Swimming with Pigs in the Bahamas; The ULTIMATE guide
When you travel the world for job, you’re under a lot of pressure when it comes to landmark occasions. Our first wedding anniversary was coming and I wanted something memorable to mark the event. Thankfully Jaa had been talking about the Caribbean for a whole. So when I stumbled across swimming with the pigs in the bahamas, on Instagram, it was perfect.
Now I just had to figure out how to organise it all. And having just got back, I hope this will help you guys organise it too. All without breaking the bank. So let’s have a look:
Table of contents
- Swimming with Pigs in the Bahamas; The ULTIMATE guide
- Swimming with the pigs in Exuma, Bahamas. Wait, what?
- Where can you swim with pigs exactly?
- Can you day-trip from Nassau to swim with the pigs?
- Do I need to book a tour to swim with the pigs?
- Is it safe?
- Where do you stay if you want to swim with the pigs?
- My Experience Swimming with the Pigs in the Bahamas
- Best Time to Visit the Swimming Pigs
- Is swimming with the pigs ethical?
- Final thoughts on swimming with the pigs in the Bahamas
Swimming with the pigs in Exuma, Bahamas. Wait, what?
Yup, real pigs. Wild pigs. Swimming. On the beach. In the Bahamas. That’s basically it!
The pigs are a group of domesticated pigs that live on a small island in the Exumas, a chain of islands located in the central Bahamas. These pigs have become famous for their love of the water, and they are known for swimming out to greet boats that come to the island.
Why are there pigs on an island in the Bahamas?
The existence of pigs on tropical beaches is rare, making them a popular attraction and a frequently asked question. There are several legends surrounding the presence of these pigs, but the true story can be traced back to Staniel Cay Bahamas.
The pigs in Staniel Cay were originally kept in pens but due to the small size of the island, their smell became a nuisance. The solution was to move them to a nearby deserted island, Big Major Cay. The pigs soon learned that the sound of boats meant food and started swimming towards them when they heard the boat motor.
The unique sight of pigs swimming towards boats was noticed by sailors and yachters, who took photos and shared them online. This sparked a viral sensation and turned the swimming pigs into a popular attraction in the Exumas.
So, there you have it, the real story behind the swimming pigs in The Bahamas!
Where can you swim with pigs exactly?
This is where you have to be careful. Since the explosion of the existence of pigs on a beach, many copy cat ‘pig beaches’ have popped up. Many in the Bahamas, and many in other countries too. However, the original Pig Beach is the best place to have the experience. And, because it’s quite far from the main island in the Bahamas, it’s quite quiet compared to the other fake beaches.
The original Pig Beach
The original Pig Beach is right beside Staniel Cay, Bahamas. You can day-trip here from Nassau, or you can base yourself in and around the Exumas and do a shorter (and cheaper) day trip from there. This is what I did, and this is a much better way to do it.
Can you day-trip from Nassau to swim with the pigs?
Yes, but it’s quite a pricey way to do it. 3Ns are the cheapest company to do it with from Nassau.
How much does it cost to swim with the pigs in the Bahamas from Nassau?
You can book an all-day tour from Nassau to Pig island and back, which will fly you into the Exumas, take you to Pig Beach where you can swim and feed the pigs etc. It’s $675 per person. You can check it out here. That was my original plan too. But there is a cheaper way too.
The best way to visit Pig Beach? From Staniel Cay.
Then I found a better way. Jaa and I wanted to really recharge on our holiday. So we wanted to escape Nassau and the hordes of tourists and massive resorts. So we flew to Staniel Cay for a few days, organised accommodation at the Embrace Resort, and we did our swimming with the pigs tour from there. Via boat, rather than airplane.
This way, you get to experience GORGEOUS Staniel Cay. And swimming with the pigs is less than half the price. AND it’s a much more enjoyable day. Rather than 14 hours of transport, it’s a fun half-day.
