Looking for something memorable to do on your vacation? This is a favorite of both divers and non-divers alike.
Manta Rays are a large plankton eating fish found in tropical waters of the world. In Kona we are lucky enough to have a local population of mantas which have realized that plankton is attracted to divers' lights. Kona is the only spot in the world, of which I am aware, where this type of manta dive occurs. Most every night in Kona you can find at least one dive op, often several, giving their divers a treat of a lifetime...a chance to spend some close-up time with manta rays. Divers will settle down onto the bottom in a spot the mantas frequent and wait with lights turned on. Plankton (small larvae of fish, shrimp and other critters) will collect on the lights and the mantas zoom in on the lights like a buffet table. Snorkelers will also enjoy this experience, as they can float above the divers and have a chance to be belly to belly with these fabulous creatures.
The manta rays we typically see run roughly 7-13 feet across in size, it's quite impressive to be within inches of these guys. While there are no guarantees we will see mantas on any given day, on a year round basis we're seeing them far more often than not, my guess is about 75-85 percent of the time overall. If there are no mantas, we do have a great backup plan...the dive turns into a night dive. There are lots of critters (fish, shrimps, crabs, eels, nudibranchs and slugs) to see which come out only at night, many of them unlike those you see during the day.
On most days we will watch the mantas for roughly 45-50 minutes and then do a bit of a night dive before returning to the boat. This is a great dive for the relatively inexperienced certified diver to be introduced to a night dive...calm shallow water (usually 25 feet or so) with lots of lights around (it's surprising how much you can see without your light). My only recommendation is that the night dive should probably not be the first dive on your vacation if you haven't been diving in the last few weeks, let us know and we can arrange for a late afternoon dive prior to the night dive if you'd like.