5 Mistakes to Avoid When Snorkeling with Manta Rays in Hawaii | The Thing to Do in Hawaii

Snorkeling with manta rays in Hawaii is a thrilling adventure, but it’s important to avoid certain mistakes. In this article, we will outline five mistakes to avoid when booking a manta ray snorkel tour in Hawaii. We will also provide helpful tips for booking a tour and respecting the manta rays. Additionally, we will recommend tour operators in Keauhou Bay, such as Kona Ocean Adventures and Kona Honu Divers, and provide information on Manta Ray Advocates on the Kohala Coast. Whether you’re planning a Hawaii vacation or just looking for tips on snorkeling with manta rays, this article is for you! So, let’s dive in and ensure you have the best possible experience with these gentle giants.

Snorkeling with manta rays in Hawaii is an unforgettable experience, but there are important mistakes to avoid. In this article, we will share five common mistakes when booking a manta ray snorkel tour. We will also provide valuable tips for booking a tour, as well as respecting and observing the manta rays. With recommended tour operators in Keauhou Bay, such as Kona Ocean Adventures and Kona Honu Divers, you’ll have all the information you need to plan an incredible manta ray snorkeling adventure. Don’t miss out on this thrilling opportunity to swim with these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat!

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Mistakes to Avoid When Snorkeling with Manta Rays in Hawaii

Snorkeling with manta rays in Hawaii is an incredible experience that allows you to observe these majestic creatures up close in their natural habitat. However, there are a few common mistakes that you should avoid to ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure.

Not Going to the Island of Hawaii

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when planning to snorkel with manta rays in Hawaii is not going to the Island of Hawaii itself. While Hawaii is composed of several islands, such as Oahu, Maui, and Kauai, the best place to encounter manta rays is on the Big Island. The Kona coast, in particular, offers the most reliable sightings and is known for its abundance of manta rays. So, make sure to plan your trip accordingly and head to the Island of Hawaii for the best manta ray snorkeling experience.

Snorkeling Alone at Night

While snorkeling alone during the day can be a peaceful and enjoyable activity, snorkeling alone at night is highly discouraged, especially when it comes to encountering manta rays. Manta rays are most active at night, as they feed on plankton that is attracted to artificial lights placed in the water. Snorkeling with them at this time is an otherworldly experience, but it’s important to prioritize safety. Always opt for guided night snorkeling tours with experienced professionals who know the best practices to ensure your safety and the safety of the manta rays.

Not Using a Reputable Tour Operator

Choosing the right tour operator is essential when snorkeling with manta rays. Not only does it guarantee a safer experience, but it also ensures a memorable encounter with these gentle giants. Look for tour operators who are well-established and have a good reputation for responsible eco-tourism practices. Reputable tour operators often prioritize the well-being of the manta rays and enforce strict guidelines to minimize any potential disruption to their natural behavior. Do your research, read reviews, and choose an operator that is committed to environmental sustainability and manta ray conservation.

Having Unrealistic Expectations

It’s important to manage your expectations when snorkeling with manta rays. While encounters with these graceful creatures can be awe-inspiring, it’s crucial to remember that they are wild animals and their behavior cannot be controlled. Do not expect the manta rays to interact with you in a specific way or perform tricks. Remember, you are a guest in their home, and it’s essential to respect their space and behavior. Go into the experience with an open mind and allow the manta rays to dictate the interaction.

Going to the Wrong Location for Manta Rays

Another mistake to avoid is going to the wrong location for manta ray snorkeling. While the Kona coast offers the best sightings, it’s important to know the specific locations where manta rays can be found. Manta rays are often seen in areas with strong currents, where plankton concentrations are higher. Some of the most popular locations for manta ray snorkeling on the Big Island include the South Kohala District, near the Kona Airport, and the Manta Village in front of the Sheraton. Make sure to do your research and choose a location known for reliable manta ray sightings.

Recommended Tour Operators

When it comes to selecting a reputable tour operator for your manta ray snorkeling adventure, there are a few highly recommended options on the Big Island.

Kona Ocean Adventures

Kona Ocean Adventures is a well-known tour operator that offers snorkeling trips focused on manta ray encounters. They have experienced guides who are knowledgeable about manta rays and their behavior, ensuring a safe and educational experience for participants. Kona Ocean Adventures also follows strict environmental guidelines and promotes responsible tourism practices.

Kona Honu Divers

Kona Honu Divers is another reputable tour operator that specializes in manta ray snorkeling tours. Their guides are passionate about marine conservation and are dedicated to providing a memorable experience while minimizing any negative impact on the manta rays and their habitat. Kona Honu Divers follows eco-friendly practices and works closely with local organizations to support manta ray advocacy and preservation efforts.

