Swimming mere feet from enormous manta rays in the chilly waters off Manta Point on Nusa Penida was easily my favorite activity during the month we spent exploring Indonesia! I’ve snorkeled in many locations across the world, but I’ve never experienced anything quite like snorkeling at Manta Point on Nusa Penida.
Manta Point is home to massive manta rays that are so large you can see them swimming from the cliffs hundreds of feet above the water. But better than observing them from above, you can go snorkeling just a few feet away from these guys.
And while you are probably wondering about the safety of being so close to such gigantic creatures, it’s actually quite safe.
Unlike their relatives, sting rays, manta rays do not have barbs or stingers on their tails, meaning that they physically cannot sting you. In fact, manta rays are filter feeders and are considered completely safe for humans.
Honestly, it seemed like the manta rays were fairly accustomed to human visitors and even enjoyed putting on a show for us!
Whether it’s because they are accustomed to humans or simply have no reason to fear creatures that are just a fraction of their size, the manta rays at Manta Point had no hesitation around human beings.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about snorkeling at Manta Point on Nusa Penida.
Manta Point, Nusa Penida
Article Contents (click to expand)
- Manta Point, Nusa Penida
- Snorkeling at Manta Point | What to Expect
- Snorkeling at Manta Point | FAQs
- Nusa Penida Resources
Manta Point Snorkeling | At a glance
- Price | As of 2023, the price is 500,000 IDR per person.
- Meeting Point | The exact meeting point will depend on your tour operator but it will likely be somewhere near the main harbor area on Nusa Penida.
- Time | Usually departs at 8:00 am and returns around 11:30 am
- What to bring | Water, snacks, sunscreen, GoPro or waterproof camera, change of clothes
- Best time to go | You can snorkel with manta rays at Manta Point on Nusa Penida year round. The best time to visit Nusa Penida is during the dry season from May to October. During this time, the weather (and water) will be warmer and the water will be a bit clearer.
- Book your tour | You can usually book a tour through your hotel, or reserve a spot in advance through GetYourGuide.
- Snorkeling so close to massive manta rays is simply magical
- The boat ride out to Manta Point is beautiful
- In addition to snorkeling with manta rays, you also get to snorkel at two other spots
- At 500,000 IDR per person, snorkeling at Manta Point isn’t cheap.
- Water can be quite cold.
- One of the most popular activities on Nusa Penida; tends to get crowded
- At the last snorkeling spot, our guide poked some sleeping sea turtles to make them swim, which I didn’t like
How to book a snorkeling tour to Manta Point on Nusa Penida
Booking a snorkeling tour to Manta Point on Nusa Penida is quite easy. You can always ask the reception at your accommodation for help booking a tour. However, booking through your hotel means you don’t have any choice in tour operator, and sometimes you don’t exactly know what you are getting.
If you’re like us, you like to see some reviews and read more details about what you’re paying for. Therefore, we’d recommend booking your tour through GetYourGuide, our favorite way to book excursions.
GetYourGuide gives you way more options than just booking the tour company affiliated with your hotel. You can even find tours that include lunch or will take you to other stops on Nusa Penida after you’re done snorkeling!
We’d recommend booking a tour a few days in advance just to be safe but it’s definitely possible to book with just a day’s notice. The tour operators always seem to find room for a few more people!
Pro Tip | Beware that most snorkeling tours actually go to Manta Bay, which is NOT the same as Manta Point. Manta Bay tends to be chaotic and overcrowded, and you have a much smaller chance of actually seeing manta rays. It can be difficult to tell exactly where each tour goes so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask a tour operator to clarify.
Snorkeling at Manta Point | What to Expect
Meeting at the harbor on Nusa Penida
Once you book a snorkeling tour, the operator will give you a specific meeting location and time for the morning of your tour. Most tours depart from somewhere near the main harbor area on Nusa Penida or from Crystal Bay.
If you don’t have a motorbike, make sure you have transportation already arranged. Most tours leave around 8:00am so you’ll need to be there around 7:30 or 7:45 in order to check in and get your snorkeling gear.
Boat ride to Manta Point
Honestly, besides the actual snorkeling with giant manta rays, my favorite part of the snorkeling tour to Manta Point on Nusa Penida was the boat ride to get there.
The boat ride takes about 30-40 minutes and follows along the southern side of Nusa Penida. Along the way, you’ll get up close views of the towering seaside cliffs and sea stacks that make the island so beautiful.
You’ll also pass by the famous Kelingking Beach and rock formation, seeing it from a unique angle that most visitors don’t get to experience.
Snorkeling at Manta Point
After about 40 minutes or so, the boat will pull up closer to the cliffs and you’ll arrive at Manta Point. Usually, one of the guides will quickly hop in the water and begin searching for the giant manta rays.
When I was there, it took all of 5 minutes before we spotted the first manta ray and before we knew it, there were probably 10 manta rays swimming all around us!
There were a few times when they swam directly at me, only to break to the left or right at the last second. Even though I knew they were harmless creatures, it still got my heart pumping to see a 15-foot wide manta rushing towards me!
The manta rays also seemed to be playing with each other, dancing and twirling around in spirals, right in front of the crowd of snorkelers who had gathered to watch them. I swear it was like they knew they had our attention and wanted to put on an underwater dance show!
I seriously cannot overstate how cool it was to be so close to these gentle giants.
We snorkeled around Manta Point for about 45-60 minutes before heading back to the boat to go to our next stop.
I would have loved to stay there all day to watch the manta rays but honestly, the water was a bit cold and the ocean was pretty choppy. After about an hour of swimming, I think everyone in our group was ready for a rest.
