Connect with us
background

Blogs

Top 20 places to go snorkeling with rays

Published

on

The world’s oceans are home to over 500 different ray species of all shapes and sizes. These close cousins to sharks are mesmerizing to swim with and leave a lasting impression upon anyone who swims with them. Whether you want to snorkel with huge mantas, spotted eagle rays, friendly stingrays or thousands of mobulas, you can. Read on to find out more.

Reef manta rays  

  1. Hanifaru Bay, Maldives

One of the most famous manta ray destinations of all, Hanifaru Bay is simply incredible. This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve hosts hundreds of feeding mantas from May to November each year and you can go snorkeling with them.

  1. Kona, Hawaii

Kona in Hawaii is one of the only places in the world where you go can night snorkeling (or night diving) with reef mantas. Lit up by the beam of you torch, you can watch the mantas feeding right in front of you. It is one of the best-loved highlights of any Kona scuba diving trip.

  1. Lady Elliot Island, Australia

Lady Elliot Island, known as the ‘home of the manta ray’, is a gorgeous island in the southernmost reaches of the Great Barrier Reef. It hosts manta rays year-round and offers snorkeling safaris to swim with mantas and explore the island’s coral reefs.

  1. Barefoot Manta Island, Fiji

Sitting just south of the Yasawa Islands, Barefoot Manta Island is renowned for its manta ray encounters and has some of Fiji’s best coral gardens. You can swim with mantas there for May to October each year.

Oceanic manta rays

  1. Komodo, Indonesia – manta point (both reef and giant) 

The Komodo National Park in Indonesia hosts both reef and giant mantas, which you can snorkel with at Manta Point. As well as mantas, Komodo has some of the world’s most diverse coral reefs and an endless list of incredible marine life to swim with.

  1. Mozambique (both reef and giant) – Tofo

Like Komodo, Mozambique’s waters are frequented by reef and giant mantas. These graceful rays visit Mozambique’s cleaning stations in numbers, where you can dive or snorkel with them. Tofo Beach in Mozambique is a great place to go snorkeling with both manta rays and whale sharks.  

Stingrays

  1. New Zealand

If you want to combine topside adventure activities with world-class subtropical snorkeling, visit New Zealand. The famous Poor Knights Islands are rated as one of the top 10 dive experiences in the world and offer snorkeling with huge stingrays and countless schooling fish.

  1. Stingray City, Cayman Islands

Stingray City is one of the world’s top places for snorkeling with stingrays. The calm clear waters of this lagoon host dozens of stingrays, which cruise along the white sand landscapes and are tolerant of people in the water.

  1. Moorea, French Polynesia

Moorea Lagoon in French Polynesia is known for its friendly stingrays. This idyllic lagoon also hosts reef sharks, and you can go swimming with humpback whales further offshore.

  1. Shark Ray Alley, Belize

The Hol Chan Marine Reserve has some of the best Belize diving and snorkeling opportunities. At Shark Ray Alley, you will find beautiful coral formations, plus numerous stingrays, nurse sharks and sea turtles.

  1. Egypt’s Red Sea

Egypt is a classic and affordable destination for snorkelers and divers alike, offering vibrant coral reefs busy with gorgeous blue spotted stingrays.

Spotted eagle rays

  1. French Polynesia

Bora Bora Lagoon and Moorea Lagoon in French Polynesia host plenty of spotted eagle rays, as does Fakarava Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This is one of the most romantic and beautiful destinations you will likely ever find.

  1. Egypt’s Red Sea

As well as hosting blue spotted stingrays in abundance, Egypt’s many house and offshore reefs also host spotted eagle rays. Simply grab your snorkel, walk off the beaches and start exploring.

  1. Félicité Island, Seychelles

The channel at Félicité Island hosts eagle rays year-round and is a gorgeous place to go snorkeling. If you don’t have any luck finding eagle rays there, the surround islands are some of the best places for spotting eagle rays in the Indian Ocean.

Guitarfish

  1. La Jolla Cove, USA

Shovelnose guitarfish are strange-looking rays that also look a bit like sharks. These curious creatures can be found among the rich kelp forests of La Jolla Cove in California, where you can also spot leopard sharks and sea lions.

  1. The Maldives

Bowmouth guitarfish are a type of ray found at the Maldives. Although they are not commonly seen, keep your eyes out for them whilst snorkeling there. Even if you don’t see a guitarfish, you’ll be exploring one of the best snorkeling destinations in the world.