Manta Ray Advocacy and Assistance

If you are interested in supporting manta ray conservation efforts or learning more about these incredible creatures, there are organizations on the Kohala Coast that focus on manta ray advocacy and assistance.

Manta Ray Advocates on the Kohala Coast

Manta Ray Advocates (MRA) is a non-profit organization that aims to protect manta rays and their habitat through research, education, and advocacy. MRA actively engages with the local community and visitors to raise awareness about the importance of manta ray conservation. They offer educational programs, conduct research projects, and collaborate with various stakeholders to ensure the long-term sustainability of manta rays in Hawaii. Consider reaching out to Manta Ray Advocates to learn more about how you can contribute to their conservation efforts.

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Tips for GoPro Settings for Night Time Filming

Capturing your manta ray snorkeling experience on camera is a great way to relive those breathtaking moments. If you’re using a GoPro or any other waterproof camera for night time filming, here are a few tips to optimize your settings:

  • Use a lower frame rate: Since night time snorkeling can be dark, using a lower frame rate (e.g., 24fps) will result in better low-light performance and less motion blur.
  • Increase the ISO: In low-light conditions, increasing the camera’s ISO sensitivity can help capture brighter footage. Experiment with different ISO settings to find the right balance between brightness and image quality.
  • Use a wide-angle lens: Snorkeling with manta rays often involves close encounters. Using a wide-angle lens will allow you to capture a larger field of view, ensuring you don’t miss any incredible moments.
  • Experiment with different shooting modes: GoPros offer various shooting modes like time-lapse, burst mode, and continuous shooting. Test them out to find the mode that best suits your preferences and the lighting conditions.

Remember, while capturing the experience is enjoyable, it’s also important to be present in the moment and respect the manta rays and their environment. Don’t let the camera distract you from fully immersing yourself in this awe-inspiring encounter.

Final Tips for Snorkeling with Manta Rays

Before embarking on your manta ray snorkeling adventure, here are a few final tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

  • Practice proper snorkeling techniques: Familiarize yourself with snorkeling techniques and ensure you are comfortable swimming and breathing through a snorkel tube. If you are a beginner, consider taking a basic snorkeling lesson before your trip.
  • Use biodegradable sunscreen: Choose a sunscreen that is safe for coral reefs and marine life. Chemicals found in conventional sunscreens can harm the delicate marine ecosystem.
  • Respect the manta rays’ space: Avoid touching or chasing after the manta rays. Maintain a respectful distance to ensure their comfort and safety.
  • Stay calm and relaxed: Manta rays are sensitive to vibrations and disturbances in the water. It’s essential to stay calm and avoid any sudden movements or loud noises that could startle them.
  • Follow the instructions of your guide: Listen carefully to the instructions provided by your tour guide and follow their lead. They are knowledgeable about the best practices for snorkeling with manta rays and will ensure your safety and the well-being of the marine creatures.

By following these tips and avoiding the common mistakes mentioned earlier, you’ll be well-prepared for an incredible snorkeling experience with manta rays in Hawaii.


Snorkeling with manta rays involves certain risks, and it’s important to be aware of your responsibilities as a participant. While tour operators prioritize safety and adhere to strict guidelines, there are factors beyond their control, such as weather conditions and animal behavior. It is essential to understand and accept these risks before engaging in manta ray snorkeling. Always listen to your guide’s instructions and follow their advice to have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Manta Ray Snorkeling in Hawaii

Snorkeling with manta rays in Hawaii offers a thrilling and unforgettable experience for visitors. These gentle giants, often mistaken for stingrays, captivate the hearts of those lucky enough to encounter them in their natural habitat. Here’s everything you need to know about manta ray snorkeling in Hawaii.

A Thrilling Experience

Snorkeling alongside manta rays is an exhilarating adventure that allows you to witness the grace and beauty of these magnificent creatures up close. With their impressive wingspans reaching up to 20 feet, manta rays glide effortlessly through the water, performing elegant ballet-like movements. The sheer size of these creatures leaves a lasting impression and provides an incredible opportunity for marine life enthusiasts to observe them in their natural environment.

Gentle Giants, Not Stingrays

Although they may resemble stingrays at first glance, manta rays are a distinct species in their own right. Unlike stingrays, which have venomous barbs on their tails, manta rays are harmless to humans. They feed primarily on plankton and have no interest in harming or interacting aggressively with snorkelers. Their gentle nature and calm demeanor make snorkeling with manta rays a peaceful and captivating experience.

