The Bahamas is the ‘Official Home’ of swimming pigs, according to the local tourist board – although, it’s not immediately apparent how many rivals the destination has for the prestigious title.
Visitors embrace the unique porcine swimming opportunity, greeting the pigs on the uninhabited island of Big Major Cay, affectionately called ‘Pig Beach’.
Here Breaking Travel News editor Chris O’Toole takes a dip with local tour operator Coastline Adventures.
I’ll admit it wasn’t top of my priority list.
Indeed, before touching down in The Bahamas’ capital of Nassau I wasn’t even aware swimming with pigs was possible, let alone desirable.
But having been told in no uncertain terms by both Joy Jibrilu, director general at the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, and Bahamas minister of tourism Obediah Wilchcombe that it was the done thing, I thought I’d better give it a go.
Jibrilu explained to Breaking Travel News: “As a destination that is world-renowned for welcoming visitors and providing them with the most beautiful beaches, lavish hotels and resorts, and fine dining, and for being a dream destination, the Islands of The Bahamas are very proud to be the ‘Official Home’ of the swimming pigs.
“Providing visitors with the once-in-a-lifetime experience of interacting with these wonderful animals is just one more thing that distinguishes The Bahamas.
“We’ve already introduced thousands of visitors to ‘Pig Beach’, and we look forward to welcoming thousands more in the years to come.
“These animals are now as much a Bahamian experience as any other that visitors may discover while visiting The Bahamas.”
Local tour operator Coastline Adventures provided the opportunity, offering half- or full-day tours from the island of Exuma.
Boarding with captain Bob Smith, he answers the question on everybody’s lips by explaining that some years ago a pig farmer saw the need to put a few pigs on Big Majors Cay for breading purposes.
Other local legends suggest the pigs were dropped off by a group of sailors who wanted to come back and cook them or that there was a shipwreck nearby and the pigs swam to safety.
However it was that they came to be, they are now the highlight of local tourism.
Approaching on board a luxurious yacht they hove into view, splashing about in the crystal clear waters.
Though feral, they are exceptionally friendly, with more running from under the shade of the almond trees to greet visitors they hope will bring them treats.
The pigs frolic freely on the sandy beaches, and after basking in the sun for hours, they swim in the surf.
They are also fed by the crews of passing yachts and vessels.
Approximately 20 pigs and piglets survive on Big Major Cay, partly because the island is blessed with three freshwater springs, and partly due to the generosity of visiting Bahamians and tourists.
Dipping into the water it’s certainly a surreal experience, with the larger pigs swimming past at great speed.
Some even attempt to board the boat.
But once the initial commotion dies down, the experience becomes calming and even therapeutic.
The pigs splash past in pursuit of the bread offered by tourists, while the visitors try and grab selfies in the surf.
Back on the boat it’s time for complementary rum and fruit Punch, as captain Bob takes us on a guided tour of the backyard of homes of celebrities such as David Copperfield, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.
For any visitor for to The Bahamas it’s a must – a true once in a lifetime.
Led by captain Bob Smith and his first mate Patricia Smith, Coastline Adventures gives each and every guest an enjoyable and memorable experience, diving for conch and preparing mouthwatering conch salad while gusts wade in the crystal clear waters of the Bahamas.
The tour is also a major driver of tourism to the Bahamas in general.
Take a look at the official website for more information.