Mystical, magical mantas
Barefoot Island is the closest island to the famous manta ray feeding channel - with the mantas leisurely enjoying an abundance of food directly off Barefoot's most northern beach.
Between May and October the warm tropical waters running between Barefoot Manta Island and Naviti Island create a nutrient rich channel ideally suited for filter feeding and offering a smorgasboard of their favourite food - plankton.
Our team of conservationists offer guided manta ray swims during the season which afford our guests the truly unique experience of swimming alongside these majestic creatures.
Swimming with the manta rays
Swim safaris are available primarily between May and October - but may take place at other times when manta rays are around. These months have historically seen the highest visitation rates and swimmers can expect to interact with anywhere from one to a dozen Manta Rays of varying sizes, gender and age.
Our biologist researchers and boat captains check the channel using boat surveys and sophisticated underwater equipment each morning and afternoon. We don't take any guests out unless we have a fairly high level of confidence that mantas will be seen. Our staff will sound the lali (traditional drum) to let guests know that our marine VIPs are checking in, and boats set off from the dive shop within minutes.
Swimmers need to be mindful that mantas are wild animals and whilst they are usually present during these months there is no hard and fast guarantee of a sighting or interaction. But, with viewing from the northern beach on Barefoot Island you are assured of regular updates by our watchful staff - and once Mantas have been spotted, you'll have the chance to be first in the water!
The graceful manta
The Manta Ray, known as VAI in Fijian culture, is the largest of all species of ray. They feed on plankton, fish larvae and the like, which is filtered from the water scooped into their wide mouths and passed out through their gills as they swim.
An average-sized manta is estimated to take in 20 - 30kgs of plankton per day - and with a ready supply of this food source throughout the ocean, these creatures can grow to an extraordinary size.
With a wing span that can reach over 20 feet (6 metres) wide, they are one of the biggest fish in the ocean! Their only natural predators are large sharks and orcas.
Mantas have a tail similar to stingrays, but they have lost their stinger and are harmless to humans. They are generally dark on the upper surface - ranging from black to greyish-blue and brown, with pale undersides. Individuals have a unique pattern of blotches and scars that can be used to identify them.
Manta rays are exceptionally graceful swimmers and appear to fly through the water on their large wings. Individuals have also been observed to jump clear out of the water - possibly in a form of communication or play.