You’ve booked a holiday at Sandal Emerald Bay, maybe this is because its a five star resort, maybe it’s because it’s all inclusive. But for us it was to swim with the pigs of the Bahamas.
We’ve all got an idea of things we want to do in life, we’ll call it bucket list, just for the article, many of us want to swim with Dolphins, some of us want to hitch hike across the world.
For my wife and I, it was to visit the swimming pigs of the Bahamas and that was top of the list. My wife, spotted it first on Instagram and to be honest we thought it was fictitious, until we did a lot of research.
From Instagram to YouTube, we scoured everything we could find on the internet about the ‘Swimming pigs of the Bahamas’ — We then looked at how we could achieve this tick for our bucket list.
A few years on and a lot of money saved, we booked with British Airways for our 4th wedding anniversary. 1 night in Nassau and 7 nights in Exuma, staying at Sandals Emerald bay.
Our first job when arriving at Sandals was to hit the Island Routes desk. Now this is where the disappointment started to kick in…
Upon arriving at Emerald Bay, we checked in at the Club lounge. The weather outside was miserable and the sky was dark with rain clouds. The wind was blustering rattling the glass in the doors as we sipped our welcome drinks.
We had arrived quite early from Nassau, it’s the first time I have ever known an airline to depart early as all of the passengers had arrived and checked in, no complaints from us at all. However, this meant that our room wasn’t quite ready so we had to wait around.
One by one guests of the hotel were querying trips being cancelled due to the bad weather, the swimming pigs of the Bahamas was slowly fading into the distance.
Having spoken to many of the guests, they had all experienced cancellations for the trip, this wind and bad weather was not the recipe for some calm seas. Yet the reason we were at this resort was for a Pig swim.
Island Tours was extremely helpful, they had predicted the weather over the few days whilst we were there and squeezed us in on an extra boat on our actual wedding anniversary day.
I’ve got to warn you, the trip is not cheap, the holiday was not cheap, but when you set yourself a goal, you’ve got to pull out all the stops to achieve and surpass your ambitions.
A few days in and like the rep said from Island Tours, the weather came around. The rain had gone, the wind was still strong but the sun managed to send its rays in our direction.
The morning of the pig tour had arrived, we went for some breakfast and made our way to reception where the Sandals coach was waiting. The drive to the boat was a good 25 minutes, we got to see some of the island, its quirks and its people.
The crew on board the boat made us feel extremely welcome, on board with us were some of the other guests from the Sandals resort, mainly Americans and Australians, some were excited, some people had been before, some went for the free booze, one guest just really didn’t want to be on the boat.
Either way the majority of people were great fun and friendly, it makes the trips so much easier when you have people who you can talk to, either about previous travel trips or the one you’re about to embark on.
The speedboat shot out of the mooring on Exuma and headed out into the beautiful Caribbean turquoise clear seas within minutes, the warm water was streaming into the boat, splashing each and everyone of us on board. Within 10 minutes, we pulled up slowly against a rocky island and were shown the famous conch, famous in the Bahamas.
Another 10 minutes and a little de-throttle and an island appeared in the distance, first the changing colours of the sea, then the golden sand, then a pig! Then another!
Before we knew it, the pigs were heading towards us in the water, excited by the prospect that another boat load of Exuma visitors were coming with some food.
With the ladder detracted, before we knew it the Americans were in the water with some carrots, screaming as the pigs couldn’t decipher between what was the orange vegetable and what was a hand.
With 4 to 5 pigs in the water now, it was our turn to descend the ladders into the water, now my wife is extremely nervous about water, the sea but we had build this moment up over the previous 4 years and nothing was going to stop her.
iPhone in one hand and mine in the other, we both stood hip deep in the clear water. The crew passed us the carrots and we joined in with the feeding of the swimming pigs.
Now I’ve seen pigs in farms in the UK, I’ve seen them in fields. My uncle even had a Vietnamese Pot Belly Pig as a pet so I know they can be quite large, but when they are in the water, next to you with teeth the size of my thumb, a hunger that is visible and they are coming at you, even I got the shakes.
