Welcome to the alluring island of Grand Cayman!
Today we got to experience one of the island’s most popular attractions: The Stingray Encounter. Grand Cayman is one of only a few islands in the Caribbean that offers this unique adventure. So if you ever take a trip to Grand Cayman, make sure you don’t miss this exhilarating opportunity.
Stingray City is located offshore of Rum Point, Grand Cayman. It is a sandbar that is situated in 3-foot shallow waters 4 kilometers offshore. At the edge of the sandbar, the water reaches a depth of about 10 feet, which is perfect for snorkeling with the wildlife that thrives within the barrier reefs.
The tour takes you on a 25 minute boat ride through the clear turquoise water on the way to the shallow sandbar. Our tour guide briefed us on a few important safety guidelines prior to getting off the boat. The southern stingrays swimming in these waters can grow up to 6.5 feet in diameter. The stingrays have a flat, diamond-shaped body, and a serrated barbed tail.
The stingrays were larger than we were expecting, which scared a few people. A few of the tour participants changed their minds once they saw the size of the stingrays; they decided to sit back and simply observe as part of the group jumped right in to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To ease the rest of the group’s collective anxiety, one of our tour guides touched the barbed-tail of the stingray to show us how harmless these creatures are if you follow the proper safety protocol. And it worked. Most of the remaining group was then ready to enter the water.
As soon as we got off the boat, the stingrays began to glide around us. At times, multiple stingrays would simultaneously swim around us in an inquisitive, yet playful manner. It was a bit scary at first, but the fear quickly transformed into excitement.
The experience was awesome and given the opportunity, I would certainly do it again. If you ever decide to embark on this adventure, there are a few key points to keep in mind before you take the plunge.
Tip #1: If you decide to join in on the tour’s opportunity to feed the sting rays, make sure you hold the frozen squid like you would an ice cream cone. As the stingray glides over your hand, you will feel a sucking motion as the squid disappears from your grip.
Tip #2: Choose a tour operator that caters to smaller groups. Fewer people means more time to interact with the stingrays. We were lucky enough to book a tour with only a few people on our boat, yet we saw a few other tour boats with almost 40 people.
Tip #3: Do not touch the barbed tail. This can trigger the stingray to go into defensive mode and you run the risk of becoming injured. While stings from its barbed-tail are rare, they do have the potential to be fatal in some cases.
Tip #4: Shuffle your feet as you walk through the sand. There will be multiple stingrays of all sizes swimming around you; make sure you do not step on them. This is really the most important thing to keep in mind. Avoid stepping on the barbed tail, and the experience is perfectly safe.
Location: Sting Ray City, Grand Cayman Island
Price: Approximately $40 per person. Prices may vary depending on your tour company and the features of the tour (food, drinks, hotel pickup & drop off, etc.)
Tour Frequency/Length: Boats leave twice a day. The tour is approximately 3 hours.
What about you? Is swimming with a stingray on your bucket list?
See you on our next adventure…until then, happy travels!