Stingray City is one of Grand Cayman’s most stunning and popular attractions. In fact, for many visitors to our island, heading to Stingray City isn’t just a must-do activity, it’s one of the most memorable highlights of their entire trip.
Of course, entering shallow ocean water to interact with wild stingrays is a truly unique experience, so it’s only natural to have questions about it!
At Red Sail Sports, we have spent countless hours exploring this extraordinary place on our Stingray City Grand Cayman tours, and we’ve used our years of expertise to create this complete guide.
Below, you will find everything you need to know before visiting the world-famous Stingray City sandbar. And if there’s still something you would like to ask us when you finish, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Before you visit Stingray City, you need to get to Grand Cayman, so let’s start with a quick overview of the place we call home.
Grand Cayman is the largest of the three Cayman Islands. Cayman Brac is the second-largest while Little Cayman is the smallest.
We may seem like a distant tropical paradise, but Owen Roberts International Airport (GCM) makes us highly accessible. And we welcome cruise ships at the George Town Cruise Port too!
The waters surrounding our part of paradise are renowned for their startling visibility.
With an average range between 60 and 100 feet, it’s no surprise that people travel from all over the world to come diving in Grand Cayman.
Along with the teeming reefs, eerie shipwrecks, and beautiful beaches, Stingray City is one of our star attractions.
You can find this magical spot where the North Sound — a shallow bay with crystal-clear water — meets the Caribbean Sea. This location provided the perfect conditions for the formation of a coral reef that bustles and sways with colourful life.
The natural processes of waves and currents deposited sediment, creating a series of sandbars in a channel in the reef. The refraction of waves off the reef has allowed these sandbars to remain intact. These sandbar formations are what we know today as Stingray City!
Decades ago, local fishermen returning to port with their catch started disposing of squid and fish guts in this area. Attracted to a free meal, wild southern stingrays started to congregate here in larger numbers.
Over the years, these friendly, peaceful animals have become accustomed to human visitors. In fact, as soon as they hear us coming, they glide over!
The wider Stingray City area is composed of Stingray Deep and the Stingray sandbar. Stingray Deep is a section of deeper water reaching depths of up to 12 feet.
The sandbar is shallower, with depths of around three to five feet. Because the water is so shallow and clear, conditions are perfect for snorkelling, swimming, and interacting with these playful, gentle creatures.
It’s important to note that since COVID-19, you can only find stingrays in the shallower waters at the sandbar.
Our blog A Visitor’s Guide to Grand Cayman’s Stingray City is another useful resource to read when you’ve finished with this one.
As an attraction located in the open ocean, it’s perfectly natural to ask, “How do I get to Stingray City?” Fortunately, the answer is simple! With Red Sail Sports, you can sail to Stingray City aboard a catamaran.
What’s more, all our Stingray City tours in Grand Cayman include snorkel equipment, so you don’t need to worry about renting elsewhere.
Our excursions to Stingray City depart from Seven Mile Beach area in the west and Rum Point in the north. Depending on your departure point, the boat ride takes between 25 and 45 minutes, with Rum Point being the closest of the two.
The journey itself is a picturesque treat. As we glide across the calm azure waters, you can take in the Caribbean views or kick back and relax on the bow nets as the sea passes underneath you.
If you prefer an experience tailored to your needs, we also offer private boat charters in Grand Cayman on our 27′ Boston Whaler Vantage. Hire options include half-day (morning or afternoon) and whole-day charters.
You can find out more about this topic by reading our blog How Do You Get to Stingray City?
And for broader travel advice here on our island, check out another of our guides, How to Get Around in the Cayman Islands?.
Stingray City isn’t your typical aquatic experience; it’s a unique encounter with nature. The stingrays here are known as “puppies of the ocean” because they love to play with visitors.
Everything about Stingray City is 100% natural. The animals are wild and in their natural habitat. And while this helps to create an unforgettable experience, you must also remember to treat these animals and their environment with respect.
Just because the stingrays are gentle and familiar with human interaction doesn’t mean they can’t feel threatened.
However, it takes especially reckless behaviour to intimidate these stingrays. And they will only ever lash out if provoked into self-defence. This combination makes issues in the water highly unlikely.
When you join one of our tours, you will receive a thorough safety briefing before entering the water. But, generally speaking, a gentle, common-sense approach is all you need. This means no rough handling and always following instructions from our guides.
Once you’re in the water, you can pet, hold, and even kiss the stingrays for seven years of good luck! These majestic creatures are so at ease with our presence that you’ll probably find that they approach you first.
If you’re asking yourself “Is Stingray City worth the visit?”, the answer is a resounding yes! This is an experience you simply cannot miss.
