Planning a trip to the Big Island in Hawaii and looking for something fun to do? In this post, we review 11 of the best manta ray night snorkel tours to book in Kona for an unforgettable experience!
We recently spent 6 days in Hawaii on a Big Island vacation and going on a night snorkeling tour with manta rays was the highlight of our trip. Whether you’re a seasoned snorkeler or a first-timer, this tour is a fun activity for everyone!
Our pick for the best tour: Night Manta Ray Adventure on the Big Island. This is the tour that we loved (and has over 3100 five-star ratings!).
A manta ray night snorkel tour offers the opportunity to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat – a bucket list experience of a lifetime. Let’s dive (or snorkel) in!
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11 Best Manta Ray Night Snorkel Tours In Kona:
- Tour length: 2-2.5 hours
- Tour rating: 5/5 stars out of 3100+ reviews
- Tour cost: $155 for snorkeling, $94 for ride-along
- Includes: snorkeling gear, wetsuit top, snacks, and water (go pro rental and disposable underwater camera are offered for an additional cost)
- Tour operator: Hang Loose Boat Tours
During our trip to the Big Island in Hawaii, we chose to take the Hang Loose Manta Ray tour because they have over 3100 5-star reviews and many different departure times every day.
You can book a Hang Loose Manta Ray Night Adventure on Viator here which makes the booking process so easy! If you’re not able to make the tour, you can cancel up to 24 hours in advance.
Tip: We reserved a tour that departed right before sunset. That way we were able to enjoy a colorful sunset on the way to the manta ray site, but still get there after dark.
After arriving at the meeting spot in the harbor, we signed in and walked down to the dock to get fitted with a jacket-style wetsuit top and snorkeling gear. Then we boarded the boat and started heading on a 20-minute boat ride to the manta ray site at Keauhou Bay (also known as Manta Village).
Once we arrived at the snorkeling location, we got in the water and swam over to floating rafts. These rafts are set up to help you stay afloat horizontally as you view the manta rays below you. Beneath the rafts, there are blue led lights that attract plankton which in return attracts manta rays for feeding.
During the tour, we were able to watch giant manta rays swim up to the surface of the water, do flips, and float all around us eating planktonic organisms. It was such a cool experience that I highly recommend doing on the Big Island in Hawaii!
- Tour length: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Tour rating: 5/5 stars out of 1320+ reviews
- Tour cost: $115 for snorkeling, $89 for ride-along
- Includes: snorkeling gear, wetsuit, and water (underwater cameras are available for rental upon request)
- Tour operator: Hawaii Island & Ocean Tours
Keauhou Manta Ray Night Snorkel is another popular night manta ray adventure option on the Big Island with daily tours. The excursions start at 7:00 pm and has departing time spots until 11:00 pm.
The later in the night you book a tour, the fewer people you’ll encounter snorkeling in the water. You’ll also have a better chance of seeing more manta rays since they won’t be hopping from one raft to the next.
Hawaii Island & Ocean Tours are suitable for kids 5+ years of age so it’s a great option for the entire family!
“Watching my 8-year-old daughter laugh and smile throughout the whole experience. They take you out by the outrigger hotel, just off shore. It’s not too long in the water so you don’t need a wetsuit.”— Keith R. (read more reviews on Viator)
This is a shorter adventure, but you are still getting about 30-40 minutes of in-water snorkeling time. The tour includes a very quick boat ride – ideal for those who get seasick.
- Tour length: 1 hour
- Tour rating: 5/5 stars out of 950+ reviews
- Tour cost: $145 for snorkeling or ride along
- Includes: snorkeling gear, wetsuit, water & juice
- Tour operator: Hawaii Oceanic
If you like to avoid large tour groups, be sure to book the Night Manta Ray Snorkel At Manta Village by Hawaii Oceanic Company. This tour operator offers small group experiences with a maximum of 12 people.
“This was the highlight of our vacation! The staff and crew were excellent and having Manta Rays swimming within inches of us was breathtaking!”— Mark C. (read more reviews on Viator)
After boarding the boat you’ll head on a short 5-minute boat ride to the Manta Ray Village snorkeling site.
Hawaii Oceanic is one of the Hawaii Ocean Watch preferred Green List activity providers for the manta ray experience in Kona. This tour company practices the highest ethical and ecological standards to keep the manta rays safe during their excursions.
