Snorkeling at Manta Ray Bay

Manta Ray Bay paradise (Photo: Jenni Shah)

Manta Ray Bay paradise (Photo: Jenni Shah)

Absolutely perfect is the only way I can describe our snorkelling trip to Manta Ray Bay today. The weather was flawless – clear blue skies with small puffs of cloud and the slightest of breezes. Sea conditions were also perfect, flat and glassy.

We took a boat to the northern most tip of Hook Island, about 50 minutes (40km) from Hamilton Island marina. The conditions were fantastic and the trip itself was awesome. We travelled north between Cid and Whitsunday Island then through the narrow Hook Passage.

Snorkeling Manta Ray Bay Hook Island

Snorkeling Heaven (Photo: Jenni Shah)

The top of Hook Islands is a no-fishing zone and it’s a popular spot for day trips, so there were plenty of fish waiting for us. As soon as we hooked up to the mooring buoy the boat was surrounded by small fish with yellow tails (which turned out to be yellow and blue back fusiliers). Beneath this we could see dark shadows, which was a little disconcerting until our guide told us that there were some large Maori wrasse and a number of Giant Trevally living in the bay too.

These large fish were quite amazing to watch. The ‘GT’s spent their time circling the boat and chasing each other off from whatever crumbs got thrown overboard from morning tea. The small fish didn’t seem to mind them very much and got their share while the big boys were fighting it out.

We all put stinger suits on before entering the water. It is the stinger season at the moment though there have been few reported stings in the area so far. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Swimming amongst the large school was a little weird but we soon got used to it. The children were even happy though they felt more confident as they got further away from the boat and left the fish behind them.

A marvellous Maori Wrasse glides by... (Photo Jenni Shah)

A marvellous Maori Wrasse glides by... (Photo Jenni Shah)

It was hard to get used to the sight of the big fish swimming around (outside of a fishing trip, where I’d be happy to see them on the end of my fishing line). The wrasse in particular were very curious and despite being told I could actually pat them, I wasn’t game! I was surprised to see so many different coral types, though I didn’t see much of the bright colouring.

Before leaving we took a quick swim from the boat into beach. To cap off a perfect day we saw five turtles on the way home, the last one at the entrance to Hamilton Island Marina. Not surprisingly the children slept the entire way. Manta Ray Bay is a option for a diving holiday on the inner Great Barrier Reef.