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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 10 August, 2023

Growing up to 9m wide, these elegant but harmless plankton feeders are a spellbinding sight for the diver. Hanifaru Bay, a huge lagoon on the Baa Atoll Hanifaru in the Maldives, has become renowned as a global manta ray hotspot.

Mantas gather here in their hundreds, along with whale sharks and other big pelagics, to engage in a feeding frenzy on the unusually-rich plankton blooms that appear here each year from June to October.

Diving is banned in Hanifaru Bay, but if ever you wanted to snorkel with mantas, this is just about as good as it gets.

Logistics

Price from: £200
Minimum age: 8
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around
Duration: 2-3 hours

Getting there & doing it

If you can afford it, stay at the nearby Four Seasons Resort at Landaa Giraavaru, a convenient 20-minute boat ride from Hanifaru Bay. The resort offers a ‘manta on call’ service, whereby guests sign up and are on standby for when mantas are spotted. They’ll then take you out to see them. Minimum age is 8 years, and the tour lasts about 2-3 hours.

Alternatively, one of the four other resorts in Baa Atoll also offer boat trips. If you’re not staying at a Hanifaru resort, you can join a liveaboard diving tour starting from Male that also take in Hanifaru Bay, as well as other top dive sites in Baa Atoll.

When to do it

January to May is the best time to visit the Maldives, but Mantas are only seen here between June and October, with the highest congregations in July and August – so it’s a trade-off.

Who to go with: tour operators

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Our writer’s recommended tour operators to book with

Dive Ocean at Dhuni Kolhu

Dive Ocean at Dhuni Kolhu

Dhuni Kolhu, Maldives

Well-regarded local company operating three dive centres in the Maldives. They offer PADI scuba tuition and daily dives including diving with manta rays.

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