During my time on the Big Island, I was able to take part in a night time snorkel adventure to see feeding manta rays. We signed up for the last tour of the day on a Thursday. We arrived at the Honokohau Marina and Small Boat Harbor (where the next day we found an awesome historical park, by mistake) to meet our tour guides at 7:20 PM. After introductions and waivers were signed we were quickly on the way. We saved a lot of the time by having most of the briefing done enroute to snorkel location which I thought was really cool.
I’m not really great at the GoPro, and I had the settings waaaay off for this kind of snorkel and conditions but you can see that I did get some pretty good video.
Once we got to the snorkel location we got in the water one-by-one, and we held on to a large foam surfboard with PVC pipe attached around it like a large frame. Cut into the surfboard were holes for powerful lights to shine down into the water. The light attracts the plankton, and the plankton attract the manta ray.
In the video, you can see the manta rays doing large sweeping circles (like a fighter pilot) as it catches the plankton with that big open mouth. I think I got a couple good shots of the mouth and down the mouth on this video. The entire event was kind of exhilarating and a little scary. The video does the manta rays and the experience little justice. They’re huge. 10 to 14 feet across huge. Also, while you’re in the water and staring down into the light at the manta rays and fish, you are also aware of the total blackness of the water and the night that isn’t covered by the lights.
We chose Coral Reef Adventures for your tour which I can highly recommend. The tour was small, only 6 people and not overcrowded or rushed at all. For a little over $200 for two people to snorkel with manta rays at night, you may think it is a little steep but it’s worth price. Coral Reef Adventures also runs other tours so check them out.