Manta Ray moonlight swim in Kona, Hawaii

The transformational, educational and sustainable experience of a lifetime

A Life-Changing Adventure

Swimming with giant manta rays at night is a unique adventure that truly transforms any person who experiences it. Yes, most visitors spend these magical moments with several dozen other snorkelers and divers blocking their view, and disturbing the manta rays on top of that.

At Manta Ray Advocates, we offer an exclusive and animal-friendly experience to guests who want to understand the true magic of the manta rays.

What Makes Our Manta Ray Snorkel Experience Unique?

Environmentally sensitive

At Manta Ray Advocates, the mantas always come first. We adhere to strict guidelines to make sure the manta rays don’t get disturbed by our presence. We approach the mantas from the beach, an eco-friendly alternative to sighting boats.

Safety First

Swimming with manta rays should be completely safe, for the mantas as well as for you. With 50+ years of combined experience, we know how important it is to brief you on safety before we start – and we only work with top-notch equipment.

Private Setting

Instead of getting on a boat to one of the busier viewing areas, we go in from a white sandy beach and swim to where the manta rays are feeding. Read more about the location here! We work with small groups (up to 6 people), so we can give every guest the personal attention they deserve and make the experience highly educational for everyone.

Book a Manta Ray Night Snorkel in Kona, Hawaii

Interested in joining us for a moonlight swim with manta rays?

  1. See our availability – and choose a day and time that fit your travel schedule
  2. As soon as you’ve booked and paid, we’ll send you an email confirmation

We can’t wait to welcome you… so you can meet the mantas!

Your Guides on the Manta Ray Snorkel Adventure

With several decades of experience each, our guides are here to keep you safe and help you get the most out of your moonlight swim with the manta rays.

James L. Wing

Underwater cameraman at heart, James founded “Dolphin Dreams Imaging” (and today’s Manta Ray Advocates) in 1991.  He was the first photographer for the manta ray dive at Manta Village (Keauhou) and established Manta Heaven (airport) in 1999.

When he retired from diving and filming in 2014, he pivoted from production and set up the manta ray moonlight swim program with the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.

He’s a PADI master diving instructor, ocean educator, and loves sharing his in-depth knowledge about manta rays. His field-experience with the gentle giants along the Kona Coast is unmatched.

Martina Wing

Martina is a passionate manta ray advocate, ocean educator, and underwater camerawoman. She lives in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, with hubby James.

Martina’s all about raising awareness and spreading knowledge about the gentle giants of the sea, so we can better protect them from harm – and people will be able to experience manta rays (online and in real life) for generations to come.

Her love for the mysterious manta rays inspired her to teach other people about marine life and the uncountable wonders taking place in our oceans. Martina has been filming manta rays (and other underwater stories), as well as guiding people who come to swim with the gentle giants in Hawaii for over 20 years.

Kerstin Windberg

Kerstin got her diving certification in the Maldives in 1998. After finishing her divemaster in Thailand (2010), she followed through with the PADI Instructor (2011) and has worked around the beautiful reefs of the Red Sea (Egypt), Bali, Thailand, and the Florida Keys. In 2017 she moved to the Big Island of Hawaii.

Kerstin cherishes small critters and large marine life alike and loves introducing people to them. She’s passionate about making the mantas’ home safer and working towards a sustainable future for the ocean, that everyone can benefit from.

Audrey - Manta Ray Swim Guide Hawaii

Audrey Wei

Audrey is a certified therapist trained in acupuncture, aquatic massage, and sound healing. In 2021, she decided to begin working with animals, bringing her back to the US. Before joining Manta Ray Advocates, she worked with wolves in Colorado.

Audrey became a certified diver in 2005 in Australia. She is passionate about ocean conservation and is especially curious about manta rays. Having lived on four different continents, she understands and appreciates many different cultures and is always open to learning new skills.

Audrey believes all we truly ever have is now, so dream it, live it!

Savannah, one of the admin and beach crew members at Manta Ray Advocates

Savannah Maira

Savannah grew up in Nevada and moved to the Big Island in 2019. This is where she found a new love for the ocean and manta rays that she hopes to share with her young daughter.

Rhiannon, swim guide and beach crew members at Manta Ray Advocates

Rhiannon Aves

Rhiannon grew up in Hawaii and has always had a deep love for the ocean.  As a child, she spent her summers on the beach building sand castles, including making the perfect sand balls for sandball fights. As an adult, her love for the ocean hasn’t waned.  Her weekends are usually spent either in the water snorkeling, scuba diving, or on the water sailing. Her favorite part about being a swim guide is to see how beautiful experiences with mantas can create life-changing moments in people’s lives.

