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Stingray City, Grand Cayman


If you've heard of Grand Cayman, you've heard of Stingray City, one of the most unique attractions in the Caribbean. The top watersports attraction in the Cayman Islands, Stingray City sits at the mouth of North Sound, halfway between the West Bay and Rum Point. It's a place where divers and snorkelers alike can interact with wild stingrays.

Why do the stingrays come here? Fishermen once cleaned their catch in these waters, attracting large Atlantic southern stingrays. Today these rays are accustomed to being handled by participants in daily snorkeling excursions.

Stingray City is shared by many watersports operators, who offer half- and full-day excursions that include stops at both deep and shallow spots. Operators depart from all areas of the island for this adventure.

We have done the Stingray City experience several times using different operators and have never left disappointed. Nothing can quite prepare you for the experience of petting, feeding, and being caressed by the stingrays. The trip out on the North Sound to the site is quick and scenic. After mooring, some vacationers are a little cautious about heading into the waters (the stingrays are far less shy), but we've noticed that all but the most nervous swimmer enjoys this experience.

TIP
Bring along an old T-shirt to wear on the Stingray City snorkel excursions. Your back is exposed to a lot of sun during this trip and, with the coolness of the water and your excitement over the stingrays, you may not notice you are getting a bad burn. Pack plenty of sunscreen as well.

Most operators make two stops, a 12-feet-deep stop where you can snorkel or dive and a shallow stop called The Sandbar. Here visitors stand (hopefully as still as possible to prevent kicking up sand and lowering the visibility) while stingrays swoop by, brushing participants like some large rubbery Frisbee. Operators begin the feeding and, as visitors become more comfortable with the process, they are allowed to feed and even hold the large rays.

After feeding the stingrays, most operators then take snorkelers over to Coral Gardens, a beautiful snorkel area with several large coral heads, fans, and abundant marine life.

How to Feed a Stingray

Don't miss the chance to feed the rays some squid. Just pinch the squid between your fingers, arch your fingers back like you're about to slap someone, and put your hand down in the water: the greedy stingrays will do the rest. If you don't arch your fingers back, the rays might suck up your fingers and give you a little scare. They don't have teeth, but their lips are a firm cartilage that will give you a jolt.

Typically about 30 stingrays frequent the area so you're just about guaranteed the opportunity to pet and swim alongside these beautiful creatures.

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