Chances are, if you’ve been on social media in the last few years, you’ve likely encountered numerous shots of the swimming pigs of the Bahamas while scrolling for ideas of things to do on your dream vacation.

Once you’ve laid eyes on these portly Caribbean cuties, the experience of swimming with pigs in a paradise island setting is sure to catapult to the top of your bucket list.

When you’re planning your next trip to the Great Exumas, this popular attraction needs to make it on your itinerary. To help you plan your seaside snuggles with these portly piggies, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about swimming with the pigs in the Bahamas when you stay at a Staniel Cay villa.

About the Pigs of Big Major Cay

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The famous swimming pigs of the Bahamas take up residence around a few islands, including Eleuthera, Rose Island, Abaco, and Ship Channel Cay, but Pig Beach on Big Major Cay is one of the most popular day trip opportunities to see them. In fact, the sole inhabitants of this small island are the few dozen pigs who roam the shores.

This deserted island is one of over 300 islands that make up the Great Exuma Islands. The history of how these swimming pigs came to call the island home is not quite clear. Local folklore suggests that the pigs were originally brought over to the island by sailors at some point in the 20th century.

Other anecdotes say they were merely supposed to be stored there and later intended to be slaughtered for consumption. Some maintain they were abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Another popular theory is that the pigs were survivors of a shipwreck and swam to the islands that they now call home.

Regardless of the exact details of how they arrived, these hearty bovines adapted to island life quite nicely. The island’s ample vegetation and freshwater sources allowed them to thrive in their new home. Through the years the pigs have been accustomed to visitors and grown quite friendly towards their human guests.

How to Get to Pig Beach

Boat or WaveRunner

Big Major Cay is only accessible by boat or Waverunner. The latter is available to rent by pre-booked reservation from the dock at Lazy Bay, or you can charter a boat or arrange a guided tour to visit.

Pig Beach is most easily accessed from the nearby Staniel Cay. From the island of Staniel Cay, it’s just a 10 minute boat ride to the beach where these famous swimming pigs live. Often, visitors fly into Staniel Cay from the capital city of Nassau (a 35 minute flight) and then charter a boat out to the beach.


There are several places offering swimming pig tours throughout the Exuma Cays. One local option with pickup available right in Staniel Cay is through Staniel Cay Adventures. This island enterprise offers full-day tours that include a Pig Beach tour and several other area tourist attractions.

Another local tour option is a tour through Exuma Watersports. They also offer a full-day excursion to many popular sites throughout the Exumas. This tour, which costs $399, can accommodate up to 24 passengers and includes complimentary drinks and lunch.

Pro Tip:  Be sure to confirm that your tour specifically includes visiting Big Major Cay. In recent years, many other “pig beaches” have begun to sprout up amongst the islands, but Pig Beach is the original and most authentic experience in the Bahamas.

The Best Time to Visit Pig Beach

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Pig Beach is open year-round, and let’s be honest, there is no bad time to visit the Bahamas. However, if you have flexibility around when you can plan a trip, there are a few things you may want to consider.

Low Season

Off season in the Bahamas typically runs from September to mid-November. This time of year typically sees less tourists, meaning less competition for piggy interaction. Alternately, the peak season for the area is December to January, so expect bigger crowds during this time.

High Season

Generally, the months of December through April have heavier crowds. Things start to slow down from June to September as these months bring more tumultuous weather in the tropics.

Best Time of Day

When it comes to the time of day you visit, keep in mind that the pigs are usually most active in the morning. They tend to be hungry and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the tour boats bearing lots of tasty treats. By afternoon, their bellies are typically full, and you can expect to find them napping in the sun.

Pro Tip: If you’re renting a boat or chartering a private water taxi, plan your visit first thing in the morning. From 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., no tour boats are allowed to dock at the beach.

What to Know Before You Go

There are a few things you should keep in mind while planning your visit.

  • Duration: This is not usually an all-day excursion. Most boat tours only stop for 15-30 minutes at Pig Beach. There is not really much else to do on this uninhabited island, and the tours cover a lot of ground in one day.
  • Beach Lounging Pigs: While the pigs are famous for swimming, please know they may not actually get in the water during your visit. Guests often arrive to find them lounging on the beach in the sun.
  • Crowds: Expect it to be crowded in the high season. Often, you’ll find a dozen or more boats docked in the area, with plenty of people vying to spend time with these friendly bovines.

What to Pack for Your Visit

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When packing for your seaside swim with these friendly creatures, there are a few things you’ll want to remember to bring. While some seem obvious, it never hurts to double-check before setting off on your trip. You don’t want to realize you’ve left something behind once you hit the open seas!

