MantaFest 2016

7T8A3450At the 9th annual MantaFest photography festival we welcome last year’s entire winner’s circle, several first timer’s, Steven Miller and Ikelite as well as Solmar V and Siren Fleet. Presenting this year from left to right; Ray Bullion, Andy Shumacher, Bill Acker, Steven Miller, Frank Schneider and Brad Holland.

7T8A3327-2MantaFest is a small event with big prizes, a welcoming crowd and many familiar faces.

We welcome back our winners; Returning Best of Show winner Jim Decker and wife Chris, last year’s dSRL winner, at their first MantaFest, with Ann Donahue our returning non-dSLR winner and husband Keith who competes in dSLR as well as Judy Bennett who has never missed a year and has been the Queen of the event several times in dSLR and Anke who was Best of Show dSLR winner three years ago.

The family grows and our winners brought a new winner to the circle, Steve Kopp, who placed first in several dSLR categories.

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7T8A4335MantaFest kicked off with a dive briefing by Bill with an introduction of our new photographic dive plans.

This year we ran an updated workshop program that included advanced topics combined with an advanced shooting scenario – “sunset shark splits” were the buzzwords at this year’s event.

Steven Miller presented split images and Frank Schneider presented shooting sharks at vertigo as their advanced photography workshops.

Specific time was built into the dive plans to allow for additional opportunities to shoot shark split images and we made special trips at sunset to get creative during both weeks.


It turns out that split images are Steven Miller’s thing and he likes to push creative boundaries in his photography.

He thought that sharks and splits should be a daily thing here in Yap and loved the opportunity.

The daily workshop schedule led off with a dedicated workshop on shooting split images, or “over unders”.

Steven walked us through the whole checklist on being productive capturing splits – and the next morning we were dome to face with reef sharks.


Vertigo is the most productive dive site in Yap as far as big animal guarantees go, and it’s a ten on the predictability scale, making for a target rich photographic environment.

Vertigo a special place to interact with reef sharks, the way we do it here is as close as you’re comfortable.

The next best thing to holding still, is a subject that comes back around over and over… says any photographer.

Shooting isn’t easy, most of the dSLR camera systems are awkward, heavy and not fun to use half in, and half out, of the water.

The trick is to nail the sky, nail the shark, and get a sharp split… while holding the camera over the side of the boat waiting for the shark to swim close enough.

Everyday photographers had the opportunity to practice this shot in near perfect conditions – it requires calm seas, no wind, clear water and sharks as close as possible.

7T8A4329Meanwhile back at the ranch, the week’s second advanced workshop was Frank Schneider talking about shooting these sharks, literally, these exact sharks.

Frank’s been here many times and has his own style of getting the shot, he studies the animal and works with whatever it’s doing to get the creative angle he’s looking for.

Frank says that shooting reef sharks is a challenge because they’re always moving and are fast. His workshop discusses shark behavior and how to apply it to your photography.

Showing us published photos of sharks at Vertigo, Frank explains how he made it happen.


7T8A4453-2It was busy days, always something to learn, something to do, something to photograph and someone available for one-on-one training. Afternoon workshops for photo and video, dSLR and compact camera and GoPro headlined with short cultural site tours, afternoon macro dives, mandarinfish dive, night dive or shoot shark splits at sunset were other options.

The hour of most engagement was “Happy Hour with the Presenters”, feel free to bring your camera, laptop, housing, dome or all of the above with your personal questions – that went off well with everyone.

Presenters were busy with housings, cameras, Lightroom and Photoshop questions and giving guests custom advice to help get their photography to the next level.

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This is where our photography grew and these moments reflected in our images. For some it was simply learning how to watermark images, for others it was Lightroom filters and advanced Photoshop layers – regardless of the level of photographer everyone walked out with some new game.

7T8A4474-2MantaFest is a party and Saturday afternoon we all cut lose at a private beach to throw down on the grill and hang out in thatch huts where you can kick it with Bill and toss back beers in one corner, and get some custom shooting input from Frank Schneider, in the other.

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The environment is a traditional Yapese village, gold sand beach with coconut trees and a blue lagoon… but it’s still MantaFest and photography is what’s up right now, cameras were out, a drone was flying around and it was photog play time.


7T8A4750-2 The diving went off with conditions fit for a photography contest. The sharks were a hit in the contest photo submissions along with mating octopus, mantas and some fun macro.

