Swim with a Manta Ray
They may look fearsome, but manta rays, known in Hawaiian as hahalua, are really quite tame.
Though related to sharks, these amazing sea creatures have no teeth and no tail stingers, making them harmless to humans but no less intriguing to watch.
Noted for its resident manta ray population, the Kona Coast is one of the best places in the world to get close to them. Many local diving and snorkeling companies conduct nighttime manta ray runs, or you can hope to catch a peek from the shore. The water off the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa is a regular feeding spot for manta rays, and a good place to see them onshore is from the lanai off the Crystal Blue cocktail lounge. The resort will turn on its outdoor lights when the manta rays appear.
Dive shop owners say manta rays can be found most days from as far north as waters off the Keahole-Kona International Airport to Keauhou Bay. Divers are instructed to stay near the bottom and snorkelers on the surface to allow the manta rays room to maneuver.
• Aloha Kayak Company (808) 322-2868 • Fair Wind Cruises (808) 345-0244 • Kamanu Charters (808) 329-2021 • Manta Ray Dives of Hawaii (808) 325-1687 • Neptune Charlies Ocean Safaris (808) 331-2184 • Ocean Eco Tours (808) 324-7873 • Sea Paradise (808) 322-2500 or (800) 322-5662 • Splasher’s Ocean Adventures (808) 326-4774 • SunLight on Water (808) 270-8765