JAKARTA - The manta ray is one of most-exotic marine creatures, capturing the heart of divers with its gentle, elegant ocean dance and gigantic flat shape.
Unlike the grey sting rays which always sit on the bottom of sea and have a poisonous tail, manta rays are harmless, playful and not afraid to approach divers.
As an archipelago with rich marine life, Indonesia is a sanctuary for manta rays. The country made an official statement in 2014 announcing it would protect the fish to attract tourists.
There are several areas where this giant fish can be seen in Indonesia, and here are those places.
Manta Point, Nusa Penida, Bali
Manta Point is the manta rays’ favorite cleaning station, a spot where the marine creatures can swim near the reef and let wrasses clean them from parasites. Often coming in groups, they swim very close to the surface and are even visible to snorkelers.
Unfortunately, the visibility in Manta Point isn’t really that good. On brighter days, you can clearly see them from afar, but most of the time visibility is only around 10-15 meters.
The spot can be reach by taking a local fishing boat from Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan island, or by arranging a trip with one of the diving operators on the Bali mainland.
Aside from manta rays, divers also have a chance to see mola mola fish between July and August here.
Karang Makassar, Komodo Islands, East Nusa Tenggara
Take a liveaboard, or make a long trip in a fishing boat to Karang Makassar, the manta ray diving spot of choice near the Komodo Islands, famous as the home of the rare giant lizard, the Komodo dragon. It is also known to have islets with scenic hills, and amazing coral and marine life, including Karang Makassar.
Aside from manta rays, divers can also spot colorful tropical fish such as bumphead parrotfish and eagle rays. Just be careful, as the current here is quite strong, so don’t stray too far from the boat.
Alor, East Nusa Tenggara
Dive Report said that any manta rays encountered by divers in Alor were purely by chance, although they might appear from mid March until mid January.
No worries though, as you have higher chance of encountering other exotic sea animals including a school of hammerhead sharks and even the rare mola mola fish. No wonder Alor is often referred to have a world-class diving site.
Manta Ridge, Raja Ampat, Papua
One of Indonesia’s hottest diving spots, Raja Ampat, in the easternmost province of Papua, lures avid divers and ocean lovers with its stunning landscape and rich marine life including giant sea creatures like manta rays, whalesharks and pristine coral reef.
The site consists of four islets: Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo, hence why it is named Raja Ampat (Four Kings).
Manta rays are sometimes visible in the surrounding area, but one has a higher chance to spotting them in the central region.
In a spot called ‘Manta Ridge’, you’re likely to see up to 30 mantas during your dive.