If you are visiting the Phoenix area or are even a local and haven’t checked out the Camelback Mountain hike yet, then it is finally time. Well, that is for the more active individuals who think they can do a moderately hard hike. Considered as a “must-do” for anyone who wants to see the view of the Phoenix valley. Not only that, but you will get the chance to experience Earth’s driest biome and see some of the flora that calls this desert landscape, home.
Stingray City – Grand Cayman
"If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love." ~Steve Irwin~
A visit to Stingray City will leave you in awe of how wildlife can be so beautiful and a part of our world that most forget about. If you are on a cruise ship or are planning to visit Grand Cayman, then make sure to add Stingray City to your list.
This experience will hopefully leave you with a little more understanding of these creatures and a want to help them. Some of the rays you will see are very large and is a treat to see them swim effortlessly in the water.
Not very often can you interact with wildlife, without causing harm. Take the chance, you will not be sorry you did. Here is our guide on Stingray City and a few other tips on making your adventure memorable.
What To Expect
Stingray city is located on a sand bar, in a few feet of clear water. When you arrive, you will see boats anchored in different spots. The water is perfect for most, but can be a little more on the chilly side for people who get cold easy during the fall months.
The tour boat you booked will get you set up with a snorkel mask and instructions on being in the water. Stingrays will swim by you or up to you hoping for food. They are consider gentle, unless provoked. Your tour operator might have a bit of squid or fish for you to feed them. They do have to limit how much food is given to the animals.
Never handle one yourself, instead your guide might help direct one towards you. Watch your fingers, they do suck with their mouths and can cause small abrasions if not careful. As you drift in the water, they will swim around you. You can try touching them softly, they feel slimy to the touch, due to a mucous covering for protection against diseases and such.
What Are Stingrays
Grand Cayman is home to the Southern Stingray, Dasyatis americana. They will normally feed on the bottom, which is why their mouths are on the bottom. Those two small holes that open and close on the tope are not their eyes. It’s actually where they take in water to filter so that they can breath.
In fact, they have terrible eyesight, which are located on the top of the head. Instead, they have sensors around their mouth to detect electrical signals from prey.
Another interesting fact, that also happens to many other marine animals in the ocean is that the females will be bigger than the males. These threatened species will live on average of 15 to 25 years in the wild. Respect and treat them kindly, they were here long before us, around the Lower Jurassic Period, which was 150 million years ago.
What To Bring
- Swimsuit and rash guard if you want.
- Reef Safe Sunscreens should be a must in order to help protect the reefs and marine organisms.
- Cash for tip
- Waterproof camera for pictures of video
Try A Tour Company
Depending on your location on Grand Cayman, it should be very easy to secure the right tour for you. Tours will leave from main points on the island, like Rum Point or Georgetown. Each tour can be different and offer other opportunities, like snorkeling, food, or extra excursions.
We went with White Sands Water Sports and we loved it. In addition, we have also used them a few times for scuba diving. Their groups were small, informational, and we always have had a great experience with them.
A few other tour companies to take a look at are, Captain Marvins, or Stingray City Cayman Islands. The one you will choose will depend on the time of day you want, the group size, and if you add on anything.
Why You Should Stop By
It is important to always check before if the animals you are visiting are being affected negatively by your visit. With anything, there needs to be moderation. This includes when people decide to visit another creatures habitat.
The local guide told us, that the rays come due to fisherman who used to dump scraps in the area after their catches. So, the number of stingrays present are due to the habits of the fisherman.
Tour guides do not entice the marine animals to the area, they already come to this area on their own. They are still wild and need to be protected.
That being said, you should still be cautious around the marine animals and ask questions before assuming you can do something. This is an amazing opportunity to experience these creatures and to see a very small portion of what mother nature has to offer.
The Goldfield Ghost Town near Superstition Mountains in Arizona gives you a look and feel on what an old gold mining town was like in the 1890’s. From a mine tour to wathcing a gunfight in the middle of town, this is one of the places that shows a bit of the history that made up Arizona in the Wild West days.
- Are the stingrays dangerous? In general, stingrays will not try to sting you with their barb, unless they feel threatened. The tour guides will make sure the rays are kept from getting mishandled and direct you on safety. The stingrays that come to this area are use to humans and being fed, so they will not try to harm you.
- Will I get stung? Normally you will always want to shuffle your feet when around rays since they like to burrow in the sand. Do not worry to much at Stingray City, since the rays will be swimming most of the time in clear water, that you can easily see the bottom of.
- What type of stingray killed Steve Irwin? The ones you will encounter in Grand Cayman are the Southern Stingrays, while the Bull Ray was responsible for Irwin’s death. The Bull Rays are much larger and more aggressive than the Southern Rays.
- Is it safe for families? Yes, it is safe as long as you go with an experienced guide. You will always find kids of all ages in the water, and if you are uncomfortable, you can always stay on the boat to view them.
Add Snorkeling At Coral Gardens To The List
Highly recommend to add the snorkeling excursion to Coral Gardens, after your Stingray city trip. This trip can only occur though when water conditions are right. If the tide is too low, then the boats can not get close to the reef and you won’t be able to snorkel it.
The reef offers a abundant array of marine animals to view. You will have a chance to see Spanish Hogfish, Parrotfish, Moray Eels, colorful Corals, and many more. In fact, this is the perfect way to see the reefs of Cayman, without having to scuba dive.
"The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish." ~Jacqyues Yves Cousteau~
A Few Other Ideas
Starfish Point is another place you should make time to see. Here you will see a few different types of sea stars in the shallow water. You can use two fingers to lightly touch them. Take your snorkel mask so you can watch them move along the sandy bottom.
Do not pick them up and especially do not take them out of the water. It can kill them. Sea stars are consider keystone species, which means they help to maintain a healthy ecosystem by eating certain species that would otherwise over populate the area. At popular times, this place can be crowded so try coming early or in the off season.
Another option, is Rum Point, which is a few minutes from Starfish Point. Try grabbing some food, drinks, and relax on the beach.
Don’t forget to add Bioluminescent Bay to your trip. Due to certain Mangrove trees and the nutrients they produce in the water, a number of Dinoflagellates will use them for photosynthesis. These small micro-organisms have a chemical called luciferin, which will allow them to glow blue when moved around.
- Wyndham Reef Resort Grand Cayman (We have a timeshare here, since we loved it so much and the scuba diving) is located on the east end of the island, where there is less crowds.
- Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort is located on seven mile beach.
- Sunset House is a diver hotel and a perfect place for those who wish to scuba dive a few times.
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Have you visited Stingray City and have any other suggestions? Did you enjoy it? Let us know in the comments. Have any other activities or places we should see, let us know in the comments section. From Phoenix? Hi neighbored! Thanks for taking a look at our site and don’t forget to subscribe for future articles and tips.
The information on this website has come from research and by experiencing it ourselves. Opening hours, closures, prices, etc. are always subject to change. We try to keep up to date on any new information, or tips to help make your adventure more enjoyable.