Yes, other people swim with dolphins, walk with gorillas and hang out with chimps. But here in the extraordinary Exumas, it is the pigs that are the main attraction. These lucky porkers have their very own island. It is called Big Major Cay and they spend their days rooting around Pig Beach. Back in the day of the first settlers, an entrepreneur from nearby Staniel Cay found that the unpleasant odour from his pig stock was causing a problem in this tiny island hamlet. He hit upon the cunning plan of relocating them to their own deserted yet nearby island. There were 365 island Cays after all. So these happy hogs were moved to their own neighbouring island where they could be “harvested” as the need arose for a roast and some streaky bacon. The pigs learnt that while the sight of an oncoming boat may mean the loss of family, it also meant the arrival of food. After a few decades, the pigs were declared protected and pig farming ceased on the island. The descendants of these original hogs remain today providing a unique tourist attraction. These smart little babes have gathered that whoever swims out to the visiting boats first, is the most likely to score delectable bread snacks from the tourists. As we glided in on our boat, we saw no sign of the pigs but suddenly the low scrubby bushes at the back of the beach began to shake and emit grunting sounds. The pigs leapt onto their trotters, the grunts gave way to squeals as they hurled themselves headlong down the beach. Hurtling into the water, they swam furiously towards us using their snouts as built-in snorkels. Now was the time for us to plunge overboard and swim toward shore surrounded by a motley coloured crew of swine. Surprisingly calm and respectful, there was no snapping or biting or snatching. The only lurking, bobbing danger being the little poop parcels that should best be avoided.
How to get there: Book a trip with one of the friendly boat operators based in Georgetown or Staniel Cay. Expect fun, friendly entertainment from the moment your flip-flopped feet alight upon the deck. Cruise past islands of the rich and famous, snorkel Thunderball Grotto, spot the sunken drug plane, get close to the endangered dragon-like Exuma Island Iguana and of course swim with those irresistible oinks.
What else: Eat a conch salad on the beach at Stocking Island. Pack your fins, masks and goggles and board Elvis’ water taxi from Georgetown harbour. Stocking Island is for the committed and talented chiller. Flop on the beach, watch dolphins, ogle the giant rays, order a pina colada and savour the freshest flavours in a delicately balanced ceviche-style conch salad. As the sun glides toward the horizon, be sure not to miss the last taxi. And maybe I should not mention that there is a famous pig roast on the beach every Sunday.