Going for a swim with stingrays in Grand Cayman is something I never thought I would actually do.
Aren’t stingrays dangerous? Isn’t that how Steve Irwin met his demise? These were the thoughts that were going through my head as we decided to book this excursion during a Caribbean cruise on Freedom of the Seas.
In this post, I’ll answer some common questions about swimming with stingrays plus I’ll share my experience and show you different options for booking your own Stingray City tour in Grand Cayman.
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Stingray City Grand Cayman
Stingray City is located 25 miles off of the northwest corner of Grand Cayman Island and has become one of the Cayman Islands’ most popular attractions.
This shallow sandbar has turned into a major tourist attraction due to the dozens of southern Atlantic stingrays that swim through this area. They are advertised as friendly and I found that to be true (as much as a stingray can be friendly I guess).
The water on the sandbar is shallow — around 3′-4′ deep (I’m a shortie at 5′ and had no problems standing in the water).
What’s it’s Like to Swim With Stingrays in Grand Cayman
Swimming with stingrays is definitely a unique activity. Being on a sandbar is really cool because it’s shallow but you are surrounded by water. While I was a little freaked out getting in the water with stingrays all around, I quickly became very comfortable with them.
It was a treat getting to watch these graceful creatures swim by.
Pro Tip: If you get in the water, be sure to use reef-safe sunscreen. Many sunscreens available today contain ingredients that are harmful to sea life. Some destinations have even gone so far as to vote for sunscreen bans.
That’s the great part. The not-so-great part is that Stingray City is crowded. There were probably 3 or 4 boats full of tourists when we were there, so there were people everywhere.
The local guides that were in the water with us were holding on to a large stingray for photo ops (and of course, they are quick to sell you these photos once you are back on the boat). While the animals seemed pretty chill about the whole situation, they were sort of being manhandled.
Now, they were also being fed, so maybe they are the happiest stingrays on the planet — I don’t know. It felt sort of wrong to be participating, but I don’t think it was a clear cut animal violation…it was somewhere in the middle.
Stingray City Grand Cayman Tours
Stingray City is a popular cruise excursion, so chances are if you’re on a cruise, you’ll be able to book through your cruise line.
If you want to save money or if you’re not on a cruise, there are plenty of tours you can book independently.
- Stingray City Tour – includes transportation from hotel or cruise port
- Stingray City Experience plus 2 Snorkeling Stops
- Stingray City and Snorkel with Lunch
Other Grand Cayman Excursions
If you’re looking for more to do in Grand Cayman, check out these fun activities.
Swimming with Stingrays FAQs
Q: Is it safe to swim with stingrays in Grand Cayman?
A: Generally, yes, it’s safe to swim with stingrays in Grand Cayman. However, there’s always some risk and you want to be careful. While these stingrays have become accustomed to people, you still want to proceed with caution and general common sense — don’t step on them, grab them, or try to pick them up.
Q: Do the stingrays in Grand Cayman have stingers?
A: Yes, southern Atlantic stingrays, the kind you’ll find in Stingray City Grand Cayman, have stingers which are actually serrated barbs on their tails. If you’ve got a memory of Steve Irwin in your mind, you’re probably not alone. Keep in mind that the type of ray that killed Irwin was a bull ray, which is larger and more aggressive than the rays you’ll find at Stingray City. So, while there’s always some risk when dealing with wild animals, these 2 types of rays are totally different.
Q: How much does it cost to swim with stingrays?
A: The cost of swimming with stingrays varies by the type of tour you book, but generally you’ll pay between $40-$80 per person.
Overall, it was a pretty cool experience even though it was way too crowded for me. I’m glad I did it but I wouldn’t do it again. Have you been swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. Happy Travels!