24 Jun, 2015
No visit to the Exumas is complete without a visit to the famous swimming pigs. 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 the little snouty creatures 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, there was no sign of the pigs for a split second until the shade-giving low scrubby bushes at the back of beach suddenly moved and emitted grunting sounds. The pigs leapt onto their trotters, the grunts gave way to squeals as they hurled themselves headlong down the beach. Leaping 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.
The Exuma Islands are part of the Bahamas and are an hour’s flight from Miami.
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