Photos: Cristian Galapaguito and Diana Godoy Saker
If you are a fan of diving, then watching giant manta rays swim above you must be on your top 10 list! There exist only a few places in the world where you can watch these amazing huge sea animals dance curiously around you. Of course, you need the right guy to tell you when and where to find them and we got the right guy! Christian, our specialist PADI instructor, will ensure that, next time, the guy in the picture is you!
Giant manta rays can be found in the pacific coast 9 km off the coast of Ayangue, a coastal town at about an 8 hour drive from the capital city Quito. The trip is a little long but the scenery is beautiful and the highway is in good condition.
Our team members included Alex (50), George (14), Alex#2(12), Eros (10) , Lupita (14 poodle years), Me (Diana, 35), and Christian our PADI instructor from Navio Buceo Ecuador. We all got our Diving Licence last year, and now we are ready for some real adventure!
Christian arrives around 8 am to pick you up, so don’t stay up late partying the previous night! He will have all the equipment ready for you at the beach. The personnel at Mantaraya Scuba are really nice and know what you need. We slip on our wet suits and make sure all equipment is ready to go.
The boat ride is about 2 hours long. I got a little sick but let me tell you it was so worth it! Lupita was calm, she seemed to be having fun. On the way we saw whales and a large school of dolphins… it was a really exciting bonus!
The location we reached is a large underwater plateau. Once in the water, we went down the cable, kids first! Lupita stayed on the boat, she doesn’t have her licence yet! No sooner did we begin the descent and there they were, waiting on us! Those magnificent manta rays. We almost shit our pants. To be honest, when I saw the size of these animals I was impressed, a lot scared but also very happy to be one of the few people in the water that day. And, of course, I couldn’t help thinking how brave these three kids are!
It’s a magical experience difficult to describe. The mantas are gentle and curious. Contrary to their cousin the sting ray, mantas are not dangerous but they are big and heavy enough to become dangerous if you scare them and they hit you with their massive bodies. They were generous and danced around us for a long time, coming really, really close. Do not touch them! Just enjoy the experience.
I was sad when I saw the oxygen tank was out and we had to go, but I’m hoping to be back soon. The boat ride was a little rough, and it got a little cold too! Taking the wet suit off and putting on warm clothes is a good idea. And getting back to land is also great because we know our reward awaits! hot instant coffee with Bolon de Verde… and don’t forget the group picture!