While enjoying the beauty of the Bahamas, make sure you take a day trip to Pig Island, known as Pig Beach by locals. You may have heard of Pig Island from its appearance on TV’s The Bachelor or on many celebrities’ social media pages.
You’ll find the swimming pigs on Big Major Cay, an island like no other within Exuma, a district of over 365 small islands about 35 miles southwest of Nassau, capital of the Bahamas.
If you ask locals about the history of Pig Island, you’re bound to get a few different stories. It seems no one really knows for certain how the pigs got there. You’ll hear that the pigs were dropped off on Big Major Cay by sailors who intended to return later to eat them. You might also hear a tale of the pigs being survivors of a shipwreck, that they swam to the island and survived on scraps and by foraging off the land. You could hear the story of how the pigs escaped from a nearby islet or the theory that the pigs were introduced to Pig Island as a scheme to attract tourists.
Then you might even hear the story of Wayde Nixon, who claims that he brought the first pigs to the island with his business partner, Don Rolle, in the late 1990s. He states that they planned to start a pig farm in the hope of creating a sustainable food source in fear of Y2K’s predicted computer outages. Enjoy hearing the different stories and come to your own conclusions. In all of the tales, the pigs stayed on the island where they now swim, live and thrive, interacting with friendly locals and visitors. Although not native to the island, the pigs have adapted to living in the sun and swimming in the sea on their own little island paradise.
You’ll reach Pig Island by boat, and the most popular inclusive trips will usually take you on an all-day tour of the Exuma Cays. In addition to visiting the pigs, you’ll encounter iguanas, swim with nurse sharks and picnic on a sand bar. You can even snorkel in Thunderball Grotto, a picturesque, captivating underwater cave made famous by several films, such as Splash, Into the Blue and two James Bond movies. All of these are awe-inspiring events on their own, but truly incredible to experience in one day. Make sure your camera’s battery is fully charged, as you’ll be experiencing one unbelievable moment after another.
Or, you can hire a boat of your own, if you’re confident in your boating skills, and chart your own course. Many of the boat rental companies offer guide services as well, where a local will travel with you. Check with your hotel, some of them offer packages on boat rentals. You’ll have plenty to see and do whichever route you choose. Remember to take in the sights along the journey. Marvel at the breathtaking, clear, blue sea and white sandy beaches, framed by countless palm trees.
As you reach the island, you’ll find the 20 or so pigs and piglets willing to have their picture taken. But keep your cameras, phones and even jewellery away from the pigs’ mouths. Otherwise, while taking a selfie, you might lose something expensive.
As well as being friendly and photogenic, the pigs enjoy a healthy snack and a swim, and they won’t mind if you join them. In fact, be prepared to be met by snorting greeters upon your arrival at Pig Island. They may even “piggy-paddle” right up to your boat in anticipation of food. If you wish to feed them, just be sure to follow advice from guides on what, where and when to feed the pigs for their health and safety.
If you want to interact with the pigs, the best time of day is in the morning. As more tours come and go throughout the day, the pigs are bound to get tired and fuller.
Whether they’re lounging on the beach or swimming in the sea, you’re going to be charmed by the Bahamas pigs. You can’t help but laugh in delight at the sight of the massive, snorting pigs swimming through the crystal-clear waters. Wade through the water or dive right in next to your hooved new friends. Just make sure you have that camera at the ready because this is a lifetime experience you’re going to want to cherish forever. While swimming in paradise with pigs, your worries will cease to exist in this hog heaven.
You can visit Pig Island all year-round, but keep in mind summer is hurricane season in the Bahamas. During severe weather, employees of a nearby watersports company take care of the pigs, placing them in the shelter of a protective shed where they take cover during storms.
Make sure you walk on the white sandy beaches of Pig Island and discover the freshwater springs, iguanas, conch shells and tropical flora. Dig your toes into the warm, soft sand as the sea breeze caresses your skin. The Exuma Cays is truly a paradise that will melt your cares away.