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.
There are two types of mantas that you can see in the Maldives, reef mantas and oceanic mantas. 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!
Reef Mantas in Baa Atoll
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.
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.
Where can I snorkel with mantas in the Maldives?
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 snorkel with the mantas, tourists are permitted 45 minutes of snorkelling time inside the bay.
When is the best time to see mantas in the Maldives?
In Baa Atoll, 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.
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 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.
Where to stay to see mantas in the Maldives – Baa Atoll
For luxury accommodation near Hanifaru Bay
You should consider Four Seasons. Manta Trust in Baa Atoll has a base within Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru and therefore you will have a manta marine biologist with you during your manta trip.
For affordable resorts in Baa Atoll to view the mantas
You could consider Kihaa or Reethi beach resort. Both are resorts 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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