We saw Manta Rays up close!!! Sarah, Sarah, Deb and Rebecca did at least – we booked this trip for yesterday with a scuba dive shop in Kona. Two chances to snorkel, one before sunset and one after. It was great! Huge kudos to Sarah L for organizing it! I, Sarah H, will be your guide on this story.
So the highlight of the day was the time we spent snorkeling at night with manta rays feeding directly below us. Not just some distance below us but so close to us you could have reached out and touched them; one even brushed against Sarah L! There’s a video embedded in that link in the second sentence that shows how the manta rays would do somersaults through the water.
(the picture is from the web, not from our cameras; we didnt have waterproof cameras with us.)
The mantas were feeding on plankton that was also swimming around in the water. Plankton are attracted to lights; all scuba divers sat on the bottom of a 30 foot column of water with lights pointing up while snorkelers (us!) floated on top with lights shining down (we had lights embedded into a surf board that we all hung on to). There were also a bunch of fish swimming around super close as well but they became an afterthought with the mantas so close. The mantas are darkly colored on top of their bodies and lightly colored underneath. They would initially swim towards us so that we could see their dark top sides maybe ten feet below us, then they would slowly and gracefully circle up (much more gracefully than when Deb and I tried to do this in synchronized swimming 25 years ago) so that their light underside (with all the scilia to catch plankton) was almost hitting the surfboard with the lights. It was like they were coming to bump us out of the water. Deb especially got a bit vocal and shrieked a few times in excitement and perhaps a bit of fear, though they are totally harmless to humans. It was great!! Like actually being inside an aquarium.
There was also a great sunset, some dolphin sightings, initial snorkeling with common Kona fish, a full moon, and a lack of seasickness – a fabulous adventure. Pizza and beer and soda to the adventurers at the end!
Earlier in the day, all six of us took a trip to a local Kona coffee farm, Mountain Thunder. We had an hour long tour by a slightly crazy and definitely talkative organic farmer lady. Some of us might have gotten overcaffeinated on free coffee samples, but enjoyed the trip to 3200 feet, learning about how coffee is grown on trees and picked and processed.
Off to more adventures today!