Swimming with Manta Rays in Fiji | Majestic Goliaths

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Manta and devil rays, known collectively as mobulids (mobula rays), are among the most charismatic creatures in our oceans. Boasting the largest brain of all fish, their intelligence and curiosity make encounters with these animals a truly amazing experience. Despite their popularity among divers and snorkelers, many aspects of their lives remain a mystery.  The Manta Project Fiji is dedicated to the conservation of manta rays in the Fiji Islands through research, education, and collaboration. They 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.

Table of Contents

Two Manta Species found in Fiji


Identifying the Manta Species
Reef Manta Ray (Mobula alfredi) (Left) Oceanic Manta Ray (Mobula birostris) (RIght) (Images Manta Trust)

The Reef Manta rays (Mobula alfredi) have a very distinctive Y-shaped shoulder pattern, with spots usually found between their gill slits. The Reef Manta Ray can grow to have a wingspan of up to four metres in length. They spend the majority of their lives as residents of certain reefs and islands in shallow or coastal areas.

The Oceanic Manta Ray (Mobula birostris) features a distinctive T-shaped shoulder pattern, with typically dark mouths and dark bands along the edges of their pectoral fin. Unlike the Reef Manta Ray, they rarely have spots found between their gill slits. The Oceanic Manta Ray can grow to have a massive wingspan of up to seven metres in length. They live in deeper waters out in the open ocean.

Find A Base Partner & Responsible Manta Tour Operator

The top three resorts listed at the top of the table 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 throughout your life, whilst at the same time ensuring their manta tourism excursions are run sustainably, in a way that minimizes human impacts.

VenueLocationBase Partner
Kokomo Island ResortKadavu IslandsBase Partner
Wakaya Club & SpaYasawa IslandsBase Partner
Barefoot Manta IslandYasawa IslandsBase Partner
Mantaray Island ResortYasawa Islands
Paradise Cove ResortYasawa Islands
Nanuya Island ResortYasawa Islands
The Remote ResortVanua Levu
Matava ResortKadavu Islands

Kokomo Island Resort | Kadavu Islands | 5-Star Resort


Seclusion Immersion Space at Kokomo Private Island
Seclusion Immersion Space at Kokomo Private Island | Image: Supplied

Kokomo Private Island fuses unscripted luxury with the bounty of space and the generosity of time to do as much (or as little) as your holiday heart desires. Cradled by the world’s fourth-largest reef, the Great Astrolabe, our stunning unspoiled, and 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.

Wakaya Club & Spa | Wakaya Island | 5 Star Resort 


Wakaya Club & Spa Wakaya Island Eastern Division 5 Star Resort
Wakaya Club & Spa Wakaya Island Eastern Division 5-Star Resort | Image: Supplied

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, and stunning beaches, and is 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.

Barefoot Manta Island | Yasawa Islands | 3-Star Resort


Beachfront Bure Double at Barefoot Manta Island
Beachfront Bure Double at Barefoot Manta Island | Image: Supplied

Barefoot Manta Island, known traditionally as Drawaqa Island, lies in the Southern Yasawa Islands of Fiji. The breathtaking 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.

Manta Ray Experience (Full Day Adventure) South Sea Cruises

A dedicated coach from South Sea Cruises (SSC) will pick you up from your accommodation in the catchment area of Nadi, Denarau, or Wailoaloa and safely transfer you to Port Denarau, where you will board a world-class high-speed catamaran bound for the majestic Yasawa Islands. You’ll cruise through the Mamanuca and Yasawa groups of Islands before disembarking at Mantaray Island Resort.

South Sea Cruises has worked with the experienced team at Mantaray Island Resort to carefully choose dates that have a higher chance of manta rays coming to feed in the manta channel’. Following a briefing, you will board tender boats and be taken out to have the chance to swim and snorkel amongst the manta rays while they glide throughout this popular feeding ground. Lunch is provided at Mantaray Island Resort before the catamaran collects you again at 3 p.m. for your return journey to Port Denarau. Read More

10-Step Guide to Swimming with Manta Rays

  1. Enter the water quietly and calmly, no closer than 10 meters/33 feet from the manta ray.
  2. 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
  3. Do NOT approach closer than 3 meters/10 feet. Instead, remain still and let the manta come to you
  4. You should approach the manta from their side, giving them a clear path ahead
  5. 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.
  6. Do NOT touch a manta ray. You will ruin the encounter
  7. 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 sites for manta rays. During the encounter, remain at the side of the cleaning station. Do NOT swim onto the main cleaning area.
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Manta Rays?

Manta rays are giants of their kind, with the largest individuals reaching seven meters 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 ncounters with manta rays a truly magical experience.

What is the best time of the year to swim with the Manta Rays?

The idyllic paradise of Fiji is a reliable place for year-round manta ray sightings, with the most frequent encounters from May to October.

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, and 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.

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Thakombau, Chief of the Fiji Islands, 1817-1883
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