Guide to Swimming with Pigs in the Bahamas

Guide to Swimming with Pigs in the Bahamas

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.

Flamingo Air

Exuma

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
Sand Bar in the Bahamas

A sand bar in the Exumas

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.

Swim with nurse sharks in the bahamas

Nurse sharks at Compass Cay

compass cay sharks

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.

Pigs Beach in the Bahamas

pig

Best I could do for a pig selfie!

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.

 

pig beach

 

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.

boat gopro

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.

baha mar resort

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!

unicorn float

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. ThoughΒ  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!

 

 

27 Comments

  1. August 3, 2017 / 8:31 am

    Pigs! Who knew? Now I feel like I have to go there!

  2. August 3, 2017 / 8:53 am

    OMG, I have a pig and it’s my dream going there with Pablo!!! The pics are beautiful, must be an amazing place!!

    • August 6, 2017 / 11:00 am

      Pablo the pig? That’s amazing . I hope you both get to go!

  3. August 3, 2017 / 9:06 am

    This place looks amazing. I love your pictures. I can’t believe you swam with sharks!

  4. August 3, 2017 / 9:42 am

    Super cool! I had never heard of a pig beach before. Your photos are great—especially the one with the sharks. I know nurse sharks are “friendly” but it is so creepy to see them swimming around!

    • August 6, 2017 / 10:59 am

      Thank you!! And it was a little nerve-wracking. They will still bite, but mostly if they mistake you for food/ if you put your hand near their mouths. So I was a little nervous, but felt okay about it for the most part

  5. Girl City
    August 3, 2017 / 10:27 pm

    LOL Pig Beach!! It looks super cool and fun.

  6. August 3, 2017 / 11:06 pm

    This vacay looks so fun! Thay pic of your with the sharks is SO cool!!

  7. August 4, 2017 / 4:09 am

    Omg I’ve always been so curious about this. Your pictures are amazing!

    • August 6, 2017 / 10:58 am

      Thank you so much!

  8. August 4, 2017 / 7:40 am

    The Bahamas have never really been high on my must-visit list, but swimming with the sharks sounds absolutely amazing and now I must go!

    • August 6, 2017 / 10:58 am

      Mine either, actually! But I ended up loving the experience. Hope you do too πŸ™‚

  9. August 4, 2017 / 8:42 am

    Sounds like a fun experience!I can’t remember where, but I know I read an article about an island closing off people from coming to swim with the pigs because they may have been giving the pigs beer, or the pigs were becoming sick or dying after tourist were there. I wonder if they have the same problem here? I would love to swim with the pigs though! It looks like a fun experience! I am sure they would knock me down, haha. #GLTLove

    • August 6, 2017 / 10:57 am

      I read that article as well. People are the WORST sometimes. I’m glad I got to see these piggies and I hope nobody tries to give them ridiculous things that will make them sick.

  10. August 4, 2017 / 8:46 am

    I’ve always wanted to visit there!! Thanks for the step by step. Looks like an incredible time!

  11. August 4, 2017 / 1:46 pm

    I wish I had seen this a month ago when we went to the Bahamas. I guess since Pigs can’t fly, they swim! Your picture with swimming with the sharks is breathtaking! Very nicely written and captured. πŸ™‚ Definitely on my list of things to do.

    • August 6, 2017 / 10:56 am

      Thank you so so much! I hope you get the opportunity!

  12. trinity
    August 4, 2017 / 7:40 pm

    This sounds like such an amazing experience!!! I’ll definitely keep this in mind for future experiences! #GLT

  13. August 5, 2017 / 5:24 am

    I was in Exuma for the pigs a few weeks ago. The guy who took me ended up taking me to the “fake” pig beach which is much more closer to the Exuma port than Staniel cay. He claimed we didn’t have enough time to reach the other one but at the end of the day I realized he just wanted to save money on gas. The other pig beach is basically the same thing but the pigs have been specifically brought there to make money on them. They’re fed loads of crap food by hundreds of tourists daily and they have no protection from the sun. Many of the pigs had sunburns, one was aggressive and most not interested to interact or even swim at the point when we arrived there. In the afternoon . It was nice to see them and scratch it off the bucket list but in hindsight it was not worth all that money! I also enjoyed the other places we went to much more πŸ™‚

    • August 6, 2017 / 10:52 am

      I COMPLETELY agree with you. I actually questioned the ethics of the original pig beach as well. I know they weren’t brought there specifically for tourists originally, but I wonder how the increase in tourists has effected them. I’m glad I saw them but, like you said, there were a lot of things I enjoyed much more while I was there!

  14. August 6, 2017 / 12:34 am

    This looks like soooooooo much fun!! I’m dying to go here one day! πŸ™‚

  15. August 6, 2017 / 4:04 am

    It looks like you had an amazing trip. The Exumas Sand Bar was so pretty! Were you afraid of swimming with the sharks? Even though they’re nurse sharks, I’d have been freaked out. Swimming with pigs looks like fun. Do they seem happy?

  16. August 6, 2017 / 4:07 am

    What a great experience! The sand bar was lovely! I’m sure that I would have been freaked out by swimming with the sharks, even if I knew it was safe. I’ve heard about people swimming with the pigs. Do they seem happy to see people?

    • August 6, 2017 / 10:55 am

      They seem happy to see people who have food. I don’t know if they particularly care otherwise, unfortunately! The experience was great though and that sandbar was amazing. I was a little nervous about the sharks but once I was in the water I felt okay about it! At that point it’s a little late anyway πŸ˜‰

  17. Tonya
    August 6, 2017 / 3:55 pm

    Love it Chelsea!!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  18. Carlo
    August 6, 2017 / 4:57 pm

    Im 2 weeks away from going to the Bahamas for my honeymoon, we are staying at the Sandals resort in Nassau. We want to do all these things plus go see the iguanas as well but from looking online the hotels at the Exumas were sold out, would you say going early at 8am and returning at 2:30is like you did is plenty of time? Or should we try and see if we could find accommodations at an other island near by? We are staying for a whole week at Sandals and it’s been paid for but we wouldn’t mind spending extra to spend 1 night somewhere else if it’s absolutely worth it. What can you recommend? Thanks in advance!

    • August 6, 2017 / 5:28 pm

      Honestly I felt a little rushed at the end. It was enough time – but barely. Especially because we had about an hour delay with our flight in. If you really want to relax and enjoy your time and you can afford it, you’d get the most out of your experience if you stayed overnight. HOWEVER if you can’t, you’ll still have fun and get to see everything! Hope that’s helpful <3

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