Best places to dive with manta rays in Asia - ZuBlu Tips & Articles

Best places to dive with manta rays in Asia - ZuBlu Tips & Articles

These incredible animals combine grace, elegance and power, with a notable intelligence and inquisitiveness. Witnessing groups of manta rays feed in synchronised twists and turns, or barrel-roll through clouds of plankton, and it is easy to appreciate why they are the star attraction at many dive destinations. There is no doubt that this experience is high on every ocean lover's agenda. So, where are the best places to dive with manta rays?

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1. Hanifaru Bay - Baa Atoll, Maldives

Snorkeling amongst the feeding congregations of manta rays and whale sharks at Hanifaru Bay is one of the Maldives' best known underwater experiences - and quite possibly one of the most exciting of all manta ray encounters. There are few places in the world where visitors can get so close to so many manta rays, swimming alongside them as they barrel-roll and ‘fly’ in formation through the dense plankton - a behaviour that has become known as 'cyclone feeding'.

2. Komodo National Park - Indonesia

Komodo is justifiably famous for its incredible landscapes, biodiversity and of course, its dragons. But the park is also an exceptional destination for scuba diving with manta rays throughout the year. In the south of the Komodo National Park, the cold, nutrient-rich upwellings that are so prevalent here create blooms of plankton when the cold water hits the sunlit shallows - perfect feeding conditions for manta rays. As such, the south is home to Komodo’s best manta ray dive site at the aptly named 'Manta Alley'. Here, large numbers of manta rays gather to feed on the plankton and visit a series of cleaning stations dotted along the reef. Whilst such large gatherings can never be guaranteed, scuba divers can often witness squadrons of manta rays feeding in unison, or get up close and personal with a ray as it hovers over a cleaning station.

3. Sangalaki - Kalimantan, Indonesia

The diving around the islands of the Derawan Archipelago has something for everyone - from ‘muck’ and critters around Derawan and stingless jellyfish at Kakaban, to schooling fish, sharks and beautiful reefs around Maratua. However, for many people it is diving with the manta rays of Sangalaki that is the highlight of a trip.

4. Nusa Penida - Bali, Indonesia

Dive with manta rays just off Bali's southeastern coast in the deep seas around the islands of Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan and Nusa Penida. Home to an extraordinary proliferation of marine life, manta rays are reliably encountered around the islands throughout the year, with schools of graceful manta rays gathering to feed on the plankton brought in by the strong currents that sweep past the islands every day.

5. Raja Ampat - Indonesia

Raja Ampat is fast becoming one of the best places in Indonesia to dive with manta rays, but because of its more remote location. As well as being home to some of the best reef diving on the planet, Raja Ampat has several dive sites where both reef and oceanic manta rays are seen on a regular basis. In the north, the famous ‘Manta Ridge’ and ‘Manta Sandy’ dive sites are both very consistent for diving with manta rays, and ‘Blue Magic’ often has visiting oceanic manta rays. In the south, close to Misool, ‘Magic Mountain’ has both reef and oceanic manta rays - a unique experience for divers lucky enough to see both in a single dive!

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