  1. Ningaloo Reef, Australia

Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia is visited by an array of ocean giants, including whale sharks, humpback whales, mantas, dugong and more. There, you can also find Guitara the giant guitarfish. Much loved by locals, Guitara is comfortable with people in the water and comes over to check divers out.

Electric rays

  1. Egypt’s Red Sea

In case you need another reason to go snorkeling in Egypt, the rich waters there host adorable-looking leopard torpedo rays. These small and round electric rays are often spotted wriggling across the reefs as they go about their business.

  1. Channel Islands, USA

Pacific electric rays are only found in the coastal waters of the northeastern Pacific Ocean. You can find them at rocky reefs and kelp forests from Baja California up to British Columbia, though the Channel Islands are one of the best places to encounter them.

Mobula rays

  1. Baja California, Mexico

Last but by no means least, the Sea of Cortez is one of the best places to go Mexico diving and is renowned for its snorkeling with rays. This incredible destination hosts tens of thousands of mobula rays each year, which gather in huge groups to feed. Go snorkeling at Baja California to witness this true spectacle of nature.


Kathryn Curzon, a shark conservationist and dive travel writer for Scuba Schools International (SSI), wrote this article.

Scuba Schools International (SSI) is the largest professional business-based training agency in the world. For over 50 years now, SSI has provided the ultimate training experience for millions of certified divers, not only in Recreational Scuba, but in every training category; Freediving, Extended Range, Rebreather Diving, Mermaid, Swim and Lifeguard.

Continue Reading
Comments

Blogs

12 Top Places to Snorkel with Dolphins

Published

on

Not many experiences can match the sheer joy and fun of swimming with dolphins. These intelligent and playful creatures have captivated humans for generations with their acrobatics and friendly natures. There are numerous places where you can snorkel with dolphins and see what all the fuss is about. Whether you are looking for somewhere close to home for the whole family or an exotic getaway with idyllic snorkeling spots, we’ve got you covered in our round-up of the top places to snorkel with dolphins.

  1. Egypt

Egypt is known for its aquarium-like house reefs just a few steps from the shore, world-famous wrecks and exciting offshore reef dives. For the best opportunity to snorkel with dolphins, head to the Southern Red Sea.

Samadai (Dolphin House) reef at Marsa Alam is a sheltered horseshoe-shaped reef famous for its population of spinner dolphins. It is also close to the best snorkeling and diving in Marsa Alam.

Species: Spinner dolphins, bottlenose and Risso’s.


  1. The Bahamas

With numerous corals cays to choose from, you are spoilt for choice when visiting the Bahamas. There are plenty of places where you can encounter dolphins but the best places to spot them are Bimini and Grand Bahama.  There are several resident pods present year-round there.

Species: Atlantic spotted, spinner, bottlenose and striped.


  1. The Azores

The Azores is one of the world’s leading whale and dolphin watching destinations. In the bright blue waters of these volcanic islands, you can swim with up to 5 different dolphin species, plus blue sharks, mantas and mobula rays.

Species: Atlantic spotted, bottlenose, striped, Risso’s and common.


  1. Madeira

Along with the Azores, diving in Madeira is one of Portugal’s top attractions. Known as the ‘Pearl of the Atlantic’, this subtropical archipelago has thriving reefs, deep wrecks, and is visited by 26 species of whales and dolphins.

You can swim with playful schools of wild dolphins year-round at Madeira. With some of the cleanest and clearest waters in the world, it is an unforgettable experience.

Species: Common, spotted.


  1. New Zealand

New Zealand has no less than 4 destinations where you can swim with dolphins and hosts 9 different dolphin species.

The popular Bay of Plenty offers dolphin swim safaris, and the rich waters there also host seals, whales, sunfish and sea turtles.  Go swimming with up to five different dolphin species in the forest-draped Marlborough Sounds or swim with dusky dolphins in the shadow of  Kaikoura’s rugged mountains.

For the ultimate dolphin experience, go swimming with Hector’s dolphins at the pretty coastal town Akaroa. These adorable dolphins are the smallest in the world.

Species: Common, dusky, bottlenose, Hector’s.


  1. Australia

Australia offers accessible swimming with dolphins on the doorsteps of its best-known cities.

Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park, just 2.5 hours’ drive north of Sydney, offers dolphin swimming tours with common and bottlenose dolphins. Port Phillip Bay near Melbourne hosts resident bottlenose dolphins that often approach people in the water.

You can hang out with playful bottlenose and common dolphins at Glenelg near Adelaide, or head to Perth in Western Australia to swim with the local dolphins of Shoalwater Islands Marine Park.

Species: Common, bottlenose.


  1. Hawaii

Hawaii hosts an impressive array of marine life, with 25 per cent of its species found nowhere else on Earth. Its underwater treasures and lava landscapes draw people to Hawaii scuba diving every year.

Head to Oahu or Big Island to find dolphins along the coastline or join a dolphin swimming tour. Make sure you book with a Dolphin SMART operator and leave plenty of time to explore Oahu’s many top places to spot Hawaiian green sea turtles as well.

Species: Spinner, bottlenose, spotted.


  1. Fiji

Fiji’s rainbow-hued reefs and 300 or so idyllic islands are perfect for snorkeling adventures in search of dolphins.

Both spinner and bottlenose dolphins are found in Fiji’s warm waters and some resorts have resident dolphin pods just offshore. There are various tours you can join to swim with the dolphins, so just ask at your local Fiji dive center to find out more.

Species: Bottlenose, spinner.


  1. The Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands sit at the top of many divers wish lists and understandably so. These wild islands offer unparalleled wildlife watching opportunities above and below water.

Diving with sharks, rays, penguins, marine iguanas, sea lions and countless fish is the norm at this UNESCO World Heritage site. Dolphins are also often seen in the water, with both bottlenose and common dolphins resident all year. Fernandina Island is one of the top places to spot them.

Species: Bottlenose, common.


  1. French Polynesia

French Polynesia’s rich marine ecosystems, which include a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the second-largest atoll in the world, are teeming with marine life, including dolphins.

From November to mid-July, large pods of spinner dolphins are found along Moorea Island’s coastline. Join a boat tour to swim with the dolphins then head to Moorea Lagoon to meet the resident stingrays and reef sharks this picture-perfect location is known for.

Species: Spinner.


  1. South Africa

To witness one of the world’s true spectacles, visit South Africa during the sardine run. Billions of sardines migrate along the coast of South Africa every year, attracting countless diving sea birds, dolphins, whales and sharks.

Drop into the water amongst the sardines and you can watch the pelagic action unfold, with hunting dolphins working together to make the most of this awe-inspiring feast.

Species: Bottlenose, common.


  1. Brazil

Fernando de Noronha in Brazil is a diving mecca that hosts some of Brazil’s best beaches and snorkeling opportunities.

Sea turtles, reef sharks, rays and dolphins gather in the clear, warm waters around this archipelago of 21 volcanic islands. At the aptly-named Dolphin Bay, hundreds of spinner dolphins gather daily to feed on the fish and socialize. Watch these acrobatic dolphins from the shoreline or join a tour to swim with them.

Species: Spinner.


Kathryn Curzon, a shark conservationist and dive travel writer for Scuba Schools International (SSI), wrote this article.

Continue Reading

Blogs

10 Great Coral Reef Destinations for Every Snorkeler

Published

on

There is nothing like drifting over a coral reef, watching vibrant fish life and thriving corals as the sun shines overhead. If you’re lucky, you might spot a passing sea turtle, manta ray or even a whale shark whilst you explore. Reef snorkeling is simply one of the best experiences and you don’t need to travel far to try it.

Whether you’re looking for an affordable destination close to home, a family-friendly trip, an idyllic island getaway, or a touch of luxury, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our pick of 10 great coral reef destinations for every snorkeler to enjoy.

Family-friendly coral reef destinations

  • Easily accessible.
  • Year-round sunshine.
  • Plenty of facilities and entertainment for families.
  1. Egypt

Egypt is a classic family destination that offers clear blue waters teeming with life. There are dozens of snorkeling spots just off Egypt’s beaches, especially at bustling Sharm El Sheikh. Snorkeling there is like swimming in an aquarium, and it is a perfect for adults and kids of all ages.

For a more laid-back vibe, head south to Marsa Alam. This small resort town is renowned for its sandy beaches and coral reefs. That said, the real highlight there is snorkeling with large families of spinner dolphins, dugongs and sea turtles.

  1. Australia

Australia might be further afield than Egypt for many people, but the big marine life and year-round sunshine make it hard to beat.

