Friday, August 13, 2010

Swimming with Stingrays Excursions

Stingrays are magnificent creatures... gracefully gliding through the sea much like huge birds glide aloft on air currents. Oh, they are truly are fascinating! As are Eeagle Rays and Manta Rays.

So far, I've been fortunate to "swin with rays" in at least five different locations. If you've never done it, it's a real thrill, and I hope I can help you decide where's the best location for you.

First- Grand Turk. I'd recommend this one for the faint of heart - those who are not really sure they want to actually swim with the creatures, but would like to see and touch them in a fairly safe environment. The stingray encounter portion of the excursion was just that. The group stood shallow water at a beach on Gibb's Cay, while theh guide 'summomed' rays. He then held one, and allowed each participant who desired to do so to touch, feed, and kiss it. A very tame time was had by all.

At Grand Cayman, the experience is a bit more intreactive, but still closely supervised. A really GOOD one for first-timers! I recommend Native Way excursions. On a sandbar, the water depth varies, but is shallow enough for an adult to stand. Activities include supervised feeding, holding and kissing the rays, as well as a group 'back massage' from a ray, quite a tactile experience. There is a little opportunity to swim around, if you take the initiative on your own. This "Swim" is the best known. It's been going on for so long that rays there associate the 'sound' of boat motors with food, flocking to the sandbar when a boat approaches.

In Antigua, there's a very diferent swim... way out in the water, but in a very large area contained by a fence. As in Grand Cayman, you are taken there by boat,and you can also participate in a supervised encounter, but there is also ample opportunity for you to freely swim and snorkel within the large, fenced area. this was the location wher I first watched rays go through the process of burying themselves in the sand... fascinating!

Head to Nassau, in The Bahamas for the best of all worlds. (my humble opinion) There, you'll also find an extremely large enclosed area at the edge of an island. Water depth starts off very shallow, and graduate to maybe 15 feet. The rays, which are captive and de-barbed, get the whole area, but the humans are given 'markers' beyond which they may NOT swim. You can freely swim and snorkel up to the markers. The rays will go beyond those markers when they are tired of you! There's also opportunity for (very) shallow water touching and feeding, which is supervissd.

On your own with Rays in the Wild.... OH! this one is a true thrill. If you are adventurouus to snorkel in the right places on your own, you might just encounter Stingrays, Manta Rays, and EagleRays. Really the best if you are an excerinced snorkeler, a strong swimmer, and love adventure. At the top of this post is a photo of an Eagle Ray that I encountered while solo snorkling off Royal Caribbean's CocoCay. Boy, was she beautiful... and FAST.

Where was YOUR most enjoyable Stingray swim? Or are you still looking forward to your first? If you are, this is something you really MUST make sure is on your official LIST, in my opinion!

NOTE: The "Swimming with Stingrays" products pictured in this post (and other stingray products) are available at CruiseReady on Zazzle.