The water is only about four feet deep, warm and clear as glass. So why am I nervous? My heart is racing because all around me are dozens of southern stingrays—wild ones with their barbs still intact.
Truth is, I’m perfectly safe. These graceful sea creatures are quite used to interacting with the throngs of tourists who feed them squid, their favorite dish. Still, a thrill runs down my spine as I graze my fingers over their sleek gray forms. It’s my second visit to the famous sandbar known as Stingray City. The first experience was so poignant, I’m back for more.
Cayman has a pull like that—familiar but exotic, always teasing with something new, yet still possessing the maritime soul that has existed here since European sailors, Buccaneers, and shipwrecked castaways began settling these heretofore uninhabited limestone islands in the 17th century.
Today, resort life centers on Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach, which is actually 5.5 blissful miles of white sand that consistently top best-beaches lists. But treasures await all over this welcoming tropical destination. From a sparkling new resort near West Bay to an all-inclusive playground on the East End, here’s where to stay and play in the Cayman Islands.