weather

CANCELLED TOURS ... and the season of disappointment

 Stingray City Sandbar in Grand Cayman

November ... the month that blows business away!

This is a tough month for Grand Cayman Stingray City tour operators - after the long and quiet season that stretches through September and October, we then need to contend with November/beginning December - the season of high winds which bring unsafe conditions in the North Sound.

We express our sincere thanks to those guests who have received the news of cancelled tours with understanding. We are a company that pride ourselves in putting safety before financial consideration, and would not dream of putting guests into a bad situation simply to make a much needed buck.

We understand how much you look forward to our tours and visiting the rays, and completely empathise with your disappointment. It is our hope that we will be fortunate enough to have another opportunity to host you in safer conditions!

Naturally, at these times there are thankfully a minority of guests who voice vitriolic abuse at the crew & office staff (as well as promises of bad Trip Advisor reviews), when losing business due to circumstances beyond our control can be very hard to swallow. And yes, we are aware of operators still touring in such conditions - it is a choice we completely disagree with.

We can only stoically wait out the bad weather whilst praying for better conditions and days when we can again safely and cheerfully have the privilege of sharing these beautiful Caribbean spots with our guests.

Wishing you all safe and happy travels!

Captains Log, snorkel, Stingray City

Grand Cayman at it's best!

Incredible Brain Coral along Grand Cayman's barrier reef

Incredible Brain Coral along Grand Cayman's barrier reef

Incredible clarity of water at Stingray City

Incredible clarity of water at Stingray City

Even the skies and trees put on extra sparkle for us - Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Even the skies and trees put on extra sparkle for us - Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Stingray City in Grand Cayman - smooth horizons and salty kisses

Stingray City in Grand Cayman - smooth horizons and salty kisses

The girls swarm to say hi to us at the Sandbar in Grand Cayman

The girls swarm to say hi to us at the Sandbar in Grand Cayman

Remember to tell your special ones that you love them today.

Some days are just extra special. Like yesterday.

It has been an emotional few days watching Hurricane Matthew tear it's way through the Caribbean. Many of us well remember the devastation brought about by Hurricane Ivan, and as happy as we are that our island has been spared, our hearts sag with concern for those who were not as lucky. Our prayers and thoughts go to all trying to now recover.

And so, yesterday's tour was doubly appreciated. Mother nature showed off her far more beautiful and benevolent side to us - astounding Caribbean blues, still clear waters and magical sea creatures. Sometimes, words fail us, so let the images do the talking. Enjoy.

Welcoming committee - Grand Cayman snorkel

Welcoming committee - Grand Cayman snorkel

Quietly stunning - coral swaying to the tune of the tides in Grand Cayman

Quietly stunning - coral swaying to the tune of the tides in Grand Cayman

Blessed and beautiful calm at the Barrier Reef - Grand Cayman

Blessed and beautiful calm at the Barrier Reef - Grand Cayman

Captains Log, Starfish Point

HOW TO TELL IT'S HOT

Great shot of our guests at Starfish Point today - we hope they like it too! After yesterday's blustery weather which cancelled tours, it was a blessing to be out.

Great shot of our tour guests at Starfish Point today

Great shot of our tour guests at Starfish Point today

However, there is a detail which we found quite telling about the heat of the day - do you notice it?

It's hot out there, and this is the only shade ....

It's hot out there, and this is the only shade ....

Caribbean summers are not for the faint-hearted. It is not so much the temperature, but the humidity which can be tough if you are not used to it.

Of course, we love it and would not have it any other way. But visitors, remember to keep yourself covered, keep the sunscreen on and keep hydrated!

Looking forward to taking you on your next tour!

Captains Log, conch

CONCH SHELLS IN RAINBOWS

Times are getting quieter right now .... the slowest time of the season - time to catch our breath and do some maintenance.

However, never too busy to share pictures of our beautiful surroundings collected during our tour. Here, two conch shells lying on white Caribbean sands with water so clear that you cannot see it. The surface creates rainbows and provides yet another amazing moment of beauty.

Enjoy!

Rainbows on conch shells - Grand Cayman

Rainbows on conch shells - Grand Cayman

Captains Log, barracuda, Excursions

MAN MEETS BARRACUDA - THE PHOTO!

We love hearing back from our guests, especially when sharing videos or photos that they took during their tour with us.

We posted news about an excursion where Captain Mario took a picture of a guest squaring off with a Barracuda to get a photo - we loved the photo and shared it. So, what an amazing and lovely surprise when he e-mailed us with the resulting shot - which, we might, is a pretty darned awesome pic (see below)!

