Manta snorkeling Nusa Penida
Manta snorkeling Nusa Penida

Manta snorkeling Nusa Penida – When? Where? How much?

It contains useful information about manta rays, as well as when, where and how you can swim with them while visiting the Nusa Islands.

Diving with manta rays is a "must do" for any traveler and tourist if he is in Indonesia. Swimming with sea devils in the crystal emerald waters of the Indonesian island of Nusa Penida, which is part of Bali, was the most exciting part of our trip. There are dozens of snorkeling spots around the island. Some can be reached on your own, while others need to go by boat. They also differ in the level of difficulty: there are lungs with a mask and fins, there are scuba diving. In general, Nusa Penida is a paradise for snorkeling and diving. If you, like us, want to get to know these majestic creatures better, then read the article. It contains useful information about manta rays, as well as when, where and how you can swim with them while visiting the Nusa Islands.

Best time to go manta snorkeling Nusa Penida

The season for manta rays on Nusa Penida is all year round, so you can come to the island at any time. This is because the waters around Bali and the Nusa Islands benefit from the Indonesian Through Current. Technically, this is a huge body of water (stream) that flows around the Indonesian archipelago from Timor to Bali. This current carries water from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. This is the largest movement of water on the planet, which means that there are always fresh, rich currents in the strait between Bali and Lombok. Understanding this phenomenon explains why there are so many marine life in Bali's snorkeling sites and why there is always a chance to see manta rays.

Snorkeling and diving with manta rays is an amazing adventure that you will remember for a lifetime. True, going on a sea voyage, unfortunately, no one will give you guarantees that you will definitely see manta rays. Sea devils are wild animals that roam freely wherever they please, but manta ray diving organizers always do their best to make your dream come true and get to know these majestic creatures.

Locals say that the best time to see manta rays is in the morning when they are most active, but in fact you can spot them at any time.

Tip: Check out the climate map of Bali before booking your trip. For snorkelers and those who still want to meet sea devils, it would be better to come during the dry season. Usually from May to November - then the sea is calm and in general the rest will be much more pleasant.

Where to see manta rays in Nusa Penida?

Nusa Penida snorkeling trips are often advertised as "Manta Ray Trip to Nusa Lembongan", however this is not quite the right wording. Of course, you can see manta rays around Nusa Lembongan, but the best places to swim with manta rays on Penida are Manta Bay and Manta Point. Sometimes they also swim around Crystal Bay (one of the most popular snorkeling beaches in Nusa Penida).

Manta Bay

The area is relatively shallow, where manta rays usually swim and feed on the surface thanks to plankton-rich currents. Manta Bay is the most popular manta snorkeling destination. Other pelagics such as Nurse sharks, big tuna and tiger mackerel can also be seen here. In sheltered areas you can see lionfish, octopus and cuttlefish, some big triggerfish including clown triggerfish and pufferfish. According to local residents and guides, you can almost always see manta rays here. The best time to visit the bays is in the morning. For this reason, it can get very crowded during the early hours.

Manta Point

One of the southernmost dive sites on the island is Manta Point, surrounded by high cliffs. Usually,  experienced divers come here who are not afraid of treacherous currents, rough seas and depths. Here is the manta cleaning station - here these majestic creatures rest at a depth of 13-20 feet (4-6 meters) while smaller fish clean them.

Manta Viewpoint

You can see these giant creatures not only on a Nusa Penida manta ray snorkeling tour, but also from land. When visiting various viewing platforms, look carefully towards the sea - manta rays can often be seen emerging from the depths of the sea with the naked eye. The official Manta Lookout is on the left side of Broken Beach, on the cliffs above Manta Bay. However, you can also see manta rays from the rocks on Kelingking Beach.

Manta snorkeling Nusa Penida – trip options and prices

It is not difficult to order snorkeling with manta rays in Nusa Penida. Whether you're staying on mainland Bali, Nusa Lembongan (Nusa's most popular island), or Nusa Penida, you'll have no trouble finding snorkeling organizers. The price will depend on where you start the tour: the most expensive ones are, of course, the Manta rays tours from mainland Bali, while the cheapest ones are to sign up for one of the local ones in Penida. We have prepared an overview of snorkeling prices for you, but we note right away that the price may be higher (the number of tourists has decreased over the past couple of years, and therefore companies put a higher price tag on the services).

Bali manta snorkel tour

Nusa Penida snorkeling day trips usually include snorkeling at various points around Penida and/or Lembongan, including Manta Bay. This option of rest is the most expensive and tiring - you have to spend a lot of time in a boat, moving between sailing points. Estimated cost of this mini-trip is $70 (price includes hotel pickup, drop-off available in most areas of South Bali, soft drinks and lunch). If your trip to Bali is too limited in time, but you don't want to miss out on swimming with manta rays, this trip from Bali might be a good choice. However, if your holiday itinerary is flexible, consider spending a few days on the island, as snorkeling is far from the only thing to do on the island. You can be sure that such a trip will bring a lot of pleasure.

