Since 1999, “Manta Heaven” near the Kona Airport has been the preferred site to view mantas at night. Over the years, our manta rays have been conditioned to show up for their nightly “all you can eat plankton buffet”! This area is naturally a great place to see mantas (even in the day-time) due to an upwelling that brings nutrient-rich water up from the depths off Keahole Point that is generally pushed north and then eddied into the bay by another south running current.
2. How often do you see manta rays at night?
Mantas are wild animals so sometimes they, don’t show up. We've analyzed the data and statistically, we see them 79-80% of the time or 4 out of 5 trips. While they do occasionally take their own vacation they still haven't gotten around to telling us when that will be or when they plan to return to "work".
3. How many do you usually see?
With data we've collected from January 1, 2017 statistically, on average we see just slightly over 6 mantas every night. Although it can range from 0 - 32 or more!
4. How big are they?
In Hawaii, the manta rays we usually encounter are 3-12 feet wide and weigh about 100 pounds per foot of wingspan. Big Bertha (one of the largest females) is approximately 16 feet wide and weighs in around 2000 pounds!
5. Are they safe?
Absolutely! Manta rays are filter feeders so they have no need for teeth. Also, unlike other types of rays, mantas have no stingers (or lasers on top of their heads!)
6. What do they eat?
Mantas only eat plankton…which is attracted by the lights we provide. As long as there’s food, we can almost guarantee a good show!
7. How long can mantas live?
Nobody knows for sure, but we believe somewhere between 60-100 years.
8. Where are they during the day?
Probably feeding up and down the Kona coast. Sometimes we see them on the reef at cleaner stations, resting in current lines, or sometimes displaying courtship behavior. Our mantas are not known to travel far from home, they spend their entire lives in the waters off the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii.
9. Will I see anything else?
The manta rays are undoubtedly the highlight of the show, but there are some “co-stars” as well. Typically, a huge school of Hawaiian flagtail fish (āholehole) are seen feeding on the plankton at the dive site and sometimes Frank the Eel will make a special appearance as he tries to catch an easy dinner! On rare nights, divers and snorkelers get lucky and see one of the bottlenose dolphins that show up (and sometimes a Hawaiian Monk Seal might swim by too!)
10. What if there are no manta rays?
Sometimes the mantas just aren’t around (usually because there is no plankton) but we try our best to provide this experience of a lifetime. On those rare nights, Kona Honu Divers is pleased to offer our “Manta Guarantee” so you can try again!
Our Manta Guarantee: Please note that the Manta Rays are wild animals and we cannot guarantee their presence. If you do not see a manta on your night out, you can go again on another night on a space available standby basis. Keep in mind that standby spaces may be extremely limited, especially during the busiest times of the year. This offer never expires, but is nontransferable and has no refund or cash value. We are typically very successful in finding mantas for you; however, if they are not around, the costs involved with setting up the dive and getting all our guests to the location will not allow for us to offer you a refund.
Download the Manta Ray Tracker app for iOS or view our Google Calendar to see the current manta counts. Keep in mind KHD only visits GEC.