The Original Swimming Pigs Tour
Pigs can’t fly but they sure can swim; join us as we embark on this magical Swimming Pigs Tour adventure! Swim with friendly sharks at compass cay, feed the swimming pigs and get a close look at the endangered Bahamian Rock Iguanas all while cruising in the pristine waters of the Exuma Cays.
The Swimming Pigs
In the middle of paradise, with billionaires and celebrities for neighbors, is an island populated only by swimming pigs. For decades, this archipelago of 365 islands would remain largely unknown to the world. It would not be a ruthless pirate, pioneering loyalists, a notorious drug kingpin, or the infamous Fyre Festival that would unveil Exuma to the world, but rather the most unlikely of creatures. Appearing in magazines, videos, newspapers, commercials, TV shows, and countless selfies, the Swimming Pigs of Exuma, in the Bahamas, have become a bucket-list sensation and have been named one of the marvels of the universe.
Big Major Cay, is a daydream when you meet the inhabitants: loud, snorting pigs paddling out to greet you like a jolly bunch of golden retrievers rushing to the door when their owner finally gets home from a long day of work.
The locals at Big Major’s “Pig Beach” are transplants rather than native islanders, just like many of the people you’ll meet in the area. And though they’ve clearly taken to their tropical digs and rising popularity — spurred in part by a dramatic appearance on “The Bachelor” and more than a few well-liked Instagram posts — the rewards of fame are free food. Most tours to the island start at 9 a.m. It’s best to go early in the morning for the most uninterrupted attention from the pigs. By late afternoon, you’ll usually find them tuckered out with full bellies, and they’re more likely to lounge in the sand than to paddle through the water with you.
Swim with Sharks
Does swimming with the sharks sound dangerous? This part of the Swimming Pigs Tour can be loads of fun! Nurse sharks, the bottom-dwelling sharks that live in warm, shallow waters of the Bahamas are a friendly bunch. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get up close at Compass Cay just north of Staniel Cay
The nurse sharks are – for the most part – harmless to swimmers and snorkelers.
Nurse sharks may have the ominous dorsal fin of a predator but they are much more easygoing than your average shark. These sharks are greyish-brown in appearance, reach 7.5 to 9.75 feet long, and weigh up to 300 pounds! Young nurse sharks can be identified by their spots. Nurse sharks feed on the fish, squid, and crabs of shallow ocean floors, and use their strong jaws to crush and eat shellfish, and even coral.
Is it safe to swim with nurse sharks?
A human fear of sharks is not without reason, but it just so happens that nurse sharks are laid-back and mostly harmless. That is why many divers and snorkelers visit the Bahamas to swim with sharks. Nurse sharks that live near marinas are fed by local fisherman and have grown accustomed to the presence of humans. This makes them much more friendly. Having your own day tour with Staniel Cay Adventures allows you to take advantage of every opportunity to swim with the nurse sharks.
The Bahamian Rock Iguanas
The Exuma Island Iguana is a critically endangered subspecies of northern Bahamian rock iguana that is found on the Exuma island chain in the Bahamas with a wild population of 1,300 animals, it is listed on the IUCN Red List. Iguanas of Bitter Guana Cay is a must stop to visit with amazing coral rock formations hand over a picture perfect little sandy beach. The Exuma Island iguana is the smallest of the three subspecies of C. cychlura. It attains a total length of close to 3.3 ft. Its coloration is dark-gray to black, with white or orange tinged scales on the head and snout depending upon which cay the iguana is from. As soon as you step on Bitter Guana Cay, you will notice the island is filled with iguanas. These iguanas are endangered species, with the population being less than 5,000.
If you just pass by, you will not notice the dozen of iguanas on the island; they won’t move or scurry or even blink. When you pull up in the boat and hit the sandy beach they will run out to greet to you like a long lost friend. They hang around like puppy dogs, basking in the sun & playing with the visitors. Just like the other islands in The Exumas that are inhabited by wildlife, these are accustomed to people visiting them. As you walk the beach, you will notice some stay in hiding; they are super friendly, although they will only let you get so close.
Due to their isolation to the rest of the world, the iguanas are indigenous to this island & are not found anywhere else. This subspecies is found on at least seven small cays throughout the central and southern Exuma island chain of the Bahamas: Bitter Guana Cay, Gaulin Cay, White Bay Cay, Noddy Cay, North Adderly Cay, Leaf Cay, and Guana Cay. The entire population on Leaf Cay was translocated to Pasture Cay in 2002.The Exuma Island iguana utilizes a variety of habitats from sandy beaches and xeric limestone devoid of vegetation to dry forests. The iguanas use limestone crevices or sand burrows for retreats at night and in adverse weather conditions The Exuma Island iguana, like most Cyclura species is primarily herbivorous, consuming leaves, flowers, berries, and fruits from over 100 plant species. Favored food plants include seaside rock shrub , darling plum , pride of big pine , joewood , black torch , seagrape silver thatch palm, white stopper , bay cedar , and the rotting fruit of seven-year apple . The Exuma Island iguana is also an important means of distributing these seeds to new areas (particularly when females migrate to their nesting areas) and, as the largest native herbivores of their island’s ecosystem, they are essential for maintaining the balance between climate and vegetation. The longevity record in captivity for an Exuma Island iguana is twenty-three years, six months.
The iguanas live in large social colonies with a lack of social structure; typically not aggressive towards each other. They bask in the sun, relax & greet with visitors to their own private island.
Cue the martinis, bombshells in bikinis, and MI6 secret weapons. Thunderball Grotto, an underwater cave that’s been featured in two James Bond movies, also happens to be one of the most spectacular places to snorkel in the Bahamas.
A short boat ride from the northwest coast of Staniel Cay in the Exumas, Thunderball Grotto has played host to several silver screen gems, including Bond flicks Thunderball (1965) and Never Say Never Again (1983), Splash (yes, the one where Daryl Hannah plays a mermaid), and Into the Blue, starring Jessica Alba.
In Thunderball, Sean Connery’s James Bond heads to the Bahamas to recover two nuclear warheads stolen by global terrorist organization SPECTRE.
Staniel Cay Yacht Club
Located along the turquoise waters of the Exuma Cays, the dock-side bar at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, which was recently awarded the #2 spot on 10best for the top Caribbean Beach Bars, pours traditional island cocktails to the sounds in a lively atmosphere. The deck offers a front row seat for watching yachts and boats pull in and out of one of the exuma cays hottest bars! Eat locally caught fish and lobster or enjoy tasty tacos, at the yacht club they have a meal for everyone’s palate.
Activities Include: Visit and feed the original Swimming Pigs, Swim with sharks at Compass Cay, Play on pipe creek sandbar, visit the Endangered Bahamian Rock Iguanas, Snorkel Thunderball Grotto, and Enjoy lunch at the world famous Staniel Cay Yacht Club