Stingray City is a shallow sandbar about a 15 minute boat ride from Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. The sandbar is in 2 to 4 feet deep warm turquoise Caribbean waters.
Wild stingrays have been coming to the sandbar for decades to feast on the unwanted fish parts that the fishermen discarded while they cleaned their daily catch. Now, tour operators bring boats full of people to the sandbar to hand feed the stingrays.
Most of the tourist come to feed and touch the stingrays without snorkeling to see them swimming around them but watching these creatures glide through the water is a sight that is just as memorable as interacting with them. I snorkeled around the outside of the group of people standing in the shallow water and it was amazing to watch groups of stingrays seemingly fly through the water towards the sandbar.
The stingrays come to the sandbar because they know they will be fed and it seems like there were stingrays almost everywhere. The stingrays ranged in size from 18” up to 4 feet in diameter.
The features of the stingrays are just as unusual as watching them swim. Their skin is rubbery, their eyes are on top of their body but their mouth is on the bottom. From their head to near the end of their tail are hard bumps that feel like a rough stick brushing on your legs as they swim past. Near the end of their tail is a barb which is what they are named after because they use this barb for self-defense when threatened by a predator.
Most of the time the stingrays stay close to the sand so it is best to slide your feet along the bottom to avoid accidentally stepping on top of a stingray.
Standing in shallow water with up to 100 wild stingrays swimming around is a little unsettling but after a few minutes the thrill of watching and interacting with these creatures makes the discomfort disappear.
I try to experience wildlife everywhere that I travel because I think seeing wildlife in their natural environment is a special experience. There are very few places where wildlife actually lets us interact with them.
The first time a stingray brushed along my leg it made me jump but they are not being aggressive, they just want to be fed. They are so conditioned to humans that they will allow people to hold them and even place food into their mouth. Holding a stingray in my hands and feeling them pull the food from my fingers are experiences that I will always cherish!
Having an up close encounter with the stingrays at Stingray City is an amazing experience. It is a rare experience when wild animals let humans get this close to them and being able to interact with them was so much fun that I have gone to Stingray City on both of my trips to the Cayman Islands. Don’t miss out on this experience when you are in the Cayman Islands!