There are three ways to experience Stingray City. All three involve a short boat ride to the sand bar area at the North Sound. The tours can be arranged on the cruise ship or at the dock. The most popular is a swimming/snorkeling trip to Stingray City. Many Caribbean guide books call the snorkeling at Stingray City the "best snorkeling experience in the world." It certainly has all of the characteristics of world-class snorkeling such as superb visibility, numerous friendly stingrays and fish, and easy access. You don't have to have any snorkeling experience to take this shore excursion, and the water is shallow, so you don't have to be a good swimmer. In fact, the water is so shallow you can see the rays well without ever getting your face wet!
The second way to experience Stingray City is as a SCUBA diver. It is great diving for all the reasons Stingray City is great snorkeling.
The third way to experience Stingray City is via glass bottom boat. This alternative is a good choice if the weather is too windy for swimming or snorkeling. In addition, a glass bottom boat ride can be combined with a tour of the island and its other premier tourist attractions--the Cayman Turtle Farm and the "village" of Hell. Our half-day tour started from the dock with a bus ride along Seven-Mile beach, which we learned was only 5.5 miles. The beach is lined with resort hotels, but we all agreed that our view from the cruise ship was better than any of the resorts.
Exiting the bus, we took the short boat ride into the North Sound to where the two glass bottom boats called the Stingray Explorer Observatories were anchored. Each of us had a great view from our seats on the glass bottom boat, although a couple of people were a little claustrophobic. The stingrays began appearing even before the diver got into the water. He fed them squid while we listened to an informative narration about the Stingray City area and the "life of a stingray". The diver brought rays up to the windows, and we all got some great photos of the rays by turning off the camera flash and putting the camera lens right next to the glass window. I've snorkeled with stingrays in French Polynesia and in the Bahamas, and was a little fearful that this trip would be disappointing. However, it was a great alternative. I actually got better photos of the stingrays, and I didn't get wet! After viewing the rays for about 20 minutes, we returned ashore and continued our tour to Hell and the Cayman Turtle Farm. The tour was a good value and a perfect way to see all of the premier sites on Grand Cayman in just half a day, which allowed the super shoppers (like me) the rest of the day to explore the Georgetown boutiques!
If Grand Cayman Island is on your cruise ship's itinerary, be sure to try and see Stingray City. With three way of visiting the area, it's appropriate for all ages. You won't be disappointed.