An all-black manta ray watches me out of the corner of its eye at the Manta Sandy site near Arborek Island. (Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2012)
An all-black manta ray watches me out of the corner of its eye at the Manta Sandy site near Arborek Island. (Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2012)

Manta Spa

  Indonesia: Raja Ampat + Bali - March 2012

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

Manta Sandy is the most famous dive site in Raja Ampat. Normal, it is a real "spa" with manta rays! The proof in pictures and video.

Manta addict

I am a spoiled rotten diver. I already met the mantas of Koh Bon (Thailand), the mantas of Nusa Penida (Bali), the mantas of Sangalaki (Borneo), the mantas of Komodo (Flores) ... Progressive and inexorable rise in power.

Manta rays are like that: the more you see, the more you want... Better not to start. After that, it is impossible to stop! And on top of that, you have to increase the doses.

As a result, I am now completely addicted to manta rays of Raja Ampat !

Despite the lack of light that afternoon in March 2012 (gray skies and late day), my Canon 7D did pretty well.

Fortunately, we made two dives on the site... My battery ran out during the first one! I was "obliged", for once, to fully enjoy the show only with my eyes, without any lens in front.


Manta ray cleaning station

Why such a concentration of manta rays at this place? In fact, the beautiful giants of the sea come here to get rid of their parasites and dirt by small cleaning fish.

It is a spa, I tell you! A much more elegant term than "cleaning station"... The manta rays also take advantage of it to gobble up plankton, when the current is there.

See also ➜ All my dives with manta rays

A manta ray comes to have its portrait taken... (Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2012)
A manta ray comes to have its portrait taken... (Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2012)
An all-black manta ray watches me out of the corner of its eye at the Manta Sandy site near Arborek Island. (Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2012)
An all-black manta ray watches me out of the corner of its eye at the Manta Sandy site near Arborek Island. (Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2012)

Anyway, anyway. The site of Manta Sandy is a joy for divers!

You just have to land quietly on the sandy bottom, between 15 and 20 meters deep, at a respectful distance, and admire the show.

Kneeling in the sand, you just have to wait for the beautiful manta rays to pass and pass again... (Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2012)
Kneeling in the sand, just wait for the beautiful manta rays to pass by again and again... (Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, March 2012)

Above the coral potatoes, dozens and dozens of mantas keep spinning ...

They never stop flowing blue, turning over the coral, disappear, to reappear without warning, on all sides. They always seem more numerous. They pass and repass, rub our bubbles, not at all scared.

Some of them, more curious, even come and stare at me very, very closely. They slow down, brush against me, hover for a moment above my head, then move away in a graceful flutter of their fins. It's incredible!!!

Once the initial excitement is over, the fascination remains. One never tires of contemplating this endless and splendid underwater carousel.


But the clock is ticking, the bars in the bottles are running out, the decorations are coming...

So we have to resign ourselves to going back up. Slowly, quietly, making slow circles towards the surface, to continue to enjoy, until the end, this fabulous view on the spiral of the mantas.

Obviously, everyone "dries" their tanks on dives like these...

Manta ray. Manta Sandy, Raja Ampat. West Papua, Indonesia. March 2012.
Manta ray. Manta Sandy, Raja Ampat. West Papua, Indonesia. March 2012.
Manta Sandy, Raja Ampat. West Papua, Indonesia. March 2012.
Manta Sandy, Raja Ampat. West Papua, Indonesia. March 2012.
Manta Sandy, Raja Ampat. West Papua, Indonesia. March 2012.

In my eyes as a diver, there is no better show than a manta ray swimming ... The manta surpasses all other underwater creatures in grace. This blend of elegance and power is irresistible.

I'm lucky to have been able to attend such a ballet again. And I'm not the only one... Everybody's got stars in their eyes when they get back on the boat!

Manta Sandy is a truly exceptional site. The mantas are guaranteed to 95%. It also has the advantage of being easier to dive than the neighbouring site, Manta Ridge, as it is a little less exposed to the current.

But what is extraordinary in Raja Ampat, is that even on sites that are not "manta points", it is not uncommon to come across one or two mantas, at random, especially on dives on the well named Blue Magic... Think of raising your nose when you are stuck to a nudibranch or a pygmy seahorse!

→ To see all the articles about my dives at Raja Ampat : one click here !

  Indonesia: Raja Ampat + Bali - March 2012

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  1. Nice parade 😉

    Visi looks pretty good for a manta spot, especially if the weather was gray. Unless you have reworked your photos and video?

    1. @Valentin: the visi was more than correct during the first dive, a little worse in the second when I made these photos and videos (more current loaded with plankton and sky more and more gray). We still see that there are a lot of particles in the water.

      No editing on the video (white balance made on the sand). Minor retouching on the pictures (framing, contrast, etc.), except for those taken without a flash in natural light (white balance made on the computer).

      By bright sun, this site must be even more fabulous!

    1. Thank you Romain! I had great pleasure to rediscover myself these images, more than a month after my trip and my dives to Raja Ampat, preparing this post.

    1. @Marie: mantas, but also sharks and dolphins ... I'm willing to bet you could even dive to better enjoy it so you will be amazed !!!

    1. @Xtinette: I'm lucky then, in Komodo, I had crossed them several times and very close!!! 🙂 But in Raja Ampat, it was even more spectacular...