As mentioned above, it’s southern stingrays (Hypanus americanus) that call Stingray City home. In normal conditions, these animals are not naturally aggressive toward humans. But with years of interaction with visitors over multiple generations, those at Stingray City are even more docile than usual.
When you’re in the water, you’ll soon realise just how big southern stingrays can become. Their flat, diamond-shaped bodies can grow as large as five feet wide. It’s no surprise that they’re one of the world’s biggest stingray species.
But this size doesn’t come at the expense of grace. Southern stingrays glide majestically through the water, using their powerful tail to manoeuvre with ease.
Read our list of five things you may not know about Stingray City’s stingrays to find out even more about these incredible creatures.
In short, yes, the stingrays at Stingray City can sting you. They have a barb at the end of their tail from birth, but the likelihood of them using it is incredibly slim. Just as importantly, the barb is not venomous. However, it is sharp and capable of wounding.
As touched on above, southern stingrays will only use their barb if they feel startled or threatened. At Stingray City, this is highly unlikely to happen.
For your peace of mind, remember that hundreds of thousands of people visit Stingray City every year without a hint of a problem.
By following these basic rules, you can ensure an experience that’s as safe as it is memorable:
Absolutely! In fact, we encourage you to take as many photos and record as many videos as possible so you can look back on this amazing experience for years to come. Action cameras are popular and recommended as you can dive into the water with them and move about with ease.
If you don’t have one, you can buy a waterproof pouch to put your phone in. The outstanding visibility of the water combined with the spectacular sight of swimming stingrays presents plenty of opportunities to capture jaw-dropping underwater images.
And if you simply want to enjoy the moment, Red Sail Sports takes photos on most of our excursions. If we do so on your tour, you can purchase some images afterwards.
Yes, Stingray City is a fantastic family-friendly destination. We frequently welcome young children aboard and they love getting in the water with their parents. Some are even brave enough to touch the stingrays!
Under the watchful eye of our trained and experienced team, people of all ages can enjoy a trip to Stingray City.
Are you celebrating a special occasion with family and/or friends while you’re in Grand Cayman? Our private boat charters are the perfect way to enjoy an experience tailored to your group.
For the ultimate peace of mind, the Red Sail Sports team is equipped to handle first aid and any emergencies.
With such a famous reputation, you’ve probably already guessed that the stingrays at Stingray City draw in large crowds. But if you have the flexibility, you can avoid the busiest times.
Generally speaking, the crowds peak with cruise ship arrivals. In turn, these tend to tail off toward the weekend after a midweek high. If you’re ultra-diligent, you can check the Cayman cruise ship schedule!
As a general rule of thumb, then, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are the quieter days at Stingray City. And as a year-round, seven-days-a-week destination, you don’t have to worry about shops, restaurants, and bars being closed after your trip.
If you want to thin out the crowds even more on the day of your visit, consider setting out early in the morning or toward the evening. Check out our morning Stingray City tour (Breakfast with the Rays) if you’re an early riser. If you like a lie-in, you will probably prefer our Stingray City sunset excursion (Stingrays and Sunsets).
As for the best time of year to visit Grand Cayman, the good news is that we are a year-round holiday destination! We always have tropical temperatures and outstanding water visibility.
However, the high season is between December and April, after which the rainy season starts. But the stingrays are present even during the wettest months. The rain is warm too and even offers a nice break from the heat.
The Cayman Islands are outside the traditional hurricane belt. But it’s important to note that between August and October, our region is prone to tropical storms.
Our blog How to Choose the Best Day to Visit Stingray City provides a more detailed look into this topic.
As if visiting the stingrays wasn’t thrilling enough, most of our tours of Stingray City are two-stop excursions. This means that you can also enjoy snorkelling over another part of the teeming coral reef.
Swimming on the surface and peering down into the underwater world is a truly awe-inspiring experience. As you snorkel, you’ll encounter colourful fish, vibrant coral reefs, and perhaps even a sea turtle or two. It’s like swimming in a living aquarium!
Everyone at Red Sail Sports cherishes Stingray City as much as you do. That’s why we are committed to sustainable tourism and preserving the environment.
Follow our lead by respecting the local ecosystem and reducing your impact on this natural wonder.
Leave no trace of your visit and take only photos.
We hope this Ultimate Guide to Stingray City in Grand Cayman has inspired and informed you in equal measure! Now it’s time to start planning a safe, educational, and fun experience with Red Sail Sports.
Browse our range of Stingray City Grand Cayman tours and find the perfect adventure for you.
And if you have any questions at all for our team, please feel free to contact us.