We decided to play it safe and use only ship-sponsored shore excursions that we thought would really appeal to the kids. The trip to Stingray Beach looked perfect! When we arrived we secured our stuff, got our supplies,
and got a short lesson on stingrays and the basics of snorkeling. (See the stuffed ray he's holding? The kids decided to part with some of their vacation money so they could each bring one home.) Our guide also made sure to let us know that all the stingrays in their enclosure have had their stingers removed.
Then it was into the water! My little fish, I mean my daughter, took off like a rocket into the blue. No worries in her little head.
My, son on the other hand, needed a little encouragement to get into the water. Watching all those big gray spots moving around on the bottom was a bit unnerving, but once he put his face into the water he was hooked. Some of the rays were huge - easily three or four feet across. We learned later that the bigger ones were the females and that the smaller ones with the claspers at the base of their tails were the males.
We also spent some time in the shallows actually touching, feeding, and, if you wanted to, kissing the rays, but cameras weren't allowed during that portion of the day. Their photographer took pictures which they hoped you'd buy later. I understood because the majority of people don't have a waterproof camera and might have loved the opportunity to get a few pictures. But, I did have a waterproof camera and didn't think it was very nice when they asked me to put it away. However, they did ask me to put it away very politely, so I didn't argue.
Later on, when I was looking at the pictures they took, I just couldn't see paying $35 US dollars for one photograph. I think they would be better off doing what I saw in Egypt - sell people a photo pass - permission to take pictures. I would have paid $10.00 to take my own pictures and they would have been ahead, but I'm not going to complain because we had a fantastic day.
After we got out of the water and dried off, there was a little time to hang out on the beach. They had lots for the kids to do while the adults soaked up a bit of sun, had a complimentary soda or looked at the photos available for purchase.
There were animals to touch and hermit crabs to race.
While my son just wanted to watch, my daughter chose on of the smaller crabs and immediately named him "Silly." He started out strong but then started to loop around the inner circle instead of heading out toward the outside. None of the other crabs moved until the kids were told they had to cheer for their crabs if they wanted them to win.
Once K started cheering, "Go Silly, go!" that little crab took off and beat every other one to the finish line. Which in and of itself was very exciting, but my daughter just about flipped when she found out that the prize for first place was a bag of chips - what ever kind she choose. She thought she might be able to bring the little guy home, but sadly he had to stay at Stingray Beach...
Here's their promotional video from YouTube to give you and idea about our day. If you are ever in Cozumel, I recommend stopping by...