Visiting the swimming pigs at Pig Beach, Bahamas is one of the exceptional wildlife experiences of the yachting world and a must-do on a Bahamas yacht charter, as some of the celebrity Instagram images featured below, show.
There’s nothing quite like the excitement of seeing the pigs launch themselves from the white sandy beach into the water and paddle out to the tender to approach you. The water is so crystal clear that you can see their trotters paddling furiously below as the pigs hold their snouts above the surface.
No-one quite knows how the adorable snuffly residents of Pig Beach came to the uninhabited island of Big Major Cay in the first place. Some say that they were left there by sailors or pirates who planned to return to eat them later, while others believe that the pigs swam ashore from a nearby shipwreck – thereby getting their swimming practice in early! More recently, local Bahamas man Wayde Nixon has claimed he set four sows and one boar loose on the island in the 1990s to create a sustainable food source in the event of a Y2K catastrophe. The legendary tales of precisely how the pigs got there only adds to the appeal of this strange and wonderful sight.
However, after a few of the pigs sadly died last year – a tragedy which has been attributed to tourists feeding the pigs alcohol and unsuitable foods – we wanted to take a look at how to properly experience Pig Beach, Bahamas, right on your yacht charter, allowing you to have the best experience while leaving the pigs happy and healthy for many years to come. Here’s our 5 top tips:
1. Set off to Pig Beach Bahamas early in the day
To ensure you get the best experience at Pig Beach, it’s best to arrive before the tour boats, and the freedom of a Bahamas yacht charter allows you to do exactly that. Arriving before the crowds, and even more importantly, when the pigs are genuinely hungry. By noon, the pigs are often full, lazy and ready for their midday nap, and most will just stay sleeping under a tree rather than make the effort to swim out the tender.
2. Feed the pigs appropriate food
Pigs are notoriously unfussy and will, of course, eat (and drink) whatever you give them, however, this does not mean that it’s good for them, so please adhere to the approved foods recommended by the Ministry of Tourism, which includes fruits and vegetables like carrots, lettuce, watermelon and apples.
3. Avoid throwing food onto those Caribbean sands
While its been said that one possible cause of the recent pig deaths was tourists feeding them champagne (it’s not the first time visitors have been caught giving alcohol to the pigs) another suspected cause is that the deceased pigs were found to have stomachs full of sand. In their haste to quickly consume the food thrown to them as pigs do, if they are eating ofd the sand, they ingested some of it, and this can lead to major stomach pains and possible death. If you prefer not to feed them by hand but want to feed them on the beach rather than from the water, consider making use of something sturdy (like a piece of cardboard or a big Tupperware lid) on which to place the food, or simply find a patch of seagrass at the back of the pigs’ beach.
3. Offer them fresh water, not champagne
Another suspected cause to the pigs’ sad passing was that the local water source had almost dried up. Since the pigs had no doubt ingested quite a lot of salt water during their swimming and feeding and with a limited water supply on the pig beach island, it’s a great idea to give them fresh water to supplement the natural springs. Absolutely refrain from giving them alcohol. It is much better for them and to keep those vintage bubbles for your evening meal on deck.
4. Don’t manhandle the pigs
There are photos of people picking up the pigs and even trying to ride them in the water. This is not only distressing for the pigs but if you scare them, they may turn their teeth on you and give you a nip. It is desired to have the animals continue to feel safe around humans, so please don’t do anything to frighten them. You can swim with them, pet them and feed them by hand, but picking them up is considered a step too far.
While it may seem there are a lot of rules, it is definitely worthwhile to follow them, and keep the experience of Pig Beach, Bahamas open and pleasant to all. There is talk of banning the pig-feeding in future if problems persist, so it’s up to everyone who visits to be responsible – for the benefit of the pigs, for future visitors, and for the tourism industry of these spectacular islands.
Of course, seeing the swimming pigs is just one of the wildlife highlights of a Caribbean yacht charter. Your days will be filled with even more amazing animal encounters, from snorkelling with nurse sharks and petting baby stingrays to feeding grapes to the iguanas on Allen’s Cay. Combine that with exceptional reef and wreck diving, ethereal grottos, great fishing and glorious beaches, and you can see why the Exumas are a perennially popular superyacht destination.