Swimming Pigs Island, also known as Big Major Cay, is a small uninhabited island in the Bahamas Exuma Cays and home to the famous Bahamas Swimming Pigs. Big Major Cay has one beach on the western shore line, affectionately known as Pig Beach Bahamas and the top place to visit in the Bahamas right now!
For it’s size and remoteness, its remarkable that Swimming Pigs Island has become such a star studded tourist destination. The Bahamas Swimming Pigs were first introduced to mainstream audiences when TV shows like the Bachelor used the island as a filming location. But Big Major Cay has been home to pigs for many generations and that’s the first clue as to how and why they came to live on Pig Beach.
Pig Island Bahamas is one of over 700 islands that make up the Bahamas archipelago. It’s closest neighbourhood of islands is called the Exuma Cays, and this exotic collection of 365 islands, some of which are owned by Hollywood superstars like Johnny Depp, has some of the most pristine beaches and untouched tropical scenery in the Bahamas, if not the whole Caribbean.
So, why are there Bahamas Swimming Pigs?
Legend has it that the pigs swam a shore after being shipwrecked. Another local story is that sailors left them on Pig Beach, intending to return to them later but never did. And there are many other legends and stories. But the real reason is perhaps a little less mysterious or exciting. The reason we have a Swimming Pigs Island is because farmers on the nearby Staniel Cay island, fed up of the retched stench of pigs decided that relegating the pigs to nearby Big major Cay would solve this problem.
And it did, but what happened next, the unintended consequences of keeping pigs on a beach is a really exciting topic! When one of the Bahamas Air Tours local guides, Captain Dave, explained the genesis story of the Bahamas Swimming Pigs it was immediately obvious this would become a great story to pass on to generations that come to visit the Exumas. What happened was that when the local children sailed from Staniel Cay to Big Major Cay, in a small boat to feed the pigs, the pigs would hear the boat and smell the impending food delivery – so they began learning how to swim out to greet the small boats. And that is how the story of the Bahamas Swimming Pigs became history.
How to get to Swimming Pigs Island (Big Major Cay)
Big Major Cay, also known as the Swimming Pigs Island, is a small island in the Exuma Cays, an archipelago of 365 islands. The Exuma Cays are home to the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park which is a protected area between Shroud Cay and Bell Cay. Governed by the Bahamas National Trust to protect the rare Bahamian faunas and wildlife that inhabit this area of the Exuma Cays.
Neighbouring Pig Island Bahamas is Staniel Cay, the nearest airport for visiting the Swimming Pigs Island. Staniel Cay is the main gateway for visiting not just the Pig Island but also nearby Compass Cay for the swimming with Sharks experience (see below).
There are a number of ways to visit Swimming Pigs Island and the day trips offered by Bahamas Air Tours offer the most convenient, fun and cost effective way of going swimming with Pigs. Bahamas Air Tours offers day trips from Nassau Bahamas and Miami Florida. Both departure cities are a short flight away from Exuma.
Another option for visiting the Pig Beach Bahamas is to come and stay at the luxury Water Villas at Staniel Cay. Enjoy a hideaway Bahamas Vacation in the stunning Exuma Cays. Boat hire and tour services are available directly from your villa with the Bahamas Swimming Pigs only 10 minutes away by speed boat, allows you to visit during the most peaceful times of day outside of the crowded tourist hours.
Pig Island Tours from Nassau
Bahamas Air Tours offers the Nassau to Exuma Day Trip. A full day excursion experience that allows visitors to explore much of the Exuma Cay’s most popular places to visit. Aside from just the Swimming Pigs at Pig Island Bahamas there are many other exciting things to do near Swimming Pigs Island on a Bahamas Day Trip:
- Swimming with Pigs at Pig Beach
- Diving into the James Bond Thunderball Grotto Cave
- Swimming with Sharks at Compass Cay
- Picturesque Sand Bar at Pipe Creek
- Bahamian Rock Iguanas at Bitter Guana Cay
- Underwater Plane Wreck at Staniel Cay
How to plan for a Day Trip to Pig Beach Bahamas
If you’re considering a Day Trip with Bahamas Air Tours or visiting the Swimming Pigs in your own means here are some useful travel tips and advice to best prepare you for a visit to Big Major Cay:
- Wear good sun protection – bring plentiful sun screen, long sleeved clothing and a hat offering good sun protection. A day on the water in the Exuma Cays has high levels of UV.
- Pack a spare set of dry clothes – interacting with the pigs and marine life, in and out of the ocean during visits to different islands – by the end of your day you will be thankful to have a dry set of clothes to switch into.
- Bring a phone charger / portable battery – There are not many opportunities to charge your phone so make sure you bring a portable battery pack which will allow you to charge on the go. The large number of photos that you take together with required screen brightness is a recipe for depleting your phone battery very quickly!
- Listen and follow your Tour Guides – Pig Beach can be dangerous if you don’t follow the instructions from your tour guides of how to safely interact with the Swimming Pigs. That goes for visiting the Bahamas Sharks at Compass Cay Too.
Staniel Cay is often described as the Jewel in the Crown of the Bahamas Island, and with good reason too. This stunning tropical paradise is where visitors come to experience the authentic Bahamian small islands. It has a small community that supports a disproportionately large tourism sector that primarily accommodates visitors on day trips to visit the Swimming Pigs Exuma at nearby Big Major Cay. The airport is more of an “airstrip” and handles all guests flying into Staniel Cay from Nassau and Florida.
The island itself has some stunning landscapes and scenery. The eastern shoreline is home to Ocean Beach, the largest swathe of beach on the island. Exposed to the Atlantic swell that washes across the Bahamas Sea, Ocean beach does have some large waves and is perhaps not the best beach for swimming at unless the seas are particularly calm.
Alongside the Staniel Cay Yacht Club is the other main beach, centrally located in Staniel Cay village, it’s hard not to miss from the cliff side meandering road that runs between the airport and Yacht Club.
Swimming with Sharks at Compass Cay in the Exumas
The swimming with Nurse Sharks experience at Compass Cay has grown in popularity since the Swimming Pigs claim to fame. Compass Cay is a small island to the north of Pig Island and approximately 20 minutes ride away by boat.
The pet Nurse Sharks that live at Compass Cay are mostly harmless to humans. Compass Cay is the home of the Swimming with Sharks experience, there is no better place to visit them elsewhere in the Bahamas Islands. Compass Cay marina is specifically built to allow easy access to the water for swimming with sharks and allowing visitors to get stunning photos of them laying back whilst sharks swim beneath them.
Discover the Beauty of the Exumas with Bahamas Air Tours
The premier tour operator in the Bahamas Island, Bahamas Air Tours offers 5-star rated day trips and excursions from Nassau and Miami the Swimming Pigs Island.
Forget taking the long 3 hour boat rides from Nassau that a number of tour operators offer, across rough and bumpy seas. Instead enjoy a flight to the Bahamas Swimming Pigs by plane – only a 40 minute flight away from Nassau, this truly is the best way to go swimming with Pigs!
Discover more about the Exuma Cays, Staniel Cay and Big Major Cay with out Bahamas Travel Guidebook, Destination Guides, Maps and Tour highlights.
Discover the Bahamas Out Islands
With beautifully illustrated maps and informative destination guides.
Download the Guidebook