By Margaritaville Beach Resort, Nassau, Bahamas on Dec 6, 2019 9:29:00 AM
A true bucket list bullet can’t be an experience you’d have just anywhere. In the stunning Exumas island chain, you can indulge in a truly singular thrill: swimming with the pigs. The experience is famed not only because most people will never have a chance to enjoy this privilege, but because it’s a whole lot of fun if you’re among the lucky few who do.
We’ve got the inside track on how to get to the Bahamas’ swimming pigs, what to expect once you’re there, and how to make the most of it—for you and for your tiny companions.
Where to Find The Bahamas’ Swimming Pigs
There are 365 different islands that make up The Exumas, an island chain in the heart of The Bahamas. One of those islands is called Big Major Cay, although it is better known to many as Pig Beach. The island is completely uninhabited, unless you count the porcine creatures that give the beach its name.
Big Major Cay is an island that boasts pristine white sand and lush greenery. It is located about 82 miles south of Nassau and 50 miles north of George Town. The little journey to reach these incredible swimming pigs is well worth the trip.
How to Get to the Swimming Pigs of the Bahamas
The only way to get to Big Major Cay is by boat. You have a couple of options available. Typically, the easiest option is to sign up for a private or guided tour. From Nassau, there are a number of day-long boat trips that will take you to Big Major Cay as well as several other scenic attractions along the way.
If you have your own boat, you're also welcome to travel to Pig Beach on your own. You can also opt to charter a boat for a day or two to explore the area. There are a limited number of hotels on surrounding islands, some of which provide hotel guests with direct boat transport to Pig Beach.
Where Do These Cute Pigs Come From?
There are several explanations that float around as to just how the pigs actually arrived here. The truth isn't entirely clear, but the pigs are definitely not local to The Exumas. One legend says that the pigs ended up on Big Major Cay after a shipwreck, and another says that pirates dropped pigs off to multiply.
The more accurate story is probably a little less exciting. Wayde Nixon claims to have brought the pigs to The Bahamas in the 1990s as a way to create a new food source should the Y2K computer meltdown happen. Thank goodness that didn’t happen and, in the years since, new pigs have been brought to the island.
Feeding the Pigs at Pig Beach
Check out any videos or photos of Pig Beach, and you'll see happy pigs swimming right up to the boat in order to befriend new human visitors. Of course, the pigs aren't just after the social aspect alone. They come expecting food! Most visitors who go to Pig Beach bring snacks in order to feed the pigs and get closer to them.
Keep in mind that many of these pigs now exclusively eat the food brought by visitors. Therefore, it is smart to bring healthy foods that pigs can and should eat. Great ideas include vegetables and pitted fruits. Don't attempt to feed them highly processed foods. Doing so can make them sick.
How to Safely Interact with the Swimming Pigs
Although swimming with the pigs can be a fun and memorable experience of your trip to The Bahamas, it is important to be safe. If you don't have any food to give them, for example, place your palms up and clearly show that your hands are empty.
You should also make sure that your trip benefits, rather than harms, the pigs themselves. Whenever possible, feed the pigs in the water. Feeding them on the beach causes them to ingest sand, which can be a problem for their digestion. Also, consider bringing along a dish with some fresh water, which the pigs love.
The Best Time of Day to Visit Pig Beach
Most visitors come to Big Major Cay between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm each day. As with many of the most popular tourist attractions, you might find it more enjoyable to skip the middle of the day, when it is busiest, and instead aim for the less busy times of morning or evening.
However, keep in mind that the pigs will be less interested in human visitors in the late afternoon. After lots of visitors and lots of snacks, the pigs will get full and become disinterested. If you are wary of the pigs and don't want a lot of personal interaction with them, wait until later in the afternoon. If you want to get up close and personal, aim to be there as early as possible in the morning.
Make it a Day Trip
The average visitor to Big Major Cay finds that anywhere from one to two hours is enough time to spend swimming with the pigs. Fortunately, there are plenty of other activities that you can enjoy in the area.
At nearby Compass Cay, visitors can swim with tame nurse sharks at the local marina. You can also see rock iguanas lounging on the sand of the beaches at Bitter Guana Cay. Take along some grapes to feed these protected reptiles.
Many boat tours even include lunch, and the guides might just swim and harvest conch and then whip up a delicious local treat for you right on the boat. It is easy to have full day of unforgettable fun getting to and from the swimming pigs when you include stopping at other islands along the way.
So Much to Explore so close to home
As wild as it might seem to swim with the pigs, you’re always just a sail away from the familiar comforts of Margaritaville Beach Resort, Nassau, Bahamas. When you leave the friendly beasts to enjoy their natural environs, you’ll return to creature comforts of your own.