After living in the Hawaiian Islands for almost two years, I finally made it to the Big Island of Hawaii. Not only did I get to check Big Island off my bucket list of destinations, but I also did one of the best night dives in the world, Night Manta Ray Dive Big Island, Hawaii.
As we set out with Big Island Divers, the sun was setting. From the mooring spot, I tugged on my wetsuit trying to get a glimpse of the famous Green Flash, which still remains elusive to me. Although I had recently done two dives on Kauai, I was not yet accustomed to the rough seas and cold water. Nervous about my first night dive, I held on to my flashlight, took a deep breath from my regulator, and jumped in. Yikes!
Little did I know that the dive would be a breeze in comparison to my seventy-five-foot wreck dive in Fort Lauderdale and the previous two sixty-foot dives in Kauai. Within minutes, I descended the rope thirty-five to forty feet. Both my PIC (Partner In Crime) and I swam with our divemaster, Sam, to the center stage. We positioned ourselves as close to the "campfires" that had been placed in advance. These were bundles of three or more flashlights that would attract the plankton for the manta ray mass feeding. This coupled with the groups of snorkelers at the surface made it seem like I was at a Friday night high school football game. (In hindsight, I don't know why I was so anxious about not being able to see.)
Then, the fun began. As I witnessed my first manta ray with its mouth wide open circling above a bundle of flashlights, it was a combination of the fear of the unknown and beauty. They aren't dangerous as they don't have teeth, but they sure look like monsters. Gripping onto a rock beside me and my PIC's hand, I settled into my role. I was part of the audience, witnessing a manta ray ballet. Like a troupe of professional dancers, over a dozen manta rays ranging in sizes from six to twelve feet across circled over and around us. They certainly weren't afraid of us. A friendly manta nearly grazed my PIC's head.
Although I can describe what I witnessed, a professional videographer of Manta Ray Advocates Hawaii filmed our night dive. Please enjoy my shortened video of our night manta ray dive.
Wasn't that absolutely amazing?
I stayed in awe of the gentle giants for a little over a half-hour. I wasn't worried about my second book's deadline with my publisher nor my other to-dos, I was in the moment, one breath at a time amongst dancing marine ballerinas.
Although I'm always great on my air supply diving, I started to get cold, in spite of using my Bond girl hoodie (turquoise and speckled so that you can pick me out of a line-up). Many of the snorkelers quickly came aboard with me and within another ten minutes my PIC as well.
My recommendations for divers and snorkelers:
1) Make your reservation in advance as this the number one activity on Big Island.
2) Take a refresher course and dive during the day before attempting. This goes for snorkelers as well. Test out some equipment during the day for a beach snorkel.
3) Eat light and use a motion sickness remedy (ginger tablets, motion-eaze, Dramamine , etc).
4) Wear a wetsuit and ask for a hood. The water temp is chilly.
5) Bring warm clothes for the half-hour ride back to the harbor.
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