Everything you need to know before visiting Pig Beach in the Bahamas

Everything you need to know before visiting Pig Beach in the Bahamas


The Bahamas is a popular tourist destination known for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters. One of the unique attractions that draw visitors to this tropical paradise is Pig Beach. Located in The Exumas, an archipelago of 365 cays and islands, Pig Beach is home to a group of adorable swimming pigs. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know before visiting Pig Beach in the Bahamas, from its location and how to get there, to the best time to visit and what to expect during your visit.

Where exactly in the Bahamas is Pig Beach?

Pig Beach is situated in The Exumas, a collection of islands and cays located approximately 80 miles southeast of Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. The specific island where the pigs reside is called Big Major Cay. This uninhabited island is solely occupied by a few dozen pigs, making it a unique and fascinating destination for animal lovers.

To reach Pig Beach, you have two main options. You can base yourself on Staniel Cay, the closest inhabited island to Big Major Cay, and take a short 10-minute boat ride to Pig Beach. Alternatively, you can opt for a day trip from Nassau, which involves either a 35-minute flight to Staniel Cay or a 3-hour speedboat ride.

How did the pigs get to Pig Beach?

The origin of the swimming pigs of Pig Beach is surrounded by various stories and legends. One popular account suggests that the pigs were originally brought to Big Major Cay by two farmers in the late 1990s. These farmers anticipated a Y2K computer crash, which could lead to supply chain disruptions and potential food shortages. However, when the Y2K crash failed to materialize, the pigs were left on Big Major Cay. Over time, they multiplied and became a beloved attraction for visitors to the Bahamas.

The best time to visit Pig Beach

Pig Beach can be visited year-round, but it’s essential to consider factors such as weather conditions and tourist crowds when planning your visit.

The off-season, from September to mid-November, offers the advantage of fewer visitors, allowing you to enjoy a more tranquil experience with the pigs. However, it’s important to note that this period coincides with hurricane season, and there may be an increased risk of storms and rain.

The peak season for visiting Pig Beach is during December and January, particularly during the Christmas holidays. This period tends to be busier, with higher tourist numbers. The high season continues through April, offering pleasant weather and a vibrant atmosphere.

If you prefer to avoid crowds but still want good weather, visiting Pig Beach during the low season from June to September is an option. However, be prepared for the possibility of encountering hurricanes, tropical storms, and rainy days.

It’s also important to consider the time of day for your visit. The pigs are generally more active and excited about visitors in the mornings. In the afternoons, they tend to be sleepier and may be less inclined to swim or engage with visitors. Keep in mind that mornings are usually busier due to the arrival of tour operators, while the late afternoon may offer a quieter experience with the pigs.

What’s the closest island to Pig Beach in the Bahamas?

The closest inhabited island to Pig Beach is Staniel Cay. Located just a short distance away, Staniel Cay serves as a convenient base for those planning to visit Pig Beach. With a population of around 110 people, Staniel Cay offers amenities such as accommodations and an airport, making it easily accessible for tourists.

How to get to Pig Beach

When it comes to reaching Pig Beach, the primary mode of transportation is by boat. Unless you have your own boat, guided tours are the most popular option.

There are several ways to visit Pig Beach, depending on your starting point:

  • Visit Pig Beach from Staniel Cay: If you are staying on Staniel Cay, you can take a short 10-minute boat ride to reach Pig Beach.
  • Visit Pig Beach from Great Exuma: From Great Exuma, a larger island in the Exumas, you can embark on a 2-hour boat journey to reach Pig Beach.
  • Visit Pig Beach from Nassau: If you are based in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, you have two options. You can either take a 35-minute flight to Staniel Cay or opt for a 3-hour speedboat ride.
  • Visit Pig Beach on a day trip from Florida: For those traveling from Florida, there are day trip options available. These trips usually involve a 1-hour flight to Andros Island, followed by a 45-minute flight to Staniel Cay.

It’s important to note that all options typically involve full-day tours, including additional stops and attractions besides Pig Beach. The exact itinerary may vary depending on the tour operator and weather conditions. Private tours are also available for those seeking a more personalized experience, although they may come at a higher cost.

For visitors traveling from Nassau, there are two transportation options: by plane or speedboat. The cost for each option varies depending on the tour company and other factors.

How much does it cost to visit Pig Beach

The cost of visiting Pig Beach can vary depending on several factors, including the tour company, transportation method, and additional inclusions. Here is a rough estimate of the prices:

  • Pig Beach from Nassau by speedboat: Approximately $260 per person
  • Pig Beach from Nassau by plane: Around $675 per person
  • Pig Beach from Staniel Cay: Starting at $300 per person
  • Pig Beach from Staniel Cay private tour: Prices start at $999 for the smallest boat, accommodating up to 4 people
  • Pig Beach from Florida: Several companies offer day trips to Pig Beach from Fort Lauderdale’s Executive Airport. Prices range from around US$849 to US$900, depending on the time of year and availability. It’s advisable to check all companies for any special offers or discounts.

It’s important to note that these prices are approximate and may vary depending on the tour company and any additional inclusions. Children under two years old usually do not have to pay for the tour.

When considering the cost, it’s worth noting that speedboat tours from Nassau are the most affordable option. However, they can be less comfortable due to the bumpy ride and exposure to weather conditions. Tours by plane offer a more reliable experience and are less likely to be canceled due to weather conditions.

What to expect when visiting Pig Beach

When visiting Pig Beach, it’s important to have realistic expectations to ensure an enjoyable experience for both visitors and the pigs themselves.

