and one of the most popular/unique dives i saw was a chance to feed manta rays so i quickly added that to my list.
manta rays are sometimes known as butterflies of the sea. they are graceful and gentle giants that swoop under the water with wingspans up to 20+ feet! unlike other rays, mantas don't have stingers and are perfectly harmless to humans. they don't even have teeth, eating plankton that swims into their funnel-like mouths.
in 2005 i had the opportunity to scuba dive off the kona coast of hawaii with these magnificent creatures. justin and i participated in a nighttime dive. why at night? because the plankton they like to eat are attracted to the beams of light from the high-powered flashlights we held while "sitting" on the bottom of the ocean. in addition to the divers below, there were snorkelers near the surface of the water pointing their beams of light down toward us. the result was an extremely up close and personal encounter with these angelic aliens. we weren't supposed to touch them but they were not following the same rules as us and had no problem brushing against you with their soft and slightly slimy bodies. it wasn't the least bit frightening or gross though. truly, it was a breathtaking experience that i've always been so excited to have been able to do and always recommend to others.