8 Must Do Tips for Snorkeling with Manta Rays

by Mariam Beard • Last Updated: February 2022

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Quick Details:

  • Island: BIG ISLAND (Kona)
  • Seasonal | Night snorkeling

Snorkeling with Manta Rays is an incredible experience that can only be done on the Big Island (Hawai’i Island). In this article, I’m going to share with you 8 Tips that I wish I would have known when I went snorkeling with the Manta Rays.

This video is geared for first-timers who have never been snorkeling with the Manta Rays.

Our Experience

Tip #1: Packing Tip (2 towels + warm clothes)

Make sure that you do bring two towels and warm clothes for after you snorkel.

2 Towels

The first towel is going to be for using after you finish snorkeling. The second one you can use as a blanket. You’re snorkeling at night and sometimes, depending on the boat ride that you take, the boat ride from where you finish snorkeling to the shore can be anywhere from 5-35 minutes. Having that extra dry towel to use as a blanket can make your time after snorkeling a lot more comfortable.

Warm Clothes

Now as for warm clothes, I would recommend wearing or bringing sweatpants and either a hoodie or some sort of windbreaker. Again, it’s not necessarily really cold right when you get out of the water, but the boat ride back from where the snorkel trip is until the shoreline can be very windy. Plus, the worst that could happen by packing these is that you end up not using them. I always find that it’s better to pack a couple extra layers of clothing a few extra items than not having what I need.

What to Pack

The number one thing that I would highly recommend that you bring is some sort of waterproof bag. People are getting on and off the boat, they’re wet, and water is dripping from them. If you have something valuable that you don’t want to get wet, such as any camera gear or cell phones, it is an excellent idea to get a waterproof bag.

My favorite waterproof bag is a 25 liter in mint green. It’s padded, has clips to make it comfortable, and it’s completely waterproof. It’s also big enough to fit a towel, cell phone, hat, and whatever else you need. It also has a clip section to clip on your sandals, flip-flops, or slippers, so they don’t get misplaced. There’s an outside zipper for you to put more things, but this is not waterproof. On the inside of the bag, there’s an inside pocket where you can put your wallet and cell phone.

Size: 25L, Color: mint green

Tip#2: Know what Your Tour Includes (Snacks? Beverages?)

Some manta ray snorkel tours include hot cocoa, tea or coffee as well as snacks. These hot beverages can really hit the spot after snorkeling at night where it’s chilly and breezy. Check to see if your tour includes any of these – and if it does not, consider packing them with you.

Tip #3: Ask Boat Ride Duration (To/From Snorkel Spot)

Important for those prone to motion sickness!

When I did this trip years ago, I didn’t really know anything about the distance of the harbors where the snorkel trips would be. I just knew that I wanted to snorkel with Manta Rays.

However, I got incredibly seasick on my trip from the shoreline to the actual Manta Ray snorkel, which was a good 35-minute boat ride. It was incredibly choppy and it was at night, so I couldn’t use the horizon to help balance me. Don’t make my mistake!! If you’re prone to seasickness, make sure you ask these kinds of questions because again you’re going to be going in the dark, the boat is going to be moving a lot, and you aren’t able to see the horizon because it’ll be pitch black.

This link will take you to the BEST snorkel option that I’ve done with manta rays where the boat ride is only a quick 5-7 minute ride:

Tip #4: Take any motion sickness aids EARLY

If you think you might need motion sickness tablets, whether it’s ginger, Dramamine, sea bands – make that decision at least a few hours before your trip. I’ve seen some people make the mistake of getting on board the boat and then taking a motion sickness tablet the moment they step foot on the boat. By then, it’s a bit too late. By the time the motion sickness tablets kick in, you’re already on the vessel and it hasn’t had time to be absorbed in your system. That way it has TIME to go in your system and you’re less likely to be motion sickness because again you’ve taken that precaution in advance.

Tip #5: Don’t touch the manta rays

The boat crews will always remind you of this. Don’t touch the Manta Rays. The reason for this is because the oils on our skin damage the Manta Rays. To keep the Manta Rays safe and healthy, as they get closer and closer to you, don’t extend your hand to touch the Manta Rays or pet the Manta Rays. You want to give them their space.

Tip #6: Remember Ocean Conditions are Seasonal

Remember that a lot of the ocean conditions that you might experience are very seasonal. So for example, on Oahu, depending on what time of year it is, the ocean conditions can be different. On Oahu, December, January, February are our winter season months, where the North Shore gets really choppy with big waves and then the South Shore (Waikiki) is very calm. In summer, it’s the exact reverse, where in June and July, the North Shore is really calm.

If you’re heading over to the Big Island and you’re not sure what the ocean conditions might be, it’s a good idea to check with the boat that you have booked to ask how they think the ocean conditions will be. The crew at each of the different boats are very knowledgeable. They’ve done the same trip every day for months or even years, so ask them. The crew will be happy to help and provide some suggestions on the best times of year to go, best days to go, and so forth. So if you have questions, ask the crew.

Tip #7: Bring a waterproof camera

Bring a waterproof camera. I would highly recommend that you bring a waterproof camera. All the footage that’s in this video is all from a regular GoPro Hero. My personal favorite is using the GoPros. I’ve seen some people use their cell phones in the water when you’re snorkeling, but keep in mind you want to be very careful of the specific case you use. I personally never bring my phone into the water with me. I had previously had a waterproof case and when I got into the water, it leaked. So since then, I only bring my GoPro in the water.

What I Use:

When I’m doing underwater shots for snorkeling, I’ll use a red filter to grab more colors. Although the GoPro 10 is waterproof, I like using the underwater housing (with or without the red filters) to keep it clear of any saltwater. If you opt to use the GoPro brand red filter, you’ll have to use the underwater housing “shell” to attach it.

My personal favorite for underwater is the GoPro Hero 10:

Tip #8: Rinse any electronics with freshwater

This is crucial if you are bringing electronics like a GoPro or cell phone into the ocean. For example, if you do bring a GoPro into the water, keep in mind that salt water can be very corrosive. For anything that you don’t want damaged, don’t forget to give it a quick splash of fresh water before you put it back inside your bag.

The same can be said for rinsing off after you go snorkeling. If you don’t want to damage your hair, it’s an easy thing to forget. When you get out of the water, most boats do have a fresh water shower. Don’t forget to use it! It’ll also help protect your skin from getting really dried out.

Share YOUR Experience

I hope these eight tips on how to snorkel with Manta Rays helped you if you’re a 1st timer snorkeling with the manta rays. If you’ve struggled with Manta Rays before and have another great tip to add, definitely leave a comment down below and share with us all.

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Aloha! I'm Mariam.

I'm an Oahu resident sharing my adventures here in Hawaii to help take the guesswork out of planning your trip to Hawaii.

I've worked full-time as a concierge for a decade and have planned thousands of itineraries for travelers like you!


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