Welcome to Hawaii
Hawaii is the most recent and the 50th state to have joined the United States of America. It is the only state located within Oceania and is the only one to be composed of islands entirely. Hawaii is the only state located outside of North America.
Spread over 1,500 miles (2,400 km) and compromised of hundreds of islands, the state encompasses almost the entire volcanic Hawaiian archipelago. The largest island within the group is often known as and called the “Big Island” in order to avoid confusion with the state or archipelago.
Hawaii is very popular destination for tourists, biologists, volcanologists, and of course divers. Due to its diverse natural scenery, its warm tropical climate, oceanic surroundings, volcanoes, and an abundance of public beaches, it attracts many people each year. The scuba diving in Hawaii is also another main attraction.
With one of the best manta dive on offer, the big island diving is one of the wild Hawaii ocean adventures that any diver would be mad to miss. Both snorkeling and scuba diving in Hawaii are perfect ways to swim with manta rays.
Located in the Pacific, Hawaii is home to over a million permanent residents, along with many visitors and US military personnel. The state coastline is around 750 miles long (1,210 km) and is the fourth-longest in the US.
Night Diving with Manta Rays in Kailua Kona
The world-famous Kona Mantas Night Dive is a bucket-list item for any diver. The giant mysterious wild manta ray is one of the world’s largest fishes that soars the oceans. Here in Hawaii is where the best opportunity is given to encounter these amazing creatures. How big are Manta Rays?
Well… With a wingspan of up to 20 feet long, they can be pretty big making sometimes swimming with Manta Rays Kona a little intimidating for some. Although great in size, these animals can be rather intimidating to some; however, these gentle giants are actually quite friendly.
Unlike their close relative’s stingrays and eagle rays, mantas do not have the same stingers. They tend to feed on microscopic plankton (some of the smallest creatures in the world), which accounts for their very large, gaping mouths.
Kona Coast is one of the world’s best places to spot big manta ray. The most famous dive is during the night, where spotlights are used to attract the mantas that feed off of the plankton illuminated under the spotlights.
You are able to see this feeding frenzy just offshore at resorts such as the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay, which is just south of the historic Kailua Kona Village.
However, having said that, the very best way to experience the manta rays is to go out on a night boat tour. The tours usually take off around sunset from Honokohau Harbor. As the sky darkens and night falls, the tour companies set up the lights on the ocean floor in the spots where mantas are frequently spotted.
Once attracted by the plankton, certified scuba divers gather along the ocean floor and snorkelers on the surface are all treated to an amazing show as giant mantas glide and dance in a mesmerizing way. The Mantas will often swim within inches of snorkelers and scuba divers, always managing to avoid contact at the very last minute.
This experience is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to get up close to these great friendly giants.
There is no peak season for the Manta ray diving tours and these are held all year round. Depending on plankton levels, any given day can offer anywhere from just a couple of mantas to more than a dozen.
Big Island Manta Ray Night Dive Conditions
When the ocean is still and it is dark enough for the plankton to form, everyone is directed to enter the water. Snorkelers from each boar are told to illuminate the area where the manta rays congregate and shine their lights downwards.
In a synchronizing effort, Divemasters bring along the scuba divers where they position themselves along the sea bed at around 25 – 35 feet deep and shine their light up towards the surface. With the lights shining bright, the manta rays, the coral reefs, and all kinds of various fish surrounding you, you will feel like you are in another world. This environment is like none other and it is a unique experience to encounter.
Activity in the water would usually last around 45 – 60 minutes. Scuba dives must present their valid certification cards in order to dive, while the snorkelers have no restrictions. Meaning, just about anyone can swim with a manta ray. Please do heed all instructions when diving and for the rays safety – please do not touch or pet them, no matter how close they manage to get to you – Which is likely that they will come very close!
The Kona Coast is the only place on the planet where you will be able to experience manta rays with such high probability of sightings.
This is a result of over a period of years where conditioning the manta rays to associate light with plankton. Some dive centers offer Blackwater diving.
This is normally where you float in the inky black void during a night dive, where you’ll be able to see a variety of pelagic critters that few humans have laid eyes on. If diving with Manta rays isn’t on your dive bucket list already, you will want to add it! Once you have been swimming with Manta rays in Kona and you’ll agree – there isn’t a better night dive on the planet.
What Marine Life Can I See in Kailua Kona?
The clue is in the name! Although we may see mantas around 90% of the time, we must remember that they are wild animals and their appearance really is beyond our control.
If you are not lucky enough to encounter one of these friendly giants on your first night out, you will have the opportunity to go again on another evening on a space available/standby basis. Take a swim with the Manta rays for the ultimate dive experience. Bear in mind that these spaces can be very limited, especially during peak season and the busiest times of the year.
Although mantas are the main attraction, there is also a lot more that you can come across in the warm waters of Hawaii. But it is highly recommended that you try the manta night dive for an excellent evening.
The endemic marine life is another reason why this dive location is so popular. Even if you are not the type of diver who owns a life list, at this dive location you are able to encounter so many different fish found nowhere else in the world, you will have yourself IDing fish in all directions. To name a few, bandit angelfish, millet seed butterflyfish, and potters angelfish to name just a couple.
Each year, humpback whales make their annual migration from Alaska to Hawaii to make and return a year later to give birth in the tropical waters. The whales are known to come very close to shore and can be observed from all areas of the island. Growing up to 40 feet long and weighing an amazing 50 tonnes, these majestic creatures put on a show of nature from November to April.
It is also common to have spinner dolphins playfully ride and spin in the wake of the dive boat on your way to your chosen dive site. If you are lucky, you might get the chance to join in with them under the water. Hawaiian sea turtles, now classified as threatened, are commonly found on the Kona Coast, either on the beach resting or underwater.
Another threatened but regular visitor to the Kona Coast is the large tiger shark. Reaching up to 16 feet in length and weighing a massive 1,400 pounds, it is believed that the females migrate to the Hawaiian island to give birth.
When is the best time to Visit Hawaii?
The best time to go scuba diving on the Big Island is pretty much all year round! Almost never exceeding 96 degrees, except on rare occasions, Hawaii’s has all-year-round good weather and great dive conditions. In the winter, the average temperature is usually in the low 80s, while the evenings bring more comfortable temperatures within the 60s and 70s making it always great for manta diving!
The air is usually dry enough to be comfortable and hot enough for a variety of sun orientated activities such as surfing, snorkeling and beach-going. Should you want a complete change of scenery the summits of the volcanoes often receive snow.
Make the most out of your dive holiday by planning other activities around your dives. Why not go on Kona whale watching tours or even take a break from diving and try snorkeling with Manta Rays in Hawaii on a Kona night dive.
Hawaii Travel Information
Note – Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters, and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.
Language – Hawaiian Pidgin
Currency – Hawaiian Dollar
Major Airports – Kona International Airport
Top Attractions – Mauna Kea Summit, Hulihe’e Palace, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park
Information link – https://www.gohawaii.com/big-island/regions-neighborhoods/kona/