Sea monster’ lovers rejoice! In Baa Atoll, the span of summer months from June to November means only one thing: manta ray season. This is when mantas (Manta alfredi) migrate by the hundreds to the atoll’s plankton-rich waters. The newly-opened Milaidhoo Maldives is perfectly located for prime manta ray viewing, approximately 12 minutes by speedboat from Hanifaru Bay, known as the biggest manta feeding station in the world. Not to be confused with the unrelated and much more common stingrays, manta rays are filter feeders, 13 ft to 26 ft in size. Despite their alien appearance, mantas are peaceful giants, feeding on nothing bigger than microscopic plankton and posing no threat to humans who can swim and snorkel alongside them.
Listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by The International Union for Conservation of Nature, mantas are not always easy to find in the wild. However, during the season, Milaidhoo offers trips to snorkel with mantas up to three times a week. To ensure guests enjoy the most rewarding sighting opportunities, times are coordinated with Hanifaru Bay park rangers. Guests can participate on group trips or book a personalized excursion alongside the resort’s resident marine biologist.
Hanifaru Bay is a protected marine reserve. Its entry is limited to a small number of visitors every day to conserve the environment. Known as the world’s largest manta ray feeding station, it’s also famous for being grey shark and stingray nursing grounds, and is one of the very few places in the world where whale sharks congregate to mate. It’s best known for its concentration of reef manta rays, and on good days, it’s possible to see and swim alongside up to 200 mantas.
The Ocean Stories Aquatic Centre staff at Milaidhoo are ready to teach guests about the gentle giants of the ocean and how to ensure encounters are safe for the animals. The team has identified several secret spots outside of the marine reserve for even more private and personal one-on- one manta snorkeling. Divers can enjoy spectacular scuba diving at special dive sites within Baa atoll where manta rays can also often be found.
Milaidhoo has launched a special summer offer inclusive of 40 percent savings, valid until the end of September. Rates start at $1,035 per night for two people in an over-water villa inclusive of breakfast. A two-hour snorkeling excursion to Hanifaru Bay starts at $185 per person. For more information or reservations, visit http://www.milaidhoo.com.