Stingray City

Grand Cayman

It's a once in a lifetime experience that should be sampled--as often as possible.

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Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Maybe it's because I live in Orlando, FL, that I can appreciate what looks like a tourist trap. Stingray City is remarkable, worth any hassle to get there.

I like the stingrays so much that I've made as many as 4 visits during a single Cayman trip. Even if I was there only the day before, I'm always fascinated as the scores of southern stingrays approach as soon as they hear a boat engine.

You need to know that there are 2 Stingray Cities. One, simply called Stingray City, lies in 12-14 feet of water and best suited for scuba divers.

Sand Bar, with only waist-deep water, obviously is better for snorkelers. In fact, you don't need to put on fins at Sand Bar. They won't let you. You can simply squat there with a mask and snorkel and enjoy all the underwater action.

Why no wearing of fins at Sand Bar? The creatures are called "stingrays." If they're stepped on they could understandably want to protect themselves by stinging you with the barb in their tail. Local lore says that's never happened, even with more than a thousand people in the water with them on a day.

Although the stingrays' skin may look like the texture of sandpaper, their bodies are actually soft. Almost cuddly.

A good thing since the rays specialize in full body massages. Without prompting, the rays will swim up and down your body, gliding against your chest, back and legs, and brush across your head. They feel as soft as wet loofah sponges.

Boats that visit Sand Bar often stop at a nearby section of North Sound's barrier reef. That site features very different animal stars: Not only big moray eels but my favorite, a medium-sized sand shark that follows like a puppy as long as you have a handful of shark chow; i.e., squid.

Where else can you see stingrays and sharks on the same snorkel trip? No where that I've heard of. 

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