During the boat ride you’ll be given tips on how to safely approach snorkeling with manta rays. Once you get in the water, you’ll spend around 30-40 minutes swimming with these majestic creatures as they dive for plankton all around you.
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- Tour length: 1.5 hours
- Tour rating: 5/5 stars out of 420+ reviews
- Tour cost: $140 for snorkeling
- Includes: snorkeling equipment, wetsuits, soda & water
- Tour operator: Sea Paradise
Sea Paradise is another Green List company that focuses on environmentally safe interactions with manta rays. This is one of the first companies that started offering manta ray night snorkel tours on the Big Island and has been operational since 1985.
“Manta Ray snorkel with Sea Paradise was amazing! It’s a short boat ride to and from the snorkeling spot and once in the water, we saw manta rays within the first ten minutes.”— Deb L. (read more reviews on Viator)
During the Sea Paradise manta ray snorkel tour, you’ll board a luxurious catamaran. If you book the earlier tour options, you’ll be able to enjoy a serene sunset sail on the way to the Manta Ray Village.
During the Sea Paradise manta ray tour, you’ll spend up to an hour in the water watching the manta rays gracefully glide underneath you. This tour guarantees seeing mantas so if you don’t have any luck the first time, you can return for free within 7 days for another try!
- Tour length: 2.5 hours
- Tour rating: 4.5/5 stars out of 570+ reviews
- Tour cost: $124 for snorkeling
- Includes: snorkel gear, wet suit, flotation devices, snacks, water & juice
- Tour operator: Bite Me Sportfishing
This Manta Ray Night Snorkel Tour has several different time options starting at 5:00 pm and ending at 9:00 pm. If you’ve never snorkeled or swam in the dark, you may want to consider booking an earlier tour before it gets dark!
It can feel a bit eerie snorkeling in the open ocean at night so the earlier tours are a good option if you’re unsure about night swimming.
“I was a bit nervous about going swimming in the dark but once I was in the water, I forgot about it since I was so impressed by the beauty of creatures.”— Jean Franois M. (read more reviews on Viator)
During this manta night snorkel tour, you’ll get to swim with these giant sea creatures as they feed on the microscopic plankton beneath bright lights. This is a longer excursion so you’ll get around 45 minutes of swim time in the ocean.
Bite Me Sportfishing operator has been voted as “Best of West Hawaii” for years. If you’re not able to see any manta rays due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a voucher for another tour.
- Tour length: 1.5 hours
- Tour rating: 5/5 stars out of 570+ reviews
- Tour cost: $139 for snorkeling
- Includes: snorkeling equipment, short sleeve wetsuit top, hot tea
- Tour operator: Dolphin Discoveries
The Manta Ray Night Snorkel Kona excursion will take you to one of the best manta ray viewing locations on the Big Island! The tour operators use state-of-the-art viewing boards that attract zooplankton which are manta rays’ favorite food.
“This made our trip! It was such an amazing experience. One of the most unique things we have ever done. The crew was by far one of the best.”— Jennifer H. (read more reviews on Viator)
The Dolphin Discoveries tours operate every hour from 5:30 to 9:30 pm so you have a variety of times to choose from. This is a small group manta ray snorkel experience with a maximum of 16 people.
On the tour, you’ll spend 45 minutes in the water observing the manta rays and seeing them do somersaults underneath the viewing boards. After the swim, you’ll be served a hot tea to warm up from the cold swim.
- Tour length: 2 hours
- Tour rating: 5/5 stars out of 500+ reviews
- Tour cost: $139 for snorkeling
- Includes: snorkel gear, wetsuits, floatation devices, snacks, drinks
- Tour operator: C Big Island Tours
If you’re looking for a sunset manta ray snorkeling tour, be sure to book the Big Island, Kona Manta Ray Snorkel experience! This is a small group tour that offers a departing time planned around sunset (on select days).
“Great crew, saw 14 mantas. The experience of a lifetime! Hot chocolate was delicious. Highly recommend this experience and tour operator.”— Karen M. (read more reviews on Viator)
As the sun sets, you’ll arrive at the snorkel site aboard the 30ft Zodiac boat that departs from the Honokohau Harbor. The boat ride is only 10-15 minutes long during which you’ll be able to enjoy a colorful sunset of the Pacific Ocean.
This tour will take you north of Kona to Makako Bay (also known as Manta Ray Heaven). While most tour operators head to Keauhou Bay south of Kona, Makako Bay is a great alternative that is less crowded.
