Monday, July 3, 2017

hawaiian honeymoon: snorkeling with manta rays

by now you may have read a couple of posts about our honeymoon trip to kauai and the big island. when stephen and I were first planning our honeymoon, we were thinking italy or greece and we contacted a travel agent to start the process. after speaking with the agent, we decided an international trip was too much of an effort to make after our destination wedding and we decided on hawaii. we also decided that we didn't need a travel agent to plan hawaii. stephen happened to work with someone who recently took a hawaiian honeymoon and had worked with a travel agent. luckily, she was happy to forward her itinerary to us and so we were able to see some of the activities that the travel agent booked, including a manta ray night snorkel. stephen's coworker said the manta ray night snorkel was hands-down the best activity they did on their honeymoon, so we knew we had to sign up... even though I didn't really know what I was getting myself into!

we reported to the fairwind's boat dock just before sunset and got suited up into wet suits. then we boarded the boat and made sure our snorkels and fins fit.

ok, this is a terrible picture below but at least you get the gist of how this all worked right? we took the boat out just a short distance from shore and the tour leads jumped in the water with bright lights to attract plankton. manta rays eat plankton, and a lot of it! believe it or not, this is the only place on the island that these manta ray tours happen and they happen basically every night, depending on weather. back in the 1980s, the hotel on the property decided to install huge lights on the shore so that the ocean would be visible to guests at night. these lights also resulted in the attraction of a huge manta ray population. the rest is history!

we all jumped in with pool noodles. we grabbed a hold of the light board and then positioned our pool noodles below our knees or ankles to keep our bodies parallel with the water. it's very important to not disturb the manta rays by touching or accidentally kicking them.

after about ten minutes of holding on this board in the middle of the ocean, thinking "maybe I'm an idiot and this is a scam"... manta rays came! it just like that, it was all worth it. I will admit it was quite crazy to have a huge manta ray with its mouth open coming right at you, but manta rays are totally harmless, gentle, gracious creatures. their tails are completely harmless and don't have barbs like sting rays do.

when a manta ray has spots like this on its back, it means she's a female.

you can also see all the specks in the water, this is the plankton which attract the manta rays. I can't imagine how much plankton ended up in my hair haha!

at the end of our tour, we got back on the boat for warm snacks including hot chocolate and corn chowder. if you go to hawaii, I highly recommend this tour (we booked through viator) - just make sure to take dramamine before if you are prone to seasickness. I also wore my sea bands. you don't realize it while snorkeling but once we all got back on the boat, there were several people that were not feeling well. luckily, it's a just a short trip from the dock.

would you ever swim with manta rays? what's the biggest animal that you've been close to? I would love to snorkel with sea turtles, but I don't think I'd want to be close to sharks!


  1. When we were in Grand Cayman a couple of years ago we swam with the stingrays and it was one of the coolest experiences ever! I would definitely swim with the manta rays when we make it back to Hawaii!

  2. This looks absolutely amazing! I have always wanted to do a trip like this and maybe swim with dolphins or something, but the manta rays look absolutely beautiful!

    xoxo, SS

  3. What an AWESOME memory and a cool thing to do on your honeymoon!

    ​xx katie // a touch of teal

  4. That must have been such a good experience! Loved the photos!

    Have an awesome day!
    xx, Kris

  5. Oh my gosh!! This looks so otherworldly and mesmerizing. What a cool experience to bond over!

  6. Whooooaaa what an amazing experience! I am insanely jealous over here! Would never have known that spots on the bottom mean that it's a girl! Btw I doubt you could go wrong with Hawaii (even if you were aiming for Greece and Italy!) Omg I am so happy that you and your hubby had an adventurous honeymoon!