Swimming with the Rays at the Grand Cayman Islands - A Wonderful Vacation Experience

A few years ago, my husband, I and our 16 year old daughter got the chance to go on a Caribbean Cruise. One of our stops was Stingray City at the Grand Cayman Islands where we swam with the stingrays. It was most definitely one of our most fun and exciting stops. It was an adventure we will never forget and our daughter still talks about it today!

Crystal Clear Waters

Stingray in the clear blue waters of the Grand Cayman Islands.
Stingray in the clear blue waters of the Grand Cayman Islands. | Source

Stingray City

At Stingray City in the Grand Cayman Islands, you can swim in the beautiful clear blue waters of the Caribbean, right alongside stingrays who actually seem to enjoy the company of humans. The Sandbar area of Stingray City is perfect for swimmers and non-swimmers as it is only about 3 to 5 feet in depth and is the perfect place for the entire family to have an adventure of a lifetime!

Caribbean Island Map

Grand Cayman Islands
Grand Cayman Islands | Source

Location

The Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are known for their pristine powdery white beaches and beautiful crystal clear waters. The Cayman Islands lie 480 miles south of Miami, Florida and 180 miles west of Jamaica. They are a British Crown Colony with a British appointed Governor who lives on the Grand Cayman Island. The Caymans have always been a safe and friendly place to visit.

Along the North Sound of the Grand Cayman Islands is a natural channel which passes through the barrier reef and is filled with a string of shallow sandbars. This is where local fisherman used to discard unwanted fish parts after their fishing trips. The rays became accustomed to finding food here and have been drawn here ever since.

Swimming with the Stingrays

My husband and daughter enjoying swimming with the stingrays.
My husband and daughter enjoying swimming with the stingrays. | Source

Feeding the Stingrays

As your boat pulls in around the sandbar, you can look out in the crystal clear waters and see the rays as they begin to gather around. As you get into the water, you will be amazed at how well you can see the stingrays as they swim by you. Your tour guide will have some chopped squid, one of the ray’s favorite meals, for you to feed to them. The rays will smell the squid and swim right up to you for their treat.

The sting rays here at the Cayman Islands are very used to being around people and are not dangerous at all. Extremely few injuries have been reported and those we mainly from stepping on the sting rays tail. You can feed the sting rays by placing a piece of chopped squid in your fist, letting some of it hang out the top. The rays will swim by and basically suck the squid out of your hand. It’s really cool! From large to small, the rays will swim around you like birds gliding through the water.

You can reach out and touch them as they swim by. There top side feels silky smooth and rubbery. Their underside feels a bit rough and you can feel the roughness around their mouth when they take the food from you hand.

Feeding the Rays

Hubby about to feed a stingray.
Hubby about to feed a stingray. | Source

Do you think you would enjoy swimming with the stingrays?

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Use a Reputable Tour Guide

There are many reputable excursions that will take you on a boat out to Sandbar City and some locals that will offer to do the same for a cheaper price. Take my advice and stay with the well-known and more experienced tour guides. Hubby and I decided to try to cut costs and let a local take us out, that was not the thing to do. We still had a great time, but should have spent the few extra dollars and done it right!

The tour guide we chose didn’t have any bait with him and we had to make a stop to get the squid. Nest, he couldn’t get his boat to start and hubby had to work on the motor for him before we could leave. There were 2 other couples with us and they were not very impressed either. He took us to a great spot to feed the rays, but we ended up running out of squid before we were really ready!

As we started back to shore, the boat ran out of gas! Here we were about 5 miles from shore and the boat just quit. The tour guide and his brother decided that they could “swim” the boat back, but they didn’t last very long trying to swim and pull the boat. Once again, hubby came to the rescue. He took the gas line out of the gas tank and stuck it down inside, tilting the gas tank to get all the gas to one corner. Then he told the tour guide to start the boat and give it full throttle. We made it within a few yards of the dock before it ran out of gas completely. You would think the guy would have given us a discount, if not a free trip, but no. That was ok, we had a great story to tell when we got back home!

There are Many Reputable Tour Guides

Source

Excursion Prices

Prices may vary in different seasons and by the different tour companies, but they seem to range from $40. to $85. per person with discounts for children. There are some tours that will include breakfast or a snack with your trip. Just remember not to go the "cheap" way out or you may find yourself paddling your way back to shore!

Things to Remeber
Reason
Camera
You are going to want to take lots of pictures!
Sunscreen
You don't want to sunburn.
Water Shoes
You won't have to worry about stepping on a stingray.

Conclusion

Swimming with the sting rays at Stingray City was one of the best excursions we have ever had. Just remember to go with a reputable tour guide. You may pay a little more, but you will have a more enjoyable time!

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29 comments

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 13 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

I'm glad you enjoyed my hub, Alicia! It was sooo much fun! I do hope you get to do this someday!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 13 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

What a wonderful place for a holiday! Except for the problems that your husband had to solve, it sounds like you had a great time. I'd never heard of people swimming with sting rays and feeding them before I read your hub. I'd love to do what you did! Thanks for sharing an enjoyable and very interesting article.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 15 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Swimming with the rays really was quite a thrill, Patricia! I would love to do it again! The rays there are accustomed to humans and are not aggressive at all. I hope you are having a wonderful summer and thank you for all your support! :)


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 15 months ago from sunny Florida

What a thrill that must have been. The beautiful waters and the fascinating rays....what a combination.

