The Exuma Experience, A True Island Wonder
The Exumas; a stream of 365 islands within the Bahamian archipelago, is a place beyond dreams. Limestone rocks and cays peek just above the surface of the sea, edged with ribbons of white sandy bars and intermingled with various shades of turquoise and cobalt. In this region, your senses will be struck by skies rippled with dynamic cloud formations and sun-bleached chromatics.
Although you’re only 200 miles from Miami, and a mere 30 miles from Nassau, you might as well have arrived on the far side of the world. On land, you won’t find much in the way of life, as the harsh salt environment and scrubby native bush doesn’t lend itself to a diverse ecosystem. But you will find a unique species of protected Bahamian rock iguana, and the rare sighting of the Bahamian hutia, the only land mammal native to the Bahamas. Graceful white tropicbirds sail along the horizon with their distinct trailing tails. Plovers and sandpipers scurry along the beach shoreline, and perhaps you’ll catch sight of a pelican drifting by.
In the sea, you’ll witness a variety of rays, reef sharks, nurse sharks, sea turtles, and coral reefs teeming with colorful fish. But despite the impressive array of sealife and raw natural beauty, a surprising draw to these stunning islands has been taken into the limelight by an unsuspecting farm animal; the lumbering, droopy-eared, pink and black spotted pig.
The presence of these pigs is well known across social media, but there’s an element of see-it-to-believe it that continues to entice visitors to make the trek to the remote and rugged Exuma landscape. In the days before a quick Google search confirmed their existence, mentioning the swimming pigs might as well have been as unbelievable as pigs that could fly. But there they are, contently lounging their day away under a coconut tree on a tropical island.
To visitors, these pigs seem displaced from their assumed country-style elements, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead of mucking in a muddy pond, they wade from a crescent of white sandy beach into the clearest water in the world, perfectly content with their seemingly marooned situation. Happy pigs on a castaway island? It’s no wonder even supermodels are posing with these photogenic creatures.
Visitors often wonder how pigs got to a far-fetched island in the Exumas. There are varying stories. One idea is they were dropped by sailors during the Loyalist days who wished to establish livestock, and these pigs are their legacy. Another story says they escaped from a nearby island. However they got there, they are well-fed and well loved.
The island of Big Major’s Cay, or affectionately known as Pig Cay, is just north of Staniel Cay. Visitors arrive by dinghy or tour boat and if the pigs are ready for a snack, they’ll come plodding along and paddle their way out to your boat for a visit, making this one of the most unique experiences you’ll ever encounter.
If you haven’t met these infamous pigs yet, it’s about time you do.
Article by: Mariah Moyle