For animal lovers Stingray City would have to be at the top of the must see list on Grand Cayman, it's a chance to interact with some stingrays who are not captive but are tame enough to touch and feed, the rays come because they want to, not because they are being held prisoner. The spot was originally a shallow place where fisherman came to dump fish guts before heading back to shore, the rays found this a delightful source of food and still do as most of the boat excursions that head out here will show you how to feed a ray if you want.
For snorkelers, you stand in 3 or 4 feet of water on a sandbar. You can't snorkel out to the sandbar from shore nor should you try to boat out there on your own lest you harm one of these magnificent creatures. We opted to use Captain Marvin's rather than a ship tour mainly because they left earlier than most other tours and we wanted to do several other things in Grand Cayman before getting back on the cruise ship.
Even with the early start at 8:30am we were there with 5 or 6 other small boats, there are plenty of stingrays but I shudder to think how many people can be here when there are a lot of cruise ships in port as we were the only one that day. If you are staying on the island, I'd highly recommend finding a day that the cruise ships are not there if possible.
Our guide showed us how to hold the stingray for a photo op, a kiss and a back massage, our guide used a stingray nicknamed Orion for this and he didn't seem to mind any of it, his reward was some nice slimy squid. And who knows, maybe he enjoys kissing the ladies.
The website below has a really good description of Stingray City and the do's and don'ts of snorkeling and diving with stingrays. The rays do have their stingers but if you don't mistreat them, they shouldn't have any cause to use it. Follow your guide and they will show you how to handle the rays without any harm to them or to you.
Yes, it's a tourist trap, but to be so close to Hell and not go? We just HAD to send postcards to our friends and family, writing them such profound thoughts as "Didn't you always know that we were going to Hell?" or "It's hot as hell here" or "We've been to Hell and back", like thousands of people before us.
We were pondering how to get to Hell, besides the usual methods of debauchery, sin and vice, and mentioned that we wanted to go there to another couple on our Captain Marvin's trip and they offered to take us if we bought their postcards, a fair enough deal. So we all piled into their car for the 15 minute ride to Hell, somehow I always thought it would take longer and there would be demons poking me with pitchforks but the ride was uneventful. Hell made us laugh when we saw it, surely not the response the Devil was after, literally it's a post office, a couple of souvenir stands and a rock formation that gave someone the idea of naming this place Hell.
The hellish rock formations were formed by "acid rain and the consumption of the rock by carbonate-loving orgamisms"according to the signs on the platform overlooking it. You can't walk through Hell nor would you want to.
Our 2nd stop with Captain Marvin's was the Coral Gardens (or at least I think it was, it could have also been the barrier reef as that's another stop they do) where we got back off the boat and snorkeled. It was a nice place to snorkel, we saw quite a few fish but they were mostly the usual suspects-yellowtails, sergeant majors, etc but we didn't see anything out of the ordinary except a tail less ray named Frisbee.
In the mid 1600's Fort George was built to defend Grand Cayman from attacks by Spanish marauders from Cuba. The fear of piracy and other atatcks on the islands was enough for the Caymanians to understand the need for the fort. The fort was manned by local militia though they were never needed to defend the island from any invaders. During WWII it was used as a look out post; watching for German subs.
In the 1970's a developer wanted to demolish the fort and build on the land. The Caymanians objected to this and the fort is part of the Cayman Islands National Trust.
The Fort is just a shadow of what it once was with a few cannons, ruble and plaques.
Grand Cayman is a beach kind of place. They have a famous beach called Seven Mile Beach which is a long beach on the western shore. It may not be exactly seven miles anymore - seven miles seems like a number that one uses for long beaches. In any case I have not been on it (I don't do beaches), but it is possible to walk the length of it as it is all public. Open grilling is allowed, and pets are free to roam the beach off leash, but loud music and public nudity are strictly prohibited.
The beach is world renowned for its beauty, recently receiving the honor of "The Caribbean's Best Beach" from Caribbean Travel and Life Magazine. Some small reefs are located just off shore which offer good snorkelling
Everyone seems to think this is a terrific thing to do. So when we were here on a cruise ship, we did the Sting Ray City excursion. It was an island tour and Sting Ray City, but they took us to do the sting rays first which was an extremely inconvenient way to do it as you did the rest of the tour wet. I think this is over hyped.
We got on the tour bus and went to the boat dock. After the bus driver pointed out to us to come back to his bus (Bus #5), we all got off and onto a large pontoon boat (M/V Sun Rayz) run
by Kirk Tours. I wondered whether to bring my cane or leave it on the bus, but in the end, I took it. Leaving it on the bus would have probably been better - it was more of an encumberance than help. As we got on the boat, they handed out snorkeling vests to each of us.
We were already in our bathing suits. The lady at the excursion desk had warned that we might do the stingrays first and had also assured me that we would have a place to change on the boat. Well we did - sort of. There were two bathrooms. There was a little shop at the stern on the other side, and in the center a kind of bar area with a bikini clad blonde girl serving drinks.
As we rode out to the site, the guide got on the microphone and talked to us about sting rays, but because of his accent and the blurryness of the mike, we couldn't understand much of what he said. I put on my skin and got out my mask and snorkel, and underwater camera. We had to take off our shoes because the guide said that we might damage the sting rays by stepping on them.
When we got to the area, there were about 10 boats there and probably 75 people (conservative estimate) in the water, with many sting rays swimming about. The water was from chest to waist deep. We were told to keep our feet on the ground, but that was difficult for me because I float so well. I took some pictures, but all those people stirred up the sand, so I'm sure there aren't any good ones. The guide gave me a piece of squid to feed one of the rays with. It was sucked out of my hand.