Take a trip to Cairns and you can visit two UNESCO World Heritage sites at one place: the enormous Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Daintree Rainforest. As well as plenty of smaller reef life, the Great Barrier Reef hosts reef sharks galore, plus dwarf minke whales and humpback whales in winter.

Love whale sharks? Head west and to snorkel with these spotty giants at Ningaloo Reef and explore the remarkable UNESCO-listed Ningaloo Coast.

Luxurious coral reef destinations

  • Romantic settings.
  • Luxurious accommodation options.
  • Combine world-class reef snorkeling and relaxation.
  1. Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Sitting in the heart of the Coral Triangle, Raja Ampat has some of the highest marine biodiversity in the world. There are numerous manta rays, whale sharks and pastel-hued soft corals, putting diving in Raja Ampat at the top of many wish lists. These stunning islands are best enjoyed by hopping on a Raja Ampat cruise.

  1. Wakatobi, Indonesia

If you want to indulge in a luxury getaway and explore coral reefs that few people visit, go to Wakatobi. There you will find palm-fringed islands washed by azure waters with almost no other people in sight.

Underwater, Wakatobi is known for having huge sponges and corals that are busy with prized Coral Triangle critters. There are healthy seagrass beds with plenty of juvenile green sea turtles and you can spot Hawksbill turtles on the reefs.

  1. The Maldives

The Maldives is what luxury getaways are all about. Picture-perfect islands, warm waters, soft white sands and fantastic food. All with a generous helping of excellent snorkeling just a few paces off the shore.

Whether you hop on a day-boat to the outer reefs or explore around your resort’s house reef, snorkeling and diving in the Maldives are hard to beat. You can swim with whale sharks, hang out with hundreds of mantas at Hanifaru Bay, or simply enjoy a cocktail whilst the sun goes down.

Idyllic island destinations

  • Perfect for island-hopping adventures.
  • Tropical destinations far from daily life.
  • Easy snorkeling at some of the world’s best reefs.
  1. Fiji

Fiji is known as the ‘soft coral capital of the world’ and doesn’t disappoint. The reefs at this welcoming destination are swathed in vivid soft corals in just about every color you can imagine.

As well as eye-popping reefs, Fiji has fantastic seasonal marine life, including plenty of whales during winter and large pelagic fish. Go island hopping to swim with mantas or become a certified diver to join Fiji’s famous bull shark dive. The choice is entirely yours.

  1. The Solomon Islands

 The Solomon Islands offer some of the finest snorkeling in the South Pacific, if not the world. Whilst there are numerous destinations to choose from at these volcanic islands, don’t miss Marovo Lagoon.

It is the world’s largest saltwater lagoon and is dotted with hundreds of jungle-clad islands, many of which are uninhabited. The waters are calm, and the reefs are thriving; with huge sea fans, countless reef fish, shallow shipwrecks and stunning coral gardens

Coral reefs off the beaten path

  • Great for adventurous travelers and experienced snorkelers.
  • Go the distance and enjoy the rewards.
  • Few other tourists in sight.
  1. Sipadan Island, Borneo

Sipadan Island was formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcano and offers fantastic snorkeling thanks to the deep-water currents that bring up nutrients to the reef.

There you will find mesmerizing underwater landscapes with around 600 species of coral and 1200 fish species. There are huge schools of barracuda, plus parrotfish, reef sharks, tiny critters tucked among the corals, and abundant sea turtles.

  1. Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is well off the tourist trail. But if you don’t mind the travel time, you can snorkel among untouched reefs and immerse in a tribal culture like no other.

With over 600 islands, there are numerous destinations to choose from in PNG. Kimbe Bay was voted as one of the world’s most beautiful reefs by National Geographic. Take a trip to Tufi and you can snorkel in the shadow of dramatic fjords and experience PNG’s incredible marine diversity.

  1. The Marshall Islands

With around 5000 visitors a year, the Marshall Islands are one of the world’s least-visited countries. Don’t expect to go there and find endless restaurants and resorts. Instead, you will find friendly locals and vibrant reefs that few people ever get to see.

Even better, the Marshall Islands has been home to the world’s largest shark sanctuary since 2011 and this island nation continues to be committed to ocean conservation. Go there before the rest of the world finds out.


Kathryn Curzon, a shark conservationist and dive travel writer for Scuba Schools International (SSI), wrote this article.

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!

Competitions

Facebook Feed

Facebook Pagelike Widget

Popular