One of the most amazing experiences a human can have. And one flicked its wing and hit me on the hand – it was unexpected and so exciting. Made me feel blessed to be so fortunate. A wonderful antidote to negativity bias!

- Cory Parker

As Featured In…

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the manta ray swim scheduled at night?

This is the time of the day when manta rays come to feed. Lights at the viewpoint attract plankton, and the manta rays associate those lights with food. Read more about this here.

Where exactly does this take place?

There are three recognised manta ray viewing sites in Kona, Hawaii. Read all about the different locations here!

While the other locations are only accessible by boat, we walk into the water directly from a sandy beach at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. We love that we get to use a private beach for this unique and relaxing experience, and that there are no boats involved in our manta ray tour.

We meet at the beach activity kiosk for the briefing and preparations; full directions will be sent to you by email upon booking. 

How long does the manta ray moonlight swim take?

We start with a safety briefing and share our insights about the manta rays, the ocean, and other marine life you may encounter. The activity takes about 75-90 minutes in total, of which 30-40 minutes are spent in the water.

Do I need a guide? Can’t I do this on my own?

There are 3 reasons why you need a guide:

  1. Our experienced guides protect you from currents, jellyfish, sharp lava rock and coral, sea urchins, rogue waves, and other potential dangers.
  2. Swimming in the ocean at night requires planning and proper equipment; we work with top-notch gear like safety lights and swim vests.
  3. We will also show you how to passively interact with the manta rays so they aren’t frightened or injured by your presence – and we don’t interrupt while they feed.

What is your cancellation policy?

Our Cancellation Policy – Manta Ray Moonlight Swim:

  1. Customers will receive a full refund if we are notified 24 hours before the activity starts by phone, email, or text message to 808-987-5580. If you do not receive our acknowledgment by the next business day, please follow up, resend your message, or call again.
  2. If you cancel within 24 hours before the activity starts, we will do our best to fill your spaces, but you will not be refunded if we cannot. As we offer highly sought-after activities with few spaces, we respectfully request you notify us as soon as you know you cannot make it.
  3. Customers will also receive a full refund if we cancel due to adverse ocean conditions or other unforeseen circumstances.
  4. “No shows” are charged the full amount.
  5. If you use Google Calendar (or similar) and book online from time zones ahead of us, you might arrive a day late to the tour and be considered a “No show.”
  6.  The tour is non-reimbursable even if a participant cannot complete it.

Do I have to be in "good shape" to do this? Are there any age limits?

We have designed the tour to be relaxing and not too taxing. However, we do require you to be confident in swimming in water too deep to stand, have basic ocean snorkel experience, and refresh your snorkel skills within a year of booking. We ask you to practice snorkeling in the ocean before joining the night swim to establish a comfort level with the equipment in the brightness of the day. Additionally, you must be able to converse in English. The prerequisites apply to all participants in your party.

Our moonlight swims are open to anyone over 12 years old (read more here about why we raised the minimum age recently). We even get guests who are over 80 years old.

While we understand that only some have access to the ocean and can snorkel all the time, here are three options to prepare properly:

  1. We offer a refresher to re-familiarize yourself with a mask, snorkel, and fins beforehand. The cost is $35/person and takes place at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel pool with one of our guides. We provide all the gear, review how to use it properly, troubleshoot any problems, and practice in the water. This lesson would be required to join our Moonlight Manta Swim if you cannot refresh your skills in the ocean beforehand.
  2. You can rent gear from the hotel beach shack during the day and do it yourself.
  3. Or, you can sign up for one of the beautiful day snorkel trips that boat companies offer before joining our night snorkel.

Can the manta rays hurt me? Do I need to worry about sharks or other marine animals?

Manta rays are notorious pacifists; Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray, a much different creature. In over 25 years of scuba diving along the Kona coast, we have only seen sting rays twice – and not at our location. Stingrays are shy creatures that roam in much deeper water. Read about how manta rays protect themselves here – and more about the difference between mantas and stingrays here.

We have never seen a predatory shark during the experience.

We may get augmented numbers of box jellyfish in the area at certain times of the month (read about this phenomenon here).

Are we going snorkeling or scuba diving?

We offer snorkeling tours with manta rays only. If you’d rather scuba dive, see Hawaii Ocean Watch Greenlist.

Can we touch or even ride the manta rays?

No, touching removes a protective coating from their skin and this is harmful to the manta rays. Trying to ride or touch them can harm or kill them. More about this here.