Squaring off with a Barracuda - awesome photo by a guest - thanks for sharing!

Squaring off with a Barracuda - awesome photo by a guest - thanks for sharing!

It is really a great shot made even more special because it was shared by a guest. This is what we love, these are moments that we love being a part of.

Thank you to all our guests - where would we be without you?

Captains Log, barracuda, fish, things to do

MAN MEETS BARRACUDA

Hope our guests likes this picture of him taking a picture of a Barracuda. Hope he got a great shot of the Barracuda.

Our tours and excursions have become quite popular, not only because our crew genuinely love what they do, but because we take photos for our guests and share them for free.

It is photos like the one below that we hope become treasured by our guests. Many have voiced that they love not having to cart their cameras and can relax knowing Captain Mario is doing the job. They are welcome to bring their own equipment - there is no prohibition of them taking their own photos.

Captain Mario tries to take as many shots as he can, depending on conditions. If the prevailing weather is serving up tropical conditions, he is more concerned about the safety of his guests, but quieter conditions allow him the freedom to follow our guests around and get some memorable photos. The photos also bring each day's tour alive for the office staff, and keep them in touch with what is happening out there.

Hope we can host you soon and share some equally great shots with you!

Man meets Barracuda ... Grand Cayman snorkel tour

Man meets Barracuda ... Grand Cayman snorkel tour

Captains Log, fish

ONE GOOD REASON NOT TOUCH

The golden rule for snorkelling is DON'T TOUCH. Besides the fact that your touch can do enormous damage to precious coral that has taken years to grow, you can also end up feeling very sorry for yourself.

Don't touch - can you see why? Snorkelling in Grand Cayman

Don't touch - can you see why? Snorkelling in Grand Cayman

Sharp eyed Captain Mario spotted this little guy during one of our snorkel tours - the camouflage would make a navy seal green with envy. Below we get closer ....

A little bit closer ...

A little bit closer ...

By now you should be picking up the mouth, the nostrils and the eyes ... you can just see the tail in the background ...

From the top ... the Spotted Scorpionfish ... sometimes called Rock fish by the locals

From the top ... the Spotted Scorpionfish ... sometimes called Rock fish by the locals

And there you have the Spotted Scorpionfish. Some locals call is the Rock Fish. You can call him what you want but you don't want to touch him.

These quiet characters just keep to themselves on the sea floor, hoping for some little creature to pass by and become the next meal. As you can see above, they are masters of camoflage, and are covered in spines which, if you touch him or stand on him, will quickly inform you that the attention is unwanted .... and it is a long and painful memory. You could pretty much say that his sting is worse than his looks.

So, keep the hands to yourselves and have a happy snorkel!

fish, things to do, spotted trunk fish

LEAD THE WAY!

This Spotted Trunk Fish leads the way ...

This Spotted Trunk Fish leads the way ...

Dazzling water clarity - this photo was taken on our tour which took place August 7 - a day which makes you fall in love with the Caribbean all over again (and again and again!).

At Sandbar where the world famous Stingray City is, - you will often see the Needle Nose Fish and these little guys darting around, trying to snap up any food the stingrays might have missed. Usually very timid, it is not often that one can get close to them, so it was a delight to get this photo, while chasing him across the sands.

They are rather sweet looking and always look like they are puckering up for a kiss - must be spending too much time around the rays!

Captains Log, Excursions, Starfish Point

STARFISH AND STINGRAYS

Starfish Point. Coconut trees. Sea stars. Perfect sandy beach. Pretty much a tiny little piece of paradise tucked away on the Northern side of Grand Cayman. What more could you ask for?

Well, Mother Nature is spoiling us once again and made magic happen with some stingrays starting to visit this spot away from Stingray City.

The girl who started it all - Baby Barbara

It all seemed to start a few months back with one of "Barbara's" babies (Captain Mario's favourite stingray). Barbara has a genetic fault which leaves her without a tail, and as such, her offspring can be easily identified. Baby Barbara was really still quite small, and the crew left her alone, not bringing much attention to her in the hopes of not scaring her away, but always keeping an eye open for her to make sure she was doing okay.

Sea stars AND stingrays at Starfish Point!

Happy to report she has been doing fabulously and seems to have tweeted some other pals to come along to this beautiful beach as well. It is fun to see guest reactions when they are posing with sea stars and suddenly have a stingray swim past them - reactions can be pretty dramatic and Youtube worthy (now there's a thought!). But all in all, we think it must come close to being one of the best Caribbean moments possible and should be rounded off by a famous Mudslide of course!

Have to thank the "girls" for this added attraction at Starfish Point - it was always a favourite spot for us, but it has now become even better!

