Swimming With Pigs in the Bahamas: Best Tours & Tips

Photos and videos of people frolicking with pigs on a beach in the Caribbean have more than likely surfaced on your Instagram and TikTok feeds at one point or another. After all, millions of people partake in this unique experience in the Bahamas each year, and the attraction is so popular that others have replicated it.

If a trip to visit the famous swimming pigs is on your bucket list, read on to discover the best tour options as well as what to consider when you visit.

How to get to Pig Beach

Located in the Exumas, Big Major Cay – commonly known as Pig Beach – is accessible from several islands in the Bahamas as well as Florida. Most swimming pig tours include other tourist attractions and experiences, including snorkeling in Thunderball Grotto (a filming location for two James Bond movies) and swimming with nurse sharks at Compass Cay. It’s easiest to reach Pig Beach from the following destinations:

From the Exumas

Great Exuma: The largest island in the Exumas, Great Exuma houses some of the best resorts in the Bahamas, including the family-friendly Grand Isle Resort & Residences and the adults-only Sandals Emerald Bay. To get to Pig Beach from Great Exuma, it’s best to book directly with your hotel. You’ll have the option to take a full-day tour (with a roughly two-hour boat ride to the attractions from Great Exuma) or fly to Staniel Cay and take a short boat ride to Big Major Cay from there.

From Nassau

Pig Beach is reachable from Nassau via plane and/or boat. Below are some of the top-rated swimming pig tours from the Bahamas’ capital city:

3N’s Vacation Services: Swimming Pigs Flight & Tour

Price: From $675 per person
Duration: 7 hours

This full-day, all-inclusive tour transports passengers from Nassau to Staniel Cay by plane, where you’ll continue your excursion via boat. The tour includes several stops and activities:

  • Swimming with swine and feeding them tour-provided food at Pig Beach
  • Swimming with nurse sharks at Compass Cay
  • Snorkeling at Thunderball Grotto
  • Visiting the iguanas of Guana Cay
  • Strolling along a stunning sandbar
  • A stop near Pablo Escobar’s mysterious sunken plane on Norman’s Cay

Snacks, lunch, soft drinks, beer and water are covered in tour rates; snorkel gear and towels are provided. Tour rates start at $675 per person not including a conservation fee (ages 2 and younger are free, though this tour is not recommended for young kids). While tour groups are limited to 12 guests at maximum, private tours are available for a more intimate experience. Recent reviewers say they enjoyed this tour, though some expressed mixed feelings about the captains.

Born Free Charters: Exuma Island Hopping and Swimming Pigs

Price: From $399 per person
Duration: 9 hours

This tour departs from Paradise Island by high-speed powerboat and stops at the following destinations:

  • Allen Cay, to visit Bahamian rock iguanas
  • Compass Cay, for swimming with the nurse sharks
  • Great Exuma, for a Bahamian-style lunch buffet (included in tour rate)
  • Pig Beach
  • Norman’s Cay, for snorkeling
  • A sandbar for some beach time

Recent travelers highly recommend this tour, praising the guides, the lunch and the overall experience. Tickets start at $399 per adult and $299 per child ages 2 to 6 (not including taxes). This tour isn’t recommended for young children, pregnant women, or those suffering from chronic back and/or neck pain.

From Florida

Bahamas Air Tours: Miami to Bahamas Day Trip

Price: From $875 per person
Duration: 12 hours

This full-day tour starts with private transportation from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. It also includes in-destination transportation to Pig Beach, Guana Cay, Thunderball Grotto, Compass Cay and the sand bars at Staniel Cay. Both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages are included in the price as well. Recent travelers rave about this experience, with some noting it’s the best tour they’ve ever taken.

Note that passports are required for this day trip, and that while children are permitted on the tour, it’s not ideal for young kids. This excursion is also ill-suited for pregnant women, and the tour operator requires a doctor’s clearance for expectant mothers. Tours are limited to nine guests (but require a minimum of five participants); private charters are also available.

Understanding animal welfare concerns

Even though the Bahamas limits the number of tour operators allowed to visit Pig Beach per day, there’s some controversy surrounding the island and whether or not it’s ethical to visit.

In 2017, several pigs were found dead after an influx of tourists left snacks on the beach, causing the pigs to ingest too much sand. Also, travelers can be aggressive with the pigs (for those aforementioned social media photos), often chasing them, picking them up or even trying to ride them – raising concerns about the welfare of these animals.

In recent years, a number of safety measures have been put in place to protect both the pigs and tourists. Per the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, they include the following:

  • A trough provides a designated feeding place for the pigs.
  • Signage communicates rules to tourists, including what you can and cannot feed to the pigs. The pigs are restricted to a diet of fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, grapes, watermelon, apples and lettuce, and many guides supply these items for tourgoers. Some tour guides will provide bread as well, though processed food is not ideal for these animals.
  • A local taskforce of caretakers is on the ground daily to ensure visitors and tour operators are engaging with the pigs responsibly.

While the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism maintains that the attraction is sustainable, know that there aren’t any legal limitations protecting the pigs at this time.

How to be a responsible traveler at Pig Beach 

All tour guides are supposed to share the following protocols with travelers; whether they do or not, it is important to respect these rules for both the safety of the pigs and you: 

  • Remain calm at all times.
  • Do not chase, pick up or ride the pigs.
  • Do not engage with the pigs without supervision.
  • Only use approved food from your tour operator, and do not feed the pigs alcohol.
  • If you do not have feed, hold your hands up to show the pigs.

What to pack for your excursion

Pack a beach bag, dry bag or backpack with the following items:

  • Beach hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Reef-safe sunscreen
  • Beach towel
  • Camera and/or phone
  • Waterproof phone pouch with lanyard
  • Change of clothing
  • Windbreaker or light jacket (in case of rain and because it gets chilly on the water)
  • Cash and/or credit card (for tour guide tip and other purchases)

It’s best to wear a swimsuit and a cover-up or T-shirt with sandals for the trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are several theories about the origin of the swimming pigs. The most logical is that when the Exumas gained popularity with the rich and famous in the 1980s and ’90s, the resident pigs were too smelly to stay and were hence moved to the uninhabited island of Big Major Cay.

It is generally safe provided you’re respectful of the animals. However, you should keep in mind that the pigs are known to bite if they’re hungry and think you might have food you’re not sharing. Because Big Major Cay is their home, they also defecate on the shoreline and in the water.

Swimming with pigs on Big Major Cay – the original Pig Beach in the Bahamas – will cost you several hundred dollars – in part because Big Major Cay is a remote destination only accessible by boat. Of course, it is also pricey because of its popularity. Copycat experiences like swimming with the pigs on Rose Island are cheaper, but less authentic.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Amanda Norcross previously visited Pig Beach during a media visit to the Bahamas. Disheartened by other tourists’ mistreatment of the pigs, she aims to educate travelers on how to visit Big Major Cay and other animal-centric destinations responsibly.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Zoos in the U.S.

Previous Story

Anthony Rota resigns after inviting man who fought in Nazi unit to Zelenskyy visit

Next Story

Essential Stanley Pan: Tried & Tested

Latest from Blog

0 $0.00