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Outrage Ecotour of Stingray City, Barrier Reef & Rum Point

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Vancouver, Canada
5 posts
Outrage Ecotour of Stingray City, Barrier Reef & Rum Point

I've just returned home from the best vacation of my life, in Grand Cayman. While there, my mother and I hired a private charter boat for the full day excursion, with Outrage Ecotours. Our captain/tour operator, John Michael, is a Cayman local and free diver. We paid $500 between us for the day, and had the boat to ourselves. Best money we ever spent!! We went to Stingray City Sandbar to feed and play with the Southern Stingrays. It was a windy day, and the waves were very choppy, and they knocked us around a bit, so I don't recommend any smaller children or frail adults try this on a stormy day, but I would definitely recommend having this magical experience to anyone and everyone! While there, J.M. (John Michael) gave us plenty of squid to feed the Rays, and we were surrounded by many of them the whole time we were there. We felt sorry for the tourists who had come on other tour company boats, packed like sardines and herded around like cattle. We had a million times more personal interactions with the Rays then those poor folks. It was like watching a graceful, underwater ballet. I will say that though everyone said the Stingrays couldn't bite you as they have no teeth, they can and did harm my mother. Their mouths work by extreme vacuum suction, and the ring of cartilage that makes their mouths is as hard as bone. A large Ray missed the food in Mum's fist, and accidentally went for her wrist. It was extremely painful, and it caused several open wounds that bled terribly. Her wrist became very badly swollen, bruised, and eventually, infected. However, she and I would still do it all over again in a heartbeat. If you are fearful, then I'd recommend you simply don't try to feed them, and just enjoy watching, petting and hugging the Rays. Much as J.M. was an incredible guide, we were concerned that his first aid kit was nearly empty and of no help to Mum after her injury. It was great taking our private charter there, as we were never rushed and stayed as long as we wanted to. Then J.M. took us to the breakwater where we were to snorkel the Barrier Reef. The underwater world was mesmerizing, and visibility was 100%. Later that week we learned that many tours had cancelled the day we went out, as the sea was so terribly stormy, and the waves were big and very powerful. We weren't warned before getting in the water about how far the waves could carry us, and how incredibly difficult it would be to swim back to the boat against the large, forceful waves. Mum just let the waves take her out, and it wasn't long till she found herself a long distance from the boat, and she used all her strength trying to swim back, but she wasn't getting anywhere. J.M. had to swim out and bring her all the way back to the boat. Whilst he watched out for our safety throughout the day, I would recommend in the future that he has every snorkeler wear a lifejacket when in the water. He does keep a rope, tied to an innertube, out in the water, tied to the boat. Much better to hold on to that at all times, and snorkel that way, unless you have lots of experience. We were then taken to Rum Point, and instructed to walk down a long stretch of beach and then meet back up with the boat, which would be against the shore. I can't even express how incredible that experience was. We walked on uninhabited stretches of beach, and it was like living in a postcard, or a "Corona" commercial!! Lots of great photo ops. We then went to Starfish Beach. Beautiful, but unlike what I read on the internet, there were no seashells or starfish to be seen in the shallow waters. However, J.M. swam out and brought us some lovely starfish to hold and photograph. Finally, we were taken along the Mangroves, and J.M. even took my underwater camera into the surrounding waters, which were teaming with hundreds of jellyfish! He was so knowledgeable, helpful, interesting, and fun & he made our vacation the best ever. I hope I get the opportunity to do it all again someday. J.M.'s charter should be the one big excursion you go on over anything else and I truly hope people reading this take that to heart. If you haven't traveled to Grand Cayman before, I will give you a strong warning that you should heed - I went there with a deep tanning-bed tan, and I almost never burn, even on the hottest of days back home, but due to its position near the equator, the sun's strength at Grand Cayman was like nothing I've ever experienced. You can almost hear your skin sizzling in the midday sun. Wear at least SPF 15 sunblock your first few days, reapply often, and avoid midday sun when possible. Trust me, you will fry otherwise, and you'll still get a tan even with the sunblock! It really sucks to get a bad sunburn since it prevents you from enjoying the sunny weather while you heal. I will also tell you this - we paid big bucks for the "Atlantis Submarine" night dive in Georgetown, and it was a total waste of time and money. Nothing to see but a bit of colourful sponges and freaking tarpon fish. They are boring, silver fishes and they are very nearly the only sea life to be seen from this awful tourist trap. Do NOT bother with Atlantis, unless you want to squeeze in an overpriced nap!!!! Visiting Pedro St James is a definite must see too. 7th generation descendants of the original owners of the oldest building on the island are there, and we so enjoyed their stories and immense knowledge base. Also, we took public buses all over the island to see the sights, etc and it is a wonderful, inexpensive way to get around. Lastly, we spent an entire day at the world's only Sea Turtle Farm located at Boatswain Beach, Grand Cayman. We paid for the whole park, and brought our own snorkel gear. Next to our private charter day, the day at the turtle farm was the second best vacation day I've ever had!!!! Visiting Grand Cayman is the best money you could ever spend!!!