When I was a little girl, the waters we swam in often had rays in them and we cautiously moved around them while we swam..

Hoping all is good with you, Sheila.

Shared g+ pinned and tweeted Angels are once again headed your way ps


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 15 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

It was a wonderful vacation and something we will always remember. Thank you for stopping by, Cornelia!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 15 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Thank you, Kristen! The chances of being stung by one of these rays is extremely small. It was a wonderful experience that we will always remember.


CorneliaMladenova profile image

CorneliaMladenova 16 months ago from Cork, Ireland

You must have really had great adventure. I would visit this place with great pleasure, the only problem is that my hubby doesn't like going abroad.

Thank you for the beautiful pictures, Sheila! The resort looks enchanting and I find the sting rays so cute. :)


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 16 months ago from Northeast Ohio

That sounds like a fun trip to do, if you don't get stung. Very awesome and voted up!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 16 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

It was a wonderful time! Swimming and feeding them was such a thrill. If you ever get the chance, you should try it! Thanks for stopping by!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 16 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi, Bill! As much as you travel, I am surprised you have not done this yet! If you get the chance you should go, it is really an amazingly beautiful place and a wonderful experience! Thank you for stopping by!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 16 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

You're welcome, Jackie! It really was a little scary at first, but it was so much fun I couldn't remain scared. If you ever get the chance, go for it, you won't regret it! Thank you for stopping by!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 16 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Yes, that is the animals that killed poor Steve Irwin, but I don't believe it happened here. These rays are so used to people feeding them, they are very gentle. The boat problems taught us a good "vacation lesson". Don't pinch pennies when it comes to vacation excursions! Thanks for stopping by, Flourish!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 16 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

The other couples that were with us were very glad that hubby was on board! He has "saved our butts" on more than one vacation! I'm glad you enjoyed my hub, travmaj! Thank you for stopping by!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 16 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

I have swam with the dolphins too Mary, and it was wonderful, but this was really much more exciting. The stingrays at Stingray Island are so used to humans, they are probably less dangerous than petting your neighbor's dog. If you ever get the chance, take it! You won't regret it!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 16 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Peggy! This was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to almost everyone. Interacting with these animals was such a thrill. Pinching pennies was not the thing to do during this trip, but we learned a good lesson from it! Thanks for stopping by and the votes and share, my friend!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 16 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello, Faith Reaper! I haven't traveled a lot, but that was the clearest water I have ever seen, it was gorgeous! Yes, the "crocodile hunter" was killed by a sting ray, but that was such a freak accident and not where the rays are used to interacting with humans. I would go again in a second! Thank you for the visit, share and of course blessing back to you, my friend!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 16 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Bill! It was really awesome! I was a little nervous at first, but my nervousness just disappeared after a few minutes. I was very glad I experienced this!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 16 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Thank you, bravewarrior! We learned our lesson about using a "local" tour guide the hard way! The rays were awesome. I thought I might be afraid to get in the water with them, but once I did it was really great! We didn't see any other fish in that area, I guess they tried to stay away from all the rays.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 16 months ago from Stillwater, OK

Sounds like a good time. I remember petting the rays in FL at Sea World, I think it was.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 16 months ago from USA

I've petted them in a local aquarium and it was a lovely experience. I'd love to swim with them. Wait. This isn't the animal that impaled and killed Steve Irwin was it? Now I don't know. Sounds like you had a great time aside from the boat problems.


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 16 months ago from Massachusetts

Hi Sheila. This sounds like something I would enjoy. What a great experience. Thanks for sharing with us. Have a great weekend.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 16 months ago from The Beautiful South

I would be terrified but it would be a beautiful and exciting experience. Thanks for sharing this with us!


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 16 months ago from southern USA

Hi Sheila,

Woo, I a so jealous of your wonderful trip! Wow, crystal clear water is no doubt a true statement from those photos. For a moment I thought they were in a pool LOL. I would love to go but not sure about the stingrays because of what happened to the crocodile hunter being killed by one ...I believe.

It is amazing you can feed them though! They are fascinating creatures.

Thank you for sharing about your wonderful trip.

Blessings


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 16 months ago from Victoria, Australia

Having seen what stingrays can do to a person's leg, this would definitely not be for me, but they're great to watch - so graceful!


travmaj profile image

travmaj 16 months ago from australia

What a glorious way to swim, wonderful memories of a great experience. I enjoyed reading and learning about swimming with the rays. I bet the other tourists were happy your husband was on board. Annoying at the time but these moments are the ones we remember later,


mary615 profile image

mary615 16 months ago from Florida

I would enjoy swimming with Dolphins, but Stingrays?? I don't think so. I'm too chicken to do this!

I would watch from the safety of the boat.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 16 months ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Sheila,

I just happened to see this very thing on an HGTV show where people were relocating to the Cayman Islands. It clearly showed them swimming and even petting the stingrays. Great experience you had all except for your boat experience. Good advice not to pinch pennies when it comes to tours when wanting to experience this. Up votes and sharing.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

I would do that in a heartbeat. I might be a bit nervous, but what's life without a little adrenaline rush? What a cool experience.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 16 months ago from Central Florida

What an experience you had with the local tour guide, Sheila! It's a good thing your husband knows more about boats than the guides did! Sheesh.

I would enjoy seeing the rays from a boat but I think I'd be pretty freaked out if I were in the water with them. It's there size that would get to me.

I enjoyed this hub and the photos. The water is so clear! What other types of fish did you see?

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