Manta ray night dive

Manta ray night dive

The Manta ray night dive is a scuba diving excursion to view manta rays.

Two manta rays feeding at night



Depending on the amount of microscopic plankton present, the number of manta rays will vary. Some days no manta rays are seen while on days with high plankton levels upwards of a dozen may be present.[1] While diving, scuba divers shine lights up while snorkelers shine them down creating a column of light which attracts millions of minuscule plankton, which in turn attracts the manta rays.[2]

A popular site is just off the coast of Hawaiʻi Island called Garden Eel Cove.[3] Located just off the coast of Keahole Point (near the Kona International Airport), it attracts scuba divers for the abundance of manta rays. Its official name is Hoʻona Bay, at 19°43′58″N 156°3′26″W / 19.73278°N 156.05722°W / 19.73278; -156.05722.[4][5] Other sea life includes garden eels, Hawaiian Turkeyfish, and Heller's Barracuda.[6]


For decades travellers to Hawaii observed manta rays from restaurants and hotels along the coast, such as the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and the Kona Surf Hotel.[7] In the mid 1980s, dive operators began occasionally taking scuba divers to areas such as Garden Eel Cove for manta ray encounters.[2] The frequency of these dive trips increased over the years with many dive operations offering trips most days.

Travel guides often rate this dive highly.[8][9][10] The Professional Association of Diving Instructors states that "dive magazines the world over consistently rank Kona's manta ray night diving as one of the best things you can do underwater".[11]

Conservation and the Manta Pacific Research Foundation

Manta birostris feeding

With the increasing popularity of this dive, conservation and protection of manta rays has become a priority of dive operators and organizations. Manta rays in other parts of the Pacific Ocean have been hunted by fishermen as a result of the increasing demand for manta ray gill plates.[12] Local organizations, such as the Manta Pacific Research Foundation try to protect the local manta rays and educate the public about manta rays and other sea life. The Manta Pacific Research Foundation's mission is to "study manta rays in their natural habitat, conduct scientific research, provide education programs for the public about manta rays and the marine environment, and to establish and promote global manta ray conservation".[13] As a result of manta rays' fragile biological composition, guidelines to protect the health of the manta rays at this dive have been set forth by The Ocean Recreation council of Hawaii and PADI's Project AWARE.[2] The guidelines are strictly enforced by dive operations that conduct this dive.

Dive Shops

Several dive shops in Kailua-Kona and offer one-tank or two-tank dives.[3][14] Most dive trips depart from Honokohau harbor, which is only a short trip to the dive site.[3][6] Manta ray diving tours on Hawaii occur year round; they are not limited by seasons.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Manta Ray Night Dive in Kona, Big Island". web site. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "Kona Manta Ray Night Dive". Manta Pacific Research Foundation web site. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Luci Yamamoto; Gorry Conner (2008). Hawai'i The Big Island: 35 Themed Itineraries Beaches, Activities, Family Travel. Oakland: Lonely Planet Publications. ISBN 9781741047158. 
  4. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Hoona Bay
  5. ^ John R. K. Clark (2004). "lookup of Ho'ona ". in Hawai'i Place Names: Shores, Beaches, and Surf Sites. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii Press. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Jack's Diving Locker : Dive Sites
  7. ^ Family Resorts in Hawaii | Mauna Kea Beach Hotel | Family Vacation Activities Hawaii
  8. ^ Best Dive Sites: Top 15 Dives to Experience Before You Die
  9. ^ Must Dive Sites: The Manta Ray Night Dive in Kailua Kona, Hawaii
  10. ^ Plan Your Trip: Hawaii |
  11. ^ "Hawaii Scuba Diving Hawai’i". web site. Professional Association of Diving Instructors. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  12. ^ Manta Pacific Research Foundation : Conservation Programs
  13. ^ Manta Pacific Research Foundation
  14. ^ Lonely Planet Hawaii - Google Books

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