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Manta Ray Resort was one of my favorite stops in Fiji. We visited twice, and each time found the grounds beautiful and the staff very friendly.
We visited while cruising Fiji on our sailing catamaran, Starry Horizons. The first time we came, we had David’s brother, Thomas, on board with us. Then, the second time, we were hosting my parents, Lisa and Bob, and my Uncle Phil.
Mantaray Island Resort is located on Nanuya Balavu, on the northeast tip. The channel between Nanuya Balavu and Drawaqa is very narrow; an easy swim for a capable swimmer. Drawaqa is a lot smaller than Nanuya Balavu.
Cruise ships come into the anchorage here to let guests enjoy a swim and a walk on the beach on Drawaqa Island across from Mantaray Island Resort.
Transfers can be arranged via ferry or seaplane. The resort has a small boat that goes out to meet the ferry, and they do a lovely departing ceremony with Fijian singing by the staff.
South Sea Cruises operates ferries daily in the Mamanucas and Yasawas. The Yasawa Flyer starts at Denarau in the morning, then works its way over to the Yasawas and up the island chain. When it gets to the top it turns around and comes back down, so from Manta Ray, you can pick up the ferry at 11 am to head north, or 2 pm to head south. Or, you can arrange a seaplane to pick you up! We met a few people at the resort who are island hopping for their vacation – a few days here, then hop in the ferry up a few islands to the next resort.
At the beach, there is an activity shack, and a blackboard posting the daily activities going on – such as visiting a nearby village or hiking.
Manta Ray Resort IS appropriately named…..or so they tell me. Although I’ve been twice, I’ve yet to see a manta ray there. One time we missed the rays by just one day!
However, there is still good snorkeling to be had. With both visits, we swam the reef on the west side of Drawaqa Island, which was quite good; we saw many fish, lobsters, crown of thorns, and even a white-tipped reef shark.
With my parents, we went to snorkel the pass between Drawaqa and Naviti, the island to the north. This is where manta rays are usually spotted; they swim in the strong current feeding. The staff at Mantaray Island Resort go out every morning in the right season to look for manta rays. It seems that we just missed manta rays by a day! One of the guests at the resort told us he’d seen manta rays the previous day.
Regardless, we snorkeled the pass two days in a row anyway, and we enjoyed it. The current rips through at high tide, so it was a drift snorkel (meaning you need a boat to pick you up at the end). I zoomed over coral, sea anemones, starfish, and schools of thousands of small fish swimming in the current. Each day we went through the pass four times. We also saw some blacktip reef sharks on the west side of the pass.
One AMAZING story is that my stepdad Bob has a hard time with snorkel masks. The past two times he’s visited us he’s brought his own gear, and he still had issues while we snorkeled in Navadra. When we arrived at Manta Ray Resort, we thought we would ask if they had a full-face snorkel mask. Well, Manta Ray is not a fully-stocked dive store – they have gear for their guests to use free of charge but we asked anyway. Immediately one of the staff members pulled out a full face mask and asked if we wanted to buy it for $20 FJD. YES! Bob used it and loved it! Note; Mom, Bob, and Phil all snorkeled with pool noodles under their arms, so there’s no free diving. I understand sometimes these full-face masks have issues.
Sadly, we did not go diving here, but they do have a dive shop. They have a special – Open Water (6 dives) or Advanced (5 dives) course for $599 Fijian. That’s a pretty great deal!
We enjoyed a pretty great sunset on the lounge deck together.
With Thomas, we had dinner on a Friday night. Dinner was a set menu of four choices for the main course. Afterward, we attended the free Fijian song and dance show on the beach.
We went back for lunch just prior to Thomas’ ferry back to Nadi. I thought lunch was much better because lunch was eleven choices, which included more local cuisine. I had the kokoda for lunch. Plus, at dinner it’s dark already, whereas during the day you get to enjoy the wonderful view.
With my family, due to our schedule, we could only pop in for dinner, but it was fun to listen to the live music.