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Best Places to See Manta Rays in Kona

Manta Ray with SCUBA diver in distance in Hawaii

Located on the west coast of Hawaii island (the Big Island), Kailua-Kona is a town full of life and beauty. From the previously royal vacation home, Hulihee Palace, to Mokuaikaua Church, Hawaii’s oldest Christian establishment, Kona boasts both historic appeal and is a perfect location for a relaxing vacation on a tropical island. Kona is also a prime destination for manta ray encounters, and the best way to see one of Hawaii’s staple species’ of marine life is through guided snorkel and SCUBA tours. Kona Ocean Adventures offers highly rated guided tours of the best spots in Hawaii to see manta rays tailored to your liking. Here are some of the best places to go to see giant manta rays in Kona, HI:

1. Manta Ray Village

Manta Ray Village became a feeding ground for manta rays in 1970 when the Kona Surf Hotel opened, installing bright floodlights underwater so visitors could enjoy a dramatic ocean view at night. These same floodlights attracted plankton to the area, and subsequently, giant manta rays began to flock, creating a perfect opportunity for guided SCUBA and snorkel tours. The sightings of giant manta rays in Manta Ray Village are consistent and predictable—it’s an ideal spot for witnessing the giant manta rays feed and play.

2. Garden Eel Cove/Manta Heaven

With its relatively peaceful shoreline and warm temperatures, Garden Eel Cove, located in Kalaoa, is renowned for diving with giant manta rays. It’s named Garden Eel Cove due to the garden eels living in the sand at 80 feet, and it also happens to be the most popular of the three manta ray viewing sites on the Big Island. Not only are manta rays sightings possible here, but you might also encounter whales, dolphins, and monk seals during the day. Especially if you’re planning to snorkel or SCUBA dive, manta rays won’t be your only interaction with marine life here.

3. Keauhou Bay

The Sheraton Kona Resort overlooks the temperate waters of Keauhou Bay, the dedicated historic district south of the Big Island. Keauhou translates to “the new area,” though it’s anything but; it was the birthplace of the longest reigning Hawaiian monarch, King Kamehameha III, who died in 1854. A restored temple commemorates his leadership near the shoreline, where secluded beaches make the perfect conditions for snorkeling and seeing manta rays.

These three areas in Kona are the best and most reliable options for a guaranteed sighting of manta rays and other marine life in the wild. With a guided snorkeling or SCUBA tour, visitors are the most likely to see these ocean creatures, paired with the correct safety precautions for the safest experience possible. Local expertise and guidance will add to the overall ease of access and learning experience—tours can enhance the experience with additional insights and equipment and, again, the correct safety precautions at your convenience.

Experience a Manta Ray Adventure with Us Today!

Kona Ocean Adventures is a great choice for a guided experience, with options ranging from four to six hours of diving and complimentary refreshments included. Sunset and moonlit dives are offered; both are beautiful backgrounds for seeing the manta rays in their natural habitat. Whatever you decide to do, Kona Ocean Adventures will facilitate your vacation or excursion in Hawaii!