Gentle giants: swimming with Manta rays at night on the Big Island
Black-sand beaches. Lush rainforests. World-famous volcanoes.
Hawaii Island, a.k.a. The Big Island, is truly a destination for all things nature. But one of the most magical experiences may lie in the crystal-blue ocean itself: manta rays.
Gentle giants of the sea
Reaching up to 22 feet in wingspan — and weights of over 2,000 pounds — manta rays have earned the nickname “gentle giants of the sea.”
This sea creature’s distinctive “body-wings” propel them, acting as a modified fin that lets them glide through the water with dancer-like grace. Their harmless demeanor and habit of being comfortable with divers and snorkelers have made them highly sought-after “swimming” partners.
Manta rays’ eating habits are fascinating to watch: they feed on tiny, free-floating organisms called plankton via a highly efficient “filter-feeding” method. First, a ray will approach a large patch of plankton-rich water with its mouth wide open. As it swims, the plankton are funneled into the ray’s cavernous mouths. Then a unique set of “gill rakers” sift through the water to leave behind a nutrition-rich plankton dinner.
Snorkel with manta rays at night
You can get up close and personal with these gentle creatures for a little dinner swim, too.
With Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa's Manta Ray Night Snorkel you’ll get to swim with rays under the night sky in what’s known as the Manta Ray Village, just off the Kona Coast. As snorkelers’ flotation devices light up the surrounding plankton, nearby manta rays are drawn to the light and congregate for feeding time. You get to swim alongside these ocean giants as they embark on their mesmerizing waves of filter feeding.
You can also try daily manta ray viewings at dusk and talks at Outrigger’s Manta Center. Perfect for kids (of all ages), you’ll get to see these creatures in Keauhou Bay and learn about their habits and habitats, what attracts them to the Kona shore (hint: it has to do with minerals) and how ocean currents affect their patterns.
Stay at the Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa for easy access to this magnificent, memory-making excursion. Plus, you’ll get even more fun for the whole family with the resort’s multi-level fantasy pool — with a 200-foot water slide! — and spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.
The best time to book beaches, beats and bliss with rooms up to 40%. Paradise awaits.