It’s $300 per person, you can see that here. You can also book a private day trip from Staniel Cay too, with up to 4 people, for $999USD total.
NOTE: On both tours, you also get a chance to swim with sharks, check out indigenous iguanas, check out a sunken airplane and chill on a remote beach. You can read about the whole day experience below.
Do I need to book a tour to swim with the pigs?
Yes you do.
The pigs are located on quite a remote island, and reaching them requires a boat or water taxi. Booking a tour also helps support local businesses and the local economy, and can help ensure that the pigs are treated humanely and their habitat is protected. Additionally, tours provide additional activities and attractions, such as snorkeling, beach hopping, and exploring the Exuma Cays.
It is important to choose a reputable tour operator that prioritizes animal welfare and has a good reputation for responsible tourism. And even better if you can choose a locally owned operator, like the guys we went with, Staniel Cay Vacations. Be careful of middle men, and hard sales pitches. If you go directly with the operator it’s safer, cheaper and a better experience.
Can I actually SWIM (and feed) the pigs?
You better believe it! In fact, expect them to come chasing you for food. As soon as the boat arrives near the beach, they all come swimming to you. They know there’s going to be food and they LOVE YOU for it!
Is it safe?
Yes, but they’re wild animals, so we must respect that too. The roam freely, so we musn’t agitate them.
Where do you stay if you want to swim with the pigs?
There are a million and one places to stay in Nassau, and then day trip to the pigs.
Or, for a more authentic Bahamian experience, stay next door to the pigs on Staniel Cay. As I mentioned above, that’s exactly what we did, staying at the Embrace Resort, it’s the same local owners as the company which runs the pig tours, so was perfect (and very affordable by Bahamas standards, at $250 for a one bed for me and my mrs).
My Experience Swimming with the Pigs in the Bahamas
We flew from Thailand to London. And then from London to Nassau. And then hopped on Flamingo Air, a one hour domestic flight, to base ourselves in paradise, Staniel Cay, Bahamas. 4 nights, 4 days.
As I said, we stayed in cute bungalow at Embrace Resort, and from there we could organise everything. Our golfcart rentals, our meals every day, and our day trips. We signed up to swim with the pigs on THIS TOUR on Day 2. It was raining though, so we pushed it to day 3 with no problems at all.
The Tour Itinerary
When you organise it from Staniel Cay, rather than Nassau, the timings are far more holiday-like. Rather than a 5am start and all day on transport, the day starts around 9am and finishes up sometime after lunch. It goes something like this:
9am: We hopped on our little boat. The dock is walking distance from Embrace Resort, super simple.
1st Stop: Iguana Island.
You go and see these little guys on their protected island. It reminded me a lot of visiting the Komodo Dragons on Komodo Island in Indonesia. The iguanas are EVERYWHERE!
2nd stop: SWIMMING WITH THE PIGS. The main event!
The good thing about booking the tour locally is the freedom of the itinerary. Our guide then could make an executive choice about which way around we should visit each stop. With a view to trying to make sure that Pig Beach isn’t overcrowded. So off we went. When we pulled up, we could see just 2 other boats. I was expecting it to be overrun with tourists, but it really wasn’t. And better still, within 10 minutes or so, the other boats left, meaning it was just Jaa and me on pig beach alone. Amazing!
The pigs are really friendly. And they are MASSIVE. The come up to the boat when you pull in, they’re happy for you to swim with them, to touch them, to play with them. The only strong advice given is not to feed them on the land. Only in the water. Just to make sure their teeth stay far from your body.
Also, the pigs are free. They can chill in the shade on the beach. Or sleep in their pen. Or come out and interact with people. The whole thing felt a lot safer, friendlier, and chill than i was expecting. So we were delighted.
I really struggled to leave. We stayed for nearly an hour with these guys. Eventually it was time to hop back on the boat and leave. Leaving the pigs to chill in peace, without a tourist in sight.