 

Captains Log, private tours, Snorkel, barracuda

EERIE BARRACUDA

Tropical storm Earl had made his way past us a couple of days before, and water clarity in some parts was still not good. However, we were delighted to be asked to take a group of five island visitors on a private tour which included Coral Gardens, the Reef and Deep Stingray City.

 Stingray City Sandbar in Grand Cayman

Captain Mario seldom gets the chance to visit Deep Stingray City and he was delighted to be doing this. As usual, he was in the water with our guests taking photos of them enjoying this experience, turned around and clicked this photo of a Barracuda swimming curiously by.

This one is called the Great Barracuda and is known by its black spots marking the incredibly sparkling silver scales along its side. The Barracuda has a very pointed face and teeth that are more like fangs. They carry a rather bad reputation for attacking people, especially in murky waters (gulp - see above) - swimmers may be mistaken for predators and be followed in the mistaken hope of picking up left-over scraps of predator meals. Shiny objects can also be mistaken as prey - hence the advice not to wear shiny jewelry and accessories when snorkelling. However, they are generally more dangerous if eaten - they have caused more food poisoning cases than any other fish!

In any case, this guy was just curious and caused no alarm at all, but the photo really turned out to suit his spooky reputation!

Captains Log, private tours, sunset

GRAND CAYMAN COMPETES WITH RIO

5th August brought on the spectacular opening of the 2016 Olympics in Rio this year, and millions of people around the world were spellbound by special effects created by incredible technology. We wish the best to all those athletes who have worked so hard to get to this point.

Meanwhile, we were experiencing our own little special show put on by Mother Nature. We are so lucky to see so many Caribbean sunsets, but have to say that this has got to have been one of the best. This photo really is a point and shoot production, no special effects done by us bar the watermark.

This was taken during a private tour, in the North Sound, heading back to port. Pretty much had everyone on board stunned to silence. Grand Cayman putting on her own show. Just beautiful. And absolutely worth sharing of course.

Grand Cayman fires up her own special effects for the Olympic opening ...

Grand Cayman fires up her own special effects for the Olympic opening ...

Captains Log, For children, Stingray City

HITCHING A RIDE ...

Tropical storm Earl edged his way past Grand Cayman this past week, forcing the cancellation of tours over two days. The ensuing disappointment for guests who could not make it out to Stingray City with us was tough on the morale of the crew, who honestly can't wait to make it out every day.

Nonetheless, conditions on August 4 meant that excursions could start again, although clouds were still a moody gray and the caribbean waters were still choppy - adventuresome guests were ready and waiting to tackle the tour - including this awesome little passenger!

She was full throttle all the way, but everyone can have their limit, and she thoroughly enjoyed this ride back to the boat courtesy of Salvador, one of our amazing deckhands. We think the smile says it all!

A smile like this makes our day .... possibly even our week!

Hitching a ride back to "Big John" with Salvador

Hitching a ride back to "Big John" with Salvador

Captains Log, Excursions, Stingrays

MEET "MUDSLIDE" THE STINGRAY!

Mudslide - any Grand Cayman visitor or resident would immediately think "Rum Point" - the home of the famous Mudslide cocktail which can make the earth slide out from under your feet in the most fun of ways. Their first thought is not usually of a stingray ...

However, any guest who has been out with us or read our reviews, will know that we absolutely adore the stingrays that we see daily at the sandbar, and name the "girls" for their characteristics due to individual colourings, markings and personality.

Some of them are Barbara, Dark Vader and Lilly. But we now introduce another lovely dame who deserves much respect and love - Mudslide!

Mudslide the stingray giving and feeling the love at the sandbar in Grand Cayman

Mudslide the stingray giving and feeling the love at the sandbar in Grand Cayman

The name was earned from mostly visiting guests at Rum Point, but recently she has moved over to the sandbar at Stingray City. Captain Mario estimates her age at approximately 30 years (yes, human years) which we believe makes her the second oldest - Scarface is the oldest one there! 

She is one of the most lovable and sweet girls. Although her skin is a little rougher than most other rays because of her age, she is incredibly gentle when being held, taking food and appears to be particularly fond of children.

She is identified by the darker "ring" of colour around her edges and because her tail has been cut short at the point of her barb - it is not known how this might have happened.

We are loving having her at the sandbar, as are our excursion guests, and we will be keeping an eye open for her to give her extra love and attention which she deserves.

Next to we make it out to Rum Point, we will raise a Mudslide to you lovely lady - may you be with us for a long time to come!

Captains Log, conch, coral, private tours, Snorkel

MOTHER NATURE NAILED THIS GRAND CAYMAN TOUR!

