Diving with manta rays is on many divers wish lists and understandably so. These graceful rays can grow up to 7 meters across and are found at a variety of top dive destinations around the world. Diving with mantas is a truly magical experience and you can watch them at manta cleaning stations, barrel-rolling as they feed, or just swimming over beautiful coral reefs. Here is our pick of the best manta ray encounters in the world.
Socorro Islands, Mexico
The Socorro Islands are known for having the world’s friendliest manta rays and is the place to go for encounters with Giant Pacific manta rays. They congregate in large numbers at San Benedicto Island and use the cleaning stations at this submerged sea mount. They are known for coming close to divers, offering fantastic photographic opportunities.
The Maldives has long been known for its manta rays and one of the best experiences to be had is at Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll. Mantas gather in their hundreds there as they barrel-roll and feed on plankton. These manta feeding frenzies are world-famous, and it is possible to be in the water with up to 200 manta rays at any one time. The best time to visit is between May and November to experience this phenomenon.
Indonesia is another great destination to dive with manta rays, and Manta Alley in Komodo National Park has as many as 50 manta rays at any one time. There are other great Komodo dive sites for manta ray encounters, including Makassar reef, Batu Bulong and Golden Passage. The Nyaman liveaboard offers luxurious liveaboard diving in the Komodo National Park.
Raja Ampat is also reliable for manta encounters and they can be seen in large groups passing over reefs. Manta Ridge has several cleaning stations, with up to 25 mantas at any one time. Mansaur is another good dive site for seeing groups of manta rays. November to April is the best time to visit Raja Ampat for mantas in large numbers.
The Manta Mae liveaboard has a charter departing 14th December 2018 to explore Raja Ampat’s dive sites.
Koh Bon and the Similan Islands in Thailand are two other manta hotspots well worth exploring. Koh Bon is one of the best sites for manta rays in Thailand and divers can also see reef sharks and good macro life. The Similan Islands are one of the most popular dive locations in the world and mantas can be seen at Boulder City dive site. The end of February is the best time to visit the Similan Islands to see manta rays and also whale sharks. The Whale liveaboard offers dive safaris to both destinations.
There are many other manta hotspots to discover and enjoy. Read our guide to the Best Places to Dive with Manta Rays to find out more.