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Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers

A stay at this award-winning resort puts everything Yap offers—mantas, sharks, macro critters, blue-water drop-offs and a rich culture—front and center.
By Patricia Wuest | Updated On February 15, 2024
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Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers

The award-winning team at Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers provide more than a nice accommodations and diving package.

Tim Rock

A small group from Manta Ray Bay Resort motors over to Rainbow Reef, just offshore from a mangrove forest that serves as a nursery for many animals found in the ocean. The sun is just beginning to streak the sky in reds, pinks and oranges as the divers slip into the water. They are hopeful that they’re in the right place, at the right time. Rainbow Reef is where psychedelic-colored mandarinfish can usually be found just before dusk. The crew from Yap Divers, the resort’s onsite dive shop, has briefed the group on what to expect and how to help ensure they’ll see the mandarinfish mating ritual. The divers descend quickly and settle into stationary positions on the bottom. The “hummingbirds of the ocean,” the mandarins are members of the dragonet family and are as notoriously shy as they are colorful, but the group is in luck. The mandarins have emerged from behind coral fingers and become more active. A few males, pulsating their fins just as a hummingbird beats its wings, signal their desire for a female. The males rise up in the water, return to the reef to chase a female, until finally, a male and female pair rise together, cheek to cheek, and release a cloud of eggs and sperm. It’s over in minutes, but it’s a remarkable encounter that ensures the next generation of mandarins on Yap’s reefs and it’s one that these divers will remember for a lifetime.

Your stay at Manta Ray Bay Resort will be filled with memorable experiences.

David Fleetham

If you’ve only thought of the island as a stopover on your way to explore Truk Lagoon or Palau, it’s time to give Yap another look. For starters, there’s the marine biodiversity—mantas, sharks, schools of bumphead parrotfish and jacks, rare macro critters, and corals that are thriving. The diving spans the gamut, from shallow dips on sunny coral gardens to thrilling drifts and electric encounters with big fish on blue-water drop-offs. Plus, the water is warm year-round and the visibility is eye-popping. And when you’re not underwater, you can discover the fascinating Yapese traditions and culture that date back thousands of years.

Best of all, the award-winning team at Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers provide more than a nice accommodations and diving package. From the moment you arrive, your stay will be filled with memorable experiences—from intimate encounters with mating mandarinfish to blackwater explorations, shark-feeding dives, kayaking expeditions and authentic cultural displays.

Yap is covered in lush foliage and mangrove forests.

Marty Snyderman

Steeped in Beauty, Solitude and History

Viewed from the air, Yap’s palm-fringed islands, islets and atolls are mere specks sprawled across a swath of Pacific Ocean. The main island of Yap is actually four islands, plus 14 outer islands that are scattered to the east and south. Ringed by a pristine coral reef and impossibly blue seas, Yap is covered in lush foliage and mangrove forests. It is here where the legendary Bill “Pops” Acker started Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers.

Bill Acker first came to Yap as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1976. When he left, he moved to Honolulu to attend the business school at the University of Hawaii. Fate would intervene when friends in Yap asked him if he’d be willing to run Waab Transportation Company. He returned to the island, got certified as a diver, and as the saying goes, the rest is history. He opened Yap’s first dive shop in 1986.

Along with the late Paul Tzimoulis, publisher of Skin Diver and Sport Diver magazines, Bill developed the manta dives that helped Yap gain recognition as one of the planet’s top dive destinations. During those early days, he built the original Manta Ray Bay Hotel while discovering, exploring and naming most of the dive sites, including Cabbage Patch, Magic Kingdom, Gilman Wall, Yap Caverns and Lionfish Wall, along with the cleaning stations that giant Pacific mantas visit in Mi’il and Goofnuw channels.

The 2024 Readers Choice Awards

Today, Bill Acker is retired but the resort is still family-owned. The family’s hard work, commitment and vision have not gone unnoticed. In Scuba Diving Magazine’s 2024 Readers Choice Awards, Manta Ray Bay Resort was voted the Best Overall Resort in the Pacific and Indian Ocean region. In addition, the resort was named to the Top 10 lists for Quality of the Resort, Quality of the Rooms, Quality of the Restaurant, Quality of the Staff and Value.

Yap Divers was also recognized, earning a spot on the Top 10 lists for Best Overall Dive Operation, Quality of Dive Boats, Quality of Rental Gear, Quality of Facilities, Quality of Staff, Quality of Training Courses and Attention to Safety.

A record number of readers and web visitors—more than 13,000—voted in this year’s survey. The resort’s No. 1 ranking for Best Overall Resort is a prestigious designation that only a handful of dive resorts have ever achieved.

Manta encounters at Manta Ray Bay Resort.

Brad Holland

The Magical Manta Experiences

Mantas put Yap on divers’ radar, and they are awe-inspiring. The manta encounters in Mi’il and Goofnuw channels are timed with the tides to take advantage of the best visibility—the incoming tide sweeps in clear ocean water. At the cleaning stations, the mantas swoop in to have their gills and mouths cleaned of parasites by small wrasses and butterflyfish. These acrobatic animals congregate in Goofnuw in summer and early fall and are found in Mi'il the rest of the year. All you have to do is remain stationary on the channel bottom, avoid stirring up silt, and wait for these highly intelligent animals to perform acrobatic maneuvers above your head. It’s truly magical.

