The Best Time to See Manta Rays in Hawaii

Aloha, fellow manta ray enthusiasts!

Hawaii is home to not only breathtaking beaches and lush landscapes but also an array of extraordinary marine life. One such creature that never fails to captivate my heart (and yours too, I bet) is the mesmerizing manta ray. With its gracefulness underwater and a unique presence found mainly on the Big Island’s shores, it’s no wonder we’re all yearning for those perfect sightings.

Now let me tell you about my boyfriend and me – we’re smitten with swimming alongside these majestic beings. Every time we visit Hawaii, we make it our mission to dive or snorkel among them at their favorite hotspots. Trust me; there’s nothing quite like it!

Having traversed countless locations in search of these gentle giants, I’ve gathered some valuable insider knowledge on when and where you’ll have the best chances for unforgettable encounters with manta rays in Hawaii.

Fair warning: Once you’ve had your first magical moment with a manta ray up close, don’t be surprised if you find yourself daydreaming about your next encounter during loose moments at work or even while brushing your teeth!

Hold onto your snorkels folks; we’re diving into everything you need to know for an incredible time spent swimming with manta rays in beautiful Hawaii!

Where Can You See Manta Rays in Hawaii?

Before we prepare for our manta ray adventure in Hawaii, it’s important to know the best sites to see these majestic creatures. You can find manta rays in abundance on the Big Island in Hawaii, particularly on the Kailua-Kona coasts and the Kohala coast. 

The manta rays aren’t migratory creatures, so they stay year-round on the Big Island, making their sightings pretty common here. Some places you’re bound to see manta rays on the Big Island are; 

  • from the shore in Kona
  • while snorkeling in marine life hubs like Kealakekua Bay
  • and from designated manta ray hubs like Manta Village, Manta Heaven, and Manta Point.

Although the other islands like Oahu and Maui have some rays, they’re few and far between. So if you want a failsafe for seeing manta rays in Hawaii, come to the Big Island and book a dive tour to see them in action.   

Best Time of Year to See Manta Rays

Now that you know which island to visit to spot manta rays, it’s important to know when to go. Although the rays stay on Big Island’s shores all year, some water conditions, like strong waves and high tides, can impede their sightings. 

So the best time to see manta rays in Hawaii is when the surf is low and underwater visibility is clear, ideally from the months of April till November-December. 

Three seasons come in this timeline; spring, summer, and fall since winter months bring unsafe water conditions for diving and snorkeling, and most manta ray tours get canceled. 

However, it’s important to consider that most tourists will also be booking tours to see manta rays in these months, especially from June to August when there’s summer break in most parts of the world.

So if you want to see manta rays on your trip to the Big Island with fewer crowds and the best visibility, plan a tour in spring or fall. 

Best Time of Day to See Manta Rays

If you’ve never been on a manta ray dive, you’ll be surprised to know they happen at night! So most tours head out to manta ray sites at 6 or 11 pm. 

We usually prefer to take the 6 pm tours because the journey back takes time, and you can enjoy a beautiful sunset view on the way.

Once you’re at the site, the tour guides shine bright lights underwater, which attracts plankton, followed by swarms of manta rays who rush to feed on them. 

The nighttime tours to see manta rays are also given preference to daytime snorkeling trips because you can swim very close to the graceful creatures. On these tours, you’ll be seeing the rays doing their special movements called barrel rolls and getting eye-level views of them.

Best Tours to See Manta Rays in Hawaii

On the Kailua-Kona coast, you can book the best manta ray dive tours, which come with experienced guides, and onsite safety instructions and often include seeing the gorgeous Kona sunset beforehand. 

We love taking this tour with Sea Quest Hawaii, which includes nighttime swimming and snorkeling with wild manta rays on the Kona coast, followed by warming up with delicious Hawaiian hot chocolate. 

Head to the best manta ray site on the Big Island, Manta Ray Village in Keauhou, Kona, with this night snorkeling tour. We love this tour as they only take a small group per dive and have great underwater visibility. 

Another great tour to see manta rays combines swimming with these graceful creatures and gorgeous sunset views of Kona. You’ll set off just in time to see the sunset and coastal views of Kona before diving into the shore and swimming with manta rays.


Where is the best place to see manta rays in Hawaii?

The most popular diving spots to see manta rays in Hawaii are the Manta point on the Kohala Coast, Manta Village in Keauhou, and Manta Heaven in North Kona. These sites have the highest number of manta rays spotted on them, with up to six sightings per dive.

Is snorkeling with manta rays worth it?

Yes! Swimming with manta rays is a unique experience you won’t get anywhere else in Hawaii, as these majestic creatures are mostly found on the Big Island. Snorkeling with mantas is entirely different from your prior snorkeling experiences, as they get pretty close, and you can watch them feeding and doing barrel rolls. 

Can you see manta rays from shore in Hawaii?

The Kona coast on the Big Island is the only place where you can see manta rays up close in Hawaii. The manta rays come to Keauhou Bay, where you can see them through manta ray diving tours. 

Wrap-Up: Best Time to See Manta Rays in Hawaii

Swimming with manta rays is a favorite activity in Hawaii, as there are abundant rays on the Big Island’s shores. So you can find the best times of the year, day, and ideal places to see manta rays in Hawaii from the details mentioned in this article.

Looking for the best time to see manta rays in Hawaii? Visit the Kailua-Kona coasts in spring, summer, and fall. 

Want to see the most manta rays on your visit? Choose an evening dive time and see the rays up close.

So make sure to take full advantage of the best time to see manta rays in Hawaii!

Last Updated on April 3, 2023 by Brigitte