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BIG & BEAUTIFUL There’s something magical about manta rays. To catch a glimpse of one of these elegant creatures as they glide through the clear water is a moment of great joy and deservedly garners oohs and ahs. Known as hähälua in Hawaiian, which means “two mouths” or “two breaths,” these creatures were so revered they are mentioned in the second section of the Kumulipo, the Hawaiian creation chant. Their presence has always captured a sense of wonder simply because our realm of understanding them or their behavior is elusive. Each manta ray’s markings are unique, like a fingerprint, and researchers use these markings to study the graceful creatures and their habits over time. But where can you catch your own glimpse of manta rays? Rays on the Bay 18

at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay has a viewing platform, as the rays make their nightly dinner reservation in the sea just beyond the restaurant. Or, for those further up the Kohala Coast, the Mauna Kea Beach Resort offers an evening manta ray lookout as well. For those feeling more adventurous, take an evening dip in the deep blue sea with one of the local manta ray dive operators. Bright lights are used to attract plankton calling the mantas to dinner. You will be amazed as the gentle giants gracefully flip and dip for food right before your very eyes—and, don’t worry, these creatures are safe with no teeth or stingers. Expect to walk away from this unforgettable experience feeling an immense sense of awe and appreciation for these extraordinary creatures. BIG ISLAND TRAVELER

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