The Pig Beach, like most other beaches throughout the Bahamas, has beautiful turquoise waters, soft white sandy beaches, and swaying palm trees. The only oddity about this otherwise typical beach destination is the fact that it has many pigs roaming and swimming around.
Pig Beach is an uninhabited island, and it is found in Exuma, the Bahamas. The location acquired this unofficial name because the island has a large colony of feral pigs, which has turned the destination into a tourist attraction. Officially, Pig Beach is known as Big Major Cay.
The island is actually about a mile in length, which is incredible considering that about 7 million visitors go to the location every year. That makes Pig Beach more popular than most islands in the Bahamas.
Swimming With The Pigs In The Bahamas
The pigs have become so popular that they are now famously known as "the swimming pigs." Nevertheless, this is not the only island with swimming pigs in the Bahamas.
However, this island has pigs of all sizes, including piglets. The largest and the oldest pig on the island, fondly known as Big Momma, is one of the most fantastic attractions on Pig Beach.
In total, about sixty feral pigs call this place their home; and although the island is named in their honor, they live with iguanas, stray cats, chickens, and even goats.
Pigs don't generally have the best reputation when it comes to cleanliness, but those living on Pig Beach are changing that. Instead of being covered in mud, they are often happily swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean ocean.
They usually swim when the temperatures are cooler. When it's too hot, they prefer to spend their time on shades.
Some Pigs Have Died Due To Their Encounter With Humans
The pigs on the beach are already used to seeing visitors. In fact, once they see people, they stop swimming and get out of the water hoping to get fed. The animals have also been known to jump into boats looking for food.
Over time, the pigs learn to depend on tourists for food instead of foraging. Recently, however, people were banned from feeding them after tourists fed them alcohol and allegedly caused seven of them to die.
Experts later determined that the pigs died from the large amounts of sand in their stomachs. It is believed that some of the foods visitors leave on the beach might be the reason behind this.
For this reason, current rules dictate that the pigs be fed away from the beach while swimming, as they have always done traditionally. Ideally, the pigs should eat vegetables and fruits, not starchy food that visitors typically give to them.
People have also been seen to ride on top of them in addition to doing other strange things to the pigs, which has been a growing concern.
Fortunately, the pigs are not left to fend for themselves these days. There is now an established system through which the pigs can get fresh water, safe food, and regular medical attention. Visitors can also take part in feeding the pigs, as long as they stick to the rules.
Theories On How The Swines Got To The Pig Beach
While everyone seems to agree that the pigs on the beach are not native to the island, there are many conflicting theories on how they ended up there. For instance, some believe that European explorers might have brought the invasive species to the island.
During their travels, the explorers would apparently leave the livestock on various islands and come back later to eat the animals.
The term "buccaneers" is believed to have originated from this practice. Feral pigs were cooked on a frame known as a "boucan" or "buccal," and the French word was anglicized into "buccaneer," which refers to someone cooking livestock on a spit.
However, it is believed that these people could not always come back for the pigs. The animals, therefore, found ways to survive.
Then some believe that the pigs were put there on the island to boost tourism. Those who support this theory claim that the pigs lack tusks and straight tails associated with wild pigs, suggesting they have always been domestic pigs.
According to a different theory, a shipwreck happened close to the island, and the surviving animals swam to the island and inhabited it.
One of the most popular theories about their origin claims that the pigs were initially located in Staniel City, and they were moved to Big Major Cay so that they could take their offensive smells with them. The villagers would then travel to the island with food for the pigs.
Whatever the case might be, Pig Beach has grown incredibly popular with tourists to the Bahamas.
The only requirement for people to visit the beach is to behave themselves, and not like the pigs. However, generally speaking, the pigs lead an easy life, and many visitors consider them cute friends during their visit to the island.
Today, Pig Beach Is Very Popular With Tourists
Today, both locals and tourists call the island Pig Beach. The island remains uninhabited by humans. However, given the island's tourist potential, many tour operators offer private and group trips to Pig Beach.
Given the uniqueness of this destination, a visit to the Pig Beach has become a bucket list activity, especially for people visiting the Bahamas. Typically, people visit the beach when touring Staniel Cay, from where the trip takes about fifteen minutes.
However, visiting Pig Beach is not without its challenges. Some people have claimed that the pigs have bitten them during their visits. That said, this is not supposed to happen if the guests follow the right etiquette.
For instance, showing the pigs empty hands that have no food can result in bites. Feeding pigs by hand is also discouraged, as the pigs are clumsy eaters and might therefore end up biting the hand that's feeding them, albeit unintentionally.
The Pig Beach has been featured on The Bachelor television show. A lot of people also post about it on Instagram. However, pigs are not the attraction at the beach. Visitors also get a chance to see turtles, stingrays, reef sharks, and even pufferfish.