Most resorts around the world they have a signature restaurant that sets them a part from others. Rays on the Bay at the Sheraton Kona Resort at Keauhou Bay stands out not only because it is one of the best Kona restaurants, but because of the resident manta rays who come to dine in the bay. How does a giant of the sea help set apart a restaurant from others? Let us show you.
Rays on the Bay is located in the beautiful Sheraton Kona Resort on Keauhou Bay, a bay which is special to the area for being the location where the Manta Rays live and come to dine nightly on the plankton. With high energy lights that shine out into the bay at night, the plankton are attracted and the Manta Rays come to feast. This scene is visible from the Ray s on the Bay restaurant because of the lights that illuminate the sea. At Rays on the bay, you are able to get a front row seat to sea this gentle sea giant while not having to get in the water. You also get to dine on some of the best cuisine in Hawaii while enjoying the nightly show.
First Impression of Rays on the Bay Restaurant in Kona, Hawaii
As you walk into Rays on the Bay you can feel the sea breeze on your face of this open air restaurant. The décor and colors invite you in with a cool yet energizing ambiance that incorporates Hawaiian elements but keeps your focus on the sea. The setting was perfect, and we knew that we were about to have an amazing dining experience.
Read also about our experience Walking on Clouds at Ho’ola Spa at the Sheraton Kona
We were seated near the railing around a fire pit. We could not ask for a better seat to view the sea and the manta rays. Plus, the glowing fire was a nice touch of light and helped to set the mood for the evening. While our seat was awesome, we looked around and saw that all the tables and chairs were arranged in a way that allowed every guest to have a sea view.
Each night they have live music playing at Rays on the Bay, which also adds to the atmosphere and helps set the mood for the evening. If you rather not sit-down and eat a full meal, the bar is a great place to come in and have a cocktail while watching the Manta Rays and swimmers in the bay.
Wine Tasting and Apps at Sunset
Every night at 5:30 they have a wine tasting at Rays on the Bay. This is a great and inexpensive way to taste their wine offerings while enjoying a beautiful sunset over the sea. There is also a selection of appetizers or “pupus” in Hawaiian, that go well with the wine. Your server will be able to help you choose if you are having trouble making a decision, they can make recommendations or point out specialties. I decided to go with one of their signature sushi rolls to start off, called the Dragon Eye Roll, and Liz had their take on a Waldorf Salad. Each were extremely fresh and rich with flavor!
Catch the Manta Talk at 7 pm at the Sheraton Kona Resort
After enjoying our wine tasting and appetizers, we took a short walk over to the entrance of the restaurant for the 7 pm Manta Talk. The Manta Talk is a free exhibition held by the Sheraton in conjunction with the Manta Pacific Research Foundation share what they know about these gentle giants of the sea, the Manta Rays.
This was a great way to learn about the Manta Rays and how they migrate to this bay for feeding. We also learned how to identify some of the resident Mantas who call Keahou Bay home, in fact, the underbelly of each ray have a unique pattern, like a fingerprint, which helps identify them. They have been documenting these creatures for years, so in a way, these Manta are a part of the Sheraton at Keahou Bay family.
Dinner While Watching the Manta Rays Swim in Keauhou Bay, Hawaii
After learning about the Mantas who call Keahou Bay home, we were eager to get back to our seats to see the Manta Rays dine on the illuminated plankton in the bay. Rays on the Bay shines large lights out into the water to help illuminate the plankton, so they can eat and we are able to see them. It not only helps the Manta Rays eat, but it brings great ambiance to the restaurant with the beautiful colors all around!
Watching the nightly manta ray show reminded us about the amazing experience we had the night before, when we got to go out for a night snorkel with the manta rays — it was an unforgettable experience! For more details, and to watch that awesome video, click here to read about our swim with the manta rays in Hawaii!
Delicious Main Course at Rays on the Bay, Kona Restaurant
After watching the sunset and now having watched the Mantas have their dinner in the bay, it was time for our main course of the night. As with any great restaurant, there is always some great signature dishes. After speaking with the Chef de Cuisine, Jaysen Malla and hearing his recommendations, I went with the Catch of the day, which was the Lawai’a (Fisherman’s) Hot Pot. It is a bounty of seafood in a lemongrass ginger broth including a Keahole lobster 1/2 tail, Manila clams, fresh fish, Penn Cove mussels, jumbo prawns and scallops with Hamakua mushroom, BB chou and lemongrass jasmine rice. Words can not describe how delicious this was.
Liz got an amazing dish as well. She had the Huli Huli Chicken which is a Lehua honey glazed chicken along with toasted Macadamia nut rice, garlic seared local kale, charred red grapes and a champagne leek jus. Everything tasted so fresh, and the flavors were incredible. We were in heaven! This was easily one of the best meals we have had while traveling.
And Of Course, Dessert Was a Must!
After our delicious meal, we were stuffed. At this point we would typically sit back and admire the views while letting our food digest, perhaps with an after dinner drink. But on this occasion we couldn’t say no to their dessert menu!
We don’t usually go for dessert when we go out to dinner, but the menu looked incredibly tempting, and we just couldn’t pass it up. Since Hawaii is known for its macadamia nuts, I selected the giant, warmed macadamia nut cookie topped with ice cream and a caramel sauce. Liz opted for another local treat, Sam’s Kona Coffee Cream Brûlée. These delectable treats were the perfect way to end a great dinning experience at Rays on the Bay.
A Dining Experience to Remember at Rays on the Bay!
Our overall experience at Rays on the Bay is one that will stand tall with other dinning experiences from our worldly travels. The shear beauty of the atmosphere along with the ambiance of the lighting and manta rays eating right a long with us made for a unique dining experience that is unmatched by other restaurants. Rays on the Bay exceeded our expectations with delicious food and drinks too.
If you are traveling to the big island of Hawaii, make sure to put this Kona restaurant on your agenda! An evening dining at Rays on the Bay at Keauhou Bay is an absolute must. The chance to learn about the Manta Rays who call Keauhou Bay home, and experience the fresh farm-to-table world class cuisine at such a unique establishment is an experience that you will always remember.