Once you arrive at Manta Heaven, you’ll spend around 30 to 45 minutes in the water swimming with these sea creatures. The viewing boards feature 16 bring LED lights that are sure to attract giant manta rays to feast on plankton!
- Tour length: 3.5 hours
- Tour rating: 5/5 stars out of 660+ reviews
- Tour cost: $150 for snorkeling
- Includes: snorkel gear, wetsuit, floatation devices, snacks, drinks, warm shower
- Tour operator: Manta Adventures
Manta Adventures tour operator offers a relaxing experience on a private charter boat that’s ideal for smaller groups and families.
“The crew was so knowledgeable about the mantas! The boat was fantastic, the crew was lovely, the experience was superb!!”— Britney G. (read more reviews on Viator)
During the Manta Ray Night Snorkel In Kona, you’ll head on a fun and easy cruise on the way to the Manta Ray Village. The Maheli-Heli is one of the newest eco-friendly boats in Kona that was designed specifically for the manta ray night tour. On the way to the manta site, you may even fish as a bonus!
The excursion includes excellent amenities including necessary snorkel gear, drinks, snacks, and even a warm shower after. Keep in mind that this is a longer 3.5-hour tour that departs once a day.
- Tour length: 2.5 hours
- Tour rating: 5/5 stars out of 440+ reviews
- Tour cost: $138 for snorkeling
- Includes: snorkel gear, wetsuit, swimming noodles, juice, soft drinks, hot chocolate, and cookies (alcoholic beverages are available for purchase)
- Tour operator: Kona Style
This Hawaiian-owned and operated tour company combines two of the best things you can do on the Big Island in Hawaii – a catamaran sunset cruise and night time manta ray snorkel.
“Seeing manta rays up close in the ocean is a magical experience. Hot chocolate and cookies waiting after the experience.”— Assunta W. (read more reviews on Viator)
On the Sunset And Manta Ray Snorkel Adventure, you’ll board a 50-foot catamaran and sail along the coast while enjoying a beautiful sunset. As you arrive at Manta Ray Village, the sun will already have set so you can go for an epic night swim with these gentle giants.
Depending on the conditions, you might get the chance to spend up to an hour in the water!
- Tour length: 1 hour
- Tour rating: 5/5 stars out of 420+ reviews
- Tour cost: $127
- Includes: snorkel equipment, wetsuit top, floatation device
- Tour operator: Eka Canoe Adventures
Eka Canoe Adventures offers Manta Ray Snorkeling By Night Tours for small groups of 12 people or less. With a smaller group, you’ll get more personalized attention from the guides as you embark on this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Eka Canoe Adventures use unique canoes for transportation. You’ll get to sail to the manta ray site in a traditional Hawaiian double-hull canoe that departs from a nearby pier. This tour also spends less time in transit and more time in the water!
“This is one of the shorter trips which is nice if you don’t like boat rides but want to still see the manta rays. The canoe was pretty cool to ride out in at sunset and we had a great show.”— Stephanie M. (read more reviews on Viator)
The professional guides focus on snorkeling with the manta rays in an ethical manner. During the expedition, you’ll learn more about these magnificent giants and approach them safely and respectfully.
- Tour length: 1.5 hours
- Tour rating: 5/5 stars out of 240+ reviews
- Tour cost: $119 for snorkeling
- Includes: snorkeling equipment, optional wet suit, foam noodles, non-alcoholic drinks, snacks (GoPro Hero 9 is available for rent)
- Tour operator: Coral Reef Snorkel Adventures
Coral Reef Snorkel Adventures offer Small Group Manta Ray Night Snorkel tours of up to 12 people. With a smaller group, you’re sure to have a personalized experience and spend more time swimming with mantas in the water.
If you’re looking for a private manta ray snorkel experience, as an option you can book the entire boat! This is a great choice for traveling friends and families that want to have more privacy & space.
“We had a great time seeing the manta rays! Honestly, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, was very kid friendly and the rays were beautiful!”— Kristen B. (read more reviews on Viator)
When booking the tour, you have several departure times to choose from. To reach the snorkeling site you will head on a 20 to 30-minute boat ride before getting into the water. Coral Reef Snorkel Adventures focus on swimming with manta rays in a safe way that does not disturb them.
Having a small group size allows the guides to move around and travel to the most active manta ray snorkeling sites. Once you reach the location, you’ll spend around 30-45 minutes in the water on this night manta experience.
