6 Tips for Visiting the Swimming Pigs of Exuma

9/3/2019 Update: Exuma was not affected by Hurricane Dorian, however neighboring islands need your help! Check out this list of trusted organizations and help out our Bahamian neighbors in Abaco and Grand Bahama Island.

When I first visited the unassuming swimming pigs of Exuma in 2007, they were hardly the paparazzi-magnets they are now. Back then, a few small boats might motor up to shore each day in the hopes of catching the water-loving piglets on the beach. In the ensuing years, their popularity has skyrocketed and the pig population has grown, too.*

Now that the local swine are the subject of The Bahamas’ ad campaign, the swimming pigs of Exuma have become a curious must-see attraction for visitors.

Swimming pigs Exuma

If the summer-loving sows have swum their amphibious way onto your travel bucket list, here are a few tips for a productive, safe visit to piggy paradise.

Swimming pigs Exuma

1. If you’re trying to figure out where to stay in the Bahamas, you have three options.

Stay in Staniel Cay

If you want to stay near Big Major Cay where the pigs live, your best option is itty-bitty Staniel Cay. It offers a sizable marina, several small hotels (EMBRACE Resort is my favorite), and an airstrip.

From there, you can rent a small boat or hire a local guide to whisk you over to Pig Beach. From Staniel Cay Yacht Club, it’s only about 10 minutes to the pigs.

Staniel Cay Accommodation Recommendation:

EMBRACE Resort 

(check here to book and here for my full review)

You can also check here for Airbnb options.

Swimming pigs Exuma

(Photo courtesy Uncommon Caribbean)

Stay in Exuma

If you’re staying on mainland Exuma, which most people do, your best bet is to hop on an organized tour of the cays that includes a visit to Big Major Cay.

I recommend 4C’s Adventures because you also get to check out the friendly sharks of Compass Cay, the endangered pink Rock Iguanas on Leaf Cay. and a gorgeous sandbar that goes on for miles. There ain’t no safari like an Exuma Cays safari, I always say.

Mainland Exuma Accommodation Recommendations

Sandals Emerald Bay, Grand Isle Resort & Spa, Peace & Plenty

Check here to see Airbnb options for Exuma.

Stay in Nassau

You can also stay in Nassau, which is incredibly easy to get to from hub airports and book a powerboat tour of the northern Exuma Cays including Big Major. Most tours you find online leave from Nassau.

It’s a long day, but absolutely magnificently gorgeous. You’ll never see the sea the same way after you’ve been on a tour of the Exuma Cays.

Nassau Accommodation Recommendations

British Colonial Hilton, The Cove, Graycliff

Check here for Airbnb options on Nassau.

Swimming pigs Exuma

2. Where are the swimming pigs in The Bahamas?

Don’t be fooled by imitation pork. The bonafide swimming pigs living on Big Major Cay, an uninhabited island about halfway up the Exuma archipelago of 365 islands. If you hop on the 4C’s Adventures boat, it’ll take up to two hours to speed to that area of the Exumas from the settlement of Barratarre.

Swimming PIgs Exuma Bahamas

Be warned – imitation pigs are popping up everywhere! On our honeymoon, I found out that Sandals Emerald Bay takes their tour guests to a much closer island, claiming an interaction with the famous swimming pigs. Sure, they’re pigs and they swim, but they aren’t the famous swimming pigs of Big Major Cay.

It’s 100% up to you if it makes a difference – just don’t be fooled by lipstick on a pig.

Swimming Pigs Exuma 4C's Adventure Bahamas Tour

3. Be a gracious guest.

I’ve seen people act like swine in the presence of these national treasures – it’s just piggish! It should go without saying that you shouldn’t tease the pigs, throw rocks at them, or attempt to ride them. I’ve seen all three behaviors.

Also, feed the pigs natural food, not bread, cinnamon buns, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, Poptarts, or beer. Stick with grapes, apples, lettuce and produce — they’re pigs, not American children for heaven’s sake. And it should go without saying, but don’t give them alcohol!

4. Take photos, but no selfies, please.

As sad as it is, most wild animals don’t want to be your friend. (Read: my bear encounters in Alaska) Usually, they just want the food in your hand.

Since their eyesight isn’t the best, it’s very easy for the pigs to confuse your GoPro for a tasty snack.  And if the GoPro is next to your face… things could go badly… for your face.

Having a GoPro was super useful for this occasion (and many others). Be sure to take safe photos and know where the pigs are at all times. Turning your back to them in order to take a selfie is a huge no-no. It can be done, but you might just get your ear nipped off!

Swimming Pigs Exuma 4C's Adventure Bahamas Tour

5. Pigs aren’t mermaids, y’all.

I like the swimming pigs, I really do, and I may get some heat for saying this – but y’all, they’re pigs. If they weren’t in the water, washing off their steamy tropical stench, they’d just be rancid livestock. In a pigpen, most folks would turn their noses up. But put them in sparkly turquoise water on a white sand beach and suddenly they’re the mermaids of the Exumas.

Swimming pigs of Exuma

They still do all the things non-marine pigs do, like poo, only they do it in the water where you’re swimming. Just remember that when you’re diving in with your mouth agape in wonder.

Swimming Pigs Exuma 4C's Adventure Bahamas Tour

6. Be prepared for a crowd of tourists who haven’t read these tips.

As the pig popularity has grown over the years, so has the fan base. Countless boats, large and small, motor up to the beach every day and the piggies swim right out to meet the adoring crowds. Depending on the time of day, you could have Pig Island all to yourself, or you might share it with 50+ people.

