During our most recent trip to Indonesia we decided it’s finally time to see the famous Komodo dragons in Komodo National Park. As this is considered one of the new 7 wonders of the world, and since we were already going to be in Indonesia, we figured we might as well go. I’ll say right now that the experience seeing the dragons is awesome and if you want more info about that you can read my article How To Visit Komodo National Park (KNP). That being said, this article is about the Manta Rays in Komodo National Park, which may have been even more amazing.
While we went swimming with manta rays as part of our one day speedboat trip around KNP, there are a couple ways you can see them. I recommend making your way to Labuan Bajo to start with because from there you will have a ton of options to do different activities.
Once in Labuan Bajo you can find a slow or fast boat that you can pay to take you to Manta Point, which is a bit north-east of Komodo Island. Prices are subject to fluctuate depending on supply and demand, but we saw some offers for a 4 hour speedboat charter to wherever you want for 600K IDR. The nice thing about that is you have the whole boat to yourself so while they are small (maybe for 4 people plus captain) you don’t have to worry about other people. I can imagine during the high season the prices are much higher.
If you have not yet hiked Padar Island, visited Pink Beach, seen the ‘Dragons’, played on Taka Makassar sandbar, or snorkeled with sea turtles, then I highly recommend just doing a one day speedboat tour. This is the best way to pack so much awesome stuff into one day. You can read about The Best Komodo National Park Speedboat Tour which gives you all the details about schedule and price.
1. Watch The Current. The current is strong so try not to fight against it. Your boat captain can more easily take the boat to you than you can swim to it.
2. Watch Out. Keep your eyes peeled. If the sunlight is weak then the manta rays can easily blend into the ocean floor which makes them harder to see. During bright penetrating sunlight they stand out more easily.
3. Keep Distance. Manta Rays in Komodo are extremely friendly and a lot of times they will swim right up to you. Even going to far as to ‘headbutt’ you softly to figure out what you are doing on their territory. This is totally okay. What you do not want to do is TRY to get too close to them. This can scare or agitate them and they may try to ram into you with force.
4. Freedive Carefully. When snorkeling I never dive down into the water, but Cody does it all the time. He is much more used to freediving than I am but even he goes too hard too fast sometimes and can get pressure sickness. If you can hold your breath and want that awesome face to Manta Ray face picture, do not rush yourself or you may end up with a nasty headache.
5. Riding? Do NOT ride the Manta Rays. They are not horses and you are not Aquaman…just don’t do it.
Being a travel blogger means I have SO MUCH gear. Then again Cody and I share lots of stuff because he needs camera equipment for his cooking/recipe website.
Luckily the only thing I used to get these awesome Manta Ray pictures was my old GoPro Hero 4. Unfortunately my Hero 7 didn’t charge overnight (probably because it wasn’t plugged in) so I took the 4. No worries because I think the pics and vids still look fantastic.
If you don’t want to use a GoPro you can always buy a hi-tech submersible case for your DSLR or Mirrorless, but I don’t work for NatGeo so I’m not trying to drop that much money.