Pig Paddling

By Diana Ballon

Swimming with dolphins is exotic. But swimming with pigs?

If it wasn’t for the You-tube videos we found online before leaving for Bahamas, it would have been hard to imagine snorting pigs diving through the turquoise waters of the Caribbean or sunbathing on a beach.

But that’s exactly what we saw on a recent daylong boat trip of the Exumas (a chain of 365 islands in what is referred to as the Out Islands of the Bahamas) with Four C’s Adventures. After several hours with Capt. Smiley at the helm, we laid anchor in front of Big Major Cay to await the pigs’ arrival. Within minutes, five feral pigs – some brown with black spots, some white—left the comfort of the island’s beach and ambled into the water. Fresh-smelling from their frequent bathing, and on the hunt for juicy food scraps, the pigs swam quietly in semi-circles around the boat as we waded up to them. My intrepid seven-year-old threw them bits of bread and tentatively patted their coarse hairy backs while I watched from a slight distance, laughing, but happy not to touch them.

According to local snorkelling and fishing guide Wayde Nixon, he brought five pigs to Big Major Cay in 1991 during the Gulf War, with plans to supply the locals with fresh pork in the event of import shortages from the U.S.

Over 20 years later, you can still find half a dozen pigs roaming the beach, and many more hidden in the bush. While they are a major tourist draw, there’s no need to worry about crowds. In the Exuma Cays, you are surrounded by desert islands, and many shades of blue. exumawatertours.com