Best places to dive with Manta Rays

Manta diving
Diving with a Giant Manta Ray in Socorro, Mexico

Diving with Manta Rays

Diving with Manta Rays has to be on most divers' wish lists, and with good reason. These majestic creatures are members of the shark & ray family, can grow up to 7m/23ft in length, and weigh up to an astounding 2 tonnes! However, these gentle giants feed on tiny zooplankton, funneling it into their mouths using 2 large lobes at the front of their heads.

With one of the largest brains in the fish world, there are 2 species of Manta Ray. The Manta birostris, or Giant Oceanic Manta, can be sighted along productive coastlines and are known to travel great distances. The Oceanic Manta has an average wingspan of 5m/16ft. The Manta alfredi, or reef manta, is smaller, with an average width of 3m, and is generally spotted in shallow coastal areas.

Scuba diving or snorkeling with Manta Rays is a magical experience you will remember forever. Despite their size, these beautiful creatures are incredibly graceful in the water; they are playful, swimming in and out of exhaled bubbles and barrel-rolling mid-water to show off their elegance. Manta Rays generally stop off at 'cleaning stations,' where numerous fish, such as butterflyfish and cleaner wrasse, hang out waiting for larger fish to swing by for a clean-up, similar to a car wash!

Best places to dive with Manta Rays

Due to the vast distances these gentle giants cover, Manta Rays can be spotted in many places worldwide; however, some places offer better chances of diving with Mantas than others. Many liveaboards in these areas have itineraries that visit specific dive sites to allow divers and snorkelers to see these creatures in their natural habitat.

Socorro Islands

Manta ray gliding over a cleaning station

Known for having the 'world's friendliest Manta Rays,' the Socorros in Mexico is one of the best places for real up-close Manta-Ray encounters. These Giant Pacific Mantas congregate in large numbers at San Benedicto and use the cleaning stations there at the submerged seamount. Known to get extremely close to divers, this makes for fantastic photo opportunities, especially as the mantas are there year-round.

Socorro Islands, Mexico
Where manta rays dance with the ocean breeze

Komodo National Park

 Manta Rays in Komodo National Park, Indonesia

With a dive site name like Manta Alley, you can guess why this is a popular spot in the national park. This submerged seamount, which can be quite prone to current, has been known to have as many as 50 mantas at once! The plankton-rich water is what brings in the mantas in high numbers. But Manta Alley isn't the only place to play with mantas in Komodo; dive sites like Makassar Reef, Batu Balong, and Golden Passage also promise amazing manta interactions.

Komodo National Park, Indonesia
Where manta rays dance with the ocean breeze


Maldives Manta
Diving with Manta in the Maldives

If you've seen the photos of huge numbers of mantas in a large train-like formation, barrel-rolling around, it was probably at Hanifaru Bay in the Maldives. These amazing creatures gather in their hundreds for a feeding frenzy in the plankton-rich waters. Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll is now limited to snorkeling only. However, being in the water with up to 200 manta rays is an experience, especially when whale sharks also come to join the mantas in this plankton feast! The best time of year to head there is between May - November, during the north-west monsoon.

Unveil the Maldives' Underwater Enchantment


Manta Ray swimming near the surface in Bali, Indonesia

Another manta hotspot in Indonesia is the small island of Nusa Penida off the southeast coast of Bali. There are two spots there, Manta Bay and Manta Point. Manta Bay is ideal for snorkelers as this shallow bay is more protected and quite shallow. Manta Point, also great for snorkelers, offers an amazing dive experience when the mantas are there between July - September. Up to 20 mantas have been spotted on one dive at Manta Point, where they come in to get cleaned by the local fish at the cleaning station.

Bali, Indonesia
Experience the underwater ballet

Other Manta Hotspots

Experience the thrill of diving with manta rays in Fiji

Embrace the Abyss and Soak in the Beauty

Where manta rays soar through the crystal-clear waters

Come face-to-face with manta rays in the Great Barrier Reef

Where Every Dive Tells a Story

The perfect place to create manta ray memories

Protecting Manta Rays

Unfortunately, despite their beauty and grace, these majestic creatures are classed as 'vulnerable' on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species and were also listed on Appendix I & II of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). They are threatened by overfishing and line entanglement. Manta Rays must keep swimming to breathe and cannot swim backward, so any line entanglement doesn't bode well for them.

To get involved in protecting them, there are several Manta conservation organizations out there. We still need to find out so much about these creatures, so if you are fortunate enough to dive or snorkel with Manta Rays, you can look at, which will explain how to ID them and what to do with the information.