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
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
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
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
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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
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
You are going to want to take lots of pictures!
You don't want to sunburn.
You won't have to worry about stepping on a stingray.
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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