If asked, most divers will tell you that manta rays are on the top of their species spotting lists. If you’ve ever seen a manta you’ll immediately know why. Their grace and beauty as they glide through the water is unparalleled.
Manta rays are found throughout Indonesia thanks to the incredibly nutrient-rich waters. However, Raja Ampat is one of the few places in the world that has resident populations of both oceanic and reef mantas. If you’re wondering when manta season is and where you should be to see them, read on.
When is the best time to see manta rays?
The northwest monsoons begin in October/November and finish in April/May. This doesn’t mean large amounts of rain but it does mean deep-water upwellings trigger plankton blooms that attract plankton eaters like manta rays and also whales. With such a ready supply of food in the water large numbers of rays spend time in Raja Ampat feeding and also breeding. Between these months is your best chance to spend time in the water with mantas.
The best manta spots in Raja Ampat
If you google this subject, it’s likely that Manta Sandy will be the first dive site on the list. This is a very popular manta cleaning station off the southwest side of Gam Island.
It’s true, this is a great site for diving or snorkeling with manta rays but it can also get very crowded. The dive guides from Gangga Divers at Papua Paradise Eco Resort will take you to little-known sites where you will have the mantas all to yourselves. There is a spot for reef mantas just around 15 minutes from the resort!
For oceanic manta rays the best choices are the dives at Blue Magic, a pinnacle reef Dampier Strait and Magic Mountain in Misool. Both are a little way from Papua Paradise on Birie Island, but are absolutely worth the trip.
If you haven’t had the chance to dive with manta rays before, they are very gentle and graceful creatures. Swimming at them or in front of them can give them a fright and scare them away. Copying their smooth, slow movements is the best way to behave around them. They will generally accept divers around them as long as you keep your distance and let the mantas come to you.
Many times mantas will swim above divers and let the bubbles tickle their undersides. Just imagine hovering below a giant manta that can grow up to 7 metres wide and weigh 2 metric tons.
If you’ve been considering booking a trip to Raja Ampat anytime of year is wonderful for diving. If you’ve been thinking about seeing manta rays in Raja Ampat, November – May is the period you should be looking at.
Got questions about manta rays, or any of the other species you could see in Raja Ampat? We’d love to hear from you in the comments box below!