The Manta Ray Ballet

On one magical night, our family went out to swim with the manta rays. I’m not going to lie, I am not the best swimmer, so I was extra apprehensive about going into the ocean. At night. With large sea creatures seeking food. I could tell that my sweet daughter who is a very cautious person, was feeling the same. It was time to put on a brave face because I believe in pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone…and because my daughter was watching. I’ve always taught her never to make a decision based on fear. I’m so happy we both pushed through, because this experience rates among one of the best we’ve ever had as a family. I will cherish the memory of being enchanted together, always.

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We hired Anelakai Adventures to take us out. I highly recommend this activity with this specific company. They are by far, the safest, most private, most ecologically responsible company, who hosts these tours. There was only my family of 4 and 2 other people touring on our boat. We paddled a non motorized, double hulled canoe out for a short ride to where the mantas like to hang out. Surprisingly, this was only a short distance from the dock. It was easy rowing and our guides made sure we were safe and having fun. Once we were out, the lights were turned on and a ladder was put into the water so we could easily swim to the hold bars. They also gave us ankle floats so our feet would float up and not accidentally kick the mantas. The lights were turned on and the fish came first to feed on the plankton attracted to the lights. Then, the magic happened. We had 6 different GIANT mantas dancing a beautiful water ballet all around us. They were so close they actually brushed by us and touched us a few times. We knew not to purposely touch them, as our guides educated us that have a protective layer of mucous that serves as a barrier that keeps bacteria away. Our group was the most peaceful group out there and I believe the mantas were attracted to us because of that.

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Here is a view from the boat. I got out of the water first, and even if you never got into the water, being on the canoe and seeing the show beneath you was still wondrous. On the other tours, since their boats were powered, they had to anchor way further out and you had to swim far out to see the rays. We had the safety and comfort of the canoe right there and each person could come up whenever they were ready.

I can tell you that although I’m grateful to have the video, it’s hard to really know how amazing this experience is, until you try it. It feels like you are inside of a dream! The mantas are so graceful and so ethereal. Beautiful and massive, the largest one out there that night had a wingspan of 16 feet! The guides knew each one by name, as they could identify them by their unique spots. This was such a bucket list item! We talk about this experience often and remember it well. This ties with the lava hike for our favorite things we did on the big island.

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