One of the great things about visiting Grand Cayman in the Caribbean is the various day trips it has to offer. North, South and East of Seven Mile Beach, there are a number of scenic spots to visit and places to explore, including secret coves, underground caves, snorkeling and diving spots, botanical gardens, and pretty beaches.
One of our favorite day excursions was a boat tour to picturesque Rum Point, with a stop at Stingray City, Grand Cayman’s #1 tourist attraction (and for a reason), along the way.
My family and I knew that we wanted to visit Stingray City to swim with the stingrays, and we knew that we wanted to check out another part of the island; Rum Point is on the north end of the island in a serene setting away from it all. So, a boat excursion to both seemed like a good fit.
We booked our tour with Red Sail Sports directly through the Westin Hotel the day before, and it couldn’t have been easier. Depending on which hotel you stay at, you will have several options of tours to book. Some include Rum Point with snorkeling near the coral reef, while others include Stingray City with Rum Point and Starfish Point, while some focus on diving. And if you’re not staying at a hotel, you can just book through a local operator, such as Red Sail and Captain Marvin’s.
We decided to book our tour on a catamaran. As it happened, friends of ours told us they went on the Red Sail catamaran the day before and said it was an amazing experience. So that’s what we did. We went with another group of friends and about 20 other people on the “public” catamaran (not a private charter), and it was perfect for us. Though it’s bigger than a private one, it still felt fairly small, and we even had a corner of the boat to ourselves where our girls could lie on the “trampoline”.
Let me begin by saying, from beginning to end, this day trip was perfect. The weather was fantastic, the Red Sail staff were great, and everything ran along seamlessly. From the moment we boarded the shuttle to the marina and onto the catamaran and throughout the entire day, there were no hiccups.
Part of the reason why the day went so smoothly was the Red Sail staff was superb. It was about 4 or 5 people, including a photographer for Stingray City, and they were all knowledgeable, fun, funny and engaging. They gave us a run-down of the day and informed us on how to handle the stingrays, and off we jetted into the sea.
What is Stingray City?
Our first stop, and about a half hour from the Seven Mile beach area, was Stingray City. What is Stingray City, you may be wondering? It’s a group of sandbars out in the middle of the sea, some very shallow at 3-4 feet, some much deeper (where the divers go). The shallow ones you can obviously stand on, and that’s where many of the tour boats go.
It is said that in the 1970’s fishermen would clean their fish and dump the fish guts into the sandbars, and that the stingrays caught on and would frequent the fishermen whenever they were there. That turned into the fishermen and divers feeding them, and the stingrays swarming them every time they came. They were very docile and adapted to being around humans, and eventually the tours started. The stingrays are still completely in the wild, only now they’re used to being around humans.
Visiting Stingray City was a unique experience – we swam with them, touched them, and with the help of the staff, held them. All out in the middle of the turquoise water in the middle of the sea. It was pretty spectacular. My girls, ages 12 and 10, were a bit shy and nervous, but the Red Sail guys helped them with every move. All of us were able to hold a stingray, and even give it a kiss! As I mentioned, there was a photographer on board, so we were able to get pictures with the cute rays as well.
Stingray City will definitely go down as one of my girls’ favorite vacation activities of all time, for the playfulness and sheer joy of it. Once we re-boarded the boat (after about 45 minutes), we were on our way to Rum Point, where we were to spend the remainder of the day.
As I mentioned, Rum Point is located on the northern part of Grand Cayman. Apparently, a long time ago, rum barrels washed up on shore from flailing ships, and it’s been called Rum Point ever since. Here you will find serene beaches, shallow waters, a plethora of green trees, and beach shack-style restaurants and bars serving island drinks and local cuisine.
As we de-barked the catamaran onto a long pier and made our way to Rum Point, it was obvious we were walking into an oasis of sorts. Albeit a touristy oasis, but still a nice escape from the bigger Seven Mile beach. Here we came upon beach chairs, colorful picnic tables, the famous Wreck Bar (birthplace of the mudslide), smaller shack-style bars, and a very chill vibe.
Red Sail cordoned off a section for our group, which was really nice, and we feasted on a buffet of Caribbean fare, including rice and beans, red pepper fish, plantains, jerk chicken and slaw, and more. It was delicious. Also included in our package was the use of snorkeling gear, kayaks, paddle boards and big wheelers. If you wanted to jet ski, banana boat, etc. there’s a Red Sail outpost right there to book your fun. So easy.
The afternoon was just what we wanted. Basically, the kids had a blast with all of the water sports, and the parents lazed around drinking pina coladas and mudslides. It was nice to be in a different setting, with lots of beachy colors, and trees for shade!
We spent 3 hours of utter relaxation at Rum Point, and then boarded the catamaran for the ride back to the marina. The Red Sail guys mixed up some delicious rum punch – not too sweet – and we laid out on the catamaran with drinks in tow like movie stars. Perfection!
I highly recommend this trip for anyone, for all that it includes, especially being able to cruise around the Caribbean in a boat. It brings a totally different perspective to your trip.
Things to note:
Price: at the time of writing this, the tour was $165 per adult and $65 for kids 11 and under.
Bring a towel, lots of sunscreen, water, and a hat.
You might want to consider bringing a waterproof camera bag for Stingray City. I’m happy with the photographer’s photos, but they’re pricey. We were able to split with our friends, making it cheaper.
Bring some cash for gratuity.