Hula Kai’s Evening Manta Snorkel Adventure
takes place at nearby “Manta Village”, conveniently located on the outskirts of our home port – Keauhou Bay.
Mantas first began congregating here back in the early 1970’s, when the Kona Surf Hotel opened. The hotel had the idea to provide guests with an illuminated view of the ocean at night, so bright floodlights were installed. Little did they realize that these lights would become a beacon for plankton, ultimately attracting Manta Rays to the area that feed on plankton. It didn’t take long before the Manta Rays began to learn to associate lights with their food source. It would blossom into a popular attraction for hotel guests who could view mantas from their rooms or at the hotel’s oceanfront restaurant & bar.
Well over a decade later, dive boats began operating guided scuba dive tours to the location. And in addition to the hotel’s floodlights shining onto the water, the boat operators created underwater light systems positioned on the bottom which would shine up to create the ultimate manta viewing experience.
Shortly thereafter, Manta Village quickly became known worldwide as a rare location where people could easily view Manta Rays in the wild.
Unfortunately, the Kona Surf Hotel shut down in 2002 – along with the floodlights, which led to the disappearance of plankton and ultimately, the mantas.
The hotel would later reopen in 2004 as the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay. Floodlights were turned on and the Mantas returned!
Fair Wind’s first-class Hula Kai vessel began offering its Evening Manta Snorkel Adventure in 2009 – quickly emerging as the premier manta-viewing tour in Hawaii.
Today, Manta Village continues to flourish with an abundance of Manta Rays frequenting the location. In fact, it’s been documented over the past few years that Manta’s show up 92% of the nights at Manta Village. As guided tours have become increasingly popular with visitors, several operators have collaborated closely together in creating guidelines for proper manta viewing etiquette, ensuring the protection of the mantas and safety for the visitors.