Experience a manta ray retreat Maldives unlike any other

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Time stops, and beautiful stories unfold when you encounter the ocean’s enchanting manta ray! And now you can join a ‘Manta Retreat’ and be transformed through education, exploration and relaxation…

The ‘Manta Retreat’ is reaching out to adventure travellers, nature lovers, young explorers, and those who wish to add more meaning to their vacations. It is a classic combination of a luxury holiday, and education!

On October 2022, the first ‘Manta Retreat’ was launched at InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort. And guests got to experience the magic of meeting these oddly-shaped giants up-close and personal. 

In collaboration with the resort-based Manta Trust organisation, a thoughtfully curated programme was made available to guests to educate, explore and raise awareness for manta rays in their natural habitat.

About the education, exploration and relaxation:

  • InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort
  • The ‘Manta Retreat’
  • Manta trust
  • Sustainability 
  • Wellness
  • Cuisine


The resort opened in September 2019 and is reached via a 35-minute seaplane transfer from Male. The Resort’s location flanks the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, Baa Atoll, meaning the resort is as beautiful as it is enriching!

Set within Maldives’ largest natural lagoon, the colourful coral house reef teems with black tip sharks and turtles! And manta rays are frequent visitors between December – April each year as they migrate between the atolls during the northeast monsoon months. 

Just south of the resort sits Baa Atoll, which is home to Hanifaru Bay, one of the very few places in the world where whale sharks congregate to mate. And, where visitors can snorkel amongst feeding congregations of whale sharks and large groups of manta rays.

Created with both couples and families in mind, the intuitive design of InterContinental Maldives was created by Singapore-based architects’s Eco-ID. It was aimed to be inspiring, refined and made for stylish barefoot living. 81 Private villas each feature contemporary Maldivian interiors, combined with extensive wellness facilities, bespoke experiences, and six restaurants and bars.


As mentioned, this retreat includes much more than just snorkelling with manta rays! It comprises deep insights into the research surrounding them. Thus, producing a sound holistic understanding of these marine animals, and their habitat.

Already known for its fantastic and perfect location to swim and snorkel with manta rays all year round, the InterContinental Maldives is now launching the second Manta Retreat 9th to 13th March 2023.

The retreat includes:

  • several snorkelling and research trips,
  • on-hand educational workshops,
  • excursions to find turtles and learn about corals,
  • a house reef night snorkelling experience, 
  • a sunset dolphin cruise.

The purpose of the Manta Retreat is to educate participants and ocean aficionados on manta rays and their protection, whilst raising funds to support the work of the Manta Trust.

Guests will also learn about corals, coral propagation, turtles and how to ID a manta ray. Understanding that the plankton in our ocean is the foundation for so much marine life is a great example. When you observe plankton under a microscope, you only begin to understand how diverse marine life is. Their approach is to give guests a holistic experience that is enriching and raises awareness for marine protection simultaneously.

This year’s Manta Retreat falls into the Maamunagau Manta Season, where young manta rays are found in the resort’s lagoon just a few minutes away from shore. The Maamunagau Lagoon is a known juvenile manta ray aggregation point and a significant research ground for the Manta Trust team.”

Farah Hamdan the Manta Trust base leader at Maamunagau says, ”Although we still don’t know though where manta rays are born, we can assume our lagoon to be a manta ray nursery. The juvenile manta rays hang around in our lagoon from December to April. This is a research haven for us!”

“While we, of course, also love to head out to Hanifaru Bay during the season to observe and research the massive aggregation of mantas over there,” explains Hamdan.

Hanifaru Bay is a world-famous, manta ray feeding station. From June to October, large groups of manta rays can be found there, feeding on the plankton washed into the bay by the turning current. The bay is only a short boat ride away from InterContinental Maldives, to which excursions are also offered during the season.

For certified divers, options are available to ensure all guests find their individual way of interacting with manta rays. Dedicated dive spots are in the area around the resort that allows divers to observe the natural manta ray ‘spa’. These are known as cleaning stations, showcasing the incredible symbiosis of marine life in the Maldives.

Guests staying at InterContinental Maldives also have the opportunity to enjoy the luxury resort’s facilities as well as their villa or residence accommodation. There is also plenty to keep family members and kids busy in case some family members or the travel partner is not participating in the retreat. Additional activities can be booked or can extend the stay beyond the retreat if more time is needed to make the most out of the trip to the Maldives.


The Manta Trust is one of the world’s leading manta ray research organisations. Using coordinated global research to aid conservation efforts surrounding manta rays, their relatives and their habitats, the Manta Trust aims to achieve global conservation through research, education and collaboration.

