Manta Ray Night Diving

Posted on April 4, 2015


Night diving with Manta rays on Big Island is what every diver in Hawaii talks about. Even novices wax lyrical about this as the must-do-thing you have to tick off. Kona is also the only place of all the islands to do this. So after qualifying as a Rescue Diver I decided to treat myself last Saturday night to an evening I would never forget.

I signed up for a 2-tank dive, one at twilight and the second dive with the big fellas in darkness. As the sun set I wriggled back into the 5mm suit, shivering, but excited. Rigged up, I took a giant leap and splashed into the dark water. This type of activity should only be done in my opinion by experienced divers. But as usual inexperienced divers are encouraged. At night anything can happen down there and personally I think they are craaaaazy fools for signing up for this type of activity. In our group was a young woman. The way she moved through the water can only be described as someone riding a bicycle while playing the harp. Arms and legs flailing grasping at invisible strings and more bubbles surrounding her than someone with really bad flatulence. She sucked up air hard and fast.

“Yowzers, she is gonna be out of gas in about 20mins, she’ll miss the show if she doesn’t slow down,” I thought. 

I kept my distance as I watched her go up above me, then fall below me. Up and down she went like a yo-yo. She also looked very much like a panicked diver, I was prepared in case my dive master needed assistance. Causality waiting to happen….

The school we were all diving with were brilliant. Big Island Divers are green friendly and have a marine biologist who is well versed in all conservation matters, she is also a dive master. The brief included why mantas are endangered, why not to touch, poke or interfere with them in any way and the threats they face – us basically. They are killed and used in tradition Asian medicines.

Torch in hand and our tanks lit by lights so the dive masters don’t lose anyone we all except yo-yo woman descended gracefully to the bottom and glided through the cold deep water to a clearing. Everyone was given extra weight so we could sit cross legged on the floor in a line and I even had a heavy rock in my lap so that I wouldn’t drift away by the small current. Then a circle of lights was set up in front of us. First the plankton came, then hundreds of fish came to feed and we waited for the mantas…….it was a magical sight and one I won’t forget.

When I was in Baja in Mexico in 2008 I was privileged to see a big guy maybe 14ft floating through the water. He looked like a giant duvet. Amazing!

….I checked my air gauge. All good. Ten minutes turned to twenty, panicked woman was hauled out of the water as she was low on air – surprise surprise. Twenty minutes turned to thirty then forty. 

“Where the bloody hell are they? Come on Manteeees!!! I’m leaving Kona tomorrow!!”

Thirty minuets turned to forty and at forty five minutes our dive master floated in front of our faces waggled her fingers in a scissor action in front of each of us to say abort!

“WHAAAAAT!!!! Leaving?!! AAAAAaaaagggghhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

It was a no show by the star attraction. Despite the mantas being prevalent in this area and had shown up en mass the night before. I had sat cross legged at the bottom of the ocean for almost 50 mins freezing my t***s off and the little blighters were clearly partying elsewhere on a Saturday night. Gutted!! 

I guess it was too much to ask for a magical send off. That would have been the icing on the cake. I have been spoilt every morning with sightings of a mother hump-back whale and her calf from my bedroom window in Kona. Ah well it’s an excuse to return to paradise once more, possibly in a couple of years to finally tick it off my list!