This is the ultimate must-do in the Grand Caymans: Swimming with stingways!
For my 27th birthday (last year), I took a 4-day weekend getaway to the Cayman Islands! We went to Grand Cayman – the biggest island of the three. The other two islands are called Little Cayman and Cayman Brac – also tourist destinations but Grand Cayman is the largest one of course.
+ Where we stayed: Marriott Grand Cayman which is located on the Seven Mile Beach.
It’s an older hotel but still maintained pretty well. I really enjoyed their beach because they left manmade reefs scattered around in the water which attracts a ton of fish and other sea life and really showed conservation efforts. They offered snorkel equipment rental for a small fee and remember – put on your fins AFTER you get into the water!
+ Other nice splurge-ish hotels along Seven Mile Beach is the Ritz Carlton (heard it’s also a bit older as well but well maintained), Grand Cayman Beach Suites (formerly Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman), and The Westin.
Grand Cayman is amazing. When I went, it was perfect weather (late April) with the sky and ocean making a picture-perfect couple and a clean salty breeze. The water is that crystal clear. You can see your toes right in the water. No surprise of course.
Two things I did on the trip:
- Drinking & basking in the sun
- Snorkeling in two places & swimming with the stingrays at Stingray City.
+ Stingray Tour we used: Carib Select Watersports
+ The tours include:
- pick-up & drop off at your hotel to the dock
- refreshments (fruit punch & water)
- snorkel equipment
- snorkeling at the coral gardens and the barrier reef
- visiting stingray city (so for a total of three stops!)
- photo opportunity swimming with the stingrays BUT the photos are extra to purchase. You can view them right on deck & they are e-mailed to you within 24 hours
Do not jump and stomp around on the sandbar! They are wild creatures even if “tame” so listen to the tour guides and try not to freak out and squirm too much. Avoid their stingers which is at the end of their long swishy tails but they were quite gentle and never attacked anybody.
It’s a surreal experience looking with your goggles in the water. The stingrays are effortlessly gliding around. You could feel them gliding by brushing your legs and nudging into your waist at times begging for more food!
I was able to feed a few of them with the guidance of the tour guide (they give you feed and teach you how to hold the morsel of food properly). The stingrays will suck it up like a vacuum so watch your fingers! They are heavy strong creatures and touching them is like touching a giant portobello mushroom!
Afterward, it was nice to get back to the hotel for a quick shower and a walk outside of the resort to find some good local (but not cheap) food.
Some quick notes about the Cayman Islands:
- It must be noted that the destination is prettyyyy expensive but for a long weekend getaway, why not?
- A yummy “cheap eat” that I went to was called Chicken Chicken and it was all about fresh and healthy rotisserie chicken with sides like pasta salad, rice, potato salad, corn bread, etc.
- The snorkeling experience on the tour IS quite fun but be careful to never touch the coral (they will die if touched by anything!) AND you can dive for starfish but be sure to put them back afterward.
- Another souvenir that is a must buy is their rum cakes!!!
- Alcohol is expensive since it’s on an island so beware
- Try their local beer called Cay Brew!
Click on the entire gallery after the jump!