A Giant Manta!

I love planning. And I hate boredom. Coupled together, my vacations are a whirlwind of fun. So much fun that it’s often nice to return to work for a breather. Just ask my wife. I’ve been so fortunate to have traveled a lot and experienced some amazing vacations already. So today, I wanted to share a moment from one of these with you.


It’s annoying that I have to keep checking my depth gage, instead of watching the water, but in the Blue like this, I could be sinking to 1,000 feet, and decompression sickness would seriously damper the honeymoon. But I’m at 60 feet and have plenty of air left. Perfect. I dangle in the perfect Blue spreading out in every direction, dotted by the handful of other divers and dive master. It’s a matter of waiting and luck.

C’mon, Manta Ray. Where are ya?

Lisa, my wife – still can’t get over calling her that – kicks over and takes my hand. Even with the regulator stuck in her mouth, a partial smile touches her lips. Maybe it’s because these Costa Rican waters approach twice the temperature of our typical Monterey spots. Or maybe neither one of us is physically able to stop smiling – symptom of a Honeymoon.  

We wait. And there’s nothing but Blue.

Gotta remember to take shallow breaths, like I’m breathing through a straw. Don’t want to run low on air and force the whole group to end the dive. My swooshing, Darth Vader breaths slow down.

Here manta, manta, manta.  

I spin around to face the other direction. More Blue. I mean if we don’t see one…well, I’m sure we will someday. I wish we didn’t have to go home tomorrow, so we’d have another shot. Though, it’s a life goal to see a wild Giant Manta and I don’t give up on goals. Ever. But still, it’d be soooo cool.

Lisa squeezes my hand and I jolt…she sees one? I look at her, but she gives me our secret ‘Love you’ sign with her hand and then continues scanning.

My tank is about 30% gone. I can’t be disappointed if the mantas don’t show…the boat ride along the jungle coastline was spetacluar…worth the cost by itself. Though –

Ding! Ding! Ding!

What’s that? I can’t search fast enough – it’s so hard to tell where sound is coming from underwater. Lisa squeezes my hand. Hard this time.

Ding! Ding!

It’s the dive master. Why is he banging on his tank like that? Where’s he pointing –

Everything gets dark. The Blue goes Deep Blue – Almost Black. It feels like a Sci-Fi movie when the flying saucer blots out the sun overhead. The dinging stops.

I look up.

A creature soars maybe a dozen feet over my head. White belly. A black line for a mouth. Its wings bat once…twice…

A Giant Manta!

Lisa’s going to break my hand. Who cares? The thing is huge – bigger than I imagined. A wingspan the length of a car. It’s so graceful as it makes a slow turn and flies over us again. The dive master swims under it, letting bubbles from his regulator tickle the manta’s belly like he said he’d do.

I really have to slow down my breathing because if cut this encounter short for the whole group – man, they might drown me. I do and for the next half an hour, the manta swims with us before disappearing into the Blue just as fast as it came.

Lisa and I grin at each other as we ascend. What an amazing experience.

What a perfect end to a perfect trip.

Oh, and a quick pic of The New Ballou sporting one awesome onesie!


First, the mommy I am can't stop grinning at the "future reader" onesie and how ADORABLE your Little Ballou is.

Now, to the waters! That had to be a wonderful experience. The patience and discipline it took to breathe slowly, steady and calm...to wait for that moment where nature would heed your wish. That's some endurance right there. But worth it all.

Mmkay, so we're gonna have to get the babies together for a BFF shot in their matching onesies! (Who's book launch is next? Talia's? Maybe Donna's, but I don't think I'll be able to fly to Colorado....)

I was glued to your words for the giant manta experience. Since I'll never go diving, this is as close as I'll get. So cool!

I. Could. Not. Do. That.

No way. I'm surprised you haven't been eaten by a shark already, and that that shark hasn't been eaten by a bigger shark. Because that's all the ocean is: Sharks eating everything.

Ryan's comment is the reason I'll never go diving, by the way.

Sharks eating everything.

Even in lakes.

That kid is adorable! And wow, pretty great story with the manta ray. You are braver than me. Watched one too many Shark Weeks to be comfortable in that deep water. And I still miss Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter.

But, if it was a lifetime dream, I'm glad you got to do it and on your honeymoon! Great way to start your life together. Good sign. Hope it's been that great since then!


Wonderful manta story! How incredible to see it up close like that. Definitely a tale your future reader will love about his parents!

Thanks, everyone. I told TNB that y'all thought he looked pretty darn cute. All these compliments are going to go to his head soon.

And seeing the Manta was amazing! A great beginning to our marriage (still goin' strong). Since then we've had so many awesome adventures (including TNB - and seeing SHARKS...though no lake sharks yet. Shoot, Beth, another thing to add to my bucket list).

Actually, on another honeymoon dive was the first time Lisa saw a shark in the wild. She gently grabbed my hand. I was impressed at her tranquility. However, after the dive, I found out she chomped down on her mouthpiece so hard she bit through the rubber completely!

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