We love to cruise as a family for our annual vacations. Planning our adventures consists of sitting down together and reviewing all of the excursion options. Usually my husband will pick something historical, such as Tulum in Cozumel, Roman Coliseum in Italy or castles in Spain. Our kids generally choose an activity much more adventurous than what I would choose. When reviewing the options for George Town, Grand Cayman, they chose Stingray Sandbar immediately! Stingray City, a natural channel located in the northwest corner of the Cayman’s North Sound, houses rows of shallow sandbars which draw tourists year round due to the abundance of Southern Stingrays. We booked a tour through our cruise line Royal Caribbean. There are several boating companies offering similar trips, some include sailing. We hopped aboard the Cayman Explorer for a short ride out to the sandbar with views of the emerald Caribbean waters. Important note, eat a good sized breakfast and bring snacks in your bag, as they do not feed you on board, and after swimming in the ocean, you will be very hungry. As soon as we pulled into the sandbar area, large stingrays were visible. It looked like black spots moving all about the ocean. I was very nervous to get into the water and felt more apprehensive as the tour guide announced, “no water shoes, watch where you step and stay together.” Of course the kids and my husband jumped in before I did and eventually I made my way in.
Coming from Hawaii, I wasn’t nervous about the ocean or waves, but the feeling of having a large stingray rub up against my legs as soon as I stepped in the water was unsettling. You really need to know how to swim on this tour because the tide can change rapidly. Lifejackets are supplied but I would advise knowing how to swim. The guide had the group stand in a circle as he grabbed a large stingray and walked around letting each person pet it. It feels like a wet mushroom. Ika (squid) was passed around for those who were brave enough to feed the stingrays. Of course, my son grabbed several pieces and caught the stingray opening it’s mouth to feed on his GoPro. That was exciting to watch back. I couldn’t help but to think about the sharp barb sticking up out of the water as the guide held the stingray. At one point, he even put the barb in his mouth for show.
Interesting Facts~ Stingrays first started gathering to the sandbar area decades ago due to fisherman cleaning their fish and throwing the contents overboard in the shallow waters. Today, divers feed stingrays by hand in this area and it is thought that they gather here due to the sound of boats coming, symbolizing feeding time.