North of Viti Levu and Nadi off Nanuya Balavu Island, the snorkeling at Mantaray Island offers the chance to snorkel with manta rays. The Mantaray Island area is off the north end of Nanuya Balavu Island and off the southwest end of Drawaqa Island (aka Barefoot Manta Island). The main reef is 30 feet from shore and is within a marine reserve established in 2012. From ...
North of Viti Levu and Nadi off Nanuya Balavu Island, the snorkeling at Mantaray Island offers the chance to snorkel with manta rays. The Mantaray Island area is off the north end of Nanuya Balavu Island and off the southwest end of Drawaqa Island (aka Barefoot Manta Island). The main reef is 30 feet from shore and is within a marine reserve established in 2012. From May through October, large numbers of manta rays pass through the waters next to the island to the delight of snorkelers.
The Yasawa Islands archipelago consists of six main islands and several smaller islets spread over 80km. These ancient volcanic islands are rugged, mountainous and have dense rain forests. Within the Yasawa Island group, the villages are much more traditional than found in the closer Mamanuca Islands group. Most of the resorts are found towards the northern end of the archipelago. The Yasawas are northwest of Nadi and accessible by high-speed catamaran ferry from the Port Denarau Marina (2-3 hours). Port Denarau Marina is about 20 minutes from the Nadi International Airport.
To reach the Mantaray Island snorkeling, you'll need to fly into the only international airport in Fiji, Nadi International Airport (NAN), which is served by Fiji Airways, Qantas, and Air New Zealand. There are flights also coming from nearby Pacific islands including Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Hawaii. Many of the flights arrive very late at night, so plan accordingly. When arriving in Fiji from the US, keep in mind that most flights arrive very early in the morning and Fiji is just across the international date line, so you'll effectively land two days after departing the US. It is not recommended to arrive or travel within Fiji on Sundays due to limited services available.
From Nadi, there is a high-speed cat ferry into the Yasawa Islands (also from Lautoka). Alternately, there is a seaplane from Nadi at Wailoaloa Beach to the Yasawa Islands. Within the Yasawa Islands, there is a daily inter-island ferry between the islands of Nacula, Waya, Naviti, Kuata and Wayasewa. When you land in Nadi, keep in mind that there are not really any good beaches here or around Denarau Island since the coastal mangrove forest makes the sand gray and the lagoon water murky.
TIP: The Fijian cyclone/typhoon rainy season starts in November and ends in late March. There have been periodic cyclones that have caused damage to both the reefs and to the resorts, including those in 2012 and 2016. It may be worth contacting a local dive shop or resort about cyclone impacts before booking. The best Fiji snorkeling is typically from May through October during the dry winter season, but be aware that the water becomes cooler as the winter season progresses.
Overall, Manta Ray Island is the 20th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 23 snorkeling dives in Fiji. Several of the better snorkeling spots are nearby Manta Ray Island including Blue Lagoon, Nacula Island, Naviti Island and Waya Island.
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