The Popular Caribbean Island That Offers A One-Of-A-Kind Swimming Experience

You've probably seen the Instagram shots: turquoise waters, white-sand beaches, palm trees dotted as far as the eye can see, and a drift of pigs swimming along the shore. Yes, you read that right, swimming pigs. And no, this isn't an old wive's tale warning you about the dangers of swimming on a full stomach; it's a real place — and, better yet, one you can visit. Welcome to Pig Island in the Bahamas!

Located in the Exumas island cluster, just southwest of Nassau, a roving band of wild pigs has taken up residence on this beachside paradise. And although no one's really sure how the pigs ended up on the island, some locals say it's because they were accidentally left there by sailors preparing for a feast, while others argue they swam over after a shipwreck.

Whatever the case, one thing's for sure. These cute, oinking beachgoers have become an iconic symbol of the Bahamas, creating a one-of-a-kind swimming experience for visitors who want to add a little something extra to their visit.

Visiting the famous Pig Island

If you want to visit Pig Island, your best bet is to fly into Nassau and then into George Town International Airport on Great Exuma. From there, you'll find local tour operators that provide boat trips to the uninhabited Big Major Cay, or "Pig Island." Keep in mind, however, that each operator has a different schedule, with most offering half- or full-day tours that often include stops at other spots. Tour prices start from $190 for a half-day tour to $1,420, with the latter being the average price for a full-day, private excursion.

And while this may sound like quite the adventure already, remember that the Bahamas is much more than just Pig Island. With over 700 islands, 2,400 cays, and some of the best beaches in the world, it's a sun chaser's paradise with something for everyone. So whether you're snorkeling above Pablo Escobar's plane wreck, relaxing on secluded beaches, or sailing through glittering blue waters, you'll find an experience that fits into your version of a dream vacation.

Ideally, the best time to visit the Bahamas is between December and April, when the weather is truly idyllic. Be warned, however, that these peak travel months can be much busier than normal and typically kick off near the end of hurricane season, so plan accordingly. However, if these dates don't match your itinerary, rest assured that it's always a good time to visit, especially since the climate is tropical and warm year-round.

The ethics of swimming with pigs in the Bahamas

Interacting with the swimming pigs of the Bahamas is undoubtedly an unforgettable experience. However, as with any interaction with wildlife, it's important to be respectful and mindful of the animals and their habitat. The pigs are wild animals, after all, and even though they've become used to being around humans, they're not pets.

After a series of unfortunate incidents where some of the pigs were found dead in 2017, the Bahamas government and local tour operators implemented a series of safety measures to ensure the animals' well-being. First and foremost, local authorities ask that you do not bring food for the pigs. Feeding them anything outside their natural diet can be incredibly unhealthy, especially when said food is covered in sand, which can't be digested. Moreover, providing them with these can also lead to aggressive behavior and, you guessed it, unwanted bites. In line with this, it also probably goes without saying that you should not, under any circumstances, give the pigs alcohol.

Lastly, it's also important that you respect the animals and the land by picking up after yourself. Traveling responsibly means that your entertainment shouldn't come at the expense of the island's natural beauty — leaving it just as pristine as you found it. One thing you should bring? Your camera! When done respectfully, these piggy paddle sessions can make memories you'll want to keep forever.