One Day at Stingray City
George Town, the capital of Cayman Islands, is postcard perfect! We traveled to the harbor by tender, while our cruise ship – the Eurodam – was anchored nearby. I was thrilled to be in the small town, and despite the early morning drop-off, the streets were busy and harbor was buzzing.
We had our day planned, so we didn’t have much time to explore the shopping district but we did pop into a few souvenir stores before heading towards North Shore, a small inland lagoon. Waiting for us was a boat taking us on a 30 min ride towards Stingray City.
About Stingray City
Stingray City is a small sandbar which allows visitors to stand in about four feet of water, while stingrays swim by. Apparently the stingrays have been gathering in this area for decades, when fishermen used to clean fish on the sandbars. They began to associate the sound of a boat motor with food, and as a result more and more would come to feast. Around the 1980s divers started feeding squid to the stingrays and so developed one of the Cayman Island’s top attractions.
We had about 20 people on board our small boat, along with three certified instructors that were handing out snorkeling equipment and prepping us for the day ahead.
Now I have to say, I had my hopes up. I was so excited to get the opportunity to swim near stingrays but I wasn’t sure what to expect.
We were warned not to step on the bottom of the sandbank, but rather to shuffle our feet through the sand. Sometimes the stingrays rest along the ocean floor, and you wouldn’t want to step on one. They also have really sharp tails coated in barbs, so it’s best that instructors assist with any type of handling.
Feeding The Stingrays
I was shocked at the number of stingrays along the bank. We were surrounded and they certainly weren’t shy. Almost immediately a crowd formed around the instructor to get a picture with the rays. After few photos were done, the instructors armed themselves with buckets of squid and instructed us to feed the stingrays.
We were advised to tuck all our fingers away and loosely hold the squid so the stingrays were able to suck it out from our hands. Tyrone got the hang of it easily, but I got freaked out just thinking about my hand anywhere near its mouth. Eventually, the instructor held my hand down and I felt the strong suction whip away the squid. It was awesome!
National Geographic described the experience as “one of the most rewarding experiences in the underwater world.”
After about an hour on the sandbank, we made our way back on board and went for a quick snorkel at a nearby coral reef. Again, we got to see one or two stingrays swim past along with some fish, but nothing compared to the experience on the sandbank.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Stingray City I would highly recommend it! It’s the perfect activity for all ages.