Located to the north of the Aliwal Shoal reef system on the eastern side of the Pinnacles, Manta Point is undoubtedly one of the reef’s best-kept secrets. It doesn’t share the iconic status bestowed upon better-known sites like Raggie’s Cave and Cathedral, but it is nevertheless a firm favourite amongst those that have explored the Shoal beyond its most obvious highlights. Although Manta Point has a maximum depth of 22 metres, it is a multi-level dive with plenty to see as shallow as 12 metres. Thanks to the diversity of its topography, it is a site with something for everyone – from the newest Open Water diver to the veteran Divemaster.
Maximum Depth: 22 metres
Minimum Qualification: Open Water diver
A Cleaning Station
Dives on Manta Point typically begin on the shallow point that gives the site its name. Thereafter, the reef tapers into deeper water on one side, and follows the spine of the Pinnacles southwards on the other. Home to a profusion of both hard and soft coral, this site is one of the most colourful on the Shoal, and as such provides a particularly photogenic backdrop for amateur and professional underwater photographers. There’s no lack of subject matter either, as Manta Point’s dramatic topography acts as a natural magnet for a wealth of tropical fish life. Often, the reef itself is all but obscured behind technicolor clouds of pale pink and orange anthias.
Out of shark season, the reef’s hidden spaces are far from bereft. They provide a treasure trove of sightings, some predictable, others of which change on a day-to- day basis. The larger caverns and hollows provide a convenient resting place for green turtles, sleeping round-ribbontail rays and enormous, petulant-looking potato bass.
Of course, Manta Point was so named for a reason, and it is also well-known as one of the best places to see the giant rays during the summer months. Perhaps they are drawn to the nutrient-rich upwellings created by the nearby Pinnacles, or perhaps they employ the services of the reef’s cleaner species to help rid them of unwanted parasites. Whatever the reason for their patronage, watching from the seafloor as these incredible animals eclipse the sun above is certainly a bucket-list experience for any discerning diver. On days with a slight north to south current, Manta Point is also the perfect starting point for a scenic drift dive to Raggie’s Cave.
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