Diving with Manta Rays in Nusa Penida
Manta rays are the largest rays, closely related to sharks, and mostly found in tropical and subtropical waters. These animals are basically filter feeders and eat very large quantity of zooplankton. Instead of picking their prey one by one, a manta ray only has to open its mouth while it swims. It moves through water by using its wing-like fins. For human, this animal is usually friendly, and there is a big chance of seeing it in the natural habitat because it lives both in open seas and close to shore. Mantas are strictly-protected animals in Indonesia and Bali, and divers have real good chance of encountering the animals in the waters of Nusa Penida, Bali.
There are two types of rays that live in Indonesia, Manta ray and Mobula. In Bali we often see manta rays in Manta Point, a world class diving site located in Nusa Penida. It is located southeast of Bali, near the better known Nusa Lembongan, and easily accessible from Padangbai, Bali.
Padangbai is located in Bali, while Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida are separate islands 20 minutes boat drive from each other. All three of them offer many diving sites and beauty of marine lives. Padangbai diving sites are popular for their sharks, turtles, oceanic sunfish and macro, while manta rays are mostly seen in the other two islands mentioned. In case you are planning to have a scuba dive in Bali, those three places are not to be missed.
In Indonesia, manta rays have their supersize sanctuary within an archipelago of nearly 2.2 million square miles, and they are protected from illegal fishing and exporting. Thanks to this policy, the country has managed to keep one of its main tourist attractions especially for those who yearn for open water diving in Bali. There are also some good diving operators in the island, for example OK Divers PADI diving resort. Although the dive-centre is based in Padangbai, they also offer diving in Nusa Penida’s Manta Point, Crystal Bay and other great dive spots around those islands.
Diving in Lembongan is usually intended for experienced divers as the waters are generally with mixed currents more than in Nusa Penida. In fact the most advanced dive site Blue Corner lays just of the shore of Lembongan. Other great diving attraction for divers, exist are in the neighbouring Nusa Penida mainly because the beauty of coastline views and the chance to enjoy diving with mantas and mola mola. One of the best places to experience the excitement of diving with manta rays is around a cleaning station of Manta Point in Nusa Penida. Since the fish are usually harmless to human, divers are usually able to observe their behaviours safely from relatively close distance.
Mantas can be found not only in the deep, but many of them are often seen close to the shore. Although it is generally more preferable to go diving with manta rays around the cleaning station, it is possible to see the animal while snorkelling. Even when you are not good at diving, or having difficulties carrying a scuba kit, some diving operators will gladly facilitate your needs to snorkel with mantas. You may be able to see the animals around the cleaning station very closely, and realise that snorkelling with manta rays is nearly as enjoyable as scuba diving.