Night snorkeling with manta rays was not something I saw myself doing. Not because I don’t love getting as close to animals and sea life as I can, but because swimming in the sea at night has never been my thing. I confess, I’m terrified to jump into the ocean at night. That said, never say never, y’all.

Hawaiian Marine Life

The marine life in Hawaii is unlike anything you’ll see anywhere in the world. Living in Hawaii, I saw green sea turtles almost daily, Hawaiian monk seals, and fish you can only see in Hawaii. Some animals come and go seasonally, while others are just always there. Seeing these beautiful creatures in person while snorkeling is a gift.

Ocean Lover and Wimp

If you’ve gone snorkeling or scuba diving, you know what it feels like to encounter sea creatures. It’s like entering another world and you’re clearly a visitor in somebody else’s home. My husband and I loved swimming in Hawaii and often guessed, “What will we see today?” However, I do have my parameters for swimming in the ocean. Any ocean. Anywhere. I need it warm and clear. I’m the first to admit that as much as I love our oceans, I’m a wimp. For those reasons, jumping into the sea at night has never been high on my to-do list though scuba diving clients through the years insisted that nighttime is the right time. I still had this mental block in spite of challenging myself with this other excursion in Hawaii.

Get Over It

Fast forward to a recent trip to Kona. My husband and I attended a beautiful family wedding. Many in our group planned a sunset manta ray excursion and my initial reaction was, “Have fun.” Sometimes I need a reminder that I’m the same person who pushed myself plenty of times into doing things I was initially afraid to do. In these moments, I have to just say, “Okay” and mentally work it out later.

Night Snorkeling with Manta Rays

We chose to do the sunset manta snorkel excursion through Kona Ocean Adventures. They had an extensive tutorial for our group on what to expect and what to do once we get to our snorkeling site. They provided wetsuits which is especially needed at night when it gets cold. Once we boarded, the boats took off for about a 30-minute ride to the snorkel/dive site. They offer a moonlight excursion but I loved going at this time because you get to watch the sunset while anticipating your meetup with the mantas. Once we arrived at the site, GAME ON! 

Once you get into the water, you’re led to their custom-built boards with a rope to hang onto. The boards are well-lit with lights to attract the manta rays, in the area where they usually feed on plankton. You float on the surface with your head submerged with your snorkel, and wait for action to come to you. Before you know it, manta rays arrive and immediately start showing off. While hunting for plankton they start swimming toward you and doing summersaults right before they touch you. It was pretty funny hearing people squeal through their snorkels, including me!

During our excursion, I heard the crew checking on everyone to see if we all felt okay and how we were doing. We had a woman in our group who didn’t know how to swim and had never been in the ocean before so she chose this excursion as baptism by fire. The crew was really attentive to her, making sure she had as great a time as everyone else. I did a self-check at that moment and thought, “wth was I so afraid of?” 

Post-excursion, our group was on a high. It felt like a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with some of Hawaii’s most special creatures. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area and would like a unique experience. 

A couple of notes:

  • We were there in early December. The ocean can be very rough that time of the year so if you are prone to seasickness like me, you might bring Dramamine or motion sickness remedies with you.
  • We have our own snorkel gear but if you plan to snorkel for a few days while in Hawaii, you might rent your gear from Snorkel Bob’s. They have everything you need including prescription masks. We’re both blind as bats and purchased our prescription strength masks through Snorkel Bob’s years ago. 

*As with any encounters with animals and sea life, please keep a healthy distance and limit contact to keep them safe and healthy. 

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