If you’re looking for somewhere to see stingrays in Florida then you’re in the right place.
Nothing can beat that amazing feeling of seeing a stingray up close and personal in their natural habitat! Why not try it for yourself?
This post will tell you all of the best places to see stingrays in Florida and includes all the information you’ll need for a fun day out.
Where Can You Swim with Stingrays in Florida?
You’ll find stingrays in many beaches across Florida. They tend to prefer warm, shallow waters and often bury themselves under the sand on the ocean floor.
Despite their dangerous reputation, stingrays are actually super friendly and docile.
Whilst you can see stingrays all over Florida, the best location is in Key West.
I’d recommend joining a sailing, kayaking and snorkeling tour in Key West to give you the best possible chance of seeing a stingray (hint: it’s super easy).
Not only will you be almost guaranteed a stingray sighting on this tour (you’ll likely see loads), it is also super fun!
I’d recommend joining a tour to swim with stingrays in Florida as this ensures you stay safe.
The rays do sting in self-defense from time to time if you’re not careful so go with a guide to ensure you don’t get hurt (stings are rare and can be avoided).
There are many different species of stingrays present in the waters of Florida. These include Cownose, Spotted Eagle, Devil, Giant, Atlantic and many more.
See how many different types of stingray you can spot at the locations listed below. I’ve done all the hard work for you by including handy links to the best tours.
I’ve covered locations all over Florida including the Florida Keys, Tampa, Fort Myers and more.
1. Key West
The best place to see stingrays in Florida is in Key West as stingrays thrive in the warm waters of the Florida Keys.
Key West is Florida’s most southern city giving it a more tropical environment which is similar to that of the Caribbean. This is ideal for spotting stingrays.
Stingrays are so common in Key West that, in fact, you’ll have trouble NOT seeing one.
The best way to see stingrays in Key West is by joining a sailing and snorkeling tour like this one.
This super fun tour involves sailing, kayaking and snorkeling just off the coast of Key West.
You’ll be able to kayak through a maze of mangrove covered canals and look out for wildlife including stingrays, sharks, fish and more.
This is then followed by a snorkeling activity in a coral reef which gives you even more opportunities to observe stingrays and even swim beside them.
Alternatively, you could join this glass bottom boat tour around Key West which gives a different perspective of the ocean.
If you’re quite adventurous then try out one of my favorite activities – jet skiing.
You can join this jet ski tour in Key West which takes you through Key West’s tropical blue waterways searching for stingrays.
As well as stingrays, Key West is home to a wide variety of other marine life including sharks, dolphins, turtles, manatees, tropical fish and more.
Stingrays tend to be bottom feeders so can usually be found close to the sea floor. As the water is super clear in Key West, you’ll have no problem spotting them.
Don’t forget a waterproof camera, like the GoPro Hero 10 so you can snap some memorable photos and videos of you and the stingrays.
- Sailing, Kayaking & Snorkeling Adventure (best option)
- Jet Ski Tour Around Key West (my personal favorite)
- Glass Bottom Boat Tour Around Key West
Check out this large stingray spotted whilst scuba diving in Key West in the video below:
2. Key Largo
Another great place where you can see stingrays in Florida is on Key Largo, the largest island that forms part of the Florida Keys.
Stingrays love the warm water of the Florida Keys so you have a really high chance of spotting a stingray here.
You can spot stingrays at Molasses Reef in Key Largo which is a large coral reef located within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Molasses Reef is a great place for scuba diving and snorkeling and is actually one of the most visited coral reefs in the world.
There are also several other fantastic coral reefs which are part of this marine sanctuary.
I’d recommend joining this Key Largo snorkeling tour which takes you to the best reefs Key Largo has to offer. It’s suitable for all levels including beginners.
You’ll definitely see more than just stingrays! It’s absolutely magical to be able to discover a whole new world under the sea.
Another great place in Key Largo where you can see stingrays is at Tavernier Creek which consists of a huge mangrove forest, home to a wide range of marine animals.
You can join a kayaking tour like this one and glide through the creek looking out for stingrays, manatees, dolphins and more.
A tour is the best option if you really want to see a stingray because the guides have a huge amount of experience and knowledge of the local area so they know where to find stingrays without fail.
Check out the stunning stingray spotted whilst scuba diving in Key Largo in the video below:
Did you know you can also see manatees in Key West? Find out where to see manatees in Key West here.
3. Bunche Beach, Fort Myers
Another place where you can see stingrays in Florida is at Bunche Beach, a nature preserve located in Fort Myers.
This 718 acre preserve features healthy mangrove forests, shallow bays and beautiful beaches.
I’d recommend joining this kayaking tour around Bunche Beach as the guides will take you to the best spots where you’ll find stingrays.
As this area is so huge, you may struggle to find the rays without a knowledgeable guide.
As well as stingrays, you’ll be able to spot manatees, dolphins, spoonbills and turtles at Bunche Beach.
4. Ten Thousand Islands
Another great place where you can see stingrays in Florida is at the Ten Thousand Islands which is a chain of islands and mangrove islets that lie just off the coast of southwest Florida.
The best way to explore the Ten Thousand Islands is by joining a boat tour like this one.
