There are very rare days in life where one feels that the whole world comes together to make their dreams come true. I have told many times, I love ocean and anything that lives underwater. I love Manta Rays. I had seen two Mantas come by when I dived in New Caledonia. It was magical. They swam by very gently while I struggled to stay in one place in the strong current.
The dive centre ‘Dive and Sail‘ at Ellaidhoo had organised the Manta Exploration tour this morning. After my yesterday’s dive at House Reef, I immediately put my name for this exploration. The only catch for this tour was that the boat was leaving at 6 AM, which meant that I had to be awake by 5 AM. Now, not being a morning person, this definitely was my huge concern. Nevertheless, I wanted to do the exploration which meant me cursing myself and getting up in the morning at 5.
Dive centre staff had instructed us to get all our gear set up last night so they are boarded onto the boat before we arrived this morning. I had my tray 64 with all the equipment needed. The boat was scheduled for two dives – first one at the Manta Ray cleaning station (Yes, they have their cleaning stations where they come and clean themselves 😀 ) and the second at a reef and both were the boat dives.
Site & my experience
After 2 hours of boat ride into the Atoll, we reached the first dive site – Manta Kandu. The sea was rough and the weather was not that great today. In spite of it, the temperature of the water was 29 degrees Celsius. My dive buddy was Athihi, an assistant instructor at the dive centre.
Athihi jumped into the water first and then I followed. Then we descended. Within a few minutes, I saw a Manta at quite a distance. I saw other divers close to it and I was jealous. The current was too high for me to have gone ahead without my buddy. So I waited.
My best Manta-Ray moment
A couple of minutes went by and then Athihi took me to the edge of the reef and asked me to hold on to a coral. This time I was in the front and ahead of everyone else. A Manta came by. And it stopped right in front of me. It was so close to me that I could almost touch it. I refrained as one needs to respect nature and know the distance.
For almost the next 20 minutes, Manta just stayed there. There were times where I had to dodge so the tail wouldn’t touch me. It was an absolutely breathtaking moment for me. I had never seen a Manta Ray so up close. Oh, this moment was just so amazing. I crave for such experiences and today it was the day where I was having one, a dream that I had dreamt of all the time. Maybe God was looking after me today! And maybe the Manta loved me that it came so close to me. I don’t know, but I want to believe both these two statements. I can never forget this experience in my life. It was undoubtedly insane.
Dive details and cost:
- Company: Dive & Sail
- Dive Cost: USD 54
- Equipment cost: USD 16
- Boat Cost: USD 45