The Majestic Manta Ray
The idyllic paradise of Fiji is a reliable place for year-round manta sightings, however, the most frequent encounters are from May to October. There are lots of thriving shallow reefs where mantas hang out, as well as plentiful cleaning stations where they gather to be cleaned of parasites.
The Manta Rays Project
Manta and devil rays, known collectively as mobulids (mobula rays), are among the most charismatic creatures in our oceans. With the largest brain of all fish, their intelligence and curiosity make encounters with these animals a truly amazing experience. Despite their popularity with divers and snorkelers, many aspects of their lives remain a mystery.
Little information is known about the manta and devil rays found around South Pacific island nations like Fiji. Manta Project Fiji is dedicated to the conservation of manta rays in the Fiji Islands through research, education, and collaboration. We are working to better understand manta ray movement ecology, population dynamics, and genetic connectivity within the Fiji Islands, assisting the government, local stakeholders, and the tourism industry in developing more effective conservation management strategies.
Identifying the Manta Species
Reef Manta Ray (Mobula alfredi)
- Can grow to have a wingspan up to four metres.
- Spend their lives resident to certain reefs and atolls in shallow or coastal areas.
- Feature a distinct Y-shaped shoulder pattern.
- Spots usually found between their gill slits.
Oceanic Manta Ray (Mobula birostris)
- Can grow to have a wingspan up to seven metres.
- Live in deeper waters out in the open ocean.
- Feature a distinct T-shaped shoulder pattern.
- Spots rarely found between their gill slits.
- Typically have dark mouths and dark bands along the edges of their pectoral fins on their ventral surface.
Images Courtesy of MantaTrust.org
Find A Base Partner & Responsible Manta Tour Operator
The following three resorts have taken on the responsibility to integrate the Manta Trusts Swim with Mantas Code of Conduct in all of their operations, supporting the research and conservation of these beautiful majestic creatures. By choosing these resorts and their dive operators you will experience a magical few moments in time that will live with you thought your life, whilst at the same time insuring their manta tourism excursions are run sustainably, in a way that minimizes human disturbance on these gentle giants.
Kokomo Island Resort | Kadavu Islands | 5 Star Resort
Kokomo Private Island fuses unscripted luxury with the bounty of space and the generosity of time to do as much (or as little) and your holiday heart desires. Cradled by the world’s fourth-largest reef, the Great Astrolabe, our stunning unspoiled and the naturally immaculate island is more than a backdrop, it’s your home for as long as you choose to linger.
Our reef provides a virtual portal into an unparalleled underwater world, while our land experiences offer a paradise for adventure seekers, a restorative sanctuary for families, and an enticing retreat for honeymooners. Kokomo Private Island will absorb your idea of luxury – whatever that might look like for you. About Kokomo Island Resort | Video/Gallery | Event Space
Wakaya Club & Spa | Wakaya Island | Eastern Division | 5 Star Resort
Wakaya Island is home to the legendary Wakaya Club and Spa, an exclusive and intimate 10 “bure” (suite) beachfront resort and two spectacular private villas. Wakaya Island is abundant in dense tropical forests, stunning beaches, and surrounded by a Marine Protected Area, home to vibrant coral reefs and a plethora of ocean life.
Our commitment to you is to ensure your stay at the Wakaya Club & Spa leaves you full of wonderful life-long memories. Whether our guests seek to build or strengthen relationships, focus on health and well-being, be adventurous, experience a rich culture, all of the above, and more, our team is ready to welcome and care for you.
Barefoot Manta Island | Southern Yasawa Islands | 3 Star Resort
Barefoot Manta Island, known traditionally as Drawaqa Island, lies in the Southern Yasawa Islands of Fiji. The breath-taking coral gardens, situated just off the coastline, are among the finest in the Fijian isles. Barefoot Manta Island offers a tranquil environment, with the gentle sound of the waves lapping the shore. Our island home is the perfect destination for nature lovers in search of one of the few Fijian islands unspoiled by man. About Venue | Video/Gallery | Manta Ray Diving
Other Venues that offer swimming with manta ray tours include:
- Mantaray Island Resort | Yasawa Islands
- Paradise Cove Resort | Yasawa Islands
- Nanuya Island Resort | Yasawa Islands
- The Remote Resort | Vanua Levu
- Matava Resort | Kadavu Island
Frequently Asked Questions
Our team at Fiji Guide has started to collect together the most frequently asked questions, that are scattered across the internet and social media platforms on the amazing world of Manta Rays. This section will be updated periodically to ensure you can prepare for your adventure ahead, whilst supporting the
What are Manta Rays?
Manta rays are giants of their kind, with the largest individuals reaching seven metres in width and weighing up to two tonnes. Despite their colossal presence, mantas are gentle creatures. They have the largest brain of all fish, and their intelligence and curiosity make encounters with manta rays a truly magical experience.
What is the best time of the year to swim with the Manta Rays?
The best time of the year is between May and October
How do you swim with Manta Rays responsibly to minimize human disturbance on these gentle giants?
10 Step Guide to swimming with Manta Rays | Diagram (PDF) attached to the bottom of the article.
- Enter the water quietly and calmly, no closer than 10 meters/33 feet from the manta ray.
- Keep your fins below the water’s surface when swimming. Splashing and noise can scare mantas away, so you want to approach the manta as quietly as possible
- Do NOT approach closer than 3 meters/10 feet. Instead, remain still and let the manta come to you
- You should approach the manta from their side, giving them a clear path ahead
- As the manta swims past you, do NOT chase after them! You will never catch up to a manta away, and will likely scare them away in the process.
- Do NOT touch a manta ray. You will ruin the encounter
- For Scuba Divers Only – Chances are if you are diving with a manta, you will be encountering them at a cleaning station. These are important sits for manta rays. During the encounter, remain at the side of the cleaning station. Do NOT swim onto the main cleaning area.
- For Scuba Divers Only – Keep low and hover close to the seabed, but be careful not to damage the reef beneath you. Depending on the dive site, you may need to stay in an area designated for divers
- For Scuba Divers Only – When a manta swims towards you, do NOT block their path as they swim overhead. Stay low and stay where you are.
- In addition to the above steps, be sure to follow any extra rules, laws, and regulations that may be specific to the manta site you’re visiting
What are cleaning stations and cleaners?
CLEANING STATIONS are usually a prominent reef outcrop or coral bommie, where small reef fish and many shrimp species set up shop these fish are commonly known as CLEANERS, these species have created a mutually beneficial symbiosis with Manta Rays. and other client species, each day they make a trip to the cleaning station where the host body gets serviced, helping them remove waterborne parasites whilst at the same time feeding the small fish.
The article ‘Manta Rays in Paradise: Working as a Marine Biologist on a Private Island’ is definitely worth a read, the short blog from The Salt Sirens, catch up with Cliona O’Flaherty, a marine biologist and dive instructor for a dive and a chat about the island’s manta ray conservation project, Kokomo Manta Conservation Project (KMCP) in collaboration with Manta Project Fiji.
- Learn about Manta Rays, https://mantarayisland.com/manta-ray-fiji/
- How to swim with Manta Rays, https://swimwithmantas.org/
- Manta Project Fiji, https://www.mantaprojectfiji.com/
- Manta Trust, https://www.mantatrust.org/
- Turtle Airways, https://www.turtleairways.com/swimming-manta-rays-fiji/
- Tourism Fiji, ‘Snorkeling with Manta Rays’, https://www.fiji.travel/Articles/snorkelling-with-manta-ray-in-fiji