is most definitely one of the absolutely most incredible and surreal experiences of my life. I cannot believe that I almost didn't come over to the big island to do this dive. It is rated one of the 10 best dives in the world, and I cannot imagine something more impressive and awe-inspiring. It has been two days since the dive, and I am still mesmerized when I even begin to think about it.
We did a dive in the late afternoon, before the sunset, and saw two mantas then. I cannot fully describe how incredibly peaceful and graceful and huge they are. The two we saw then were about 10 feet in diameter, or wingspan. They just effortlessly glide along, flapping their wings as if they are flying. They are filter feeders that eat plankton and I think I probably almost forgot to breathe for a second or two when I saw the first one. Then we came up to the boat, munched on some food and waited for the sun to set before gearing up again and jumping back into the dark water. One of the most amazing things was that because there were so many divers in the water (about 50, all with a light of his/her own) it was really like stepping into a sci-fi movie...kind of like the abyss. The thing is, each diver has a light and you go down about 10 meters and sit on the bottom and shine your light up, while any snorkelers (about 30 of them) all float on the surface and shine their lights down. These powerful LED lights illuminate the plankton that the mantas feed on. So you go down, get settled and suddenly just inches above your head are these massive mantas, feeding, swimming turning, doing backflips, all in what seems like slow motion and right in front of you. We saw 5 mantas, although I would have counted about 15 if it had been up to me! They were all males and the biggest one we saw had about a 15 foot wingspan. All swirling just above my head. Apparently the females can be much bigger and one night last summer there were a total of 36 mantas that showed up one night. I can't even imagine what that would have been like. Since the divers are all in a circle with a box of lights in the middle, the mantas swim in and out and around of the circle the whole time, putting on quite a show. All I could think about was how incredibly lucky I am. Undoubtedly, it was one of the most magnificent experiences of my life. It was absolute beauty, in front of my eyes, for 45 minutes.
So I continue to be amazed by this little planet. If you want to check out a bit of what I saw you can do a search on youtube for "manta night dive hawaii" and you'll get a little bit of an idea. :) Then you should definitely book a ticket to the big island and do the dive or snorkel trip yourself. Just do it. I promise you will not regret it.