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Last updated on May 24, 2023
Swimming with manta rays is one of the top activities on Maupiti Island. These majestic fish gather in large 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!
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.
You will get in the water from your boat. Follow your guide’s instructions.
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 relationship between species is a win-win relationship: manta rays get their itchy parasites removed, and wrasses get their meal home-delivered.
The manta ray station encompasses several areas of variable depth (6 to 30ft/2 to 10m). In the shallowest areas, it is forbidden to skin-dive (stay on the surface) to avoid disturbing the rays.
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. If you do so, you will remove the mucus coating on their bodies which protects them from bacteria.
There are around ten pensions (guesthouses) and a campsite in Maupiti. Some day tours include lunch on a motu (inquire when booking).
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Tahiti and the Society Islands
Drift snorkeling in a shallow channel with coral and reef fish
Reef drop-off visited by Manta rays
Free shore access
Sandbanks and coral patches with rays and reef fish
Free shore access
Shallow lagoon with coral patches and reef fish
Patch reef with coral and reef fish