underwater photo of snorkelling with a manta

Manta Rays in the Maldives

Last Updated on 04/06/2024

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Where to see manta rays in Asia – Indonesia and the Maldives

Manta rays are on every divers and snorkellers’ bucket list to see. They are incredible, curious, gentle giants of the ocean and I have experienced scuba diving and snorkelling with manta rays in Indonesia – Komodo National Park and Nusa Lembongan off of Bali. Scuba diving with mantas here was an amazing experience and nothing beats the first time you see the sheer size of a manta underwater! Since relocating to the Maldives in 2018, I have been swimming with manta rays in Baa Atoll and scuba diving with mantas in Fuvahmulah island.

Types of Manta Rays Maldives

There are two types of rays in the Maldives when we are talking about manta rays, reef mantas and oceanic mantas. It is possible to see both types of rays in the Maldives.Reef mantas are found near coral reefs and are often around 3-5 metres in length. Oceanic mantas we do not know as much about but they can reach a length of 7 metres!

Manta Snorkeling Maldives – Baa atoll Manta Rays

In Baa Atoll, you can swim and snorkel with manta rays in Hanifaru Bay during manta ray season. You can experience swimming with reef mantas and you have a high chance of seeing mantas as this is a very popular area for mantas feeding. The Maldives boasts the highest population of reef mantas that we know about which makes it one of the top manta viewing countries in the world.

Diving with manta rays Maldives – Oceanic Mantas in Fuvahmulah Island

I have also scuba dived with oceanic mantas in the South of the Maldives. For more information about diving with oceanic mantas in Fuvahmulah read my post here.

Where is the best place to see manta rays in the Maldives?

Hanifaru Bay is the best site in the Maldives, possibly one of the best places in the world to see mantas. The mantas come to this area in manta ray season to feed on the plankton that becomes trapped in the bay. Researchers have recorded up to 200 mantas in the bay at any one time making this one of the best places to visit in the Maldives for manta ray snorkelling.

Gopro picture of snorkel with mantas in the Maldives
Snorkelling with mantas in Hanifaru Bay
Where can I snorkel with mantas in the Maldives?

You can go swimming with manta rays Maldives in Hanifaru Bay. Hanifaru Bay is a marine protected area and there are strict rules about how many boats can enter the bay at any one time. To go manta ray snorkeling in Maldives, tourists are permitted 45 minutes of snorkelling time inside the bay which you must access by boat with a qualified guide.

When is the best time to see manta rays in Maldives?

In Baa Atoll, the Maldives manta season is between May-November. July, August and September are the best months to visit the Maldives in order to view mantas and whale sharks in Hanifaru Bay. You can go manta snorkeling in Maldives during these 6 months with an extremely high chance of seeing the mantas.

Manta Rays Maldives: Are mantas dangerous?

No. They do not have sharp teeth and nor are they sting rays so they have no sting or barb in their tail. They are completely harmless and therefore it is safe to snorkel and swim with them.

Manta belly snorkelling in the Maldives
Showing off her spot pattern in Hanifaru Bay – this is how the Manta Trust team ID each manta – using their spots!
Maldives Manta Trust – NGO protecting the mantas

Manta Trust are a UK non-profit organisation founded by Guy Stevens, which works to protect the mantas, research their behaviour and educate others about these animals. Their motto is research, education and collaboration. In Baa Atoll, they have a base in Four Seasons resort Landaa Giraavaru and they also have staff in various other resorts across the Maldives. They collect manta IDs for their database by taking photos of the underside of the manta, they can ID each manta individually. So far there are over 4700 mantas in the Manta Trust database. If you take a photo of a manta’s spot pattern you can send it in to Manta Trust for IDing. If it is a new manta to the database then you are given the privilege of naming the manta! For more information about the amazing work that Manta Trust do in the Maldives, check out their website.


Diving with Manta Rays in the Maldives

While it is possible to go scuba diving with manta rays in Maldives, the best way is to go snorkeling with mantas instead. This is because in Baa Atoll, Hanifaru Bay is a protected area and therefore no scuba diving is allowed inside the bay. The best place to go scuba diving with manta rays in the Maldives, in my experience, is Fuvahmulah island in the south of the Maldives. Read more about how to visit Fuvahulah here.

Where to stay to see mantas in the Maldives – Baa Atoll
For luxury accommodation near Hanifaru Bay

You should consider Four Seasons Maldives, it is one of the top resorts in the Maldives and I actually used to work there. Manta Trust in Baa Atoll has a base within Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru and therefore you will have a manta marine biologist (who are awesome!) with you during your manta trip.

For affordable resorts in Baa Atoll to view the mantas

You could consider Kihaa Resort or Reethi beach resort as both are affordable Maldives resorts. They are also both ones I have visited and/or stayed at. They are near Hanifaru Bay and are a much more reasonable price. Work permit discounts are available for those who work in the Maldives for both these resorts. Look at prices and availability for Reethi beach resort here.

For guesthouses on local islands to see the mantas

You could consider Dharavandhoo island. This island has a domestic airport which means when you fly here from Male you will save on the cost of a speedboat. Compare prices here for budget accommodation in Dharavandhoo for manta viewing.


How to get to Hanifaru Bay from Male

The cheapest way to get to Hanifaru Bay from Male is to fly from Male to Dharavandhoo airport. There are a few airlines that do this such as Manta Air, Maldivian airlines and FlyMe.


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