Stingray City is a shallow sandbar located in the northwest corner of Grand Cayman’s North Sound, and visited daily by dozens of southern stingrays. It is the top Cayman Islands attraction, and one of the most famous snorkeling spots of the Caribbean. Here, in 2 to 4ft of water, visitors are allowed to feed, touch and pet these huge and fascinating fish. Despite the site is crowded (it is common to share the spot with 100 or 200 other visitors) and not so natural because of rays feeding, it remains a unique experience.

Snorkeling with southern stingray at Stingray City, Cayman Islands

How to get there?

Stingray City can only be visited by participating an organized excursion, easy to book everywhere on the island. Boats generally departs from cruise ship terminal or island’s main resorts. Most snorkeling tours to Stingray City also include a stop to Coral Garden (200 meters north to Stingray City) and/or Starfish Point (2 miles southeast, near Water Cay). Duration of tours is between 2.5 and 3.5 hours, and prices starts around $45 per person, including lunch and drinks.

Water entrance

The boats anchor on the sandbar. Before entering the water, your guides will inform and instruct you how to touch and handle the stingrays.

Stingray City snorkeling map, Cayman Islands

Exploration

As soon as you’ll be in the water, stingrays will come to greet you. They are used to being fed, and are particularly tactile and insistent. Most of them are large specimens (spanning over 6 feet). Tours operators generally allow you to stay 30 to 45 on the sandbar, so you have plenty of time to watch, touch, feed, and even pet the stingrays.

It is said that the fishermen, once they reached the calm waters of the Sound after a day at sea, used to clean their catch on the shallow sandbar, attracting the stingrays. Nowadays, stingrays are fed by visitors, with many criticisms focusing on the potential for ecological and behavioral impacts.

Snorkeling with southern stingray at Stingray City, Cayman Islands

Don’t forget that the rays have a fearsome sting that can cause sometimes fatal injuries, but incidents are rarely reported. Be alert, handle the stingrays with care and make sure you never step on it.

Most snorkeling tours also includes a stop at the Coral Garden, 200 meters north to the sandbar. This spot is located along the barrier reef, and sheltered from the waves and currents. Here, you can still spot stingrays, as well as many fish and coral species of the Caribbean Sea, as sergeant major, boxfish and several species of butterflyfish (↕8-12ft).

Snorkeling with southern stingray at Stingray City, Cayman Islands

Restaurants and accommodation

Most of tours includes a lunch on the boat or a beach nearby. Be sure about what is included or not in the price when you make your reservation.



Species you may spot while snorkeling Stingray City
COMMON NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME ABUNDANCE FISHBASE WIKIPEDIA
Southern stingray Dasyatis americana  

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth3ft on the sandbar, 12ft on the reef (Coral Garden)
  • Water entranceEasy, from a boat
  • LifeguardYes
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour price (from $45pp.)
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.