Author: Hillary Strasser
Location: Bandos, Maldives
We left Bandos at 0630 to motor 10 miles to the island of Rasfari. After dropping anchor we immediately piled into the dinghy to snorkel at the manta ray cleaning station. A certain section of the atolls around Rasfari are incredibly shallow and we were all dropped off to explore. This time of year manta rays come to this area and are cleaned by hundreds of tiny fish. The entire morning was spent swimming around as the giant creatures glided by. Evidently the mantas we saw were not full grown adults and most of them were an impressive 8-15 feet. After awhile, we all became braver and few of us dove down and glided alongside the mantas as they slid through the water. We reluctantly climbed out of the water and ate lunch on our motor back to Bandos. Halfway there Boomer spotted a deserted island peaking up out of the water. We dropped anchor yet again so that we could swim to this idyllic sandbar. Pretending that this island was our own, we named it Argonia. After an hour, we (unfortunately) swam away from Argonia, back on board Argo to finish our motor to Bandos. We dropped anchor exactly where we had been that morning and set about preparing for the night diver after dinner. This was the most unreal but stimulating day so far - we all have a newfound appreciation for mantas and truly admire the inexplicable beauty of the Maldivian atolls.