  • Time with the pigs: It’s essential to manage your expectations regarding the amount of time you’ll spend with the pigs. If you are on a boat tour from Nassau, you can expect to spend approximately 15 minutes at Pig Beach. If you opt for a tour from Staniel Cay, you may have a bit more time. However, if you wish to have an extended period with the pigs, you will need to book a private tour. Keep in mind that there isn’t much else to do on Pig Beach besides taking photos, swimming with the pigs, and admiring the adorable piglets.
  • Pig behavior: While the pigs are known as swimming pigs, they may not always be in the water. When visiting Pig Beach, you may find that most of the pigs are resting or sleeping on the beach. It’s important to respect their space and not disturb them unnecessarily.
  • Sharing the experience: Pig Beach is a popular attraction, and it’s common for multiple boats to visit at the same time. If you prefer a more private experience, you may need to book a private tour to have the pigs all to yourself.
  • Water activities: Expect to spend a significant amount of time in or on the water during your visit. You may need to wade through shallow water to reach Pig Beach, Iguana Beach, and the sandbar. Additionally, swimming into Thunderbolt Grotto is a popular activity. If you are not comfortable swimming, you can choose to stay on the boat during these beach visits and snorkeling excursions.

Is it unethical to visit Pig Beach?

There have been concerns raised about the treatment of the pigs and the ethical considerations of visiting Pig Beach. However, it’s important to note that the pigs are well cared for by a committee of caretakers. These caretakers maintain the pigs’ enclosures, provide them with food and water, and address any potential issues. The piglets even have a dedicated nursery to protect them from inclement weather. Regular veterinary check-ups ensure the pigs’ health and well-being, and each pig is tagged and registered.

Visitors can have a positive experience with the pigs as long as they treat them with respect. The pigs are generally excited when boats arrive, as it usually means feeding time. They are familiar with the tour operators who visit daily, and some pigs may even frolic and swim with boat drivers who have developed a bond with them. However, it’s important to note that not all visitors behave appropriately, and it’s crucial to follow specific guidelines when interacting with the pigs.

Do’s and Don’ts when visiting Pig Beach

To ensure the well-being of the pigs and a positive experience for everyone, it’s important to follow these guidelines:

  • Be respectful: Interact with the pigs in a respectful manner. Avoid picking them up or forcing them into discomfort for the sake of a photo opportunity. It’s essential to remember that these are living creatures, not props.
  • Let the pigs approach you: Instead of chasing the pigs down the beach, allow them to come to you. Respect their space and let them initiate any interaction.
  • Feeding the pigs: If you choose to feed the pigs, avoid giving them processed foods. They are allowed to eat vegetables, fruits (such as apples and watermelon), and bread. When feeding the pigs, be cautious as they might try to take the food directly from your hand. It’s safer to place the food down for them to eat. Be mindful of any food you carry with you, as the pigs may attempt to access it.
  • Keep the beach clean: Ensure that you do not leave any trash behind when leaving Pig Beach. It’s important to maintain the pristine beauty of the area and protect the environment.

What to bring to Pig Beach

To make the most of your visit to Pig Beach, it’s recommended to bring the following items:

  • Bathing suit or bikini: Come prepared to swim and enjoy the water.
  • Beach towel or sarong: It’s useful to have something to cover up when you are not in the water.
  • Camera or phone: Capture your memories of Pig Beach with a fully charged camera or phone. Consider bringing a portable charger to ensure you don’t run out of battery.
  • Waterproof case or pouch: Since you may need to wade through shallow water and potentially visit Thunderbolt Grotto, it’s important to protect your smartphone from water damage. Consider investing in a waterproof case or pouch.
  • GoPro or underwater camera: If you want to capture underwater photos or videos, bring a waterproof camera.
  • Sunscreen and sunhat: Protect yourself from the sun’s rays with sunscreen and a sunhat.
  • Sunglasses: Shield your eyes from the bright sun with a good pair of sunglasses.
  • Goggles: If you plan to snorkel with the pigs and sharks or take underwater photos, bring goggles. Some tour operators may provide them, but it’s advisable to confirm beforehand.
  • Insect repellent: The mosquitos in the area can be quite aggressive, so it’s wise to bring insect repellent to protect yourself.
  • Water and snacks: While most tour operators provide water and snacks, it’s a good idea to bring extra water and snacks if you have specific preferences or require more hydration and sustenance.
  • A sweater or light jacket: Bring a sweater or light jacket to protect against the breeze, especially if you are on a speedboat. It can also come in handy during unexpected rain showers.
  • Cash or credit card: Carry some cash or a credit card for purchasing items on the inhabited islands you visit during the tour. It’s also customary to tip your guide. While some tours may include lunch on Staniel Cay, alcoholic beverages are often not included. Keep in mind that there are no ATMs on the islands, but credit cards are accepted in some establishments.

Other things to consider when booking a tour to Pig Beach

When planning your trip to Pig Beach, keep the following factors in mind:

  • Comfort during the tour: Since the tours are typically full-day excursions, ensure that you have everything you need to stay comfortable. Consider bringing headphones if you want to listen to audiobooks or podcasts during the flight or boat ride to Big Major Cay.
  • Weather conditions: Check the weather forecast before booking a tour to Pig Beach. Inclement weather, particularly during hurricane season, may result in tour cancellations or less enjoyable experiences. Aim to book your tour on a sunny day to minimize the risk of cancellations and maximize your enjoyment.

By following these guidelines and being respectful towards the pigs and the environment, you can have an unforgettable experience swimming with the adorable pigs of Pig Beach in the Bahamas. Take the time to appreciate the beauty of this unique destination and create lasting memories with these charming creatures.