Manta Rays (Manta alfredi) are the gentle giants of oceans and seas all around the world. They have the largest brains (relative to body size) of any fish species, and this looks to be true when you see them fly around divers in a playful manner. Although they can reach sizes of 6m+ wide, most seen around The Similan Islands are 3-4m in size. Their huge mouths filter tiny plankton species out of water channeled with their ‘lobes’ on either side. More than 152 individual Manta Rays have been identified in Thailand’s waters, and almost all of these are in the Andaman Sea off of Thailand’s west coast. The most popular place to find Manta Rays is Koh Bon, a small uninhabited island in the northern waters off Mu Ko Similan National Marine Park.
Most years, Manta Ray sightings off Thailand’s west coast start early in the diving season and continue throughout the seven-month period from mid-October to mid-May. March is the month in which most sightings are reported. However, in 2016 the ‘Manta madness’ has started early. Here we are in the 3rd week of February and already several large Manta Rays are seen almost every day at Koh Bon, with occasional sightings around the Similan Islands #7-9, Koh Tachai, and Richelieu Rock. We have no idea how long this will continue, so anyone who may be thinking about diving in the Similan Islands in February or March 2016 should book now, to avoid disappointment.
We have day-trip boats (including Nemo 2, Nawanoppa, Stingray, Blue Dolphin & Wet Cat) which take divers out to The Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai & Richelieu Rock every day of the week. However, to get the best value and have the best opportunity, we recommend one of our more than 30 liveaboard diving boats. Cruises can be as short as 2D/1N (two days & one night), and up to a week or more at sea. The most popular cruise length is 4D/4N, closely followed by 3D/3N. Many of the Manta Queen fleet’s en suite cabins are already full for the whole of March 2016, but we can usually find space in other cabins to suits each diver’s needs. Peter Pan & Camic have some completely full trips, too. More luxurious boats include White Manta, Pawara, Deep Andaman Queen, Hallelujah & The Junk. Boats in between budget and luxury include Scuba Adventure and Oktavia.
Koh Bon is not the only place to see and dive (or snorkel) with Manta Rays, but it’s certainly the best. Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock to its north, and The Similan Islands to its south still have Manta Ray sightings from time to time. There’s also Hin Daeng & Hin Muang, in a different area, south of Phuket. In addition, late February and March is not the only period when they can be seen by divers and snorkellers, but this period is the best. Our 40+ boats that sail to The Similan Islands and surrounding areas have space for you to come and see Manta Rays and more wonderful marine life species in the Andaman Sea. Don’t wait. Contact us now!