  • reef-safe sunscreen
  • waterproof camera or GoPro
  • waterproof case for your phone
  • sun hat
  • sunglasses
  • goggles/snorkeling gear
  • water shoes
  • comfortable swimwear
  • towels
  • plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • hand sanitizer
  • piggie snacks (carrots are highly recommended)
  • human snacks

Pro Tip: Always check with your tour operators before departing. Often, many of these items are provided as part of the tour!

Proper Piggie Etiquette

Feeding the Pigs from the Water

It’s important not to carry any food onto the shores as it may cause the pigs to dig and ingest sand. They are constantly on the lookout for snacks and are used to being fed. You are allowed to feed the pigs and will likely be provided with fresh produce from your tour guide, such as watermelons, carrots, and apples. Do not feed the pigs processed food or anything that hasn’t been approved. When feeding the pigs, be sure to lay your fingers flat. This will prevent them from accidentally biting you. For this reason, be sure to pay careful attention to your guide. They will give you explicit instructions about how to behave around the animals.

Give Them Space

Of course, those baby piglets are adorable! However, you must refrain from picking them up for your safety. In fact, do not attempt to handle any of the pigs in any way.

Be Respectful of their Homes

Just like a hiking trail, here you want to leave no trace. Be sure to clean up after yourself and dispose of any trash. This island belongs to the pigs, but it shouldn’t look like a pigsty!

Where to Stay when Visiting Pig Beach

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Since Pig Beach is only inhabited by its piggy natives, there are no places to stay on Pig Beach.  As mentioned earlier, the closest island to Big Major Cay is Staniel Cay.

Staniel Cay

It’s an easy trip to Pig Beach from Staniel Cay, and you’ll find plenty to do at this small island oasis. It’s easy to book your island retreat with a Staniel Cay expert at Staniel Rentals. We offer a number of properties, from spacious, luxurious villas to private lagoon-side villas where you can dock a boat.

Getting Around

We can even hook you up with a power boat rental, meaning you can skip the condensed day trip tour and travel the Cays island hopping at your leisure. You’ll find plenty of other spots to visit that offer different types of Bahamian animal encounters. After a day on the boat, you can head back to the island and indulge in some delicious island eats, like the Staniel Cay Yacht Club restaurants.

Other Places in the Exumas to Interact with Animals

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Big Major Cay is far from the only place in the Exumas where you can interact on one with the wildlife. This chain of islands has several opportunities to have up close experiences with all types of creatures.

Nurse Sharks at Compass Cay

Just a few islands north of Big Major Cay, you’ll find Compass Cay. Here, you can swim with laid-back shivers of nurse sharks who frequent the warm, shallow waters in the area. Despite their intimidating presence, these nurse sharks are used to friendly visitors, providing a unique opportunity to experience these marine giants up close and personal.

Bahamian Rock Iguanas at Bitter Guana Cay

If prehistoric predators are more your thing, you’ll want to pay a visit to Bitter Guana Cay to roam the beaches with the Bahamian Rock Iguanas who call this island home. These endangered reptiles have roamed the shores of this small island for thousands of years. Visitors enjoy walking along the sandy shores and hiking along the rocks in search of these native creatures.

Sea Turtles at Farmer’s Cay

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The areas surrounding Farmers Cay are known to be home to majestic sea turtles and plentiful conches. You’ll find tours that allow you to swim amongst these marine turtles and later dine on decadent conch salad that has been locally prepared just for you.

Coco Plum Beach’s Sand Dollars

If you’re searching for sand dollars, you’ll find the shores of Coco Plum Beach ripe with them. The warm shallow waters attract these sea urchins along with starfish and beautiful conch shells. During low tide, you can walk for miles along the sandbar, collecting treasures on your travels.

Snorkeling the Reefs with Tropical Fish

There are many places in the Exumas to snorkel and view sea life. Perhaps the most popular is Thunderball Grotto, which is just off the coast of Staniel Cay.  Thunderball Grotto is a system of underwater caves where you can explore caves just like James Bond in his infamous 1963 file, “Thunderball.”

Here, you can experience diverse marine life as it thrives in its natural habitat. From colorful tropical fish to gentle giants like stingrays and sea turtles, you’ll come up close with all sorts of incredible sea creatures here.

Stay in Staniel Cay and Swim with the Pigs

Swimming with pigs in the turquoise blue waters of the Exumas is a vacation memory you won’t likely forget. Start planning your Bahamian vacation, and contact our experts with Staniel Rentals today. We’ll help you plan your dream trip, starting with the perfect accommodations! 

Book your villa today!