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Snorkeling with giant manta rays is an unforgettable experience, not to miss when visiting Bali. Nusa Penida is a small island located only 25 km south east of Bali, Indonesia. Swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving with mantas can be done at the dive sites Manta Point or Manta Bay around the island of Nusa Penida all year round.
Snorkeling tours with manta rays depart from Toyapakeh on Nusa Penida, from the neighboring island Nusa Lembongan, or as a day trip by speed boat from Sanur on mainland Bali. We spent an incredible week on Nusa Penida island, doing a lot of scuba diving and snorkeled with these gentle giants several times at different spots. Manta Point dive sites are fantastic for scuba divers. I will always recommend spending some time on the Nusa islands, but if you are only going to be on mainland Bali, a day trip by speedboat from Sanur is a great opportunity.
See our Complete Guide to Scuba Diving at Nusa Penida.
Nusa Penida Tours
Nusa Penida Island
Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan, and Nusa Lembongan are three small islands separated from Bali on the east side by The Bandung Strait. Nusa Penida is the largest of the three and there is plenty to explore around the island. Home to impressive cliffs, pristine beaches, bat caves, temples, and waterfalls Nusa Penida is a photographer’s dream. The diving and snorkeling around Bali and the Nusa islands are world-class. See our Guide for Things to do on Nusa Penida.
Go to Manta Point or Manta Bay?
Manta Bay and Manta Point are two different dive sites on the Nusa Penida coast where we snorkeled with manta rays, you can snorkel or dive with manta rays at both these dive sites.
Manta Bay Snorkeling
Manta Bay is the area where most snorkeling companies go for manta snorkeling expeditions. This is a fairly shallow area of linked bays in front of Angel’s Billabong. Mantas come from deep water to feed on plankton that is pushed up over this shallow reef. The snorkeling area at Manta Bay is around 10 meters deep, but mantas come very shallow swimming just under the surface, they can often be seen from the boats and come close to snorkelers lying on the surface. It is very popular because there are loads of mantas here and because it is a short boat ride from Toyapakeh on Nusa Penida.
Location – Manta Bay is located on the west coast of Nusa Penida, about a 20-minute drive by boat from Toyapakhe. When visiting Broken Beach and Angel Billabong on Nusa Penida island, you can often see majestic manta rays swimming on the surface from the surrounding cliffs. Snorkeling tours to Nusa Penida often visit Manta Bay and combine it with snorkeling and beach visits to the main attractions of Toyapakeh Wall, Gamat Bay, and Crystal Bay.
Snorkeling conditions at Manta Bay – Prepare yourself for snorkeling in fairly rough, choppy conditions in deep water with currents. Swimming with the mantas is not in calm, swimming pool-like conditions and your feet can not touch the bottom. The site has a sandy bottom sloping from 5 meters to 12 meters in the snorkeling area, it does drop all the way to about 30m. Visibility in this bay is usually about 8 – 15 meters, so the water is clear and you can take nice photos and video underwater. Water temperature from November till June varies around 26-30 °C, and from July till October the water temperature drops to the low 20s, during this time a wetsuit is preferred for snorkeling.
The disadvantage of snorkeling at the best places is it gets very busy with many boats and snorkelers.
Marine Life – Reef manta rays are not the only exciting marine animals to find in a small bay at this snorkeling site. Reef sharks, turtles, Eagle Rays, and several small fish are marine animals you have a fair chance of seeing snorkeling here.
Manta Point Snorkeling
Manta Point Nusa Penida is the most famous dive spot around Bali to dive with manta rays. Your chances of seeing manta rays are better at Manta Point than at Manta Bay, but they often swim deeper and conditions are more difficult for snorkeling. This popular dive site is one of the well-known manta ray cleaning stations where mantas swim around coral heads where cleaner wrasse and other small reef fish clean the big marine animals of bacteria and parasites. The manta cleaning station is a large rock coming up to about 5 meters from the surface. More than 5 mantas are often seen circling the cleaning station. Since it is located further from Toyapakeh and because it is more exposed to rough open ocean conditions there are fewer snorkeling boats that come to Manta Point.
Snorkeling conditions at Manta Point – Exposed to the open ocean snorkeling here is usually in bigger swell and conditions can be more rough and choppy than Manta Bay. Water is deep, between 8 and 12 meters, dropping to a maximum depth of 40 meters. Water temperature at Manta Point ranges between 20C and 26C, a full-length wetsuit is recommended.
Location – Manta Point is located on the southwest coast of Nusa Penida, about a 45-minute drive by boat from Toyapakhe.
