Night Snorkel With Manta Rays

The Big Island of Hawaii offers a unique experience that cannot be found anywhere else: the opportunity to snorkel with manta rays… at night! When we looked at activity options for our most recent trip, this was the first one that caught my family’s attention. As we prepared for our short boat ride out to the snorkel site, all of our nerves picked up a bit. The water was a little choppy, it was dark, and we were climbing into the water with giants for goodness sake! But, the nervousness quickly dissipated when we got into the water and our snorkel guide called out to look down – a manta ray was doing a backflip right underneath us. From that point on, we were mesmerized as we watched these massive filter feeders enjoy the feast of plankton that was illuminated by lights of the modified surfboards we held onto throughout our 40-minute snorkel. The graceful animals swooped down towards the ocean floor, then up where they would arch backwards when they were just inches from us. It felt like we were watching a secret underwater interactive ballet. This snorkeling adventure was definitely the highlight of our trip!

While an hour-long snorkel tour may seem short, we found that it was just the right amount of time. The boat ride is five minutes or less each way. Because the mantas were visible almost the entire time, we really got plenty of time to see them without it feeling rushed. We were comfortable in our partial wetsuits, but the water was cool and after about 30 minutes we really started to notice it. We used Hawaii Island and Ocean Tours*, which offers very small groups (max 6 people). I really appreciated this when I looked up at one point and saw a group of at least 20 with another operator. Different operators have different minimum ages, but parents should definitely consider how comfortable their child is likely to be in dark-ish, choppy water. My seven year old did great; he actually kept his face in the water the entire time, but he has snorkeled several times before so it wasn’t an entirely new experience. Wondering if this or other experiences on the Big Island are a good fit for your family? Contact me at or (408)533-0080 to get started planning your family’s Hawaiian vacation adventure!

*While I earn a commission from bookings with this link, I was not compensated for this review and paid a standard rate for our experience.

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