Manta Season is in full swing in Baa Atoll – just in time for guests returning to Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences to enjoy the atoll’s renowned manta spectacles.
Baa Atoll is one of the best places in the entire Maldives for spotting manta rays, with its warm clear waters and incredible visibility of up to 40 metres. In fact, Baa Atoll was named a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in recognition of its incredible marine biodiversity.
The Maldivian borders reopened to international visitors of every nationality in July (with a free 30-day visa on arrival for all). With the resumption of scheduled flights from around the world, many repeat guests couldn’t wait to escape to Amilla Maldives. The resort’s vast areas of untamed wilderness, spacious self contained villa amenities like private pools and comprehensive COVID-19 prevention protocols make it the perfect respite. Taking advantage of Amilla’s flexible cancellation policy, guests have returned to find themselves in the middle of the area’s celebrated Manta Season, which runs until November.
The very best times to spot mantas are during the full moon and the new moon, although Amilla’s HUB water-sports team are pros at tracking mantas and know their favourite haunts such as cleaning stations and of course, the world-famous Hanifaru Bay. Hanifaru Bay is renowned for attracting exceptionally large aggregations of magnificent manta rays and gentle whale sharks, which feed on the zooplankton trapped in bay. At its peak, there could be as many as 100 mantas plus several whale sharks feeding in Hanifaru at the same time. The site is only a short 4.8-mile speedboat ride from Amilla.
Hanifaru Bay has been a Marine Protected Area since 2009. This means there are rules in place that protect the environment and limit the number of visitors allowed in the area at the same time. The Amilla water-sports team takes guests on a guided snorkel so they can view these amazing creatures in their natural environment.
Reef mantas can have a wingspan of up to 3.3m and whale sharks (technically not sharks, but actually the largest type of fish species) can grow up to 12m long. Both mantas and whale sharks are generally elusive creatures and are vulnerable to extinction, which makes Baa Atoll – and Hanifaru Bay – even more exceptional.
Hanifaru Bay has a unique dynamic water circulation system due to the funnel-like reef shape. It’s about 1,300m long and 600m wide at the narrowest point. From May to November huge quantities of zooplankton become trapped in the bay, creating a kind of zooplankton ‘soup’, which in turn attracts large numbers of‘megafauna’ like whale sharks and manta rays. Hanifaru is also a nesting site for green and hawksbill turtles.
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