Manta rays, those gentle giants of the open ocean, are celebrated at Rays on the Bay restaurant at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay as they make their nightly appearance just offshore. Manta rays — not to be confused with sting or eagle rays — feed on plankton that gather in the bay under evening light sources.
The resort recently opened a Manta Learning Center, located at the entrance to Rays on the Bay.
“Our Manta Learning Center is a collaboration between Keller and Wendy Laros of the Manta Pacific Research Foundation and Sheraton Kona designed to inform visitors and residents about these amazing ocean creatures who live just a few feet from our shoreline,” said Matthew Grauso, the resort’s general manager. “Keauhou Bay is our front yard and their home, and perhaps the best place on the planet to swim with the mantas.”
The new Manta Learning Center showcases 20 images of the resident Keauhou Bay mantas shot by photographer Bo Pardau and looped video footage. There are also story boards detailing the latest research and scientific information.
“Hahalua (manta rays) can live up to 100 years and our interaction with them is very special,” said Lily Dudoit, the resort’s director of culture and activities. “On Mondays through Saturdays at 7 p.m., our free Manta Talk at the Manta Learning Center shares the stories of these creatures.”
The resort is partnering with EKA Canoe Adventures and Nakoa Foundation’s Na Pea (Sea Scouts) to host Manta Talk. The Na Pea program teaches youth leadership and stewardship of land and marine resources through the use of traditional Hawaiian sailing canoes.
Visit SheratonKona.com or call 930-4900 for more information.