Staniel Cay, Bahamas

Photo: Staniel Cay Yacht Club
Photo: Staniel Cay Yacht Club

So you’ve been snorkeling with sea turtles and manta rays. You’ve been scuba diving with sharks and every type of fish imaginable. You’ve even jumped in the water to play with dolphins. But have you ever gone swimming with pigs?

Didn’t think so. You planned a trip to the Exumas to relax in the sun, eat conch, and maybe go fishing. Swine weren’t part of your itinerary. Then someone mentioned Pig Beach. You pictured a deserted beach on an uninhabited island. Paradise. You were ready to leave within minutes. But uninhabited seems to only apply to people, as three pigs are now swimming toward the boat.

The three pigs—two pink and one spotted—greet you with squeals and grunts. Their hoofs grab the side of the boat, and suddenly their snouts are within inches of you. You’re afraid they’ll climb aboard and start attacking, when the captain opens a cooler. The squealing gets louder as he grabs a handful of table scraps and throws them to the pigs. The attack has been averted, though the grunting continues.

Photo: Staniel Cay Yacht Club
Photo: Staniel Cay Yacht Club

The Exumas are a group of Bahamian islands that are located south of Nassau. The 365 islands are filled with secluded beaches, carefree sailboats, and a few laid-back resorts. In addition to an island with pigs. No one is sure how they got there, but a fresh water supply and curious tourists keep them well fed. You’re staying on Staniel Cay. The less than two-square-mile island has one small village, boat builders who design racing sloops, and bikes and golf carts as transportation. Plus a yacht club with sunset-facing bungalows.

The Staniel Cay Yacht Club is exactly the low-key type of place you were looking for in the Bahamas. The bungalows are modern but simple, since you won’t be spending much time in them anyway. A picnic lunch is packed in a cooler so you can visit the endangered Bahamian rock iguanas on Allan’s Cay, go spear fishing for lobsters, or swim in the dark Thunderball Grotto, which is only accessible through an underwater cave. Kayaks are ready for you to escape to a truly deserted sandbar. The long dock has plenty of space for visiting boats. A fish cleaning station is ready for your catch of the day.

The pool is usually deserted, since everyone is either on the beach or out on the water. Dinnertime is announced with a ringing bell. Conch—fritters, cracked, or blackened—is always on the menu. The bar hangs flags from where all its worldly guests originated. The pink sunset, promising another perfect day tomorrow, never gets old. And it’s just a short distance from those squealing pigs, who are now—quite unexpectedly—on the list of creatures with which you’ve gone swimming.

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