bligh Water.

Best Time to Dive with Manta Rays in Fiji: May - October

7. Diving with Manta Rays in Australia

Both coasts of Australia offer some seriously spectacular manta diving. On the east coast, the Great Barrier Reef attracts friendly manta rays by the dozen, especially round Lady Elliot Island, while on the west coast mantas can be seen at Ningaloo Reef. While you can spot them year-round, the best time to see them falls between July and October.

Best Time to Dive with Manta Rays in Australia: July - October

8. Diving with Manta Rays in Costa Rica

Located off the north Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the Gulf of Papagayo's main claim to diving fame is its pacific manta rays, which gather around the Catalinas Islands between December and March. Divers can also spot southern stingrays, devil rays, cow nose rays, whitetip sharks, nurse sharks, moray eels... the list goes on.

Best Time to Dive with Manta Rays in Costa Rica: December - March

9. Diving with Manta Rays in Hawaii

Night diving with manta rays in Kona is, quite simply, out of this world. Armed with a torch, divers descend beneath the waters of Makako Bay just after sunset, positioning themselves on the seabed to wait for the action to unfold. The torches attract plankton which in turn attracts ginormous manta rays that flip and swirl around divers, gobbling up the plankton.

Best Time to Dive with Manta Rays in Hawaii: Year-Round

10. Diving with Manta Rays in Mozambique

Manta sightings are virtually guaranteed throughout the year in Mozambique's Tofo due to a heady mix of plankton-rich waters and manta cleaning stations. For the best encounters, dive at the aptly named Manta Reef, while if you want to learn more about mantas and help on research projects, the Marine Megafauna Foundation is handily based right on the beach.

Best Time to Dive with Manta Rays in Mozambique: Year-Round

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Lizzie B and India are our 'Top Ten Places to Dive with Manta Rays' experts and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

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