The Spanish word manta actually translates to “blanket”in English.
Manta rays are aptly named, then. Spanning up to 5 meters (sometimes even more) in width, mantas majestically swimming above you can blot out the sunlight, shrouding you in darkness.
But they’re not in any way menacing. Not by a long shot.
At Manta Point in Nusa Penida, Bali, they are at their element – tumbling, whirling and gliding like graceful kites in aclear blue summer sky.
We waited for about 15 minutes at 10 meters before the first gentle giant arrived. It hovered for a while, as if posing for the benefit of the divers taking pictures, before floating away.
What already was an amazing experience got even better, when it came back with another one, bemused by its excited spectators.
Crowd pleasers, they most certainly are.
As a friend put it, this is one of the reasons why we dive. We live for moments like this.