What do I need to bring - and what do you provide?

The water temperature does not normally change between day and night and is generally around 78-82 degrees Fahrenheit (21-25 degrees Celsius). Keep in mind that you will be floating still for about half an hour while in the water; however, most of our guests feel they do not require a wetsuit.

We supply you with a high-quality mask/snorkel set, fins, safety flotation vest, and towels. Or, you can use your own snorkeling gear if you prefer. Please bring your own swimsuit and swimshirt. Read more here about what equipment you will use to swim with mantas.

There is a freshwater shower for convenience after the swim, restrooms, and changing rooms.

I've never snorkeled, but can swim. Can I join?

No, you cannot participate because snorkeling and swimming are two different skill sets.

While you might be a good swimmer, learning how to use the snorkeling equipment correctly is vital. Everyone who snorkels can confirm that using a mask and snorkel initially is a weird sensation. A mask does not allow you to breathe through your nose; your only air supply is your snorkel.

It takes time and practice, and we believe that your first snorkel experience must be during the daytime. 

Even after being in the manta business for over 25 years, we continue to be surprised when guests inquire about this tour, believing that it is for everyone, even if they don’t know how to swim or snorkel.

Operating in the ocean inherently comes with risks; we “spice it up” by entering the ocean at NIGHT to see large fish, increasing risk and liability. Our prerequisites are intentionally strict to ensure the safety of all involved (guests, crew, and marine life).

    I snorkeled many years ago, can I join?

    Yes, if you have snorkeled within a year. 

    Even after being in the manta business for over 25 years, we continue to be surprised when guests inquire about this tour, believing that it is for everyone, even if they don’t know how to swim or have snorkeled once 10 years ago.

    Operating in the ocean inherently comes with risks; we “spice it up” by entering the ocean at NIGHT to see large fish, increasing risk and liability. Our prerequisites are intentionally strict to ensure the safety of all involved (guests, crew, and marine life).

    While we understand that only some have access to the ocean to snorkel regularly, here are three options to prepare properly for our Moonlight Manta Swim:

    1. We offer a refresher to re-familiarize yourself with a mask, snorkel, and fins beforehand. The cost is $35/person and takes place at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel pool with one of our guides. We provide all the gear, review how to use it properly, troubleshoot any problems, and practice in the water. This lesson would be required to join our Moonlight Manta Swim if you cannot refresh your skills in the ocean beforehand.
    2. You can rent gear from the hotel beach shack during the day and do it yourself.
    3. Or, you can sign up for one of the beautiful day snorkel trips that boat companies offer before joining our night snorkel.

    What can I do to prepare for swimming with manta rays?

    Ahead of time, download our Guide to Swimming with Manta Rays to learn what you need, remind yourself of the guidelines for interacting with marine life, and more.

    You will also get access to additional information once you sign up for your manta ray experience with us.

    Practice snorkeling. If it’s been over a year since you last snorkeled

    1. We offer a refresher to re-familiarize yourself with a mask, snorkel, and fins beforehand. The cost is $35/person and takes place at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel pool with one of our guides. We provide all the gear, review how to use it properly, troubleshoot any problems, and practice in the water. This lesson would be required to join our Moonlight Manta Swim if you cannot refresh your skills in the ocean beforehand.

    2. If you prefer, you can rent gear from the hotel beach shack during the day and do it yourself.

    3. Or, you can sign up for one of the beautiful day snorkel trips that boat companies offer before joining our night snorkel.

    On the day of the swim, take it easy during the day. Eat something so you are not hungry during the activity. The beach shack is not easy to find, so ensure you arrive ahead of time! And have a Plan B in case we have to cancel due to adverse ocean conditions.

    In preparation for the tour, you need to sign an individual liability release, and you will be asked about your skills. Below is an excerpt from our liability release.

     

      Can I gift the manta swim to a friend?

      We think it is a lovely idea to gift to others, but swimming at night in the ocean with large fish is not for everyone.

      All guests must meet the prerequisites, so if you surprise someone, they might not have the skills needed for successful participation, prompting disappointment and a full charge of the tour price.

      Is it alright to have a glass of wine during dinner and then join the tour?

      Alcohol and ocean activities are not a good mix. Being under the influence can impair your swimming abilities and awareness, turning what should be a beautiful experience into a safety hazard. We encourage you to eat something light beforehand so you are not hungry during the activity, but we ask you to refrain from any alcohol consumption before you arrive at the beach shack.