You can just sit back and relax whilst enjoying the ride and keeping your eyes peeled for stingrays, alligators, dolphins, manatees and more.
5. Boca Ciega Bay
Another place where you can see stingrays in Florida is in Boca Ciega Bay which is located in the Tampa Bay area.
The Boca Ciega Bay is a body of water that is connected to the Gulf of Mexico so it’s the perfect spot for stingrays due to the warm waters.
This bay is a popular spot for spotting dolphins but is also home to lots of other marine creatures including stingrays, manatees and seabirds.
You can join a 2-hour dolphin watching cruise which takes you out around the bay searching for animals. You’ll be able to see both dolphins and stingrays on this cruise.
The types of rays that can regularly be spotted at Boca Ciega Bay include cow-nosed, southern, Atlantic, butter and the larger spotted eagle rays.
- Boca Ciega Bay Cruise (you can see both dolphins and stingrays)
If you enjoy seeing stingrays, you may also be interested in knowing where to see flamingos in Florida.
6. Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay
Another place where you can see stingrays in Florida is at the Florida Aquarium.
The Florida Aquarium has over 9,000 sea creatures to see and is consistently ranked as one of the best aquariums in North America. They are also involved in lots of conservation efforts.
This fun aquarium has a wide range of aquatic animals including sharks, turtles, penguins, seahorses, otters and, of course, stingrays.
They even have hands-on experience with the stingrays in a 5,000 gallon touch pool. This is one of the only places in Florida where you can actually touch the stingrays.
I’d recommend purchasing your ticket beforehand to avoid long queues when you get there.
You can purchase your ticket here.
Address: 701 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9:30am to 5pm
Check out the stingray experience at Florida Aquarium in the video below:
Other Places in Florida Where You Can See Stingrays
There’s many other places in Florida where you can commonly see stingrays.
In fact, most beaches in Florida actually have some rays present in their waters. They can usually be found hiding in the sand on the seabed.
Stingrays like warm, shallow waters. Try walking 3 to 9 meters out into the ocean as this is where you will usually find them.
These are great places to find stingrays for free if you don’t feel like booking a tour.
Remember to be super careful as stingrays can hurt you if you step on them (I’ve listed some handy tips below to help you avoid getting hurt).
Here’s a list of other beaches known to have frequent stingray sightings:
- Clearwater Beach
- Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island
- St. Augustine Beach
Best Time Of Year To See Stingrays In Florida
Stingrays can be found at any time of year however in Florida, stingrays are most active between April and October. This is known as Florida stingray season.
The Florida stingray season is during the warmer months of the year because stingrays love warm, shallow waters.
Stingray mating season in Florida is also from April to October.
What Time of Day are Stingrays Most Active?
Stingrays are most active between the hours of 11AM and 3PM.
This also tends to be the hours that most people decide to visit the beaches.
Swimming with Stingrays in Florida Tips
First time swimming with stingrays?
To ensure that both you and the stingrays remain safe, there’s a few key things to bear in mind when swimming with them in Florida.
- Do not touch, pick up or play with the stingrays. Stingrays do possess poison in their tails which could seriously harm you so don’t touch them.
- Keep a safe distance and admire the stingrays from afar. This is aimed to keep you safe so you don’t accidentally upset the stingray.
- Be wary of the sandy bottom of the ocean. Stingrays often bury themselves in the sand and you could agitate them if you step on them.
- Shuffle your feet in the sand as you walk in the ocean. This is the best way to enter the ocean as you will avoid standing on a stingray and scaring it.
These key tips protect both you and the stingrays.
The Stingray Shuffle
The ‘stingray shuffle’ is a common technique that you can use when entering the ocean on any Florida beach.
It’s a way to avoid being stung by a stingray.
Unfortunately stingrays do sting humans from time to time (painful but very rarely deadly).
This usually happens when a stingray has buried itself in the sand and someone steps on them. The stingray will think it is under attack and sting in self-defense.
It can be very difficult to spot a stingray because they are usually covered with sand.
How To Do The Stingray Shuffle
Don’t take large steps into the water. Instead move slowly and shuffle your feet in the sand as you walk into the ocean.
By shuffling your feet, this gently stirs the sand around you which lets stingrays know you’re there. They will then likely move away.
You can see the stingray shuffle in action in the video below:
Fun Stingray Facts
To get you prepared for your trip to Florida where you’ll hopefully see some beautiful stingrays, here’s some fun stingray facts.
- Rays usually eat shrimp, fish, octopus, crabs, snails and other sea life.
- Rays have a venomous spine in their tail used for self-defense. This contains poison and can be deadly (don’t worry they very rarely attack humans).
- Sharks are the main predator to stingrays.
- The manta ray is the largest type of stingray reaching up to 23 feet in width.
- Spotted eagle rays sometimes jump above the water’s surface.
- The stingray’s color normally matches the color of the ocean floor. This so they can camouflage themselves to avoid predators.
- Stingrays do not have good eyesight so they rely on their sense of smell to detect prey.
- A group of cownose rays is called a fever.
Thanks for reading this post on where to see stingrays in Florida.
During stingray season, stingrays can be seen all over Florida and you may even get the chance to swim with stingrays in Florida if you go to the right places.
Don’t forget your underwater camera so you can snap some amazing photos of these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.