Snorkeling with manta rays - Nusa Penida

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Large manta ray swims into the picture from the left.

The last experience of our trip through Indonesia should be a very special one. After the previous highlights on Java, Bali and finally Nusa Penida, it was not so easy to find a crowning conclusion for this breathtaking trip. Nevertheless, we went on a search and found a very special gem for you. We were snorkeling with manta rays!

Starting point was, as for all our adventures on Nusa Penida, again the Crystal Bay. We booked the snorkeling trip directly on the beach. The cost for the experience in the sea per person is about 200,000 IDR (~ 12 $). It is best to find out the day before at the small dive store on the beach, at what time the boats charter, because they start early in the morning. And so we also set sail shortly after breakfast as the only boat, to which a maximum of 5 people are assigned. During the trip we were equipped with snorkels, diving goggles, fins and life jackets. Our destination was the so-called Manta Point, a coastal section on Nusa Penida, where the probability of seeing one of the giant rays is almost 100%. 

The mystical creatures belong to the genus of devil rays. Here again there are two species, on the one hand the smaller reef manta rays, on the other hand the giant manta rays and we were on their trail. The gentle giants of the sea, as they are now also called, reach a length of up to 8 meters, a wingspan of 7 meters and weigh about 2 tons. The animals also communicate with each other, but not like whales by means of songs, but with fin flaps. However, until the 1970s, people did not want to know about the good-naturedness and gentleness with which they encounter humans under water. For over 1,000 years, adventurous horror stories about the creatures of the deep have persisted, which also explains the generic name. Today we know that these graceful fish feed exclusively on plankton and they are now considered by far the most social fish, which is attributed to their large brains, among other things. So don't panic when you're in the water. 

After the approximately 15-minute crossing with our nut shell to Manta Point, it was for us diving goggles on and off into the water. At the dive spot, by the way, we were no longer the only boat. A little bit reverently we jumped into the deep blue. The seabed was not visible from here, we were 50 meters away from the jagged shore. Head under water we paddled off, when suddenly from the depths a dark shadow darted under us. A bit startled we stopped, we had been snorkeling many times, for example on Koh Tao in Thailand, but here the size of the animals was limited to barely 5 cm. The fish under us measured with security the 100-fold and disappeared with circa 10 km/h again in the dark ocean. In the total of 30 minutes in the water we got to see five manta rays, which by the way translated from Spanish means "blanket". A bit hypothermic and still speechless by the grace of the rays, we got into our boat and went back to the beach of Crystal Bay. We recommend you to wear a surf shirt during the water walk. On the one hand because of the cool temperatures in the water, on the other hand there were partly jellyfish floating in the sea during our stay.

Close-up of a manta ray gliding gracefully through the water.

The snorkeling trip was supposed to be a crowning finale of our trip through Indonesia. And despite the adventures we already experienced, like the volcano climbs on Java, the temples on Bali or the breathtaking rock formations of Nusa Penida, the dive with the giant manta rays definitely made it to one of the highlights of our trip and I still get goose bumps after all this time when I think of the dark shadows in the blue ocean.

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