Swimming with manta rays is the top activity in Maupiti Island. Rays are gathering in numbers in the lagoon, around a “cleaning station” where they get cleaned by small fish. A not-to-be-missed boat tour if you are visiting the island!

View of Maupiti lagoon and Motu Pitiahe
View of Maupiti lagoon and Motu Pitiahe

How to get to the manta ray cleaning station?

The manta ray station is located near Maupiti’s south pass (aka Onoiau Pass), opposite Motu Pitiahe. Almost all the guesthouses on the island can organize a boat trip (full day or half day) to take you to the cleaning station for snorkeling with the mantas.

Manta ray cleaning station snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling with manta rays

You will get in the water from your boat. Follow your guide’s instructions.

Snorkeling with manta rays at the cleaning station

This spot is a “cleaning station”, a location where the mantas come to get their skin, gills and teeth cleaned by small cleaner wrasse. Mantas visit these cleaning stations daily and can be seen here for hours, sometimes even waiting in line for their turn. The wrasses are living around the small isolated coral patches found in the middle of the sandy bottoms. This symbiotic relation between species is a win-win relationship: manta rays get their itchy parasites removed, and wrasses get their meal home-delivered.

Manta ray at Maupiti's cleaning station
Manta rays come close to the coral patches where the small cleaner wrasse live.

The manta ray station encompasses several areas of variable depth (6 to 30ft/2 to 10m). In the shallowest areas, it is forbidden to skindive (stay on the surface) to avoid the rays to be disturbed. Swimming with manta rays, harmless and graceful fish that can reach 3 to 4m in wingspan, is an unforgettable experience. However, never touch them, even if they come close to you (you will remove the protective mucus coating on their bodies, which protects them from bacteria).

Snorkeling with manta rays in Maupiti
Some areas of the station are shallow, and allow snorkelers to easily spot the mantas from the surface.

Accommodation nearby

There are around ten pensions (guesthouses) and a campsite in Maupiti. Some day tours include lunch on a motu (inquire when booking).

 

  • Level required Intermediary
  • Maximum depth30ft/10m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour price

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.