Approaching North Side in Grand Cayman

Approaching North Side in Grand Cayman

No excursion is the same. Each one has something special about it.

Lobed Star Coral along the Reef in Grand Cayman

Lobed Star Coral along the Reef in Grand Cayman

It could be a special moment when a kid gets to snorkel for the first time and you hear the squeals through the snorkel. It could be a turtle sighting or Elvis the eel visiting or watching guests' stress melting away the more time they spend surrounded by this awesome Caribbean beauty.

And then there are days where Mother Nature just seems bent on blowing your mind with beauty. Yesterday was just such a day.

Conch and shell along the reef

Conch and shell along the reef

We hosted a wonderful group for a private tour - with this comes the luxury of taking things as slowly as you want (or quickly if that is your wish although we don't advise this). It is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to chill out and truly enjoy the snorkeling, the coral reef and of course, Stingray City Sandbar.

Mother Nature, simply put, showed off yesterday. Absolutely brilliant Caribbean colours both below and above surface, glorious sunshine, rainbow tropical fish, fragile coral structures and of course, cuddly stingrays made this a tour of vacation memories of note!

Stunning Elkhorn Coral

Stunning Elkhorn Coral

Here we have included some of the photos with descriptions and hope that you enjoy them. I know the crew enjoyed the tour and every moment with the guests, and we certainly hope that our guests left us feeling absolutely relaxed and awed.

Follow my leader with Parrotfish

Follow my leader with Parrotfish

Captains Log, private tours, snorkel

GET YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW AND COME SNORKEL WITH US!

Grand Cayman vacation and a moment to remember - snorkelling the reef

Grand Cayman vacation and a moment to remember - snorkelling the reef

Aaaah - we are loving this photo of a group who chose us for a private tour. This was taken whilst out snorkelling - great conditions with the natural caribbean colours gleaming all round. Hope the photo makes it onto their walls and that they join us again soon for another excursion!

Captains Log, Excursions, starfish, Starfish Point, things to do

STARFISH POINT - GRAND CAYMAN

Sucks not being able to breathe.

THAT is why we emphasise to our guests to keep the precious Sea Stars in the water. Taking them out of the water is the same as someone holding your head under water - not a good feeling.

Imagine having your head pushed under water all day long, again and again.

They do not belong on your head and are also not rugby balls to be kicked around.

We need to look after life, no matter what form. Just look at these stunning specimens we found for our guests visiting Starfish Point. This is what we want our guests to enjoy, this is the heritage we want to leave to the future generations.

Keep them in the water folks - karma will be kinder.

Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Starfish Point in Grand Cayman

Gorgeous to look at, so special to hold, but keep in them in the water, so they can grow old

For more on this subject, check out what the kids are saying ...... LINK

Captains Log, Excursions, Snorkel

BEST SNORKELLING BUDDY - EVER!

Snorkelling in the North Sound of Grand Cayman provides many beautiful sights with all the stunning coral formations and rainbow tropical fish that one can expect from our gorgeous caribbean island.

However, we are very often joined by one or two of the friendly stingrays who have ventured over from Stingray City. To watch the delight and amazement of our guests when they experience this is a pleasure which is hard to describe.

The "girls" will often swim next to our guests, or play a game of tag, popping up around the side a coral formation and gliding in close enough for a touch before swooshing off again.

There can be no better snorkel buddy in the world, and a moment like this has got to be at the top of the list of one of the best experiences EVER.

A game of tag ... you're it!

A game of tag ... you're it!

Captains Log, weather, stingray city

TROPICAL WEATHER - CONFUCIUS SAYS

Sunny with stormy clouds. Clear with tropical thunderstorms. Calm with choppy conditions.

Making sense? "Nah bo bo" as they would say locally.

But these are the tropics, and this is mid summer. The scariest question we face at this time of the year? "What will the weather be like today/tomorrow/next week?"

Usually we go through several tropical conditions through the duration of our tours in Grand Cayman, and the best Captain Mario can do is try to guage the optimal timing to visit the different sites included in our excursions. Most times he gets it right, sometimes not - and that is when our guests suddenly realise that one of the reasons we chose a boat with a comfortable inner cabin is so they can take cover from thunder showers.

Below is a photo taken on yesterday's tour showing beautiful caribbean sun highlighting the awesome colours of the sea, while threatening, dark, moody thunderstorms and downpours are clearly visible in the background. Makes for some awesome photography but certainly keeps the crew hopping!!

Ah well, all in a days work. Never boring, always interesting - and love every moment!

Kissing quickly before the rain hits us ... Stingray City in Grand Cayman