Recognizing the unique privilege of occupying an island in such close proximity to a newly discovered juvenile manta feeding ground, InterContinental Maldives began working in collaboration with the Manta Trust in 2019. 

Reef manta rays are listed as “vulnerable” and Oceanic manta rays as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List! The work that they do there helps to increase knowledge and understanding. And ultimately, it can be used to guide conservation measures both in the Maldives, but also around the world where manta populations are much smaller, and often threatened.

To find out more visit education.mantatrust.org and join the Manta Trust in building a global network of ocean guardians, ready to take stewardship of our blue planet.


The signature AVI Spa features six overwater treatment villas along with steam rooms, ice fountains, a yoga pavilion and a fitness centre. Meaning ‘sunshine’, the AVI Spa delivers a transformational wellness experience, coupling indigenous Asian health practices with organic European botanicals to offer treatments that energise, relax or rejuvenate. 

Treatments use a range of leading brands including Eminence Organics, VitaJuwel Crystal Gemstones, Kerstin Florian and Margret Dabb’s Pure Products. And guests can also enjoy varied treatments through the resort’s visiting practitioner programme. 


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As the first and only all-Club InterContinental® resort, each guest enjoys benefits including a dedicated Island Curator. Subsequently, the curator is committed to guest’s personal service, and complimentary daily treats including: 

  • afternoon tea with three tiers of tantalising savoury delicacies, and rare loose-leaf varietals selected by the in-house tea sommelier; 
  • an evening aperitif offering a selection of premium wine and cheese or non-alcholic alternatives;
  • and all-day soft drink refreshments by the pool or beach. 

The Resort offers six distinct restaurants and bars including:

  • The Retreat, an adults-only space with a private bar and its own infinity pool at the water’s edge,
  • Café Umi, a Japanese-inspired restaurant providing elevated comfort and classic favourites, inspired by sustainable cuisine.
  • Fish Market is a unique sea-to-table interactive kitchen concept blending the best Maldivian seafood with aromatic flavours from South East Asia. 
  • The Lighthouse delivers a memorable dining experience with 360-degree views of the Indian Ocean, whilst
  • The Collective offers more casual ‘grab-and-go’dining. Finally, Sunset Bar provides a stylish and romantic ambience with the best sunset moments on the island
  • In addition, resort menus can also be tailored to create a wellness retreat experience, without compromising the luxury experience.


The resort’s Marine Discovery Centre is staffed by a team of experienced marine biologists who work closely with the Manta Trust and Ocean Group. They have developed a first-of-its-kind marine conservation programme for guests. 

For those who wish to continue their support on return home, a Manta Trust-led programme allows InterContinental Maldives guests to name new mantas and track them as they migrate around the Maldives, with 100% of funds going directly to the Manta Trust. 

InterContinental Maldives is focused on minimising its environmental impact with a commitment to reducing waste from both plastic and glass, composting bio waste and giving it new life with the IHG Green Engage system. 

The resort’s agreement with Parley Maldives works to reduce reliance on single-use plastics, intercept sources of plastic waste, and prevent it from entering the oceans or being disposed of in destructive ways. Parley takes the resort’s plastics and recycle them to make usable products.

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Tracy Burrows114 Posts

    Tracy Burrows is the founder of the Out There Global platform featuring both cost effective and luxury best cultural vacation ideas & experiences from around the world. From Jan 2014 – Dec 2016 she managed the LatestSightings.com blog (a United Nations World Summit Award Winner: Culture & Tourism 2016 & National Geographic partner). She was also consulting editor at MOZambique Magazine, and a contributing writer at Sawubona Magazine (South African Airways inflight magazine), and Africa Geographic. Prior to her career she obtained a tourism research, and marketing degree, and also graduated from a 2 year ‘Management in Development Program’ in San Diego California. She also acquired a qualification in journalism and media and since it’s been all about culture, adventure and multi media! Her nourishment comes from all those who have impacted her, including: family; friends; and strangers alike. Thank you for joining our journey, and we hope you enjoy finding an immersive experience and the culture & adventure in the destination! Aside from Out There Global Magazine, Tracy has also run a Public Relations, and SEO business since 2010 for small business.


    • Dave Reply

      March 5, 2023 at 5:42 am

      Your content never disappoints with another exciting dive wish list for my dive buddies and I to consider

    • Michelle Reply

      March 6, 2023 at 7:10 am

      I am not a diver but I am beginning to consider it with some of the ideas you post

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