On top of that, we’ve also got Stingrays gliding over our feet and knocking us slightly off balance. My wife, really did have to give it her all to cope with everything that was being thrown at her at that point in time.
After a good 5 minutes feeding the swimming pigs carrots, we headed on to the beach, for we had spotted the young ones. My god, how cute were they. If we could have squeezed a couple into our luggage, we would have.
Seeing these beautiful animals on this beautiful island, really is an eye opener. I don’t really eat bacon, but if I did eat a lot of it, it would be enough for me to cut back.
I want to put a few people straight. From what the crew said, these were not the original swimming pigs of Exuma at Major Cay, but an offspring of them. Living on this uninhabited island with water from natural springs and the locals and paying tourists keeping them well fed.
But just to see this is so worth doing the trip and at the day, we’re in the Bahamas, they are pigs and they swim. Bucket list ticked.
We spent an amazing 40 minutes with the pigs, hopping back in the water, stroking their very hairy backs. Picking up the young ones to give them a stroke and of course taken those essential selfies.
Although we had the official Sandals photographer with us and the guy was nice, we weren’t overly impressed with the photos he had taken. But we did get some great footage on our GoPro Hero 7 and my wife’s iPhone X.
From the Swimming Pigs we headed another 10–15 minutes to an amazing blow hole. Situated with the Caribbean Sea on our side and the Atlantic Ocean on the opposite side, as the sea’s waves came in, it pushed the water through the rocks and created a blow pipe of salty sea water.
Another good 20 minutes at the blow hole and some much better photographs from the Sandal’s photographer and we were heading towards Iguana Island.
Approx. 1,300 Exuma Island Iguana (Cyclura cychlura figginsi) live in the Bahamas and this friendly bunch were hanging around waiting for some grapes and nips of toes.
Not at all aggressive, these friendly reptiles greeted us with their tongues and allowed us to pick them up for a stroke. Not all of them wanted to partake, but its was an experience itself. The crew explained that this particular island was once owned by the movie star Nicolas Cage and that he had to sell the island when he fell into troubles with his tax affairs.
Yet again, we were able to spend a good amount of time at this island and not at all feeling rushed by the crew. Whilst the island is small, it gave us chance to walk up and down the sandy beach to take a few photos and dip our toes in the water.
Once we had finished at Iguana Island we jumped back into the speed boat and the captain opened the the throttle, bouncing the craft between various celebrity islands, deserted resorts and shallow seas.
We stopped off to climb a hill to see the Atlantic and Caribbean seas before making our way back to the boat mooring, with the next party of guests ready to depart on the same trip.
Yes the trip is expensive but this is, for us a once in a lifetime opportunity. We travel a lot but very rarely go back to the same place twice, so we really did have to make sure that the Swimming Pigs trip was part of our vacation.
Is the Sandals Swimming Pigs Excursion Worth It?
Without a shadow of doubt, the first place that every guest arriving at Sandal’s Emerald Bay should do is book the Swimming Pigs excursion. It truly is one of the highlights of my life, to see those beautiful animals and share the experience of them with my wife.
Yes the cost is high, but for me I’d rather have the experiences in my life than the tangible items. From this adventure I’ve got the memories with my wife, I’ve got the feeling and recollection in my head of my feet in the water and the hairy pigs swimming by. I’ve got the hilarious moments of trying to avoid the pig sh*t hitting my leg and hands.
I can now look back at my footage and rekindle the memories of our 4th wedding anniversary and not once think about the cost of the trip.
What are your thoughts on the Swimming Pigs?
Have you been on a trip to see the Swimming Pigs of the Bahamas? What are your thoughts on the day? Have you got any hints or tips that you can share with the readers of this article?
If you have please leave them in the comments below.
Useful Links for the Bahamas
I have linked below some of the articles and websites that we used to plan our trips to the Bahamas. Whilst we went out of season and the weather wasn’t terrific, cost-wise for ourselves it was worth it.