All About the Swimming Pigs of Big Major Cay

a bird on the back of a swimming pig

a bird on the back of a swimming pig
Big Major Cay
is one of the many uninhabited islands within The Bahamas. Uninhabited by people, that is. The locals, roughly 20 pigs and piglets, populate the area’s plentiful beaches and routinely cool off by swimming in the turquoise waters. Sounds adorable, right? Well, best of all, they love visitors.

Affectionately nicknamed “Pig Island” or “Pig Beach” by locals, this area is truly unique. It’s not every day you’ll see dolphins, exotic fish, and sea turtles sharing underwater space with barnyard animals. Located in the remote section of The Exumas, an archipelago made up of 365 cays and islands just 35 miles southeast of Nassau, Big Major Cay is unlike any Caribbean tourist destination you’ll see.

Where these swimming pigs came from is an island mystery. Legend has it that a few were left on the beach by sailors who, instead of killing them for food, cast off alone, leaving them to roam. Some even think they swept ashore from a nearby shipwreck. But most prefer to just live in the now.

Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as proper etiquette when it comes to fraternizing with these four-legged eating machines.

Pigs have notoriously poor eyesight, so while the temptation may be overwhelming to run up and cuddle one of them, exercise caution. You may frighten them by being too forward. And, in return, they might innocently mistake your camera or your handbag for lunch. So best to observe from a respectable distance, when possible.

Those interested in feeding the friendly swine are encouraged to do so, however, it’s recommended that swimmers stick to natural, unprocessed food provided by local tour guides. No bread or starchy food products. And visitors should always leave the beach as they found it. Just because pigs live in a mess doesn’t mean they have to. Besides, they will literally eat anything left lying around on the ground. After all, they’re pigs.