Be Part of the Greatest Marine Show on Earth at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru

Book a “Hot Date” with the world’s largest known manta ray population
May 15, 2024,
Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, Republic of Maldives

The Maldives Manta Conservation Programme (founding project of The Manta Trust) stationed at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru is gearing up for the planet’s most spectacular marine spectacle. Thanks to the team's recently published “hot dates,” marine adventurers now have the best chance of getting close to the world’s largest documented manta ray assembly in waters close to the Resort.

Between May and November, the Maldives Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve draws hundreds of reef manta rays to its plankton-rich currents for a mesmerising underwater ballet. Guests at Landaa Giraavaru have long enjoyed privileged access to these aquatic dancers, thanks to two decades of pioneering on-site work by the MMCP.

2023 Season Highlights

During last manta season, MMCP researchers estimated 6,691 manta ray sightings in the waters around the Resort, a gratifying increase on 2022’s 6,083. Nearby Hanifaru Bay, known for its extraordinary mass manta gatherings, contributed 82 percent of all sightings. In 2023, 225 new manta rays were identified (by the unique spot patterns on their bellies), up from 176 in 2022. The grand total of 5,831 identified individuals again secures the archipelago’s status as home to the world’s largest known reef manta ray population.

Meeting Hassandhari Again

The MMCP team witnessed three oceanic manta rays (Mobula birostris) in Hanifaru Bay last season. The oceanic manta ray is the largest ray species in the world, reaching up to seven metres (23 feet) across and weighing up to 2,000 kilograms (4,400 pounds). Oceanic manta rays are rare in the Maldives, with only 982 recorded, making this encounter very special. 

The team’s most memorable encounter was last July. An enormous oceanic manta appeared amid a cyclone of some 50 reef manta rays feeding in Hanifaru Bay. He displayed uncommon “sideways” feeding behaviour, before disappearing back into the blue. This male, named Hassandhari by the team, had been observed in courtship displays in Ari Atoll in 2020 and 2021, so this was a joyful third sighting.

Juvenile Manta in Reethi Lagoon

Another 2023 highlight was sighting the season’s first new juvenile manta in Reethi lagoon, very close to Four Seasons Resort Landaa Giraavaru. “The little male was inquisitive,” recalls Ellie Strike, MMCP Project Manager at Landaa Giraavaru, “swimming upside-down with his belly up, assessing us curiously. Given his two-metre (6.5 foot) wingspan, he was a recent birth; it felt very special to know that we were some of the first humans he had seen and, as always, we followed our code of conduct so he wasn’t disturbed.” He’s been seen seven times since so it looks likely that he’ll return for the 2024 season.

2023’s manta season also saw a record 26 whale shark sightings in the Baa Atoll’s plankton-rich waters. These unthreatening creatures, the ocean’s largest fish, grow up to 18 metres (60 feet) in length, underscoring the beauty and scale of life beneath the waves.

Registering as an NGO

In 2023, Manta Trust’s flagship and founding project became an NGO. The updated name, The Maldives Manta Conservation Programme, reflects the commitment to conserving mantas and safeguarding their critical habitats both within the Maldives and around the world.

Discover the Enchantment of Manta Encounters

Landaa Giraavaru offers guests a variety of immersive experiences with mantas. The Resort’s Manta-on-Call service provides a “manta phone” that rings when mantas are sighted nearby before a speedboat whisks guests away for an unforgettable open-water experience. With manta rays swimming to the surface to feed, the phenomenon is accessible to anyone who can snorkel.

Guests seeking tailored adventures can also book private manta-spotting cruises. Furthermore, the Resort’s Trainee Manta Biologist program engages environmentally minded teens (aged 13 to 18) in a one-to-one deep dive into the world of manta rays. They learn what it takes to be a Manta Biologist, from photo identification to monitoring manta sizes, behaviours, and even pregnancy.

Landaa's Marine Discovery Centre is also home to the Maldives first life-size Hologram Room, in which families and couples alike can "swim" with the locally identified Baa Atoll manta rays without getting wet.

Research driven by the Maldives Manta Conservation Programme not only helps protect these gentle giants but also informs the prediction of mass manta aggregation dates around Landaa Giraavaru. This increases the potential for encounters with these inspiring ocean inhabitants and their equally plankton-loving whale shark friends.

2024 Manta Hot Dates

  • May 21–25
  • June 4–8
  • June 20–24
  • July 4–8
  • July 19–23
  • August 2–6
  • September 1–5
  • September 16–20
  • September 30–October 4
  • October 15–19
  • October 29–November 3
  • November 14–18
  • November 29–December 3

Note: manta ray sightings are subject to weather conditions and the temperament of these gentle giants.

To be part of the greatest marine show on Earth, click here, email, or call the central reservations department of Four Seasons Resorts Maldives at (960) 66 00 888.

Juliana Ang
Senior Director of Public Relations and Communications
Tourism Court, #04-00, 1 Orchard Spring Lane