Marine Life – When you dive at Manta Point there are many different organisms you can see including, sharks, marble rays, eagle rays, sting rays, bamboo sharks, and blue spotted stingrays. Diving at Nusa Penida is world renowned for seeing mola mola, also called the oceanic sunfish. These massive animals are sometimes seen at Manta Point. Since the water is fairly deep, snorkeling here you are not likely to see many of the marine animals that swim closer to the bottom.
Scuba diving with the local manta ray population at Manta Point is one of the great experiences diving in Bali, see our detailed Scuba Diving in Bali Guide.
Best Time of the Year to swim with Manta Rays at Nusa Penida
You can swim with manta rays year-round at Manta Bay and Manta Point from Nusa Penida, but the snorkeling and weather conditions are not great all year round.
Off-season – During the rainy season, from December to March, conditions are very unpredictable, and snorkeling and diving tours are often canceled.
Good season – The dry season is the best time for snorkeling and diving. Between May and November, you have the highest chance of nice weather and calm seas. Between May and September ‘upwelling’ occurs, pushing plankton to the surface, this results in manta rays appearing nearer to the surface in search of food.
How Safe and Easy Is It to Swim with Manta Rays?
Manta rays come close to the surface in clear waters in some snorkeling spots and can often be seen from the boat. Since the water is deep and there are often big swell and strong currents in this part of the Indian Ocean you have to be a competent swimmer for this activity. If you are in doubt about whether you can take part in this activity discuss the situation with the tour company and tour guide. You can wear a life jacket and try to arrange personal assistance to enjoy one of Bali´s top attractions safely.
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Manta Ray Snorkel Tour from Bali
Several dive centers do manta snorkel tours to Manta Bay from mainland Bali. Going on a Manta Ray Snorkeling tour from Canggu, Kuta, Nusa Dua, Ubud or Seminyak in Bali is easy with this well-reviewed manta snorkel tour that will pick you up from your hotel in Bali. Hotel pickup, lunch, and fast boat to Nusa Penida included.
- Bucket list item – swim with massive reef manta rays of Nusa Penida
- Visit Crystal Bay, Manta Bay, and Mangrove Point
- Excellent snorkeling around Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan
Manta Ray Snorkel Tour from Nusa Penida
There are plenty of manta snorkel tours that depart from Nusa Penida to explore Manta Bay, Manta Point, or other reefs around the island. It is nice to stay on the island and take some of these trips since there are plenty of other excellent attractions on the island and squeezing multiple activities into a day trip is not always as much fun. Check out this Manta snorkeling tour that departs from Nusa Penida’s Toyapakeh Harbour.
- Go snorkeling at 3 spots around the island such as Crystal Bay, Gamat Bay, and Manta Bay.
- Get the chance to swim with the majestic manta rays
- Receive a delicious beachside lunch at Paradise Beach on Nusa Lembongan (Indonesian food buffet).
- Explore mangroves by kayak or paddleboard if conditions allow.
Manta Ray Snorkel Tour from Nusa Lembonghan
If you are staying on Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Ceningan there are some nice snorkeling tours departing from the island to swim with the mantas around Nusa Penida. Go on an awesome manta snorkeling tour from Nusa Lembongan.
- Go snorkeling at 3 spots around the island such as Toyapakeh, Crystal Bay, and Gamat Bay.
- Get the chance to swim with the majestic manta rays at Manta Bay.
- Receive a nice Indonesian buffet lunch at Paradise Beach.
- Explore mangroves by kayak or paddleboard if conditions allow.
Best of Nusa Penida Full-Day Tour by Fast Boat from Bali
Fantastic full-day Nusa Penida excursion from Bali. Go to the island by speedboat, Here a local driver will take you around to some of the highlights of Nusa Penida. See the cliffs of Broken Beach, the natural infinity pool at Angel’s Billabong, and the white sand beach at Crystal Bay, Stop for an included local lunch.
Accommodation on Nusa Penida
Things to Pack
A thin neoprene top, such as this 0.5mm neoprene Mares Rash Guard, will help to keep you warm and protect you from the sun snorkeling.
The GoPro Hero 11 is waterproof up to 10m, and the stabilization and underwater white balance are unreal for photo and video, perfect action cam for an active holiday, We love our Go Pro!
I always wear my trusty floppy surf hat on trips like this to protect me from the sun.
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The strong half of Stingy Nomads, a nomadic aquaman that would be happy to spend all his life in the water diving, surfing and spearfishing but often has to compromise with Alya and go hiking instead. Campbell is responsible for all our marine adventures and following them with write-ups. He loves traveling, braai (BBQ in South Africa), red wine and spending the day in a wetsuit.