Imagining an inquisitive snout piggy-paddling through the crystalline waters of the Bahamas may sound just as ludicrous as pigs flying, but our writer Natalie has seen and swam alongside these adorable creatures on an uninhabited island of Exuma, otherwise known as Pig Beach!
Around 20 wild, happy hogs and petite piglets live on the island currently, with about 13 newbies expected very soon by the look of one tubby lady! But it’s not yet known how or why they appeared on this secluded islet. Some suggest that sailors dropped them off and planned to come back to cook them, other rumours are that they were survivors of a shipwreck and managed to swim to safety. Either way, what is simply a small mound of green shrubbery and sand surrounded by glittering waters, has now become one for the traveller’s bucket list.
The island is best reached by a power-pumping speedboat ride through the 20 idyllic islands, which boards on the island of Great Exuma and is available through Exuma Watersports.
‘I was lucky enough to stay at the picturesque resort of Sandals Emerald Bay Golf, Tennis and Spa Resort, one of the only resorts on the island of Great Exuma. Perfectly landscaped gardens with not a single blade of grass overgrown, a huge main pool with swim-up bar playing relaxed Caribbean tunes, and a beach reminiscent of something you’d see on postcards! But it was the swimming pigs I was really excited for, and you can easily book on to the half-day Ocean Safari with Exuma Watersports at the Island Routes desk, just by the main reception!’
‘A winding bus journey down what appears to be the only road on the island takes you down to a miniature dock where you, and around 10 other enthusiastic travellers, climb aboard the boat, equipped with a cooler of cold beers, soft drinks and cookies. A quick greeting with skipper Justin, and you’re soon settled on the white leather seats of ‘007’ and sipping a can of Kalik as you whizz through the turquoise-hued waters.’
A short 15-minute sail past celebrity homes and hotspots, deep blue ocean holes, and sizzling sandbars, and you’re at the home of the splashing snouts.
‘We carefully pulled up some 10 metres from the beach, eagerly peering out to the deserted bushes in hope of spotting the pigs, who were still snoozing as it was morning! We only had to wait around a minute while the skipper grabbed chicken hot dog sausages and other treats before they came out one-by-one, led by the tiniest piglet! We leaped into the glittering waters which didn’t even reach our hips and cautiously approached them – I think we were more apprehensive of them than they were of us! Incredibly calm, they happily splashed up to us, taking the sausages from our hands and paddling away as we took photos beside them!’
‘From one uninhabited island (at least by humans!) to another, we zipped adjacent to the scattered cays, with the cerulean Caribbean Sea on one side and the hazy sapphire waters of the Atlantic on the other, and landed at what the skippers call ‘Dinosaur Beach’. Small webbed footprints were dotted on the otherwise immaculate shores and we were encouraged to grab some grapes from the boat deck and walk to land. As we did, we were met by around 25 iguanas, scurrying around snatching the grapes we threw to them whilst avoiding getting their claws in the warm sea waters.’
‘After encountering these evolutionary mishaps, the speedboat heads off to explore the surrounding cays and islets, stopping at some of the most beautiful beaches of soft powdery sands, blow holes between the rocks, and clear waters to snorkel and search for magnificent conch shells – equipment and instruction provided! Those who prefer dry land can take a short hike up a narrow sand path for spectacular views of the beach, cliff edges, and luxury yachts which sail by in the distance.’
This experience promises an away-from-the-crowds view of some of the most secluded spots in Exuma’s 365 islands, excellent insider knowledge from Justin the skipper who knows all about the area – including who owns the lavish yachts you spot on route - as well a lot of questions when confused friends spot your piggy pictures on your return home!