Hanifaru Bay is renowned as one of the best manta spots on the planet. The football field sized atoll bay creates a plankton soup bowl for the mantas as the tide goes out. Although the mantas are present all year in smaller numbers, large aggregations are common in the months of September and October especially near the full moon.
Our trip departed from Male which left us with quite a bit of distance to cover before arriving for the full moon at Hanifaru. Luckily the awesome diving we had on our way more than made up for the steaming.
With new regulations we would only be allowed to snorkel in the bay for 45 minutes every other day! Well, we had a little bit of good luck in the form of shitty weather. Our first day at Hanifaru was a bit of a bust, several mantas but no aggregations.
As we arrived for our second day the weather was miserable – so miserable in fact that the rangers didn’t even want to accompany us into the bay and no other boats were even there! The result, we had 30+ mantas to ourselves for over two hours with no other snorkelers.
Although we weren’t allowed to dive or use strobes and there was essentially little to no sunshine we still walked away with some nice shots.
In addition to the mantas we also managed to see some rare creatures as well such as the fairly common (for Maldives) leopard sharks and a guitar shark, both of which were patient for the photographers.
After big waves forced us to abandon our last dive we headed over to one of the sand humps that purportedly are islands and had ourselves a grand time at our wetsuit beach party!
Big thanks to the crew of the Maldives Siren and our awesome guests!!!!