Published February 11, 2021

Imagine spending a holiday under the warm, summer sun of the Bahamas: turquoise water as far as the eye can see, white-sand beaches, and swimming pigs? You read that right. Among the Bahamas’ 600-something cays and islands is one full of aquatic-loving pigs. They’ve become a must-visit in this region, and rightfully so. I mean, how often can you boast that you got to swim with adorable pigs? Here’s everything you need to know about pig island.

Pig Island

Pig Island, otherwise known as Pig Beach, is one of the 360 islands and cays found in The Bahamas’ Exuma Cays. It was previously known as Big Major Cay before its main attraction took all the limelight. The island itself is relatively small, measuring no longer than a mile. In fact, it’s so small that you could probably take an extensive tour of the island in an hour or two. But despite its size, it remains one of the most-visited islands in the Bahamas, which saw 7.25 million foreign tourists in 2019. Pig island gets its name from the 20-something pigs eager to meet you as your boat approaches. They won’t wait for you to reach the shore, opting to meet you in the middle – right in the clear waters. But you may be wondering, “how did these guys start this habit in the first place?”

A pig swimming in the ocean in Pig Island.


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Origin of the pigs

There’s a whole lot of folklore surrounding how these beach babes ended up on the island. Some say the pigs washed up on shore from a nearby shipwreck. Another story depicts sailors that brought the pigs to the island with plans of eating them. The sailors encountered an unexpected problem, though, never returning to the island and leaving the pigs there. There’s even one story where two business partners started populating the island with the pigs in preparation for Y2K

However, the most widely accepted explanation involves the nearby Staniel Cay. Staniel Cay was a farming community, breeding numerous animals as livestock. Some farmers bred pigs, but it’s said that their neighbors were so bothered by their stench that they had to get rid of the pigs. What ended up happening was that they got rid of them on the nearby cay, returning every once in a while to feed them. As time went by, the pigs swam farther and farther from shore, meeting the farmers to get their daily feed. Whatever the true story is, we’re just happy it happened.

How to get to Pig Island?

The closest airport can be found on Staniel Cay, which is a 10-minute boat ride from Pig Island. Booking a ticket for the ferry might take longer than getting to the island itself. Because of that, we recommend booking a private tour a number of days or weeks prior. 

Additionally, Pig Island is also 100 miles south of Nassau – the capital of the Bahamas and tourism hub. From there, you may take a private plane, powerboat, or ferry to this destination. 

Pig Island Etiquette

It’s essential to abide by a set of guidelines when interacting with the pigs of Pig Island. 

  • The pigs can get aggressive, especially if they believe you have food. Be sure to show them your open palms to show that you don’t have any for them.
  • Never feed a pig on the beach. This will screw up their survival instincts to feed, from which their swimming originated. Additionally, eating off the beach may allow them to eat some sand in the process too.
  • Never feed a pig by hand, as they tend to be clumsy and bite.
  • Don’t feed pigs with just anything. Only provide them the approved foods, including bread, carrots, lettuce, and most fresh fruits.

What else can you see around Pig Island?

Apart from the pigs, Pig Island does not have too many attractions. However, the waters around it may still be of interest. You can go snorkeling and see some exotic species of sea turtles, stingrays, reef sharks, and pufferfish. 

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Author Terrence Tan Ting

About The Author

 is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.