Some of the best adventures are spontaneous ones. I was tucking into a hearty breakfast of chorizo and sweet potato hash at The Nautilus island in the Maldives when I was given the manta ray warning: They’d been spotted — a lot of them, at least 50 — and the boat would be leaving in 15 minutes.
Abandoning my meal and jumping into one of the resort’s plush boats, I set off. A half-hour journey later (accompanied by The Nautilus’ resident marine biologist, who spoke passionately about her love of sharks), we were awaiting our turn for a swim in the cerulean water with the enormous rays.
The area is fiercely protected; only a limited number of people are allowed in the water at one time, for 45 minutes only, and it’s a no-wake zone for all boats. The area is patrolled by rangers and drones flying overhead to ensure the animals’ safety at all times. Don’t even think about touching them — one stroke and you’re out.
Snorkeled up, I dipped my head under the water and immediately saw a 4-ft ray glide right beside me. They often move in ‘chains,’ one behind the other, with their huge mouths opening and closing.
They are curious creatures and will likely come up to inspect you — that’s both thrilling and slightly terrifying. It is a magical experience, one that you can’t do anywhere else. In the Maldives, the manta ray season runs from June to November and, even then, you aren’t guaranteed to see them. But visiting at this time increases your chances, along with the full moon.
Be prepared to drop everything and go (even if you’re mid-massage, you can pick it up later; even if it’s 2am).
For a more in-depth look at The Nautilus, click here.
From $3,600 per night. Contact Gerrit Chng-Luchau, director of sales and marketing, firstname.lastname@example.org, +960 660 0000, thenautilusmaldives.com