  2. Too much the mantas!
    I had the opportunity to see three times in Bora-Bora about ten years ago but since no more 🙁
    I'm in withdrawal 😥 ❗ ❗

    1. In fact I keep a great memory of Bora for:
      - mantas
      -the Sharks
      -the beautiful landscapes
      But, I stay on my end for the rest at the dives level
      it is true that at the time I was just starting the bio, so I may have missed some things, despite everything I feel I have seen more in terms of diversity in the Philippines ... ..
      😯 Don't you think we're getting a little picky.... 😉

    1. @Coralie: I love to make others want to... 😈
      On the other hand, you have to put pennies aside, for Raja Ampat. It's been a long time since I dreamed of going there and you can not imagine how happy I was finally to dive there. The problem is that I want to start again, now ...

      PS. Are you finally going on a cruise with the Photo-sub Forum? It's coming, right?

  3. I've admired the mantas at rajah ampat 3 times in their spas as you say, and I saw a loner, going back at the end of a dive, there was barely 10 m deep and I'm still scotche, in the figure as own with my hook. The manta was huge and I could have caressed her over and over again. The guide told me that it was an oceanic manta, much larger than the others. ? ? ? Do you know this detail?
    I am doing everything to return to rajah ampat, to see the filling rate of the shakti, I wonder if you do not speak too much elsewhere.

    1. @ Gerard: the same, on Blue Magic, each time, a huge manta at the end of the dive ... No doubt this "ocean manta" which you speak? I'm not very rigorous in marine biology on the mantas chapter, I'm going to study this ...

      Otherwise, I doubt to succeed to fill all the cruisers of the corner with my few posts. But if you really can not find a place, I will stop praising Raja Ampat's charms, so ...

    2. There are indeed 2 species of manta rays: reefs (called Alfredi, maximum size 4.50 meters) and oceanic (called Birostris, maximum size 6.80 meters).

      On occasion I could give you more info and some links to visit ... there I go back to dive ... with the manta of Nusa Penida

  4. Ah mantas rays of "Manta Point" (or Manta Reef "or" Arborek Manta ") following the guides. We too have had the chance to see other mantas several times, at Blue Magic and Sardines, this ki is particularly rare it seems. I do not remember their size, but we also met "mobulas", small black mantas often in bench of 6 or 7. Rigolos (and sublime of course). I feel like seeing your photos and video that they were quite numerous. The max for us it had been 7 (already not bad). Your video makes me drool like your post: I would believe it! This place is also particularly mythical for us, because it is there, under water, that we had met our common knowledge "Valérie Mantaleau". What a joke and what a memory! 😆
    PS - Your photos are really beautiful because I know the conditions of the area. So still bravo (what settings?)

    1. @IsaM: yes, I remember for the meeting with Valerie, I had read this post!!! 😉

      For my part, all my dives at Blue Magic have ended each time with the arrival of one or two big mantas!

      Finally, thank you for the compliment on the photos! It would be tedious to list the settings here, since I adjust everything manually depending on the conditions, and it also depends on the lens used, from one camera to another. In short, there is not ONE setting to recommend... Here, it was particularly not easy, because on top of that, I was switching from photo mode to video mode all the time... 😡

  5. Fantastic ... Thank you for these beautiful pictures, the music is very well chosen! These animals are so graceful and an encounter with its giants of the sea changes every diver for life. I remember my first Manta, it was in Komodo, she was out of the Blue and was heading towards us quietly like a spaceship. Magical.

    1. @Julien: glad that the video you like ... But it's true that with a subject like this, when you're a diver, hard not to appreciate ...

  6. About the manta rays of Indonesia, an unhappy report from two specialists based on Nusa Lembongan to study the behavior of the manta of Nusa Penida. The couple left for a few days on Lombok, more precisely on the port of Tanjung Luar.

    Some pictures of their journey in Hell:

    You can learn more about this nightmare and Manta in general by liking their "Aquatic Alliance" page on Facebook.

    In the meantime, do not hesitate to pass this link so that fishing is finally regulated in the waters around Lombok ...

  7. Wow, wow, wow !!! The only time I saw manta was in Sangalaki. It was magical, breathtaking, fabulous. But there was not as much as in your video! Thank you for sharing all this, and congratulations for the very nice video.

    1. @Fabrice: But yes, we can find some words... 😉
      Now that you have discovered the pleasures of diving (and that you intend to continue), you will see: underwater encounters will be more and more extraordinary, I guarantee you ...

  8. Brings back good memories 😀
    In fact, the site you call "Manta sandy" is not this sandbar northwest of Palua Mansuar?
    I think I recognized the coral potatoes and 2 manta seen in 2009:
    - the black with its white spot below the mouth
    - the white with its 3 W-shaped black marks at the bottom
    At the time, I made a video with a small camera, which has nothing to do with your beautiful movie 7/9:
    In any case I see that you take taste in the "manta hammam", expression in my opinion more appropriate considering the ambient humidity 😈

    1. @Alimata: yes, absolutely, it's that site... 😀 And you know what? I'm going back in a few days.

      Maybe I'll call it Manta Jacuzzi. Mantas love to rub their belly in the bubbles of the divers.

      I can not believe you're able to recognize manta rays with their marks ... Awesome. Thank you for your little video, very nice! (I confirm, by viewing it, that it is the same site.)

  9. Well !! I'm at Kri Eco Resort from October 4th to 11th on Pulau Mansuar !! a week after the earthquake of mag 6.6 we'll see if the manta will still be at the spa, I'm ready to give them a double Californian massage if needed! we'll see if October is the right time!

  10. Beautiful and informative.
    A question about RA: they talk about mantas, sharks, tuna, and in the same sentence about nudibranchs . We see mostly 'big', micro, or both 😉