Let me tell you straight up: these pigs are equal measures crazy and adorable. Visiting the famous swimming pigs is definitely a unique and amazing experience but something I was a little sceptical about beforehand as someone who tries to make sure I only take part in ethical animal interactions.
It’s debated how the pigs got on the island and why, but I think it’s safe to assume it was down to a human. They do seem pretty happy and free to do as they wish albeit a bit too dependent on people coming to give them food… but man, are they cute. Pigs! That swim! In the Bahamas!
They live on Big Major Cay, a small island only about a 10-15 minute boat ride from Staniel Cay, where we stayed. We were given our own little skiff with our accommodation at Staniel Cay Yacht Club and a map and we made our own way there which was an incredible freedom to have.
Without further ado, here are some observations and tips on visiting the swimming pigs…
They will come right up to your boat
The pigs have clearly learnt the sound of boat motors (if that’s the technical term…) and you’ll see them as you approach trotting down a path from the bushes and swimming nonchalantly into the water up to your boat. I have heard that they can even do damage to your boat if they know you have lots of yummy food on there, so to be careful that they don’t scratch and bite into it. That never even nearly happened to us, though.
The big pigs are aggressive
I was not prepared for how huge and crazy the adult pigs are. They are ruthless if you have food. I literally got chased by a grunting, charging pig trying to get at the apple in my hand. In recounting this experience to someone later on in the day, they told me, “Oh yeah, don’t run, they’ll definitely chase you then”, to which I can only respond: what else is one to do when a very large, hangry animal is running at you?!
This is definitely the ugly side to the famous Pig Beach. These adult pigs have been at this game for years, so they insist, demand and unfortunately don’t treat the little ones very well in the competition for tourist’s food. This actually made me not want to feed them at all and just spend time with the babies.
The little pigs are adorable
The baby piggies! They were the true highlight. Their little, high-pitched squeaks and floppy ears while they excitedly trotted over to you and investigated your hands (for food… all they care about is food) had me in giggly delight. Even the ones dozing in the shade of the trees further back on the beach were lovely to just watch for a bit. What a life!
Bring food for them only if you want tons of attention you can handle
A bit of a lesson the adult pigs gave me is to only bring food if you really do want and are safe about having these huge animals surrounding you. I’m not even kidding about being safe, these pigs felt more potentially dangerous than the sharks we swam with. People where we stayed, including a little boy, had to be bandaged up because of bites from pigs trying to get at food.
I realise as I’m writing this that I make visiting the swimming pigs a dangerous, unpleasant endeavour rather than a nice, exciting, cute experience. Which I don’t mean to do, but everything I had read online up until my visit made it seem like the most magical place in the world – but when I got there, I was taken aback by the slight insanity of the adult pigs, so it’s only right to actually pass this information on.
All in all, it was a unique, fascinating and very cute adventure and I’m so glad to have done it – we went back twice after all! The strangeness of seeing pigs – that I’m so used to seeing on farms – in the beautiful, pure and not-at-all dirty setting of The Bahamas is weird and amazing. I just hope they live peacefully and happily there!