Besides the spectacular shows put on by the mantas and mandarinfish, Yap has plenty of other logbook-worthy dive experiences—including shark encounters, walls and caverns. Spinner dolphins may accompany you on the boat ride to Yap Caverns, an intricate maze of small caverns and canyons located at the southernmost tip of the island. You’ll be mesmerized by the shafts of sunlight that stream through skylights in the reef, and the amphitheater is a macro photographer’s dream. Your dive guide will point out a host of critters—porcelain crabs, nudibranchs, scorpionfish and ghost pipefish have set up housekeeping here.

Yap Divers conducts its shark feeding experience at Vertigo, where you’ll be treated to a head-swiveling encounter with gray reef, silky, and white- and blacktip reef sharks. The water is incredibly clear and blue at this site, and it serves as an ideal backdrop for photographers. You’ll set up on a rocky reef while the sharks make short work of the frozen chumsicle. Afterward, you can choose to explore deeper on the nearby wall.

Dramatic crevices in the reef are a feature at a number dive sites found off the island—one minute you are finning over a relatively shallow portion of the reef, and then—poof!— you are at the edge and looking down into the crystal-clear blue waters of a deep crevice in the reeftop.

Come discover what savvy divers already know.

David Fleetham

A Resort Built by Divers, for Divers

Your surface intervals will be spent back at Manta Ray Bay Resort, which offers a number of amenities. The resort has 35 ocean-themed rooms with air-conditioning, high-speed internet access, and TV. With names like Manta Ray, Spotted Dolphin and Mandarinfish, no two rooms are alike. From standard rooms that offer views of the lush hillsides to deluxe suites with stunning ocean views, private plunge pools and stone showers, you’ll find the perfect accommodation for your taste and budget.

The floating restaurant, the Mnuw Restaurant and Bar, is an actual Phinisi-style schooner that Bill, family members and friends sailed from Indonesia to Yap in 2001. Guests will appreciate the effort it took to get this beautiful vessel to the resort. The 170-foot-long ship was constructed from massive beams and teak walls that are more than 100 years old. Guests will enjoy sumptuous meals while taking in views of the water. You can also order the resort’s microbrewed beer—Stone Money Brewing Company is an award-winning microbrewery—or a refreshing tropical drink in either the Nautical Weaver Bar located on the bridge deck or in the Crow’s Nest Bar located on the top deck under the mizzen mast.

Yap Divers

All of the dive facilities and equipment storage are located in the resort just steps from guests’ rooms. Yap Divers is a full-service dive shop, and offers all levels of instruction, Mares and Oceanic equipment, and morning and afternoon two-tank dives. The diving is done from a variety of fast boats, from 21 to 38 feet long, all with twin engines and hard covers to offer protection from the sun.

Depending on conditions and interest, the specialty dives—mandarinfish, shark feeding, night dives and blackwater experiences—are offered on a daily basis. In between dives, you’ll be treated to delicious snacks.

But perhaps best of all, is the peace and solitude you’ll experience while diving with Yap Divers. With the exception of the manta experiences in the channels, your dive boat will be the only one at the dive site, and you’ll rarely encounter another diver except the ones in your small group. The pace is relaxed, and the dive staff are friendly and helpful.

Surface Intervals

The people of Yap are warm, genuine and proud of their culture, which they continue to pass down from generation to generation. Most of the island is privately owned, so you’ll need to get permission before taking a “Yap highway” to a nearby village. Honoring local customs will allow you to witness a way of life that is extremely important to the Yapese. Stone money—called rai—is still legal tender, though today it is used only for dowry payments or land purchases. Thousands of years ago, Yapese warriors sailed 200 miles to Palau to quarry the giant stone money, sometimes as big as 12 feet in diameter. Individual pieces are found all over Yap, but most are kept in “stone money banks” in the villages. The resort’s land tours will take you into villages with stone money banks, as well as traditionally constructed men’s meeting houses called “faluw.”

One of the best ways to explore the beautiful mangrove forests that fringe the four main islands is by kayak. If you’re into relaxation, don’t miss signing up for a treatment at the Taro Leaf Spa or taking a dip in the bayside infinity pool.

Upcoming Events

While you’re exploring options to stay at Manta Ray Bay Resort, consider planning a vacation during the 17th annual MantaFest Photography School & Contest or the second annual BlackwaterFest Photography School.

MantaFest, scheduled for Aug. 24 to Sept. 8, 2024, offers workshops, tours of the island, and expeditions to dive and photograph the island’s mantas. BlackwaterFest will be held Sept. 7-15, 2024, and will take you to the Yap Trench to experience the deep-water creatures that migrate nightly to the surface in search of food.

Book Now for the Experience of a Lifetime

Come discover what savvy divers already know—Manta Ray Bay Resort, Yap Divers and the island of Yap will redefine what you’ve come to expect in a dive vacation.


For more information, visit the reservations page, email, or call 800-348-3927.