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Stingray City - Grand Cayman
Monday, May 5, 2014  
I recall going to Stingray City on one of my first cruises way back in the 90s. It was one of the more memorable Caribbean experiences. So, when we learned we would be visiting Grand Cayman on an MSC cruise this year, we decided to make another visit. I came across Moby Dick Tours online and booked an excursion. Now, of course, you can book a Stingray City tour through the cruise line, but we prefer to book our excursions directly with local operators. When we departed our tender at the South Terminal, it was necessary to make a short five-minute walk to the Royal Watler terminal where Moby Dick Tours picks up guests. We met Richard, one of the Moby Dick Tours' guides, who greeted us and escorted us to the waiting van for the short ride to their boat.

Richard, one of the Moby Dick Tours guides

The drive to the boat is less than 10 minutes and we stopped two times to pick up guests staying at hotels on the way. When we arrived, we were instructed to remove our shoes before boarding the boat. Before long, we were sailing out to sea, toward the sandbar where the stingrays like to frequent. Moby Dick Tours' boat is equipped with a head (toilet) below and a fresh water shower at the back of the boat. They provide cool water, fruit punch, snorkels, goggles, fins and floatation vests.

Moby Dick Tours' boat

Jason and Richard handed out goggles, snorkels and fins for those who wished to do some snorkeling. The boat stopped at an area where the water was no more than eight feet deep so that those who wanted to could enjoy some snorkeling.

Moby Dick Tours provides goggles, snorkel and fins

The snorkling portion of the tour only lasted about 15 minutes. Soon, a blow on the conch shell by Richard alerted everyone to get out of the water and back on the boat. Stingray City is actually a sandbar with water that is only about four feet deep. So, for most adults, the water is waist high. This is a very popular attraction, so it is not uncommon for several tour boats to be visiting Stingray City simultaneously. Tour operators basically have to wait their turn, until another tour boat departs, to make room to squeeze into the relatively small sand bar. Once the anchor is set, the ladders are lowered and guests begin to step into the cool, but not too cold, clear waters of the Caribbean.

Everyone in the water at Stingray City

Now the stingrays are not unlike cruise guests at a buffet. As long as there is food for them to enjoy, they are more than happy to hang around and let you interact with them. Once the food is gone, so are the stingrays. The tour guides bring along a floating bucket of the rays' favorite snack...calamari. The stingrays will even eat it right out of your hand! However, you should always follow your guide's instructions on how to feed a stingray. Even though they don't have teeth, they have incredible suction and you could end up with a nice hickey if you are not careful. The stingrays themselves are very gentle creatures. They seem completely oblivious to the screams and squeals of the humans who tend to freak out when the rays swim by and rub up against them.

A ray swims by Rickee and gives her a massage

The underside of the stingray is very smooth and rubberlike while the top is rough and feels like mild sandpaper. With the help of a guide, you can even hold a stingray in your arms. They just sort of hang out there until you are done with them.

Rickee holds a stingray

If you are feeling really affectionate, you can even kiss a stingray. I am not sure if the stingray gets anything out of this interaction, but the guests who did it seemed to think it was pretty cool.

Rickee kisses a ray

We spent about 30 minutes in the water with the stingrays. They swam all around us, through our legs, on top of the water, under the water. It really is a unique experience and one that you will never forget. I suspect that the stingrays must enjoy it or they would swim away and find food somewhere else.

  • Tip 1: Bring sunscreen
  • Tip 2: Bring a waterproof camera
  • Tip 3: Don't even think about visiting Grand Cayman without doing this tour

After we boarded the boat again for the ride back to Georgetown, I was reminded of why this is such a popular excursion. Everyone on board our boat, about 40 people, was super excited about the experience. A visit to Stingray City is a must when visiting Grand Cayman, and a tour with Moby Dick Tours is an excellent choice. It only costs about $45 per person, a real bargain for such an amazing experience. You can visit their website at for more information.

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