      A liability release needs to be individually signed in preparation for the tour, and you will be asked to acknowledge the following statement:

      What happens if the manta ray experience gets cancelled?

      Especially during the winter months, ocean conditions force us to cancel our moonlight swim. We keep you updated by text and email so you’ll know as soon as we know. If needed, we will do our best to reschedule the event. See our cancellation policy here.

      Can I be the translator for my spouse who does not speak English?

      We do not allow a translator to join a participant who does not speak English. Every participant must be able to converse in English to comprehend safety and snorkel briefings.

      A liability release needs to be individually signed in preparation for the tour, and you will be asked to acknowledge the following statement: “I can converse in English to comprehend safety and snorkel briefings (no translator allowed).”

      Do you guarantee manta ray sightings?

      While our night snorkel adventure offers one of the best chances to experience manta rays in their natural environment, it’s important to remember that manta rays are wild animals. Many factors influence their presence, and those can change rapidly.

      We do our best to forecast the likelihood of seeing mantas by sharing the sighting success of the prior nights, but there is still no guarantee of mantas showing up (much like whale-watching or fishing).

      If the manta rays do not appear, we do not offer a refund, a discount, or a rain check.

      We encourage you to view our policy statement for a more detailed answer.

      Got more questions?

      Feel free to contact us by calling 808-987-5580 or emailing info@mantarayshawaii.com.

      If you’re looking to book a swim with us (or you’ve booked already), our team is best reached from 9 AM – 3 PM Hawaiian Standard Time.

      We are happy to help Monday to Saturday – Closed on Sundays, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.

      Click here for the World Clock to clarify time zones.

      Where to Stay

      Kona Coast Vacation Rentals

      We offer three different holiday rentals on our property in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. We love sharing our passion for manta rays and interacting with guests, but we also give you the privacy you desire.

      Mauna Kea Beach Resort

      Looking for all-inclusive accommodations? We start our moonlight swims on the private beach of the legendary Mauna Kea Beach Resort. This is for you if you want luxury & relaxation.

      What They Are Saying

      Olga

      Martina, Thank you so much for the amazing Manta experience on my 60th birthday. I truly appreciate the video you made for us and will never forget you!

      Sylvia & Mark

      Wonderful support building self-confidence through education and guidance … the manta rays are truly one of the most beautiful and elegant creatures I have ever seen … it was like watching an underwater concert with the silent music being their graceful euphoric movements. Thank you!

      Loretta

      WOW!  We have just looked at the footage of our manta adventure and are reliving the moments!  What an awesome memory for us to have!  Thank you!

      Susan

      We were so pleasantly surprised and really DO think differently of mantas.  They are beautiful.  Your team was so informative and fun.  We have already recommended you to two different sets of people who are going to book.  Thank you for all you do for this graceful species.

      Bill

      Thanks Martina! We’re so glad we did this! Definitely the highlight of our vacation!!

      Jenny

      Thanks so much for the tour, it’s amazing to be close to these gentle giants.

      Cory

      One of the most amazing experiences a human can have. And one flicked its wing and hit me on the hand – it was unexpected and so exciting. Made me feel blessed to be so fortunate. A wonderful antidote to negativity bias!

      Denise

      Our group were so privileged to have the experience with you and the manta rays last September and the memories sustain us during this COVID crisis. Hope you and yours are staying healthy. Australia seems to be doing well so far with strict requirements but time will tell.

      Carrie

      Having fallen in love with the Manta Rays a few years ago, we continue to enjoy Martina’s updates and continuing education. She is as wonderful as the beautiful creatures that she works so hard to protect.

      Caroline

      The manta was so peaceful to watch. It was a pleasure to meet James! We also enjoy reading your interesting emails. We admire your advocacy for the mantas.

      Joseph

      Everyone I show my Manta Dive video to is in awe. We have opened staff meetings with it at our substance abuse and mental health program. It is very relaxing and tends to put everything in perspective.

      Jill

      What a magical evening! Thank you for your passion for these wonderful animals and for teaching us about them. It was an amazing experience.

      Mallory

      Their majesty was breathtaking and the sizes are incredible to be next to! I’ll never forget it. I am looking forward to continuing to learn more about the gentle giants by following Manta Ray Advocates.

      Know what you’re getting into

      Download our guide to swimming with manta rays in Hawaii.

      Ready for the adventure of a lifetime?

      Pick a day and time that fits your travel schedule.

      As soon as you’ve booked, you get access to all the information you need to prepare.

      We can’t wait to meet you… so you can meet the mantas!

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