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Destination|Experience|Lifestyle, 18.May.2022

Manta Ray Season

Hanifaru Bay’s manta season launches a memorable, meaningful Maldives experience!

Hanifaru Bay is world-renowned for its manta rays, and the season for witnessing them at their most majestic is now upon us. From May until November, this perfect location conspires with perfect ocean and weather conditions to put on a sea spectacle unlike any other.

Just 15 minutes away from Hanifaru Bay, The Nautilus Maldives makes a sublime base from which to explore this natural marvel of dancing, tumbling manta rays en masse. And our newly launched, thoughtfully curated Manta Ray Symposium offers you an unrivalled way to experience this special phenomenon, complete with expert guidance and convivial conversation over drinks aboard a luxury yacht. What’s more, our uncrowded private island resort waits to welcome you home after your adventures, your luxurious personal sanctum inviting you to unwind and reflect on the day’s enriching encounter. We know that now, more than ever, the discerning traveller craves truly meaningful and memorable getaways – and this is our speciality.

So what, exactly, makes Hanifaru Bay and its manta rays so unique? Read on for some of our top reasons.

1. One of the world’s largest manta feeding hotspots

Located within the beautiful Baa Atoll – a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – Hanifaru Bay is a Marine Protected Area, and for very good reason. The unique shape and situation of the bay mean that it’s integral to the ecosystem – and an ideal home to this particular natural wonder. It’s a relatively small and enclosed bay with a funnel-shaped reef that results in powerful water circulation, and during the lunar tides of monsoon season, currents clash and dense masses of plankton get trapped in the bay, attracting vast numbers of filter-feeding fish species (more than 1600 individuals last season). One of these species is the iconic reef manta ray (Mobula alfredi), a curious, graceful sea creature with a wingspan that reaches up to 4m. Their preference for the shallows and their love of plankton-rich waters draws them to this special bay in record numbers of up to 200.

2. The unique marvel of cyclone feeding 

When conditions are just right, this concentration of both plankton and mantas leads to a very unique and rare behaviour almost exclusive to these waters: cyclone feeding. The so-called plankton soup – and the sheer numbers of mantas in a confined space – transforms the creatures’ usually sedate feeding patterns into an unforgettable sight. The manta rays form a chain that begins to spiral, the leader catching up with the last, the whole forming a whirling, gyrating dance of more than 100 individuals. As numbers increase, so does the dynamism, and the vortex breaks into a feverish feeding frenzy. It is a truly once-in-a-lifetime spectacle.

3. Exclusive Encounters – limited visitors and special freedoms

This incredible phenomenon is one of the reasons why Hanifaru Bay is a Marine Protected Area, and as such, strict regulations preserve these rich seas. Visitor numbers are limited and scuba diving is prohibited, but snorkelling and swimming are permitted; indeed, this beautiful cove is the only location where swimming alongside these majestic creatures is allowed. And with the shallow waters and surface feeding habits of the mantas, a scuba tank is not needed. In truth, free swimming and diving are the most magical ways to encounter this timeless dance – for the lucky few visiting these parts.

The Nautilus’s manta ray experience – free-spirited, meaningful, memorable

To welcome the manta ray season this year, The Nautilus has launched a special symposium to make the most of this unique natural wonder. Our expert and passionate team, comprising our resident marine biologist and AquaNautica guides, work together with the Hanifaru Bay park rangers to coordinate private, guided excursions for The Nautilus’s guests to ensure the best sightings. Our experts share their in-depth, personal knowledge of the mysterious, gentle giants – such as feeding and breeding habits, the different species and their idyllic location – and also offer guidance on sustainable, respectful snorkelling and photographing methods to employ during your visit. But this is no dry, theoretical lesson: you can expect a casual and free-spirited atmosphere while sipping on The Nautilus’s signature cocktails, where understanding is gained through conversation, and mind, body and soul are equally enriched.

You can enjoy this exclusive experience – and begin crafting a world of your own making – by visiting or directly getting in touch at