This is historical material, "frozen in time." The web site is no longer updated and links to external web sites and some internal pages will not work.

DLNR News Release-Proposed Manta Viewing Rules Involve Additional Community Input

Posted on Oct 27, 2022 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

(HONOLULU) – For nearly a decade, the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) has grappled with amendments to Hawai‘i Administrative Rules (HAR) regarding commercial manta ray viewing operations at two locations in the West Hawai‘i Ocean Recreation Management Area (ORMA). 


The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR), today approved initiating rulemaking proceedings, including public hearings on a proposed set of rules. 


DOBOR estimates between 60-70 viewing vessels get guests up close and personal with feeding manta rays in the Makako Bay (also known as Garden Eel Cove) and Kaukalaelae Point (also known as Keauhou Bay) ORMAs. The proposed rules would limit commercial viewing permits to 24, in each of the two designated zones. Boats could carry no more than 60 passengers for hire within a single 24-hour period. Vessels would be subject to 2-hour-long shifts in each zone. 


These rules would be the first of their kind in Hawai‘i. Currently there are no laws or rules that regulate manta ray diving or viewing activities. This has led to overcrowding and associated safety concerns and user conflicts, and environmental impacts. 


DOBOR Administrator Ed Underwood told the BLNR, “We’ve had years of lengthy discussions with commercial manta ray viewing activity operators. We also consulted closely on the development of the proposed rules with the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR). We also engaged the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), to ensure any final regulations will be effectively enforced. 


Additional proposed rules: 


  • Revision and additions of various definitions  
  • Defines manta ray viewing hours from 4:00 p.m.- 4:00 a.m. the next day 
  • Specific permits at a fixed monthly fee of $300.00, in addition to commercial use permit fees 
  • Implement a guide-to-customer ratio of 8-to-1 
  • Safety requirements including specific vessel lighting, propeller guards or safety lookout 
  • Display of capital “M” on both sides of vessels 
  • Prohibiting fishing in the zones during manta ray viewing hours 
  • Implement strict penalties for violations by commercial operators 


DOBOR is also proposing the official creation of two designated manta ray viewing zones, at the locations mentioned above. 


DOBOR held numerous informational meetings in West Hawai‘i over the past eight years, along with lengthy discussions with stakeholders and community members. The BLNR approval of rulemaking proceedings triggers public hearings, with dates yet to be announced.  

# # # 



(All images/video courtesy: DLNR) 


HD video – Manta ray viewing, Keauhou Bay (Oct. 19, 2015):


Photographs – Manta ray viewing, Keauhou Bay (Oct. 19, 2015): 



Media Contact: 

Dan Dennison

Senior Communications Manager

Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources

(808) 587-0396