Arriving from June to November on a combination of south-western monsoon currents and lunar tides, the waters of the pristine Baa Atoll in the Maldives becomes rich with planktonic shrimp. A delicacy for manta rays – and whale sharks, the world’s biggest fish – this is the ideal time to dive and snorkel in hopes of meeting these majestic sea creatures in their natural habitat, attracted by the opportunity to feast on the plankton.
Making the experience even more thrilling is the curious nature of manta rays – the animals are highly intelligent thanks to boasting one of the largest comparable brain sizes of any marine animal. Dive in and be prepared for what could be some very up-close-and-personal encounters that will not be soon forgotten.
Luxury resorts in the atoll are here to help guests get up-close-and personal experiences with the mantas, with special services and excursions tailored especially for guests arriving in hopes of a once-in-a-lifetime swim alongside them. Destinations such as Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, Soneva Fushi, and Milaidhoo offer regular excursions throughout the season to Hanifaru Bay – where you’ll have the chance to ogle the world’s largest grouping of manta rays. But for the most serious manta-seeker, Amilla Fushi, Finolhu, and Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru go above and beyond with services such as the “Manta Phone”.
At sister resorts Amilla Fushi and Finolhu, “Manta Adventure” excursions run from Home of the Underwater Biosphere (HUB) to catch the graceful giants at Hanifaru Bay – along with a number of other water-based activities to enjoy beyond the manta sightings. Including guided excursions to the house reef, seabobs and private charter vessels, there are ample ways to explore and every activity has been vetted by resident marine biologists to ensure the safety of the environment. A “Manta-On-Call” hotline is also available to guests, and those who sign up will be privy to spontaneous outings organised during sightings for an even better chance at that up-close-and-personal experience.
Guests can also lounge without worry of missing the rays at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, thanks to a rather 007-sounding “Manta Phone”. Once notified of a sighting on the phone, you’ll immediately be collected from wherever you are in the resort and whisked away to where the mantas have been spotted. The resort also offers a “Manta Watch!” package (available June 7-November 21, 2017) to enhance the overall manta and marine experience, which includes a four-night stay with a Manta-On-Call speedboat trip to snorkel with mass gatherings of manta rays and whale sharks; a unique experience with the Maldives’ only full-time manta-ray research project; the chance to swim with dolphins and turtles in the resort’s two-kilometre lagoon; and the opportunity to help the resort’s Reefscapers team turn previously empty reef flats into thriving coral ecosystems.
Whether going all-in with Four Seasons’ comprehensive manta- and marine-experience package or simply shacking up in lavish surroundings and hopping on a regularly scheduled excursion to Hanifaru Bay, there’s little question that now is the time to head to the Maldives if sharing a swim with a manta ray has ever been on your bucket list.