Grand Cayman
Destination Expert
for Grand Cayman
Level Contributor
8,939 posts
58 reviews
1. Re: Outrage Ecotour of Stingray City, Barrier Reef & Rum Point

There are so many opportunities to visit Stingray City as you describe that it is a real shame people think of it as cattleboats. They are there but not the norm and the only ones I can think of are the ones that cater to day visitors that don't check out what they are getting into.

Too bad about your mom's injury. Feeding a ray is very similar to feeding a horse. They can't see what is going into their mouths. So by using smell they lock on. For a horse it might mean very sore fingers or even a broken finger, for a ray it is a nasty bruise (hickey) from the suction and grinding plates. Tell your mom to keep using something like neosporene if the cut is still scabbed. Unfortunately bruising takes a little longer to heal. Arnica might help. The best thing with a determined ray is to drop the squid, of course, you have to recognize the behaviour. Hopefully it didn't spoil her outing. Tell her she got a very speical love bite!!!

Vancouver, Canada
5 posts
2. Re: Outrage Ecotour of Stingray City, Barrier Reef & Rum Point

Thank you for your concern, and I agree with your advice. Mum was being rather stubborn for a couple of days, but as I am an ER nurse, I knew how to treat her wounds, but had to wait till she'd let me do so! Once she had, I got the infection all cleared up, and the wounds have nearly filled in now. We knew the Rays were feeding by smell, and we certainly didn't blame the gentle giant that gave her the bad hickey, as we knew it had just missed the mark. We would try to help the Rays' mouths find the food in our hands, but accidents do happen, and the ocean was very stormy that day, so no one could stand still out there with the waves knocking them this way and that, which likely increased the risk of an accident. I certainly don't wish to dissuade anyone from having this incredible experience, but injuries can and do occur, so be careful. Mum and I didn't let that mishap ruin our experience though. She continued to happily enjoy every bit of that special day. I think she's even proud of her Stingray "love bite" scars, especially since she has such a story to tell about them!! As for the different tour boats out at Stingray City Sandbar, many really did have too many customers, all herded together, and there wasn't enough room between people for Stingrays to even swim through. A couple of other boats had smaller groups of customers, but I can truly speak only of my own personal experience, and having such space and freedom, and a guide that only the 2 of us had to share, I had many, many Stingrays constantly around me and with me, for as long as I wanted to be there. It was one of the best highlights of my life, and worth every penny spent, and more!!! But, whatever your price range, or however limited your time at Grand Cayman, the one thing you should get to experience above all else is a visit with these magical, graceful creatures, no matter what tour company you choose to use.

Winterville, North...
Level Contributor
2 posts
84 reviews
3. Re: Outrage Ecotour of Stingray City, Barrier Reef & Rum Point

WE just returned from Grand Cayman and also took John Micheal's eco tour on the advice of friends. This was our favorite day of the entire trip. Our day was just as described here. We loved seeing the Stingray City on a more intimate tour, rather than the cattle call tours offered by most operators......"see the islands with 40-50 of your best friends." We had a very pleasant day snorkeling in an area with lots of live coral and sealife. John Michael was a pleasant, informative and graceful local host who made sure we had a wonderful day on the waters of GC. He comes highly recommended to all who want to wander away from the crowds.

