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Just 15 minutes away from The Nautilus Maldives by luxury yacht, but feeling as if you’ve left this world all together; the unexplainable magic of Hanifaru Bay exceeds all expectations.
Experience an all-encompassing world of sensation and wonder and plunge into The Nautilus’ surrounding tourmaline waters at the world renowned Hanifaru Bay. Swim and snorkel with the manta rays, joining in with their timeless dance of grace and majesty. Witness their performance of poised magnificence as they glide and somersault right before your very eyes.
Private excursions to Hanifaru Bay will be coordinated with the Hanifaru Bay park rangers who are experts in ensuring guests enjoy the most rewarding sighting opportunities. Additionally, our resident marine team will teach you all about these fascinating sea creatures and guide you within Hanifaru Bay’s waters where these gentle giants swim in seemingly choreographed arcs. There truly is nothing quite as fulfilling as taking part in a rite of nature that’s as old as time itself.
Located in the heart of the Maldives’ stunning Baa atoll, the glistening waters of and majestic kingdom beneath Hanifaru Bay are classified as a world renowned UNESCO biosphere reserve. Recognised as an area that required conservation and protection, it was only in 2011 that it was declared such a highly esteemed title. With such environmental acclaim, it is no surprise that it is one of the largest manta feeding hotspots in the world. With mantas returning to the Hanifaru’s ethereal setting year after year, their poise and grace compliments that of their surroundings.
Hanifaru Bay is renowned for its magical ability to draw the manta rays back time and time again. But why? There is a very unique and particular combination of factors that must be perfectly balanced in order for the mantas to appear in their masses.
The shape of the bay has a long, narrow and channel-like form, most distinctively with a dead-end. This uniquely serves as a collector of plankton that is carried up through the seas drift from the deeper parts of the bay and ocean bed.
The Indian Ocean notoriously warm current also has a role to play. The southwest monsoon current pushes water packed with notably more nutrients into the western opening of the bay from around May to November.
A third key factor is the lunar tide, which of course pushed against the oceanic current creating a dynamic clash of currents, sub-aqua nutrients.
Simply put, if there is no presence of a counter-tide, the mixture of plankton simply washes over the bay into the outer periphery of the atoll. If there is a collision of currents, the plankton is swept up from deeper parts of the sea. Once is has risen, it’s biological instincts reject the light making it return back down to a higher point of the sea bed. This method of naturally collection of plankton is what drives the mantas back for their plankton feeding frenzy.
When all of these facets align, mantas in their masses, usually up to 200, commune and perform a show of feeding and intrigue, whirling up to the surface to take a look at the snorkelling visitors for that day.
The months where you are most likely to witness the majesty of the mantas is between May and November each year with the peak being between June and October. Even outside of these months where mantas are more likely to be witnessed, The Nautilus offers an array of explorations at sea where you decide when you leave and return for a truly freeing experience.
For an almost guaranteed sighting of the mantas, you could consider booking your aquatic Nautilus adventure over a full moon or new moon. During this time, the tides are naturally a little higher therefore capturing the most plankton within the bay ready for the mantas to eat.
Whilst the overriding number of mantas that appear and glide up to the surface to say hello to their visitors is what makes experiencing Hanifaru Bay particularly overwhelming, the mantas individually are also spectacular creatures.
Typically known as Mobula Alfredi, the reef manta ray is not only one of the largest but also one of the most iconic marine species in waters such as The Nautilus’. Snorkellers and divers are far more likely to witness the grandeur of Mobula Alfredi than, for example, the Oceanic Manta Ray species, because they prefer communing in far shallower waters and are typically more sociable.
With an average width of 325cm-400cm, weight of 700kg and life span of around 40 years, these magnificent creates will continue to grace Hanifaru Bay’s waters and The Nautilus’ atoll so many years to come.
Of course, you are free to borrow snorkelling equipment free of charge throughout your stay with us and trust us – there is nothing more liberating than spending time among the corals and sea life of our UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. See you soon for this once-in-a-lifetime experience at The Nautilus!