Swimming pigs Exuma Bahamas

If you’re alone, you’ll have the chance to take some fantastic photos. If you’re sharing with lots of others, it’s going to be very difficult to take good shots. Be patient, follow the outlier pigs – not the ones who are swimming in the middle of everyone – and don’t be afraid to be the first person off or the last person back on the boat. You’ll get the best pictures without your fellow travelers in each shot.

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Is meeting the famous Swimming Pigs of Exuma, Bahamas on your bucket list? Check out these pictures and how to meet them too! #SwimmingPigs #Travel #Exuma #Bahamas

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  • Avatar
    December 07, 2015

    I love pigs (even the livestock variety) and have wanted to do this since I first heard about it a couple years ago. Not sure I would want to put my face in the water near them though…wading sounds just fine, thankyouverymuch 😉
    Adrienne recently posted..Glacier Stalking on Princess Cruises’ Voyage of the GlaciersMy Profile

  • Avatar
    December 11, 2015

    Literally LOLing at the following statements:

    “Stick with grapes, apples, lettuce and produce — they’re pigs, not American children for heaven’s sake.”

    “As sad as it is, most wild animals don’t want to be your friend.”

    Where’s the cry laugh emoji on my laptop when I need it…
    Alex recently posted..A Sip of Sustainability: Comparing SteriPen vs. Clearly FilteredMy Profile

    • Avatar
      December 12, 2015

      You always catch those little one-liners!

  • Avatar
    May 20, 2016
    Lee

    I’ve followed your wedding sorry for a while. I put on the Great Abaco Family Fitness Weekend in Treasure Cay (not a part of the Bahama Beach Club) and also run Harbour Safaris – a new small excursion to the swimming pigs from Nassau.

    Your recent article on the threats disturbs me greatly – as it should every single Bahamian. I think you have taken the high road and I hope someone in law enforcement here can stop the rogue agent.

    If you ever need support here let me know – and if any of your followers need to get to the swimming pigs from Nassau, I encourage them to check out our TripAdvisor and other reviews online!
    Lee recently posted..Harbour Safaris ReviewsMy Profile

  • Avatar
    October 09, 2016

    Thanks for the tips! I’m planning my trip to Great Exuma now and will definitely check out 4C’s. We do not want to be tricked with imitation pigs 🙂
    Anna Rice recently posted..72 Hours in… New OrleansMy Profile

  • Avatar
    November 08, 2016

    Visiting Exuma is undoubtedly a great idea! How beautiful this place is, it appears in the above photographs.I can say lovely and really I wish to be there soon!

    Thanks for such amazing share!

  • Avatar
    December 06, 2016

    I just found your article and I just wanted to say it’s very helpful as we had struggles with planning our trip there 🙂
    THANK YOU, Nelly 🙂

    • Avatar
      January 19, 2017
      Amy

      Where did you stay at?

      • Avatar
        January 24, 2017

        We stayed at Sandals. It was ok, but we wished we’d stayed at Grand Isle.

  • Avatar
    January 19, 2017
    Amy

    My husband and I are staying at the Sandals Emeral Bay for 4 nights 5 days at the end of February and this looks like a fantastic trip. Can you tell me what I need to know when asking about taking a trip to see the actual pigs? I love pigs a lot.
    Thank you Amy

    • Avatar
      January 24, 2017

      Fun! I would just follow the instructions in the post – get in touch with 4C’s and they’ll coordinate all the details. Have a great time!

  • Avatar
    February 18, 2017
    Grisel Silva

    Planning to travel to Nassau any suggestions where to stay to make sure I go to pigs beach

  • Avatar
    March 08, 2017
    Caroline Wellings

    Hi do you book pig island trips from nassau?

    Many thanks
    Caroline Wellings

    • Avatar
      March 09, 2017

      No, I don’t. Check out Bahamas.com – they usually have information on tours!

  • Avatar
    April 08, 2017

    Thank you so much for this informative, and well-written article. This trip is at the top of my bucket list (I love pigs, had a PBP for over a decade) and can’t wait to get here.

    Now I’ll go armed with patience and a will to step in and say “Knock it the f-off” when I see obnoxious human behavior. Prior to this article, I’d most likely be struck dumb in disbelief.

  • Avatar
    July 12, 2017

    I was really tired doing my research today and honestly when i open this blog! omg! it really catches my attention hahahahah them pigs are so cute!!!

  • Avatar
    July 27, 2017
    mike

    YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED EXPLOITING THESE ANIMALS. THIS ACTIVITY IS NOT RIGHT.
    BUT AT LEAST YOU ARE GETTING HITS ON YOUR BLOG.

  • Avatar
    September 19, 2017
    Katie Dunphy

    We are traveling to paradise island in February. Where do you suggest we book a 1/2 day or full day trip to see the pigs? What company is the best?

  • Avatar
    December 11, 2017

    Thank you – This is so useful!
    I am hoping to go on honeymoon next year!!

  • Avatar
    March 18, 2018
    Katie clark

    Would love to come swimming with the pigs coming to The Bahamas on sep 14th

  • Avatar
    March 20, 2018

    Thank you for sharing your tips. I hope I can go on vacation soon. The pigs are so cute! All of the pictures look so fun.
    Jennifer Hatfield recently posted..Best Way to get rid of Bacteria in your Hot TubMy Profile

  • Avatar
    May 24, 2018

    I love all wildlife and hate when those that don’t, begin to interfere with them. I have wanted to see the pigs for a long time now. Now I’m not so sure I want to support it.
    It was very upsetting to read that people try to ride them, throw things at them, feed them awful food, etc.

  • Avatar
    May 29, 2018

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips with us. You tips are really useful for everyone. Hope to see more stuff from your side in future also.

    Keep sharing….!!!!!

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