Hawaii in all its beauty and diversity is a very desirable travel destination, especially in the winter when you might be dreaming about a tropical treasure getaway while shoveling snow.
Winter in Hawaii lasts from December until March and although it’s most often sunny, there are also storms brewing in the Pacific generating huge swells.
Safety tips and the prerequisites for snorkeling the manta activity were covered in this article on snorkeling safety tips, but too often visitors underestimate the power of the ocean so today I want to dive deeper about the best times to see the manta rays based on:
- Ocean conditions
- Busy/slow travel times
- Manta ray sighting statistics
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO SEE MANTA RAYS BASED ON OCEAN CONDITIONS?
Are you familiar with the North Shore of the Island of Oahu? That’s THE place for surfing and where the world championships take place.
During winter, whopping 30-40 feet high waves regularly hit the shoreline and it is jaw-dropping gorgeous and scary!
The good news: On the Big Island of Hawaii – where we are located – we do not encounter such high waves but even a swell of 3-6 feet makes snorkeling, diving, and other ocean adventures unsafe or at least very challenging.
We are also extremely fortunate that the resident population of manta rays roams the West Coast of the Big Island all year long and tour operators are able to conduct manta swims throughout.
That being said, the late spring, summer, and early fall are the best times to see manta rays in Hawaii. This is simply because the ocean conditions are the most favorable.
We have the greatest number of canceled charters from January to mid-March due to rough ocean conditions with swells and strong winds.
SURF & SWELL FORECASTS
MagicSeaWeed.com is our go-to resource for surf reports and forecasts.
The MagicSeaWeed website covers surf spots worldwide, but with a few clicks you can select the Hawaiian Islands. The swell prediction for 7 days is available to everyone and there is also a paid version estimating a 16-day window.
The example below shows the most recent forecast for the bay we operate from.
The rule of thumb to determine if we can safely operate is
0-1 feet surf height = doable
2-3 feet = questionable
3 feet and above = canceling the activity
(Beach Tip: Bookmark MagicSeaWeed.com as an invaluable resource so you can make an informed decision when a good beach day would be or you should stay out of the water.)
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO SEE MANTA RAYS BASED ON BUSY/SLOW TRAVEL TIMES and SIGHTING STATISTICS?
Check out this fun and informative 15-minute video including spectacular and very convincing footage from our archive.
You will discover:
- Ocean conditions [start 2:54]
- Busy/slow travel times [start 6:45]
- Manta ray sighting statistics [starts 9:15]
STAY SAFE whenever you enter the ocean, but especially in the wintertime!
To help you get started with the adventure of a lifetime, don’t miss our FREE adventure guide – with 15 essential tips.
(The free resource is a great guide for anyone who may one day experience the manta rays firsthand.)