Soft sandy beaches, clear blue waters with skies to match, tiny little pigs pedaling through the waves…wait, what? Pigs at the beach? Yes that’s right! All the swine-y cuteness you could ever want is located at Pig Beach on the islands of The Exumas in the Bahamas. If you’re anything like me, the surprising site of pigs trudging between salt water and sand rather than their usual farm habitat will put this unusual place immediately on your travel list. Keep reading to learn how you can visit the pigs, swim with the sharks, and get the most out of your trip to the Bahamas while doing it.
How To Get There…
This is the tricky question. It takes a little bit more work than a single round trip ticket for this one. The more remote the place, the better as far as I’m concerned. I quickly discovered that the more remote the destination the more expensive it is as well. Islands are always more expensive to visit. I am usually a budget traveler, and so I chose to fly to Nassau (NAS) from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and use that as my base as it is the least expensive place to stay. I paid roughly $30 to take a taxi to my AirBnb/Downtown Nassau from the airport. My trip to The Exumas wasn’t until the next day.
From Nassau’s airport you can take a little plane with Flamingo Air to Staniel Cay (TYM). There are roughly two flights a day between Nassau and Staniel Cay. I did this as a day trip and left Nassau around 8am and returned on the 2:30 from Staniel Cay. The flight is only about 20-30 minutes so you won’t find yourself too worn out from the travel.
Tours & Visiting the Pigs…
Usually I like to skip tours whenever possible and do my own thing. However, once you get to Staniel Cay your best option is to have purchased a tour before arrival. Unless you have your own boat (in which case, invite me next time) then you’ll need transportation between the nearby islands. All of these tours include roughly the same itinerary…
- Pig Beach
- Compass Cay (to see the Nurse sharks)
- Snorkeling at one of the beautiful grottoes, or the “aquarium”
- Sand Bar
I booked a tour with Wheels and Waves and though it was a whirlwind of a trip it was an amazing experience. Most tours will run somewhere between $200-$400 dollars per person. You can choose a regular tour or a private tour. I shelled out $300 for a private tour with a friend for this one. Keep in mind you will have to pay an additional $10 landing fee once you get to Compass Cay to see the nurse sharks. By the way, you can swim with them.
When you pull up to Pig Beach the pigs will most likely get in the water and move towards the boat. I estimate and fear that tourists are potentially the pigs’ main food source and so that is their primary concern while you’re there. They were not too hostile but you do have to keep your guard up, because they are looking for food. While I loved seeing the pigs, feeding them, and swimming with them, I think that roughly 30 minutes was more than enough for a visit.
I actually enjoyed swimming in the sea caves much more. At this point, we were getting close to our departure from Staniel Cay so I didn’t get to grab a lot of great footage but I had a lot of fun snorkeling into the cave and floating about.
Where to Stay …
As already mentioned, I stayed in Nassau to cut costs. Lodging in The Exumas can cost up to $400+ PER NIGHT! If you can afford that by all means do it. It’s beautiful there. While staying in Nassau was considered the more budget-friendly option, lodging there is still not as wallet-friendly as your typical backpacking hostels. I opted for an AirBnb in the residential area of Nassau and loved the experience. Anytime I can get a taste of local culture, even on a resort island, I’m glad to do it. The downside to this was that there wasn’t much in the immediate area to do and transportation was not readily available. I may or may not have taken up a new hitchhiking hobby. Don’t tell my mom.
I spent my last night in Nassau at the cheapest downtown accommodation I could find – Grand Central Hotel. It wasn’t the most comfortable or most clean but the staff was awesome and so was the location.
What else to do while in Nassau…
Visiting The Exumas only took up one day so I had to find other things to do while in Nassau. I took a taxi over to Paradise Island to check out Atlantis because it’s the largest and most popular resort on the island. Resorts don’t typically peak my interest but I had to see what the fuss was about.The aquarium is free to visit after 6pm and you can roam the grounds to see the resort for yourself.
Atlantis was nice but, to be honest, I was more impressed and had so much more fun checking out Baha Mar! This resort is brand new and features several swimming pools and a private beach which I more than enjoyed for an afternoon. They had plenty of equipment such as kayaks and paddle boards for free use! It is still a resort, but it’s not as large as Atlantis and has a great relaxed atmosphere. This was the only place in Nassau where I felt I “got away” from the crowds a bit.
Don’t forget to stroll the streets of Downtown Nassau for all the tourist-centered shopping and food joints that your heart desires. There’s also a Fish-Fry nearby that people couldn’t stop recommending. My best advice is to enjoy this resort town for what it is. Relax, swim, eat, and enjoy the weather!
Overall this was an expensive one to knock off my “bucket list”, but totally worth it! My favorite parts ended up being the nurse sharks and snorkeling in the caves. Though I ended up liking everything else a little bit more than the actual pig beach, I’m so glad I finally got to see the swimming pigs of the Bahamas!