Nusa Lembongan snorkel trip

If you stay on Lembongan Island, you can choose a half-day trip that includes manta snorkeling in Manta Bay, plus 1 or 2 additional stops at Crystal Bay, Mangrove Point in Nusa Lembongan, or the Buddha Temple near Nusa Cheningan. Lembongan is a small island. Its area is only 8 square kilometers, and the population is about five thousand people. A few years ago,  there was no infrastructure on the island. Attention was paid to it relatively recently and people began to come in search of a peaceful atmosphere, beautiful sunsets and impressive seascapes. It also turned out that on the coast of Lembongan there are excellent spots for diving and snorkeling, and surfing is no worse than at the super-popular points of Bali.

As a rule, locals use their traditional boats for such excursions and take a maximum of 6-10 people. Trips usually start around 8 am and cost approximately $15-20.

Nusa Penida Manta Bay tour

If you stay on the island, then booking a trip to the manta rays will not be difficult. You can ask your hotel staff to book a trip for you, or arrange your own trip by visiting Crystal Bay or Toyapaké Harbor (this is the harbor for speed boats to Lembongan and Senigan, and where most of the local boats depart and arrive).

A trip for several hours with 2 stops will cost about 10-13 USD, while for a half-day trip with 4-5 stops included, you will have to pay about 15-20 USD. The good news is that you can bargain with the locals.

Giant manta rays in Nusa Penida – Are they dangerous?

The manta ray is a marine giant, the largest known stingray, and perhaps the most harmless. Due to its size and formidable appearance, many legends have been composed about it, which are mostly fiction. Mantas can reach a length of up to 7 m and weigh up to 3 tons. However, despite their huge size, manti are completely harmless to humans. But not only the large size gives the fish a formidable look, the head fins, in the process of evolution, stretched out and resemble horns. Perhaps that is why they are also called "sea devils", although the purpose of the "horns" is more peaceful, stingrays use their fins to direct plankton into their mouths. The mouth of a manta reaches one meter in diameter. Having decided to eat, the stingray swims with its mouth wide open, with its fins it drives water with small fish and plankton into it. In the mouth, the stingray has a filtering apparatus, the same as that of the whale shark.

Also, manta rays do not have poisonous stings on their tail, so swimming with manta rays is completely safe. They have the largest brains of any bony fish and enjoy interacting with people.

Is there really a lot of plastic in Manta Bay?

I would like as many people as possible to experience the pleasure of swimming with these magical creatures, and the manti themselves do not suffer from human hands and do not become another endangered species of creatures on the planet. To do this, it is very important to pay due attention to the problem of the huge amount of plastic in the ocean. Plastic is a real problem in Indonesia, and if you happen to see crystal clear water during your trip, it's not because the problem doesn't exist, but because the currents change very quickly. There is no waste management in most parts of Indonesia. People do not know what to do with plastic waste and how to recycle it. Usually, residents just collect and burn it (which is one of the worst things they can do since burning plastic releases toxins into the air) or it ends up in the sea after it rains.

Our manta trip experience – Tips and thoughts

A trip to Nusa Penida with a mask and snorkel can give everyone just an incredible feeling and become the day that a person will remember for the rest of his life. However, it cannot be said that everything happens like in a fairy tale and in practice everything is the same as in dreams. Communication with sea devils is certainly simply incredible, but there are many moments that overshadow such a vacation. And this is what it's about:

  • there are no restrictions on the number of boats and snorkelers in Manta Bay. If we leave behind selfish desires to swim with stingrays and pay attention to ecology and nature, it becomes obvious that marine life suffers from such tourist routes. There is no designated area where the boats have to stop to leave space for the manta rays, which means they are chasing them all the time. Leaking oil from the boat's motors makes the water filtered by the manti even more polluted and the animals suffer from it;

  • some people are very disrespectful to the fact that manta rays are wild animals and keep touching them.

Snorkeling safety tips

Arriving on the island and waiting for a trip to the stingrays, few people think about what precautions should be taken when getting into the water. Everything around seems so rosy and even small waves seem safe and inviting. In fact, the ocean is fraught with many dangers and therefore it is worth being extremely careful when diving (especially for beginners). The danger can lie in wait from everywhere - a strong current, sharks, rocks, etc. To make the trip leave only pleasant memories, you should:

  • keep a safe distance from boats and rocks, especially when the waves are strong;

  • you should not swim far from the shore if there is no instructor nearby;

  • saving on equipment is not the best idea. Fins for snorkeling must be good, they are a kind of guarantee of safety, etc.

Also, you should not go on an independent trip and try to get acquainted with the sea devils yourself. It is best to sign up for organized trips from the shore.

All Rights Reserved © 2023