Snorkeling after Manta Point
From Manta Point, we started to make our way back towards the main harbor. But our tour was far from over!
We then stopped at Gamat Bay to snorkel through some amazing colorful coral. Gamat Bay is a small alcove that is home to thousands of diverse fish species and some of the most vibrant coral I have ever seen.
While it obviously couldn’t match swimming with giant manta rays, I really enjoyed snorkeling at Gamat Bay and was impressed by the health of the coral.
Extra bonus: snorkeling with sea turtles
After Gamat Bay, we made one more stop, just outside the main harbor area of Nusa Penida. At this point, I was quite cold from the chilly water and wasn’t super keen to hop back into the sea. However, there were promises of seeing sea turtles so I half-begrudgingly put my mask and fins back on and hopped into the deep water.
We did end up seeing a few sea turtles here but honestly, I didn’t think it was worth it. The area had super deep water so you could barely see the turtles and it was right near the main harbor so boats were passing by in every direction.
But what bummed me out the most was the way the guides poked and prodded the sea turtles so that we could see them more closely.
The turtles we saw were all sleeping way down on the ocean floor, minding their own business. Our guide would swim down and literally poke them to wake them up just so they would swim up toward the surface for our amusement.
I can’t imagine anyone would like such a rude intrusion to their nap!
After seeing the turtles, we hopped back in the boat and were back at the main harbor in just a few minutes.
Pro Tip | The best spot to go snorkeling with Sea Turtles is on the Gili Islands off the coast of Lombok. There are so many turtles here that there’s no need to go poking and prodding sleeping ones!
Snorkeling at Manta Point | FAQs
Which is better: Manta Bay or Manta Point?
On Nusa Penida, there are snorkeling tours to both Manta Bay and Manta Point. We highly, highly recommend selecting a tour that goes to Manta Point.
Tours to Manta Point are more expensive (about twice the cost). However, it’s definitely worth paying more to snorkel at Manta Point because you have a much higher chance of actually seeing manta rays at Manta Point!
On other “manta ray snorkeling” tours it’s possible you won’t see any manta rays. Snorkeling at Manta Point essentially guarantees that you’ll get to see these gentle giants!
Do I need previous snorkeling experience to snorkel?
Nope, no prior snorkeling experience is necessary to go snorkeling at Manta Point on Nusa Penida. As long as you are comfortable swimming in potentially strong currents for an extended time, you’ll be all set.
Is snorkeling with giant manta rays scary?
Yes and no.
Again, manta rays are completely harmless to humans and are actually quite friendly creatures. However, I won’t lie and say my heart rate didn’t increase a few times as a giant manta started swimming right at me!
Do all tours depart from Nusa Penida?
No. While Manta Point is located off the coast of Nusa Penida and most tours leave from Nusa Penida, you can find tours that depart from Bali and from the nearby islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.
Book your trip | I was staying on Nusa Penida when I snorkeled at Manta Point, so that is how I’ve written this article. However, you can easily find tours that depart from Bali and from Nusa Lembongan/Ceningan on GetYourGuide.
Nusa Penida Resources
How do I get to Nusa Penida from Bali?
- Cost | 100,000 to 150,000 IDR per person from Bali (one way)
If you’re planning to visit Nusa Penida independently and stay overnight on the island, the best way to get there is by booking a fast boat from Bali on 12GoAsia. Most boats depart from the Sanur Harbour in Bali and arrive at Banur Nyuh Harbor on the western side of Nusa Penida.
We used the company Angel Billabong Fast Cruise because it was the cheapest option, and we had a fine experience. Don’t expect any luxuries: the A/C won’t work, it’s hot, bumpy and the choppy seas may induce seasickness for some!
But we’ve come to find that these conditions are the standard for traveling by boat in Southeast Asia.
How do I get around on Nusa Penida?
There are three ways you can get around to all the best things to do on Nusa Penida: by renting a motorbike, taking a guided tour, or hiring a private driver for the day.
How many days should I spend on Nusa Penida?
We’d recommend 3 full days to fully explore all the best things to do on Nusa Penida. This gives you one day to explore the eastern side, one day to explore the western side, and one day to go snorkeling with Manta Rays.
With two full days, spend the first morning snorkeling with Manta Rays and visit Kelingking Beach in the late afternoon. Spend the next day exploring the eastern side of the island.
When is the best time to go?
- Rainy season | November to March
- Dry season | April to October
Nusa Penida has two distinct seasons: the rainy season and the dry season. Dry season is the most popular time to visit for obvious reasons, so if you want to avoid the crowds you may actually prefer to visit during the rainy season. Just be prepared to plan your day around the weather if you do visit during the rainy season.
No matter when you visit Nusa Penida, we’d recommend getting to Thousand Islands Viewpoint as early in the morning as possible to avoid some of the crowds. If you’re staying on the island, you can avoid the Bali day-tour groups that typically swarm the popular sights from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. by visiting early in the day or later in the afternoon.
Where should I stay on Nusa Penida?
If you want to really explore all the best things to do on Nusa Penida, the best area to stay is just inland from the western side of the island. Below are a few great places to stay:
- Budget | The Dagan Bungalow. Private and clean bungalows in a convenient location with prices starting at $35 USD per night.
- Mid-range | Bagia Bungalows. This is where we stayed and we had a great experience. Our host was super helping in helping us plan out our days, and giving us the inside scoop on which attractions are suitable to get to by motorbike.
- Luxury | Penida Bamboo Green Suites. Stunning luxury bungalows featuring hammocks with views overlooking the island, if you stay here, you just might not want to leave!
Other things to do on Nusa Penida
Looking for more to do on Nusa Penida? You may also be interested in these resources!