Archive for June, 2010

Diving with Manta Rays in Kona

June 3, 2010

As a frequent visitor to Hawaii, I am always looking for a new experience to expand my appreciation for the islands. A friend recommended I try the Manta Ray night snorkel, and at first I was hesitant with the idea of going underwater at night. But once I learned more about it, I was eager to get wet. We set out just before sunset with a group run by the local dive tour operator Neptune Charlie’s . The trip is open to both snorkelers and scuba divers, so there is no experience necessary, with the exception of knowing how to swim, and being fairly comfortable in the water as a snorkeler. On the way out to the dive site we were greeted by a gorgeous sunset and a playful group of spinner dolphins splashing on the surface. In about 20 minutes we were at the site, along with several other dive boats preparing to enter the water. We were briefed, and each entered the water with a bright flashlight to increase visibility and attract the vast hordes of plankton, that the mantas feed upon. Within a few minutes we were joined by a few graceful mantas circling below. With the multiple lights coming from the bottom and from our own lights, the scene was eerie and visually stunning at the same time. The manta rays have wing spans up to 15 feet wide, and beholding such a large sea creature in our midst is humbling. The are totally docile animals, and lacking teeth or stingers, totally safe to be with. As we spent more time stirring up more plankton to the surface with our lights. The mantas became even more engaging, at times circling and looping within a few feet of our masks.. The tour guides have names for each of the rays, and over 250 have been identified. Rays with names like “ Jackie Robinson, and ” Lefty” became our new acquaintances, and the 40 minutes we spent in the water with them flew by. This is one water experience I will never forget, and would highly recommend.  To see a short video of our encounter see: http://www.youtube.com/user/sopacvax#p/a/u/0/T7-xFZ2GVS8 For more information on planning a trip to Kona,  please visit : http://www.southpacific-vacations.com/hawaii

Frank Lazzaro

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