Manta Ray Night Snorkel with Sea Paradise

By Karen Anderson

One of the most magnificent underwater sights in Hawaii, the graceful manta rays of the Kona Coast, consistently gather at Keauhou Bay each night, gliding and cruising just beneath the placid, moonlit surface to feed on microscopic plankton.

Sea Paradise makes it safe and easy to view these harmless and majestic creatures in the water. From the comfort of a group floatation device, visitors have the opportunity to be within inches of enormous manta rays as they slowly swim beneath the bright lights mounted along the float. And if you’re lucky enough to witness a manta ray do a summersault right below your snorkel mask, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

For many people, this is the highlight of their trip to Hawaii: $102 for adults, $71 for children.

Sea Paradise Manta Shot

The company’s Manta Ray Night Snorkel Tour departs daily from Keauhou Bay on board the 50-foot catamaran, Hokuhele. Check-in takes place at Sea Paradise headquarters located up the road at Keauhou Shopping Center. Here, you’ll be issued a comfortable “shortie” wetsuit that will keep you warm in the water.

Sea Paradise Manta Shot 3

Once onboard, passengers will enjoy a quick sunset sail before the captain steers the vessel back to “Manta Village” in the waters below the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa. Located just around the corner from Hokuhele’s departure dock, the Manta Village originated by coincidence in the 1980s when the former Kona Surf Hotel shined floodlights on the water, unknowingly attracting plankton that, in turn, attracted mantas.

Sea Paradise was one of the original tour operators to offer a manta experience beginning in 1985. Their expertise led to the development of a state-of-the-art, extendable floatation device that resembles a railroad track. You’ll easily descend into the illuminated water down the boat’s stairway ramp at the bow. With a floatie noodle in hand, you’ll wade a few feet to the floatation device, where you grab the bar with both hands and float shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow passengers peering down into the brightly lit water.

Sea Paradise Floatie Shot 2

Safety and comfort are at the forefront at Sea Paradise. They keep passengers fully informed before the snorkel begins so that everyone knows what to expect, such as how to easily exit and re-enter the boat. The friendly crew gets in the water with you, available to help you with any concerns. You can go back to the boat at any time (a crew member will guide you), but if there’s an amazing manta show underway, you’ll want to stay in the water for the full 45 minutes.

Sea Paradise Manta Shot 2

Back on board, you can rinse off with hot water, utilize one of two fully outfitted bathrooms, and enjoy hot tea, hot chocolate, oatmeal and other snacks served for free at the bar.

Because they make the tour so easy and streamlined, Sea Paradise is the ideal choice for families, older visitors, children and those who might be apprehensive in the water. For an experience of a lifetime, you can’t go wrong with Sea Paradise.

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