One of my favourite times to visit the Maldives is Manta Season. Mid May to Mid October is when these majestic creatures grace Hanifaru Bay with their impressive presence. Hanifaru Bay is a UNESCO protected area where the Mantas go to feed and clean. It is located in the Baa Atoll Maldives where it is estimated that 5000 Reef Mantas the largest population of Reef Mantas in the world.
In Hanifaru Bay over these months, you are not likely to see just one or two Mantas but literally so many you lose count. They frolic about in the clear turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean feeding on the tiny plankton, performing what Marine Biologists have called the Dance of the Mantas. This Dance takes a number of different forms and involves the Mantas teaming up in lines and diving together helping each other scoop up the plankton with their filters. It is truly mesmerising to watch.
On one occasion, I have been lucky enough to snorkel with the world renowned Manta expert, Dr Guy Stevens, who counted over 88 Mantas, all dancing and feeding around us. They can work out how many there are at any time by taking photos of the marks on the Mantas bellies which are unique to each Manta. It was a spectacular experience. They come so close to you it is as if they may touch you, on some occasions the tips of their wings actually do and then they dive and tumble at the last minute. I always point out on the boat ride from the resort to Hanifaru, especially to young children, that Mantas are plankton filter feeders and are completely harmless.
Four Seasons Landaa has the Manta Trust Representative located there and the resort offers an experience called Manta on Call. Once registered for this, you are given a cell phone which you are to carry everywhere you go and be ready with swimmers and snorkelling gear to be called to head immediately to the water sports centre if any Mantas are sited by the Manta Trust research boat out in Hanifaru. Once called, you go straight to the departure area where you are whisked off to an experience of a lifetime. It is so exciting and the best way to guarantee seeing these amazing creatures. You may encounter a Whale Shark swimming with them.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many other places around the world. Hawaii, Mexico and so on. Nothing beats the Maldives and nothing comes close to this experience of snorkelling at Hanifaru with Mantas in the natural environment. The best news is that Manta Season is shoulder season in the Maldives so prices are low and the specials we have are amazing. We have Stay 7 pay 5 nights so 2 free nights and free half-board breakfasts and dinners at the Four Seasons Landaa and Soneva Fushi and then 30% off and free half-board breakfasts and dinners at Amilla Fushi and Anantara Kihavah. Plus its Manta seasons! If you are a marine lover, you absolutely have to add this to your Bucket List.
Where to stay
Best resorts for Manta diving are Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, Amilla Fushi, Anantara Kihavah and Soneva Fushi.