FAQ On Manta Ray Night Snorkel Tours:
Why are there manta rays in Kona, Hawaii?
There are only a few locations in the world where you can snorkel with manta rays. Kona Coast in Hawaii is one of them!
Keauhou Bay, also known as the Manta Village, is one of the oldest and most popular locations on the Big Island of Hawaii for swimming with manta rays. This is where most tour operators will take you to snorkel with these gentle giants of the sea.
The manta rays were initially drawn to Keauhou Bay in the 1970s as new hotels were built around the bay. The construction lights at night attracted plankton which attracts the manta rays for feeding.
There are around 297 manta rays that now reside in Keauhou Bay. These are coastal manta rays that stay near the shoreline and never leave the area.
What to bring on a manta ray night swim
Here are a few items that we recommend bringing on a night manta ray adventure:
- Swimsuit (it’s best to change before leaving your hotel)
- Towel to dry off after the tour
- Warm jacket for the boat ride back
- Dry clothes to change into after
- Motion sickness medicine
- Go-pro waterproof action camera to take photos and videos in the water
Since you’ll be swimming after dark, you won’t need sunscreen. It is recommended to take a shower before the tour and wash off sunscreen to keep the Hawaii waters clear of harmful ingredients found in sunscreen products.
Is snorkeling with manta rays worth it?
If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, snorkeling with manta rays is one of the best activities to do on the Island of Hawai’i! This is an unforgettable experience that you can’t do anywhere else in the United States.
What is the best time to snorkel with manta rays?
The best time to snorkel with manta rays is just after sunset when it’s already dark outside but the water is still warm from the day. During your tour, the operators will set up rafts with neon blue lights underneath so you’ll be able to see the manta rays at night.
We booked a departing time just before sunset so we could get the tour done and still have time to go out to eat after. Some people prefer a later tour when there are fewer people in the water.
Be sure to book your manta ray tour well in advance so you can choose from the time spots that best fit your schedule and needs!
How much is manta ray snorkeling?
The Manta Ray night snorkel tour on the Big Island costs around $100-$150, depending on which tour company you book with. Some tour companies also offer discounted ride-along options for around $80-$90 for those who want to join the tour but don’t want to get into the water.
What is the best season for manta rays?
The summer season is an excellent time to book a manta ray snorkeling tour when the weather in Hawaii is mild and warm. In winter the weather is a bit more unpredictable and sometimes the tours can get canceled due to bad weather conditions.
Manta rays are wild animals so seeing them is never guaranteed. If your tour does get canceled or you don’t see any mantas on the excursion, most operators offer free replacement tours for another day. Be sure to check the tour cancellation policy before booking it!
Is snorkeling with manta rays scary?
Personally, I thought that snorkeling with manta rays was more fun than scary! It does take a few minutes to adjust to swimming in the dark which can feel a bit strange at first, but the whole experience was absolutely wonderful.
If you do get scared (or just change your mind) after getting in the water, the tour guides can take you back to the boat at any time. As an option, book the earliest tour available while it’s still light outside.
While manta rays are related to sharks and stingrays, you have nothing to worry about! They’re completely harmless and cannot bite or sting you as they don’t have any teeth or stingers.
What do you wear to manta ray snorkel?
For a night swim with manta rays, you’ll want to wear a bathing suit and bring a towel to dry off after. Most tours provide a wet suit top so you can stay warm in the water.
How long are manta ray tours?
Manta ray snorkel tours are about 1-2.5 hours long. This includes time to get fitted with snorkeling equipment, wet suits, getting on the boat, and taking a boat to the snorkeling location.
Most tours include around 30-45 minutes of snorkel time in the ocean with manta rays before heading back to the harbor.
What not to do when snorkeling with manta rays?
When going on a manta ray snorkel tour in Kailua Kona, it’s important not to touch the manta rays because they have a protective membrane that is very sensitive.
The tour guides will also provide floating devices for your feet so you can swim horizontally above the water giving the manta rays plenty of space underneath.
Looking for more travel inspiration? Be sure to check out some of our other popular Maui posts below:
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- 15 Best Places To Stay On The Big Island Of Hawaii
- 9 Of The Best Hikes In Maui, Hawaii For Visitors
- 10 Incredible VRBOs In Kihei On Maui’s Sunny South Shore
- 7 Best Mauna Kea Tours On The Big Island Of Hawaii
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