Hanifaru Bay (Baa Atoll) : July till October

There probably isn’t a better place in the world to witness aggregating mantarays than in the Maldives' Hanifaru Bay. With the largest known population of reef manta rays (Mobula alfredi), the Maldives is a global manta hotspot on its own. The chain of atolls acts as barrier to the monsoonal currents and creates an upwelling of nutrient-rich cold water. The Maldivian marine food chain gets kick-started by the bloom of phytoplankton, which in turn is fed on by zooplankton. As the water gets pushed through the atolls, bioproductivity increases and the highest plankton concentration is found on the leeward sides of the atolls. The local manta population follows their food source. And the result for underwater photographers and manta maniacs is simply unparalleled. Boat access and mooring is regulated so as to limit any negative interaction with the mantas. And no boats are allowed into the bay itself. At any given time, no more than five boats and 80 people are allowed to enter the area. A daily alternating schedule between liveaboards, guesthouses, and resorts exists. Tourists must be guided by a certified Hanifaru Bay guide and are briefed on how to behave without disturbing the animals.Local rangers are present on site and enforce the regulations in water and with the use of drones. Penalties apply for misconduct like actively touching an animal. This has improved the situation for our plankton-feeding friends, and they again come back in high numbers.


Highlights:

  • Dhonfanu Thila
  • Kihaa Thila
  • Hanifaru Bay (Snorkeling)
  • Dhigu Thila
  • Nelivaru Haa
  • Muthaa Thila
  • Dharavandhoo Thila