Best Place for Manta Ray Snorkeling

While manta rays can be found in various locations around the Hawaiian Islands, the Island of Hawaii, commonly referred to as the Big Island, offers the most reliable sightings. The Kona coast, in particular, is renowned for its flourishing manta ray population and is a haven for snorkelers seeking an unforgettable encounter. The warm and crystal-clear waters of the Pacific Ocean surrounding the Kona coast provide the perfect environment for manta rays to thrive, ensuring a high likelihood of sightings during snorkeling excursions.

Reliable Sightings on the Big Island

One of the advantages of snorkeling with manta rays on the Big Island is the reliability of sightings. Due to the consistent presence of plankton-rich waters and the efforts of conservation organizations, manta ray sightings are relatively common. Numerous tour operators operate in the area and can guide you to the best locations and times for encountering these majestic creatures. Whether you choose a day-time excursion or a mesmerizing night snorkeling tour, your chances of seeing manta rays on the Big Island are excellent.

Snorkeling Alone is Unsafe and Disruptive

Snorkeling with manta rays is a unique and captivating experience, but it is crucial to prioritize safety and responsible snorkeling practices. Snorkeling alone, particularly at night when manta rays are most active, is strongly discouraged. Not only can it be dangerous, but it can also disturb the natural behavior of the manta rays and impact their fragile ecosystem. It is essential to join guided tours offered by reputable tour operators who prioritize the safety of participants and the well-being of the manta rays.

Choosing a Safe and Respectful Tour Operator

When it comes to selecting a tour operator for your manta ray snorkeling adventure, it’s essential to choose one that is committed to safe and respectful practices. Here are a few factors to consider:

Manta Green List

The Manta Green List is a voluntary program that encourages tour operators to adopt responsible practices for manta ray encounters. Tour operators listed on the Manta Green List have demonstrated their commitment to sustainable tourism and responsible manta ray interactions. By choosing a tour operator from the Manta Green List, you can ensure that your experience aligns with environmentally friendly guidelines and supports the long-term conservation of manta rays.

Booking Early for Availability

Snorkeling with manta rays is a highly sought-after activity on the Big Island, and spots on guided tours can fill up quickly. To secure your spot and avoid disappointment, it is recommended to book your excursion well in advance. This way, you can choose a tour operator that meets your preferences and ensure that you won’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to snorkel with manta rays.

Best Locations for Manta Ray Snorkeling

While the Kona coast offers prime opportunities for encountering manta rays, there are specific locations that are known for their higher chances of manta ray sightings. Here are a few areas to consider for your manta ray snorkeling adventure:

South Kohala District

The South Kohala District, located on the western coast of the Big Island, is a popular spot for manta ray snorkeling. The calm and clear waters of this area provide an ideal environment for manta rays, creating excellent visibility and unforgettable encounters. Join a guided tour in the South Kohala District to have the best chance of witnessing these mesmerizing creatures in their natural habitat.

Near Kona Airport

Snorkeling locations near the Kona Airport are known for their regular manta ray sightings. These sites attract an abundance of plankton due to the strong currents, making them an ideal feeding ground for manta rays. An experienced guide will be able to take you to the best spots and maximize your chances of encountering these captivating creatures.

Manta Village in Front of the Sheraton

Another well-known location for manta ray snorkeling is the Manta Village in front of the Sheraton hotel. This area boasts a high concentration of plankton, attracting manta rays on a regular basis. Joining a guided tour to the Manta Village will provide you with an incredible opportunity to snorkel with manta rays in their natural habitat.

Activities for Families with Young Children

Snorkeling with manta rays is an amazing adventure for the whole family to enjoy. However, for families with young children who may be hesitant or unable to snorkel, there are alternative activities that can accommodate different age groups. Here are a few ideas:

Taking Turns and Choosing Accommodating Activities

If you have young children who are unable or hesitant to snorkel, consider taking turns with your partner or other adult family members. While one group snorkels with the manta rays, the other group can engage in alternative activities such as beachcombing, swimming, or exploring the coastline. This way, everyone can participate and enjoy the experience in their own way.

Additionally, some tour operators offer boat tours that allow non-snorkelers to observe manta rays from the safety and comfort of the boat. These tours often provide informative commentary about manta rays and their habitat, ensuring an educational and engaging experience for everyone on board.

Remember, family safety and enjoyment should always be the top priority. Choose activities that are suitable for the age and comfort level of each family member, ensuring a fun and memorable experience for everyone.

In conclusion, snorkeling with manta rays in Hawaii is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that promises incredible encounters with these gentle giants. By avoiding common mistakes, choosing a reputable tour operator, and being responsible and respectful snorkelers, you can create cherished memories and contribute to the conservation efforts of these magnificent creatures. Dolphins, sea turtles, and colorful coral also await you during your underwater adventure, making manta ray snorkeling on the Big Island of Hawaii an unforgettable journey into the wonders of the ocean.

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