Everything flowed smoothly into the awards night where more than $25,000 in prizes was handed out, that included three liveaboard trips with Dive Damai, Solmar V and Siren Fleet.

Check out the winning images on our facebook page or view these albums:

Presenters all gathered on the Mnuw to organize the photo submissions and we got our first look at what we would be judging this year.

7T8A4864Photogs shot it out in ,five categories; big animals, macro, behavior, reef scenic and people, land & culture.

Check out our facebook page for MantaFest 2016 photo submissions and updates on

Next year we will be running an all-inclusive program that will include some new workshops, photography challenges and shooting scenarios – August 26th – September 10th.




Availability & Reservations

Jim Reilly
Jim Reilly
11:27 21 Mar 18
We stayed at the hotel and dove with Manta Ray divers in early December 2017. The hotel is very comfortable, well run and staffed with wonderful employees. During our visit my wife came down with an illness and the consideration and support from the hotel and dive staff could not have been more
Sandy Stinson
Sandy Stinson
16:03 03 Mar 18
The staff couldn't be more friendly and accommodating. Food is good, (worth upgrading to include all meals). Diving is good more
Alex Divinsky
Alex Divinsky
17:24 01 Jan 18
The best place to stay in Yap. The resort is really nice and clean, the scuba diving is great, and the docked ship that houses the bar, restaurant, and movie screen is very cool. I really enjoyed my stay more
10:44 01 Jan 18
Offers one of the best accommodation service. It also has a uniquely designed restaurant.
Yi-Hsin Lin
Yi-Hsin Lin
00:53 21 Feb 17
The whole place centers around the scuba diving operation. Probably better to find somewhere else if you're not a diver. The dive operation was generally good, but a little too laid back - schedules weren't always clear, and sometimes would change without any notice. Sometimes it was hard to tell if this was really because of changing tides/weather or because of the island pace of life. Pizza is a surprisingly good option at the more
William Myers
William Myers
21:01 21 Jul 18
Great hotel. Have stayed twice.
Emily Caquelin
Emily Caquelin
04:10 02 Aug 18
Manta Ray Bay Resort is a great dive resort with extremely hospitable staff.
Daniel Granzer
Daniel Granzer
11:40 23 Aug 18
We were from 11.08 to 18.08 at the Manta Ray Bay resort and had unforgettable days there 😍In total we made 12 dives with wonderful encounters. Highlights were, of course, the manta rays in the Goofnuw Channel and many white tip reef sharks in the Shark City 🦈 But also we saw eagle rays, turtles 🐢 and buffalo head parrotfish. The hotel is beautiful and the whole team does a great job there. The food on the ship Mnuw, as well as the home-brewed beer are excellent. Thank you again to the whole team of Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers 👏🏼We also did a one-day land tour to explore the many beautiful places of this unique island. The beach is like in paradise🏝, stone money and relics from the second world war very worth to see! You find there also culturally typical houses with different meaning and use! It would be nice if more visitors would come to this great island and appreciate the great work that is done there! Anyway, we really enjoyed it and would come back anytime 🙏🏻✌🏼read more
Jonathan Gapith
Jonathan Gapith
10:31 19 Sep 18
Best dive resort around, amazingly friendly staff and great food on the mnuw
Rene Sten
Rene Sten
04:06 12 Oct 18
Bill and his family run a great dive resort, rooms are spacious and comfortable. Restaurant and bar provide good range of food and drink. Bill and his dive guides know the reef intimately and the diving is spectacular. Bill and his family make for a very friendly and rewarding experience in more
Ms. Malinda
Ms. Malinda
13:52 14 Oct 18
Great place to stay while visiting the island. Lots of activities to do with places to see & people to more
Jan Toman
Jan Toman
22:14 02 Nov 18
Great! GREAT! GREAT! Lovely place, lovely staff, great location for divers!
Deb Roy-Stothart
Deb Roy-Stothart
13:55 06 Dec 18
The highest level of dive service ever experienced! Fabulous dive operation from crew, boats, snacks, hot tea and water, warm towels etc. etc. and of course the Manta Rays!! Thank you for making my 100th dive so memorable. Accommodations 5 star! Food was fabulous! Can't say enough about this beautiful Island and it's people. Loved Yap! Deb & Glenn, London, Ontarioread more
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