With their flat bodies and their gills shaped like wings, rays are the “birds” of the sea. Dozens of species populate the world’s seas and oceans. The biggest of them, the manta ray, is completely harmless and can have a span of up to 9 meters. Snorkelers can observe these majestic fish in many different places in the world, and sometimes very close up. Check out our top 10 snorkeling spots to swim with rays!
Swimming with manta rays is one of the top activities in Maupiti, a lush island of French Polynesia. Rays gather in large numbers in the lagoon around the Cleaning Station, where they get rid of their parasites by small fish. A not-to-be-missed boat tour if you are visiting the island!
Do you feel like swimming in a channel with crystal water in the middle of a ballet of huge manta rays? At Manta Ray Passage, in Yasawa islands, this dream shared by many snorkelers becomes reality. This narrow and shallow passage is one of the best spots in Fiji for swimming with these magical creatures right below the surface. Plan a visit between May and October, when the mantas gather in large numbers in the region, attracted by the nutrient-rich currents.
Lady Elliot Island, known the world over as « the home of the manta ray », is a coral cay located at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. The reef fringing the western side of the island is visited by manta rays, making it one of the best locations in Australia to spot them.
Shark Ray Alley is well named: a non-stop procession of southern stingrays and nurse sharks awaits you at the most popular spot in Belize. You can also find stingrays and eagle rays at Hol Chan Cut. If you’re staying in Caye Caulker, you might like to know that this small island also has its very own Shark Ray Alley, which is less busy.
The channel of Félicité Island, in Seychelles, is a refuge for spotted eagle rays, which are always found there. Waters that surround La Digue and its neighboring islets are amongst the best in the Indian Ocean to see spotted eagle rays. If you are in La Digue and if you don’t take the tour to Félicité, you can try your luck at Anse Sévère or Anse Patate.
The question you can ask yourself before starting your snorkeling session in Velidhu is not whether you will see any rays, but rather which ones you’ll see. A spotted eagle ray? A bluespotted ribbontail ray? Or –a dream for many of us– a majestic manta ray? All three, perhaps!
When you arrive by kayak in Sharks Sandbank, you first see the fins of the blacktip reef sharks breaking through the surface of the water. But underwater, you can spot many pink whiprays too! Stingrays are also numerous and friendly in Motu Fareone, located only a few hundred meters from the Sharks Sandbank.
Petite Terre is a jewel bathed by the Caribbean Sea, not far from Guadeloupe. In the channel separating the islets, you will have no trouble finding spotted eagle rays, southern stingrays and roughtail stingrays.
The snorkeling tour to Stingray City is the most popular in the Cayman Islands. Here you can swim and interact with southern and roughtail stingrays, which will even come to your arms, searching for food. Rays feeding is controversial, but this spot is still a great chance to encounter stingrays.
Accessible only by the sea, St Anne Marine Park provides a unique concentration of underwater ecosystems. It protects coral gardens, but also one of the largest areas of seagrass meadows in the granitic bank of Seychelles. In the warm waters surrounding the islands, snorkelers can encounter manta rays, which are regular visitors to the area from April to December.
Fascinated by rays?
➡ Check out our rays species online identification guide
➡ Discover our selection of fish ID books
This top10 has been selected only from the +380 locations already on our map. If you know a snorkeling spot that is not yet on the map, send us your report and it may be selected to appear on this page!
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