Out of the islands in the Caribbean I have visited, Grand Cayman is one of my favorites. I have been to the island twice, both times as a port of call on cruises, and both times I have ventured out to Stingray City. A lot of people are fearful of these graceful creatures. To be fair they do have that unpleasant poisonous barb on their tail, but this barb is only dangerous if the ray you are near is feeling threatened. It is not at all recommended to even attempt to interact with stingrays in any other environment the way you can at Stingray City.
The rays in Stingray City are pretty comfortable with humans because the fisherman used to stop their boats at the sandbar where the stingrays make their home to dump overboard the miscellaneous fish parts that were not going to wind up at market. The adult rays passed on to their offspring that this interaction is non-threatening. These days the tours of people visiting the sandbar with the buckets of squid from their tour guides are encouraging this relationship to continue.
You will be outfitted with a life vest that you can inflate or deflate as appropriate, a mask, and snorkel. Flippers are a no-no as they can be damaging to the stingrays. In most areas the sandbar is tall enough and water level shallow enough that you can stand. If you elect to stand and walk around as opposed to swim, be sure to shuffle your feet and not pick them up to avoid accidentally stepping on a stingray that may have buried itself in the sand. Now for the best part, the stingrays are so comfortable with humans that you can touch them. They are super gentle and range in size from a large pancake to something with wingspans larger than a grown man. Their skin feels like wet velvet, it’s amazing. I have to admit that I have never worked up the nerve to actually feed them, but I have a good reason for this! One I’m a girl and holding slimy squishy squid sounds a little gross, and two they eat using suction. There really is no danger in this, unless you wind up with squid juice somewhere other than your hand and you’re near a hungry stingray…..you will likely wind up with a giant hickey. It would be an entertaining vacation story to share though…don’t forget your underwater camera!