The idea started in 1951 when Captain Marvin Ebanks, a former Merchant Marine, thought tourists visiting Grand Cayman might enjoy experiencing these fascinating creatures that had, over the years, developed a habit of congregating in their “city” when fisherman threw scraps overboard. Since then, numerous companies have developed their own Stingray City tours; providing a wide array of options for our adventurous visitors! Half day and full day options are available and may include snorkeling stops to view reefs and coral gardens and a yummy lunch! Glass bottom boats and scuba diving in the 15 foot deep area opportunities are additional ways to experience Stingray City.
Greet your new stingray friends up close and personal from your boat, while standing right on the sandbar in as little as 3 feet of water, or swimming in the midst of their crowded city. Tours provide knowledgable guides filled with assorted facts and love for these cartilaginous fishes. Please note that while it’s possible to stand on the sandbar in the heart of the city, a basic swimming ability is recommended to safely enjoy the snorkeling options.
Just a tinge concerned about the “sting” in “stingray”? Understandable. Southern stingrays are relatively docile creatures, and the ones who frequent the shallow sandbars of Grand Cayman are particularly used to human interaction. That being said, as with all wildlife, they must be treated with respect and care. There is a venomous substance that covers the serrated barb on their tails and while this is not fatal to humans, it can be quite painful if stepped on. Be gentle and feel free to allow your fingers to appreciate the silky smooth feel of these lovely creatures, but do pay attention to where you step and how you move through the water; no swim fins in these parts!
Finally, I’m not kidding about that stingray kiss! The southern stingray has a diamond-shaped body with a brown-grey coloring suited to blending in with the sand below. The forward corner of its body with it’s nose-like appearance is perfect for a quick peck! Live a life of no regrets and check off that stingray kiss from your bucket list! No worries though if you’d prefer to keep your lips to yourself and instead try assisting your guide in hand-feeding these opportunistic bottom-dwellers. Southern stingrays love crustaceans, mollusks, squid, and small fish; all of which they take in with their powerful vacuum powered mouths.
Interacting with wildlife in their natural habitat rather than forcing them into captivity is an experience you will never forget!