Grand Cayman: Native Way’s Rays, Reefs, and Rum Point Tour Review

I simply had to do this tour, not only because it got great reviews on both cruise critic and tripadvisor, but because it has an alliterative name.  And I adore alliteration.

At Stingray City, with stingray.

First, I must state that Native Way’s Rays, Reefs, and Rum Point tour seems the exact opposite of something I’d do.  It basically took us to three very typically touristy locations—Stingray City, the main draw for all cruise ship passengers, a coral reef snorkel, and a beach called Rum Point.  Before booking this cruise, I could not picture myself somewhere called Stingray City (it just sounds touristy, doesn’t it?), was not in a huge hurry to snorkel again (though I loved it in Bermuda), and definitely did not imagine that spending any time on a beach would be a good use of my time.  However, after taking this trip, I have to admit—this was the most relaxing and enjoyable day I’ve had in a long, long time.

The most relaxing part about the trip was that most of it took place on a small boat.  I love small boats (as long as they have a head, which this one did.  A very small, scary one, but it was there and we were allowed to use it).  We were only on a bus for five minutes at the beginning of the tour and at the end of the tour—driving to and from the yacht club where the boat was docked.  There were maybe thirty people on the little boat, which made it a little less enjoyable (mainly because 20 of them were a giant group of Asian tourists traveling together and not having any concept of personal space) but even that did not mar the beautifulness of this day.  Plus, as an added bonus, I happened to sit down next to one of the nicest people I’ve ever met—a woman named Kelly and her sister Cynthia, who magically knew me from Cruise Critic.

Our first stop was Stingray City, and it was not as crowded as I’d expected.  However, the water was much more rough than I expected—and apparently much more rough than it ever is.  But walking around on a sand bar in the middle of the open water with stingrays swimming around me—yeah, that was super cool.  We were there for a while—maybe 45 minutes, but I’m not sure—and I stayed in the water the whole time.  I allowed the tour guide to hold the stingray up for me to kiss it—though all I really wanted was a photo with it.  Kelly was kind enough to snap a few photos for me using the underwater camera my friend Jacque was kind enough to lend me.  In most of them, I don’t look too happy to be touching a stingray.  It felt…strange.

Snorkel self portrait

They then passed out squid for people to feed the stingrays.  I declined.  I’m not sure why I was freaked out about this.  Maybe because I get that they are wild animals—and killed that crazy crocodile dude—so should be treated with respect and a reasonable amount of fear.  Either way, instead of hand-feeding them,  I walked around trying to take photos of them and wishing I had a snorkel or at least goggles to facilitate better underwater photography.  Do you know what’s hard?  Taking photos of stingrays.  Just saying.  But I had fun trying.

After our stingray experience, we moved maybe a hundred yards away for our snorkel.  The area was full of coral reefs, and our guide explained to us that they picked this area because the water was so deep that there was no fear of hurting yourself on the coral—which was something I had difficulty with in Bermuda.  We stayed here for maybe thirty minutes, which doesn’t sound like long, but really, that’s a lot of swimming with fins on.  Plus the waves were still rather crazy, so several times I had issues where I inhaled water because my snorkel was submerged by a wave.  I ended up getting out after maybe 20 minutes to cough up salt water.  But the coral was lovely and teeming with fish.

We were then treated to the best part of the trip.  The boat took us directly to Rum Point, a scenic little beach with an even more scenic little pier at which we docked.  This beach wins the award for most quaint and beautiful I’ve ever visited.  And there’s no reasonable way to get there from the cruise pier other than by boat, because it is very far away via traditional roads.

Rum Point

I would have been happy if this was our only stop, despite how much I enjoyed the stingrays and the snorkeling.  That’s right, I said it—I had a nice time.  At a beach.  Doing pretty much nothing other than snapping photos.  I like beautiful beaches.  I’m not sure if that means that I’m growing as a person or regressing, but whatever.  It was beautiful.
As soon as we arrived at Rum Point, we were treated to lunch on picnic tables right on the beach (which was included in the very reasonable price of the tour)—I had the jerk pork, which was served with bean and rice, coleslaw, corn on the cob, and the best damn view ever.  We then had about an hour to swim, snorkel, relax in the hammocks or on the beach chairs or—if you’re me—walk around and take photos.  Because that’s kind of what I do.  But I did also wade into the beautiful crystal clear water for a bit.  It was a great ending to a great day.

But wait—the day isn’t over yet.  We still have to get back to the ship—which we did in the little boat once again.  As we bounced over the waves towards the other side of the island, I realized something—you can fill a full port day with ‘things to do’—but those things don’t have to be hectic or stressful.  They can be fun, relaxing, touristy even.  And that can still be one hell of a great day.

While I did pay full price for this tour (which can be booked through the Native Way website) and was not required to write a review, I feel like I should recommend it to others.  So hey others—take this tour!  You won’t regret it.
Oh—and I should mention this, as it was why I booked a tour on Grand Cayman in the first place.  The very best part of this tour is not something we did, or a place that we went, or even one specific tour guide.  The best part was this: there were over sixteen thousand people in port that day, and I did not notice it at all.  That’s really all I need to say.

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