Pros: Being in the water with Sting Rays
Cons: Being seen as food by Sting Rays
Hubby and I have been diving for decades, we are Dive Master /Master Divers. We're deep diving, night diving, wreck diving, rescue diving certified and more. We've been to Cocos Islands and we've been diving off the Jersey Shore so we're quite comfortable in any water. We've been to the Caymans many, many times, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. When we stopped in Grand Cayman on the way to Cayman Brac for a dive trip we took the Sting Ray City dive trip. It's $40 for a 2 tank half day trip. There are options to snorkel or do this site on a glass bottom boat but we like the dive option. It's a 12-15' depth dive in extremely clear water. The Rays have become "trained" to the sound of boats so they know food is going to be there for them when they hear the motors. They know the feeding routine. We chose to go in the morning to avoid crowds. This is a very popular trip for cruise customers and can get extremely busy.
We love being in the water with large Pelagics. This particular dive really could have been a snorkel trip but having tanks gave us easier access to longer time spent below.
Sting Ray City is well know as a feeding spot/dive/snorkel adventure. It was a short boat trip to the hot spot, a long sand bar in shallow water. Unfortunately, on the way to Sting Ray City our Dive guide decided rubbing us down with fish oil would be the best way to attract the Rays. He did this just before we entered the water and we dropped in and looked at each other with a "What the???" look. Too late. It was done. We were chum.
The Rays were at us, we smelled like fish/squid and they were feasting. Despite the fact I had skins on (a light lycra dive suit)I ended up covered with suck bites as did hubby. Rays have mouths on the underside that are like vacuums with tremendous sucking force. They were all over us. We were swarmed and it wasn't pleasant. UP close and personal became much too personal.
We have the video of this crazy dive. It's a lot funnier when you watch it then it was when we were part of it. We now have an underwater video camera so we save the $40 price of the videos. We now have our own funniest home video and we still wonder if this quide didn't have some anger issues.
We managed to hold our own for awhile and then had to bail. The Rays were fascinating up close but being swarmed and attacked just made it very unpleasant. Another thought is that feeding frenzies can draw the whole food chain-meaning what was next? Sharks? The water is shallow and clear so chances are any approach would have been noticed but it's better not to be in that situation.
Naturally, we had a lot to say to the dive guide and strongly suggest you avoid this situation if you intend to do a dive like this. I'm hoping this guide is no longer employed. This happened a few years ago and it's just something you might want to be aware of and avoid if you take a trip like this.
I much prefer diving and taking my chances at seeing interesting underwater life rather then be part of predictable feeding.I also am against training these creatures to eat from humans as it can put people in a dangerous situation. Animals underwater or above can be very unpredictable and having them associate you with food is not always the best idea.
Diving the Caymans almost always guarentees seeing something special underwater and in general everyone there is extremely pleasant and welcoming. This was an unusual situation.
I advise leaving food out of dive situations, be aware of whats going on when you dive or snorkel but don't pass up Sting Ray City, it's a wonderful adventure .