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Liveaboard Diving in Stingray City
What To Expect On a Stingray City Liveaboard
Liveaboards in the Cayman Islands offer dive itineraries that visit Stingray City and a dive cruise to these amazing islands would not be complete without a trip here . It's one of the main attractions of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands for both divers and non-divers alike. Often dubbed "The best 12ft dive experience in the World" due to the chance to interact with puppy dog-like Atlantic stingrays in shallow crystal clear waters. Very few liveaboard vessels operate in the Cayman Islands so access to a variety of amazing dives sites can be a unique experience in these amazing islands.
Stingray City is located in the North Sound, this site has an interesting history that has resulted in a fascinating present day hot spot for dive and tour companies and perfect for your dive safari.
The North Sound is located on the north side of Grand Cayman. It is a large horseshoe shaped body of water and a narrow breach in the reef that connects to the Caribbean Sea. The waters of the sound are calm and clear, as they are protected largely by surrounding reef.
Historically, local island fishing boats would return after a day's catch, mooring in the North Sound. Seeking steady waters in which to clean their catch and their gear, the North Sound inside the barrier reef offered protection from the elements of the open sea. This area was quickly adopted and dubbed as the cleaning station.
Having a large population of Atlantic Southern Stingrays, the act of setting up a fisherman's cleaning station began to draw the attention of these docile animals. Groups of rays began to congregate in the area of mooring, making hearty meals of the scraps tossed out by the fishing boats. The Southern Stingrays quickly learned that congregating in this area equated to being fed. Naturally, they continued to return regularly, associating boats with a food source. Today it is less common for fishing boats to moor here, and more common for tour operators with boats full of tourists wishing to catch a glimpse of and interact with the area's resident stingrays.
Liveaboard itineraries to Stingray City generally include 3 to 4 dives per day of sailing around Grand Cayman on a luxury liveaboard with a stop at this iconic dive spot.
WHAT YOU CAN SEE
Your Cayman Islands liveaboard trip will take you to the North Sound, which has a series of shallow sandbars where Stingray City lies. Stingray City is actually composed of two separate locations; one location is approximately three feet deep and generally referred to as 'Stingray Sandbar', where snorkelers and non-diving tourists can don life vests and wade into the waters. The second, slightly deeper location, Stingray City, is designated for the diver and perfect for live aboard boats. With depths that only surmount to 12ft, do not be surprised, this is all you need! Rightfully deemed the worlds best 12ft dive, the experience you get on this shallow sandy dive is downright priceless.
The graceful Southern Stingray is the star of the show in this amazing underwater playground, where they gather by the dozens. Due to years of human exposure, the friendly and curious rays are accustomed to hand feedings and pettings. Tour operators and divemasters often bring supplies of squid; a favorite treat of the Southern Stingray. This is an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity to interact with the mesmerizing marine life in its natural habitat! It should be noted that the rays are here on their own accord, and are not penned or caged. They are not chased or forced into these interactions.
It is unnecessary to do a lot of kicking or moving about, as divers can mainly stay in one location either kneeling on the bottom or hovering peacefully while the rays swim all around, overhead, and may even approach in the hopes of being handed a treat.
Even though the stingrays are the stars, there are many other species of reef fish swimming about, also benefiting from the scraps of food provided by the different tour companies and divemasters. Liveaboard boats to Stingray City are certainly a great way to enjoy this amazing experience.
GETTING TO STINGRAY CITY
Stingray City is best visited from a liveaboard dive boat. Opting to visit this site via a liveaboard may give you the benefit of visiting at a time when there are fewer people present, greatly enhancing the experience. In addition, adding this site to your liveaboard itinerary reduces travel time and allows for what all divers really want - more diving time! This location is a great stopping point on the way to the smaller islands.
When taking an international flight, fly into Grand Cayman via the Owen Roberts International Airport conveniently located in George Town. George Town is also the location of the port of departure for liveaboard dive trips. Depending on the time of year of your trip, either depart for your liveaboard tour from the George Town Tourist Dock or the Ann Drive Docks in North Sound Estates.
Flights to and from the U.S., Canada, Cuba, Honduras, Jamaica, and the UK are offered on a weekly basis. A connecting flight will be necessary for flights departing from different countries. Airlines that offer service to Owen Roberts International Airport are Cayman Airways, Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, JetBlue, United, and West Jet.
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