Stingray City Grand Cayman (2021) - All You Need To Know

 

In this article, you will learn about Stingray City, and why it is the number one tourist attraction in the Cayman Islands.

 

What is Stingray City?

Stingray City is a shallow sandbar in the middle of the sea where you can hand-feed wild stingrays. It is also the number one tourist attraction in the Cayman Islands.

Technically there are two different Stingray Cities:
1. Stingray City Sandbar
2. Deep Stingray City

The most popular version is the first location: “Stingray City Sandbar”. This is where 99% of tourists go, and is the best option for the vast majority of people.

three people standing with stingrays at the sandbar

The sandbar is only about 2 to 3 feet deep, meaning that you can easily stand. At this sandbar, people hand-feed wild stingrays, usually with small pieces of squid.

Below is a video showing a tour at Stingray City sandbar in Grand Cayman:

The other location is known as “Deep Stingray City”.

This is located about a mile from Stingray City Sandbar. The sea is about 12 feet deep here, meaning that you can’t stand up.

women scuba diving with a stingray

The only people that go to Deep Stingray City are scuba divers. Scuba divers can hand-feed wild stingrays with squid. There are less stingrays at Deep Stingray City compared to Stingray City sandbar.

Check out our list of the top 15 Stingray City tours here!

 

How did Stingray City start?

About 40 years ago, local fishermen would clean their fish at the location of Stingray City in order to avoid the mosquitos on land. There wasn’t any mosquito control back then, meaning that cleaning fish on land wasn’t an option.

painting of a local fisherman cleaning a fish

As they threw the fish guts into the sea, wild stingrays that were already in the area started to congregate to feed off of the discarded fish remains. As time went on, more and more stingrays started to arrive. The above painting is from “Kennedy Gallery“.

Eventually, people realised that there was potential to create a tourist attraction, so they started to offer tours to “Stingray City”. The first people that made Stingray City mainstream were Ron Kipp & Pat Kenny. They were running “Soto’s Diving”, and they were the first people to bring international scuba diving photographers to Grand Cayman to raise public awareness for Stingray City. Ron Kipp is shown in the below picture on the right side.

picture of ron kipp

Now, 40 years later, Stingray City is the number one tourist attraction in the Cayman Islands, with tens of thousands of people visiting it each year.

 

What type of stingrays are at Stingray City?

Stingray City is home to the “Southern Stingray“.

picture of three stingrays underwater

These stingrays are about 4 to 5 feet in diameter, and can weigh up to 30 pounds. They are native to the Caribbean region and are found throughout the Cayman Islands. Check out our article to learn if Stingray City & the stingrays are safe.

There are about 50 wild Southern Stingrays that live full-time in the Stingray City Sandbar area.

 

Where is Stingray City located? 

Stingray City is located in North Sound in Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman is the main island in the Cayman Islands. The other two islands are Little Cayman and Cayman Brac.

picture of a map of Grand Cayman that shows the location of Stingray City

Stingray City Sandbar and Deep Stingray City are about a mile apart. Both are about one to two miles off-shore, meaning that you can’t swim there from shore. You need to take a tour boat to get to Stingray City. You can check out our list of the top 15 Stingray City tours here.

 

Is Stingray City worth going to?

Stingray City Sandbar is 100% worth going to.

If you visit Grand Cayman and you don’t go to Stingray City Sandbar, then it would be like if you went to Paris and you didn’t go to the Eiffel Tower.

One of the best things about Stingray City is that the stingrays are very friendly, so you don’t need to worry about any safety issues. Also, the water is warm year-round in the Cayman Islands, meaning that you don’t need to wear a wet-suit.

Also, the waters surrounding Stingray City Sandbar are crystal clear and turquoise blue. It’s a really unique experience to see water like this, so if you have the opportunity, then you should definitely go.

The reason that Stingray City Sandbar is the number one tourist attraction in the Cayman Islands is that it is an exciting adventure that people of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy. Stingray City Sandbar is great for families that are looking for something to do that everyone will enjoy.

 

Things that you should know BEFORE you go

It is recommended that you book your Stingray City tour early in your vacation so that if it is cancelled due to bad weather, you will have more potential to reschedule.

The weather in the summer months is typically calmer than in the winter months. If you are vacationing in Grand Cayman during the winter months (November to March) then it is extra important to book your tour as early in your vacation as possible.

It is not uncommon for Stingray City Sandbar to be closed for 3 to 4 days in a row due to rough seas if the winds are strong. If it becomes too rough, then the Cayman Islands Coast Guard closes Stingray City.

Another thing to note is that Stingray City is not a great activity for very young kids and babies that are under 3 years of age. It can sometimes be hot during the day, or the seas can be a little rough; these conditions on a boat are not suitable for very young kids.

There are companies that will accommodate kids under 3 years, but if it isn’t a calm day, then it’s best to not take very young kids.

Two people holding a stingray

The final, and maybe most important thing to know, is that not all companies are equal. Some companies work with the cruise ships, which means that they take very large groups and offer a lower level of service.

Other companies like George’s Watersports focus on offering smaller group tours with a higher level of customer service.

 

Is Stingray City a good activity for families?

Yes, Stingray City is a great activity for families. People of all ages enjoy this adventure!

How much does it cost to go to Stingray City in Grand Cayman?

The cost can vary between $50 USD per person to $150 USD per person. It depends on the tour company that you go with, and what type of tour you do.

When did Stingray City start?

Stingray City was started over 40 years ago in Grand Cayman. It has grown over the years and is now the number one tourist attraction in the Cayman Islands.

 

Final thoughts

Stingray City Sandbar is definitely worth visiting when you vacation to Grand Cayman.

If you scuba dive, then you can go to both Stingray City Sandbar and Deep Stingray City. However the vast majority of people only go to Stingray City Sandbar because you can stand up on the sandbar and you don’t need to know how to scuba dive.

Stingray City is great for almost everyone, except for very young children & very old people that struggle with using a ladder to enter/exit the water.

Check out our recently updated list of the 15 best Stingray City tours in the Cayman Islands!