Edited: 2:02 pm, May 01, 2011
Vancouver, Canada
5 posts
4. Re: Outrage Ecotour of Stingray City, Barrier Reef & Rum Point

So happy to hear others enjoyed John Michael's private charter as much as we did! I just returned from a week in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, which is located by the Caribbean Sea. I'd hoped to find it somewhat comparable to Grand Cayman, but was horribly disappointed. Once you've gone Cayman, it seems nothing else can measure up! I know it costs twice as much as a holiday in Mexico, but it is worth every penny. Cayman or bust!!!!!!

Atlanta, Georgia
3 posts
2 reviews
5. Re: Outrage Ecotour of Stingray City, Barrier Reef & Rum Point

How did you go about booking the trip

6. Re: Outrage Ecotour of Stingray City, Barrier Reef & Rum Point

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Vancouver, Canada
5 posts
7. Re: Outrage Ecotour of Stingray City, Barrier Reef & Rum Point

I booked the flights online through West Jet, both last year and for our return trip to Grand Cayman at the end of this month, and booked our hotel directly, as we absolutely loved Sunshine Suites Resort last time. It is a beautiful gem of a hotel, secretly tucked in amongst all the overpriced, luxury resorts like the Ritz. It's right across the road from the beach, and every room has a fully functioning kitchen. The rooms are lovely & clean, and the staff were so friendly and helpful. It feels like home away from home. There's also a Fosters grocery store a few blocks down from it, as well as a convenience store right beside it. We had considerably diminished appetites in such a hot, humid climate, so having fruit, yoghurt, etc from the store in our fridge, we saved on eating costs, plus there is a wonderful breakfast buffet included in your room charge. As for booking John Michael's amazing private charter, he does not have his own private website, but you just go to: grandcaymancruiseexcursions.com/CaymanOutrag… and make your reservation through them. A company called 'Island Marketing Ltd' looks after the bookings and deposit for the private charter, and that's how it appears on your credit card statement for the deposit. When you actually go on your charter, the balance owing then must be paid directly to John Michael using only cash or traveler's cheque, I believe. We enjoyed our day out with him so very much that we have booked to do it all again during our next stay, in a couple of weeks. If I figure out how to do so, I'll attempt to post one of my underwater videos of feeding the stingrays last year here on tripadvisor. One other valuable thing I learned last time as well - we used the public 'bus' system to go all over the island. They are very handy, and very cheap!! They are unique in this system though - each bus is owner operated, and they are long white vans. They pretty much pick you up anywhere, even when there isn't a marked bus stop right handy, as long as you wave to flag them down. Then, you just tell them where you wish to get off, and they drop you right where you want to go. If you want more info on them, visit: www.grandcayman4u.com/transport/buses.htm Hope I've been helpful. Cheers :)

Trophy Club, Texas
Destination Expert
for Cayman Islands
Level Contributor
6,257 posts
23 reviews
8. Re: Outrage Ecotour of Stingray City, Barrier Reef & Rum Point

No Mas!

Littleton, Colorado
Level Contributor
39 posts
39 reviews
9. Re: Outrage Ecotour of Stingray City, Barrier Reef & Rum Point

CL39, I aprpeciate your posts. I have booked the full day with Outrage and John Michael Stafford for this July via Island Mktg Ltd. We are all so excited about it. Would love to see your pics and videos when you get them posted. I have not found a good websight just for the Outrage Tour, just all of the tour booking sites. Does JMS have his own page?

Vancouver, Canada
5 posts
10. Re: Outrage Ecotour of Stingray City, Barrier Reef & Rum Point

You'll have a fantastic time, I'm sure!! I just returned from another trip to Cayman, and had a great time out on another full day tour with John Michael. As far as I am aware, he does not have his own website. If you google "youtube Outrage Ecotours Stingray City", you'll find several of my underwater videos from our time out with John Michael and the beautiful beasties. Let me know what you think :) And have yourselves a wonderful trip!!!

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