Swimming With Wild Manta Rays In Hawaii

Last week I told you about our amazing experience swimming among wild dolphins off Hawaii’s Big Island. What I didn’t tell you was that was only our first adventure with Neptune Charlie’s that day.

Neptune Charlies logoJust before sunset, with the excitement of the morning’s excursion still fresh, we returned to the boat ramp for another voyage. But this time, instead of dolphins, we were off to see manta rays in the wild.

Unlike earlier in the day, the boat was now full. And our crew had also changed, with Russ now our captain, and Dwayne, Brian and Vicki looking after us in the water. For the dolphin trek, the only specialist equipment needed had been snorkels, masks and fins. But we were about to lie almost motionless in the ocean at night, for an extended period, so a wetsuit was also provided this time around.

(As I’ve explained in other blogs, being a Ses and only 3½ inches tall, they don’t make any of this stuff small enough for me, so I had to make do without. But from what Rich, Sue and Lori told me afterwards, it still got pretty chilly, even with the wetsuit.)

The dive site near Kona airport reminded me of snorkelling Molokini, off Maui, the previous week. There were boats everywhere and loads of activity in the water. As the sun sank below the horizon, we were ushered into the water. There we joined seven other people around a contraption that looked like a surfboard surrounded by a framework of pvc pipes. A series of holes had been cut into the surfboard, into which Brian, our personal guide, placed several heavy-duty spotlights, aimed down into the water.

I was impressed how Brian managed to tow ten adult humans (plus three Ses) over to a spot above ‘the campfire’, a cluster of high-powered lights, set on the seabed. The aim of the lights was to attract plankton, which in turn would – hopefully – attract the rays.

Within a couple of minutes, Rich excitedly mumbled something unintelligible through his snorkel. A thrill quickly passed along the board.

Snapshot 3 (17-02-2014 10-44 AM)

Out of the blackness, a monstrous, diamond shape, six feet across, appeared just a few feet below us. From its head, two great fleshy blades protruded forwards, scooping plankton into a cavernous mouth. The unique shaped of a manta ray gracefully flew slowly beneath us. And I nearly exploded with excitement!

Snapshot 3 (17-02-2014 10-39 AM)

Over the next forty or fifty minutes, a total of three different rays (we were later told) came to feed on the plankton gathered in the beams of our lights. They’d appear out of the pitch darkness like grey ghosts. They’d glide, bank and roll beneath and around us. Then they’d once again fade away into the inky black water.

Snapshot 4 (17-02-2014 10-45 AM)

It was the most surreal and wonderful experience. One I hope to repeat one day.

Thanks to Neptune Charlie’s and our two crews, we had the most amazing day. One I will never, ever forget. I mean, how often am I going to get the chance to swim with wild dolphins and wild manta rays in less than twelve hours?!

Snapshot 1 (17-02-2014 10-42 AM)

Disclaimer: Hanging onto a surfboard, face down in the ocean at night isn’t really conducive to high quality images. Hopefully, the videos and captures from Rich’s underwater point-and-shot will nonetheless give you an idea of the incredible adventure we had that night.

Snapshot 2 (17-02-2014 10-38 AM)While you catch your breath, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal, or through my websiteFacebook, Twitter and Instagram?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

Below are a few images of our excursion taken by professional photographer E. Ryan Leinbach of Ocean Wings Hawaii:

A manta ray appears out of the gloom

A manta ray appears out of the gloom

Rich & Loti hanging on to the 'observation platform' as a ray glides by beneath

Rich & Lori hanging on to the ‘observation platform’ as a ray glides by beneath

A manta ray does a fly-by of the campfire

A manta ray does a fly-by of the campfire


About Jaspa

Jaspa's Journey is a series of award-winning, travel-based adventure novels for strong middle grade readers by Rich Meyrick. Join the Adventure! Read the books! Follow Jaspa’s ongoing Journeys at www.jaspasjourney.com. Let's explore this amazing world together! And don’t forget to download the books and see what the buzz is all about!
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11 Responses to Swimming With Wild Manta Rays In Hawaii

  1. Amy says:

    What an awesome adventure!

  2. cyardin says:

    Awesome! My wife and I did this last year at pretty much the same place (different boat company). I got sea sick and my wife was giggling like a school girl. Great times!

    • Jaspa says:

      Hope you still got to enjoy the rays, despite not feeling well. I would have liked to have seen Bertha, who apparently has a ‘wingspan’ more than double that of the mantas we did encounter (which were still awesome!).

  3. sueslaght says:

    What an experience!

  4. Leya says:

    This must have been a true adventure – fantastic!

  5. Pingback: Kalaupapa Mule Trail, Molokai, Hawaii | Jaspa's Journal

  6. Looks to be an amazing experience you had. I have also heard a lot about kealakekua bay snorkeling. Any comments on that?

  7. Pingback: Swimming With WILD Dolphins In Hawaii | Jaspa's Journal

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