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Grand Cayman's Stingray City

So much to do on such a small island -- Grand Cayman is paradise for man and stingray alike.

by Kim & Johnnie Rhodes

Grand Cayman Stingray City

When Christopher Columbus first spotted the Cayman Islands in 1503, he probably never dreamed that they would become one of the world's leading offshore financial centers. Of course, he probably never dreamed that 500 years later, ships dwarfing anything in his fleet would visit here regularly, carrying thousands of tourists.

A lot has changed since then. But one thing that hasn't changed is the beauty that lies on and offshore of these islands. They offer many attractions to their visitors, ranging from stingray feeding to turtle farm trips. And don't forget, world-class scuba diving.

One thing first-time cruise visitors will find different here is the way that you come and go from your ship. Instead of the ship docking at a pier, in the Cayman Islands they actually park offshore. Then, small boats, called tenders, ferry passengers from a door at water level on the ship, to shore.

Grand Cayman Stingray CityGrand Cayman Stingray City

For many, this will be their first experience riding a tender boat to shore.

 

Once at shore, you'll be immediately greeted by a number of shops at your service. Of course, if you've booked an excursion here, be on the alert for a sign showing where your excursion group should gather. There'll probably be time for shopping when you finish your excursion.

Grand Cayman

Welcome to British territory: note the cars driving on left side of road.
 

Speaking of excursions, a must-see stop here is Grand Cayman Stingray City. Many years ago, fishermen returning from a day at sea would stop behind a small reef to clean their catch, protected there from the open ocean. Eventually, droves of stingrays began to gather there to take in the free feast dropped overboard. As time went on, these rays became tame enough to feed by hand. And so, the hysteria began.

Grand Cayman Stingray City

Many operations, such as the triple-decker Cayman Mermaid, visit Stingray City regularly.
 

Today, folks from around the world come to Grand Cayman's Stingray City to snuggle with the stingrays. You'll find this to be a unique opportunity to interact closely with a unique sea creature.

Our trip was aboard the Cayman Mermaid, which was a roomy triple-decker setup. On the way to Stingray City, the crew went over safety information, and assisted with gear as necessary. The first stop was at the small reef there, which was quite beautiful in itself. There were numerous corals and tropical fish for viewing, all in shallow water.

Grand Cayman Stingray City

Many coral formations, such as this brain coral, are also here for your viewing pleasure.

The next stop was, of course, the stingrays. And there were there plenty of them, in all sizes. The guides provided floating buckets of food for the rays, and instructed how to feed them. These animals have obviously become very tame after years of interaction with humans!

Grand Cayman Stingray City

Above and below: up close and personal with Southern Stingrays

Grand Cayman Stingray City

After quite a long time in the water feeding the rays, we had worked up quite an appetite ourselves. So, back on shore, we headed for Grand Cayman's Hard Rock Cafe. A couple appetizers here will hit the spot. But we were unaware that the menu was printed with prices in Cayman dollars, so paying with U.S. dollars hit us a little harder than we were expecting! Hunger now satisfied, we finished out the day with some shopping.

Grand Cayman

Don't waste time taking a tender back for lunch; grab a quick bite on shore at Hard Rock Cafe.

Grand Cayman offers several other excursion options for cruisers, such as Seven Mile Beach, the Cayman Turtle Farm, and even an air-conditioned submarine trip to a depth of 100 feet, where you can view coral formations and other marine life, without ever getting wet. Check with your cruise line for a complete list of opportunities.

 

Next:
Roatan Shore Excursions

 

 

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