Then Bob got on board and changed and I followed him. After I changed, I took some photos with my digital camera from the boat. On the way back they were selling hot dogs for $3 but we didn't buy any.
We booked an all day tour with http://www.shoretrips.com/ which on our first stop took us out to Stingray City. This was a super cool excursion where we boated out pretty far and ended up on a sandbar where the ocean averaged around 4 feet deep ! When we arrived, we saw a few other boats loaded with people and tons of people in the ocean already. You could see the Stingrays easily from the boat...there were tons !
In the Cayman Islands, there is not a lot to do on a Sunday. So a couple of friends and I went on this Boat Party Cruise. It was a memorable experience. The boat goes to Stingray City, Rum Point, and Kiabo, where we got 20% of waverunners! We even got free pick-up from our hotel! Well, there is an all inclusive of food and drinks, and it's practically an all you can eat feast! I was bust. It was very nice to get to play with the stingrays, and boy were those waverunners were fast.
I would recommend this event for people who like the water, and have a lot of fun. If you have kids 14 and up....they could tag along with you too. It's a wonderful event where you could have fun with you're kids, friends, or partner.
If you do decide to give it a shot, don't wait another second to pick up the phone to reserve your space. There is always limited space.
We were on a Royal Carribean cruise that stopped at Grand Cayman. All excursions were canceled due to weather--which was weird because the weather was perfect--and I was so disappointed because I had been really looking forward to the Turtle Farm. I am a turtle/tortoise lover, they bring me so much joy. So we found a private tour guide to take us to the Turtle Farm along with Hell and a rum cake factory. She was a horrible tour guide for several reasons but mainly because she gave us NO TIME!! We had 20 minutes at the Turtle Farm, no time for the gift shop and barely any time with the turtles. She spent tons of time at the rum cake factory shoving her mouth full of free samples... but I digress.
I LOVED the turtles and would have loved to spend more time here. However, the turtles are kept in extremely overcrowded tanks. The bigger ones were tripping over each other, they really have very little room. Also, I noticed quite a few neck injuries on the bigger turtles. I was saddened and wish I could help each and every turtle. With a twinge of guilt, I enjoyed picking up some of the smaller turtles. They are so cute. I was elated, overjoyed at being near such gorgeous creatures. But my heart did ache for the poor beauties.
Grand Cayman Island deserves its reputation for the best scuba diving in the world.
We had Dr Tom Byrnes as our dive master...and it was a great experience. He took us to very different spots around the island...and gave us a biology lesson along the way to learn about everything we saw during our dive.
I'm not sure if he's more expensive or not...but he's well worth the money. The dive was only a small group of people...and he helped a ton with my anxiety...as it was my first scuba experience in the ocean...and one of the best overall.
Trust me, this is a totally safe thing to do. Their name implies pain, but only to those that mean harm. Stingrays in Cayman love to be held, fed, petted, and you will not be dissapointed.
Even my wife managed to kiss one after much prodding.
We went to GC on a cruise with Carnival and didn't book the excursion on the trip intentionally, as they rip you off. We paid half of what those who booked through the cruiseline did.
You will take a short bus ride to the pier to board a boat for the 30 minute ride to the sandbar. Once there you will jump into about 4 feet of water with an experienced guide who will manage to catch a stingray for everyone to touch, hold, and feed.
Shortly thereafter we got some squid to feed to the rays. You'd better keep your thumb tucked in, as stingrays have powerful suction. Hoover is still looking for that technology by the way.
The rays do in into a little frenzy with all that food, and I received a little hickie from an overzealous girl that sucked on my arm. No big deal, I took it in stride and had a great time.
A must do thing in Grand Cayman
Rum Point is an Island retreat for a day. You take the Rum Point Ferry which departs from the Hyatt Marina to your destination.
This day will be filled with beach activities like volleyball, swimming, sand castle building, sunbathing, snorkel/scuba diving, banana boat cruising and much more..
Midday will be a good time for a lunchbreak at an outdoor table with plenty of afternoon activities and also souvenir shopping.
The evening has live music entertainment and dinner at the Rum Point Club. Catch the sunset! Then you head back to the Hyatt.
We heard this was a nice activity, we didn't visit Rum Point, its not really our scene. But I hear lots of good things and its certainly great for families! It was a very highly recommended activity by the concierge and other travelers we spoke to.
The Cayman Island Turtle Farm is situated north of Seven Mile Beach not too far from Hell.
This Facility helps preserve endangered turtles from Extinction. The tour shows turtles from about three inches in size to over three feet in size.
The turtles are separated by size and there are several pools where you can reach in and pull one out to hold. This is a great spot to take kids.
There are also a few other animals to check out as well but the turtles are the main attraction.
GC has over 150 amazing dive sites, along with some of the best diving in the world. We chose a small, local dive agency that offers up to 8 divers at a time. They offer multiple packages for the certified and non certified diver. I would not hesitate to dive with them, even if I did not have prior dive experience.
This company is special because they offer small tours to sting ray city (12 people max). You can go with other companies but not get the opportunity to feed and swim with these amazing animals. It can be a bit intimidating to have 15 large Ray's swimming after you, hungry for squid. The owner of the boat is a local, and is very knowledgable about the animals and is very concerned with safety. Its a small, unique experience, but would not recommend for small children. Also, you will pay a lot less and have a more intimate experience with this tour.