Do you wanna pet a stingray? How about having dozens of them surrounding you in their natural habitat just waiting for your attention? Even better maybe you wanna pucker up and give one a smooch for good luck? Captain Marvin in Grand Cayman will show you the best location for all of these!
If you look at any tourist guide for what to do in Grand Cayman, a visit to Stingray City is one of the top activities not to be missed things to do while visiting Grand Cayman. Don't be fooled though, it is not an actual city on land and is only accessible by boat. It is very easy to find a tour company that will do a couple hour trip out to the sandbar that is known as Stingray City. The sandbar is located about 2 miles from the shore in Grand Cayman’s North Sound and the water is only around 3 feet deep.
CAPTAIN MARVIN GRAND CAYMAN SNORKELING
After leaving the marina, we took a short ride across Govenor's Creek and finally made it to North Sound where saw some of the bluest waters that we had ever seen in our lives and it was incredible! During this part of the trip, the group is told the history of how Stingray City came to be.
In the past decades boats would be on their way back from spending the day fishing and during the ride back would be spending sometime cleaning their catch. All the leftover fish guts would be thrown overboard for all the fishes and such to take care fo cleaning up the mess. Over time the stingrays gathered everyday expecting to receive their next meal!
The water was pretty calm because you are in a gigantic area of water that is protected on all side by island and barrier reef. The boat ride was about 20 mins thru the most gorgeous water in the world. It really almost doesn’t look real!
We choose the “Three stop trip” which took us to the Coral Gardens, the Barrier Reef, and finally to Stingray City. Now I have to say that our trip almost didn’t make it out at all. We had the trip all booked and ready to go but due to rough seas it was not safe to go out. During the first part of our time in Grand Cayman a tropical depression passed thru causing some rough seas. The trip had to be rescheduled for the day before we were scheduled to leave the island. Safety is a big concern considering they are taking visitors out to a sandbar so far offshore. Luckily it all worked out and we were able to make this amazing trip out.
SNORKELING STOP 1: CORAL GARDENS
First stop was Coral Gardens. Our trip guides were so fun and had food available to attraction the smaller fish that were in the area. Coral Gardens was a pretty calm area with deeper water, a sandy bottom and lots of corals to see. The water was extremely clear and we were surprised with how far you can actual see underwater here!
SNORKELING STOP 2: BARRIER REEF
Next up was the Barrier Reef. This one was a little more intense but was absolutely beautiful! You can hear the waves from the ocean crashing on the outer edges of the reef that protects the island and the currents are stronger here. Not enough to sweep you away but it is much more noticeable compared to Coral Gardens. The reef here is much more built up and colorful. We didn’t stay in this location for very long and quickly moved on to Stingray City!
SNORKELING STOP 3: STINGRAY CITY
Pulling up to the sandbar there wasn’t really much to see…just shallow water. The captain revved the boat engine a bit and slowly you could see them! Dark spots in the water, ranging in size from a foot in diameter to upwards of 4 feet, were moving toward the boat. When we got in the water the first thing that happened was one of the Stingray brushed up against me, much like a house cat does when it wants your attention.
The boat crew gave us food for the stingrays and explained how to safely feed them. Basically they have you hold the squid in between two fingers but leave your hand as flat as possible. After feeding them, we were given the opportunity to kiss a stingray for good luck and a photo with our own camera to remember the occasion. The stingrays are lovely to see and just kind of fly through the water. The group spent a bit of time here to make sure everyone had their fill of interacting with the stingrays.
***Please make sure you listen carefully and follow the instructions! These are still wild animals even though they seem domesticated. ***
All too often you read new stories about a tourist getting hurt and seems more often than not it is because they went beyond a safety barrier or did not listen to the instructions provided. Don't be one of the ones that doesn't respect these animals and end up hurt and ruins the experience for future visitors!
How to Book your Grand Cayman snorkeling
We booked our Grand Cayman snorkeling trip directly thru Captain Marvin in person. They have an option to book your trip online and I would recommend that you book this way to ensure that you can go out on the day and time that work best with your schedule.
As of March 2019, the current pricing for the "Three-Stop Stingray/Snorkel Tours" was:
- US$45/person for ages 12+
- US$30/person for ages 4-11
- Free for children under age 4
Current excursion schedule:
- Monday through Friday
- 10:00 AM until 1:00 PM
- 2:30-5:30 PM
- 9:00 AM until 12:00 noon
- 1:00-4:00 PM
The trip duration is 3 hours and it is jam packed so expect to be exhausted when you return! Also we took the morning trip as you may see afternoon showers in the Caribbean and the sun is less intense in the morning.
Your trip price also includes:
- Round-trip transportation from the Waterfront Centre, or from your hotel or condo on Seven Mile Beach
- Snorkel gear
- Life vest or snorkel vest
- Squid for the stingrays
About the author
Rachael Sandon is an accomplished travel writer, photographer and brand ambassador. She has been traveling extensively for the past 10 years and during this time she has visited 32 countries while continuing to work a full time job and raise a family.