3rd stop: Johnny Depp’s Sand Bar.
Truth be told, I had booked everything simply to experience swimming with the pigs! So I had done no research on the other activities of the day. So we were pleasantly surprised with how gorgeous the rest of the experience was too. Next we were going to the famous sand bar, near Johnny Depp’s private island. It’s like something straight out of a post card. A bank of sand in the middle of crystal clear blue waters. And, then of course in the instagram era, someone has now built a swing here too!
4th STOP: James Bond’s Thunderball Grotto!
Before the pigs became a thing, and before Jonny Depp bought a nearby island, Staniel Cay was still somewhat famous. And that was thanks to the James Bond Thunderball movie. There’s a famous grotto, a cave, with electric blue water, that you can snorkel into. It’s pretty special. The 4th stop of the day will bring you here. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
5th Stop: SWIMMING WITH THE SHARKS
If the pigs weren’t enough, you have one last animal encounter. The nurse sharks. These guys are like puppies. Although they are wild, they come here every day to be fed (and petted), so it’s no problem to hop in the water and play with them. They look scary, but they’re super friendly.
6th STOP: Snorkelling at the airplane wreckage
Just 2 minutes from the port where you get on and off the boat is the scene of a crashed airplane. The pilot survived and lives on the island to this day! It makes a very cool snorkelling spot, and a nice way to finish off the day.
1-3PM: Lunch time.
After all morning in the sun, I needed to drag my white irish skin into the shade. So we hit up the Flyin Pig Cafe for a delicious lunch and spent the rest of the days with local beers and a sunset on Pirate Beach.
Best Time to Visit the Swimming Pigs
The best time to swim with the pigs in the Bahamas is from December to April, when the water is warm and the pigs are most active. During the summer months, the water can get quite choppy, making it difficult to get close to the pigs. Having said that though, it is possible all year round.
And in face, we did it in June and it was pouring with rain. So we simply waited one day longer and did it the next day instead. This is another reason why staying at Staniel Cay, rather than day tripping all the way from Nassau, is a better idea.
Is swimming with the pigs ethical?
I’ve been a vegetarian, screaming about animal rights, for years. So this is something I’ve done a lot of research into. And I feel comfortable swimming with the pigs in the Bahamas. Here are my thoughts.
Swimming with the pigs in The Bahamas has sparked a debate about its ethical implications. Some people argue that it can be harmful to the pigs’ well-being as it can lead to changes in their natural diet and behavior, and increase their dependence on humans for food.
On the other hand, proponents of the activity argue that it can be a sustainable source of income for local communities and that the pigs are well taken care of.
It can also help with:
- Economic Development: The activity provides a source of income for local communities, helping to boost the local economy.
- Tourist Attraction: The unique experience of swimming with pigs has become a popular tourist attraction, bringing visitors to The Bahamas and promoting the destination to a wider audience.
- Conservation: By creating a sustainable source of income, the swimming with pigs activity can provide a strong incentive for the conservation of the pigs and their habitat.
- Education: The activity can also be an educational opportunity, teaching visitors about the local culture, history, and wildlife.
- Community Involvement: The activity can also bring together local communities and visitors, fostering a sense of community and promoting cultural exchange.
Final thoughts on swimming with the pigs in the Bahamas
What can I say, it lived up to our expectations and then some. I loved it. I loved Staniel Cay, I loved the Bahamas, and I loved the day your swimming with the pigs. We had the whole beach to ourselves ffs! Crazy. We spent 4 nights there, and I could have added another 4, truth be told. True relaxation, and one of the coolest animal encounters you can do in the whole world. Highly recommended.
TLDR? Too much info? Book 3/4 nights at Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay. Book the swimming with the pigs tour with them. Have the trip of a lifetime. Simple! Also, they do a promo where you can organise everything with one booking (the pigs, the hotel, the golf carts etc) check it out here:
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