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Last updated on September 4, 2023
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 the 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 manta rays gather in large numbers in the region, attracted by the nutrient-rich currents.
Manta Ray Passage is the name given to the channel that separates the north tip of Drawaqa island and the south-western extremity of Naviti Island, in the Yasawa archipelago.
This site is known for the almost daily visits of many manta rays, between May and October, especially at the turn of the tide. They come to feed in the plankton-rich current, formed between the two islands.
In order to set off to a manta ray encounter, the most comfortable solution is to stay at Barefoot Manta Island (on Drawaqa Island) or Mantaray Island Resort (on Nanuya Balavu Island), the two closest hotels to the spot (less than 5 minutes by boat). These hotels are first to be informed of the presence of manta rays in the passage and can dispatch their boats at the right time.
The price of a boat trip is around FJD 65/person. Other nearby hotels, especially Botaira Resort and Paradise Cove, as well as the small village of Soso (on Naviti island) are also good starting points for snorkeling trips to the passage.
You get into the water from a boat, after having spotted the manta rays at the surface. The passage is about 350m wide and, due to the sometimes strong currents formed within, swimming to the passage from the shore is prohibited.
The snorkeling area covers the whole passage, about 350m wide. The seabed is covered in stony corals oxygenated by the currents, around which gravitate blue tangs, damsels and surgeonfish. The water depth does not exceed 10 to 13ft (3 to 4m) on a large section of the area, except for the centre of the passage, where there is a deeper channel (↕20-25ft/6-8m).
The manta rays which visit the passage are reef manta rays, and can reach a span of 3 to 5m. They swim alone or in groups of up to 4 or 5 individuals, in the deeper areas, as well as right below the surface of the water.
Accompanying the manta rays in their graceful swim is an incredible experience. They seem to “fly” majestically flapping their wings in the crystal waters of the Pacific. Some of them perform underwater “loopings”, by filtering the water with their gill slits in order to extract the plankton and other microscopic animals they feed on. Most of the manta rays do not seem to be bothered by the presence of snorkelers and can be easily approached.
Manta Ray Passage is one of the best spots in Fiji for swimming with the manta rays. Nevertheless, they are wild animals and there might be cases when no manta ray visits the passage for days, even in high season. Some trip organizers propose a second outing to the spot, free of charge if no manta rays could be seen during the first visit.
Several hotels can be found close to Manta Ray Passage, especially Barefoot Manta Island (facing the passage), Mantaray Island Resort (1.5km from the spot), Paradise Cove and Botaira Resort (both of them at approx. 4km by boat from the passage).
Have a look at these manta rays 👇 shot in Manta Ray Passage by pcamus.
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.
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