The Exuma Islands consists of 365 islands, most of which are uninhabited. There is 1 particular island that stands out from the rest, and that island is called Big Major Cay. Big Major Cay, is inhabited, not by humans, but by feral pigs and 1 rooster instead. We visited the infamous swimming pigs back in April of 2015, and since then I’ve been getting a number of you asking for details about my trip.
Don’t make this mistake: Most people make the mistake of flying into Great Exuma’s capital, Georgetown, thinking that they can simply visit the swimming pigs. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Visiting the swimming pigs is not impossible, but it’s no easy task from Georgetown. Big Major Cay is about 60 miles from Great Exuma. There are companies that do offer all day excursions that will take you there. The only problem with that, is you don’t get to spend much time with the pigs. Keep in mind that you will need to travel 120 miles round trip, to and from Pigs Beach. That’s a really long boat ride! Of course, you’ll make other stops along the way, but majority of the time will be spent traveling and getting to the main attraction of seeing the swimming pigs, and not actually exploring. It is not possible to rent a boat on your own and visit the pigs at your own pace from Georgetown.
What I recommend instead: Flying into Georgetown would not be my first choice. There are limited flights to and from Georgetown. Consider making a connection flight in Nassau and staying on an island closer to Big Major Cay instead. I highly recommend staying in Staniel Cay. Staniel Cay is the closest island to the swimming pigs, and is home to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. There are lodging, boat rentals, and tour guides available at the SCYC. Don’t let the name fool you. Although they do have a formal dining room that requires reservations, they also have a kick-ass bar and grill, right next to the water. It’s completely laid back and not some snooty Yacht Club you would expect when you hear the words: ‘Yacht Club’. Connecting through Nassau will give you options to fly into Black Point, Staniel Cay, or Fowl Cay. All of which are isolated islands that are relatively close to Pigs Beach, and offer both food and lodging. If you’re flying into one of these islands expect to fly on a very tiny plane. The plane we took only seated 9 people.
Things to consider: Back in April of 2015, the airport in Staniel Cay was in such bad conditions that our flight via Flamingo Air had redirected us to Black Point’s airport instead. For convenience, Black Point might have been the better choice, unless you’ve already booked lodging, transportation, and a boat in Staniel Cay, like we did. Before booking anything to Staniel Cay, call and confirm that the airport is suitable for landing. We did not receive any notice from the airline about any of the changes. We only knew that the airport was closed because, Coral from Wheels N Waves, contacted us asking if we needed a water taxis from Black Point airport. I had booked a boat through Wheels N Waves. So, it was a good thing we were able to get in contact with Coral, otherwise we would’ve been lost at the airport. She offered a water taxis to and from Black Point for a small fee. Although we really like Coral, we are not a fan of the Island Time she seemed to be on. From the Black Point airport to the boat dock, it is about a 3 minute drive. There will be people on the island as soon as you land, asking you if you needed rides in their Cadillac Escalades. Don’t be alarmed, this is how the Bahamians make extra money, since there are no Taxis available. For $5 a person it was worth it for us, since we were unsure of where the dock was. When we arrived to the dock, Coral, her husband, and Max (their dog) were already there greeting us. Unfortunately, she was waiting for her son who was arriving on another plane. We waited around for a good 40 minutes before we were finally able to take off to Staniel Cay.
Where to Stay: If you can afford renting Coral’s home called The Serenity, I would highly recommend it. Although it’s a bit expensive at about $450/night, the views from the rooms are spectacular. If Serenity is a bit out of your price range, I also recommend staying at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, that is, if they are not already completely booked. If SCYC isn’t available, I would recommend going onto VRBO or AirBnB to find a place to stay. There are quite a few options considering how small the island is. The only thing I would recommend not doing, is staying at Heidi’s Retreat. Although the place looks great in the photos, on VRBO, Heidi is extremely unresponsive, and her place is falsely advertised. Even though the description says there are TV, Cable, Wi-fi, and telephone available. This is, in fact, a lie, and nothing in the home actually works. Not only do the remotes have no batteries, but both the Wi-fi and telephone line doesn’t work either to be able to call or email the property manager. Stay away from Heidi’s Retreat – you’ve been warned.
How to get around on the island: Luckily for us, Coral knew exactly where Heidi’s retreat was. We rented golf carts from Coral, so when we arrived, Coral took us to Heidi’s. This 2-mile long island didn’t take us long to familiarize ourselves. We took the golf cart and was able to explore the island. The golf cart we rented costed $60/day, again a bit expensive. If you can stay with Coral at Serenity, then this would save you a $60/day cart rental since the Serenity House is where your boat will be docking if you’ve rented a boat from Coral. It’s a pink house overlooking the water at Serenity Reef just across from the Thunderball Grotto. SCYC is also just around the corner, so a cart would not be necessary.
Where to Eat: You only have 3 options. 1.) Staying at the Staniel Cay Yacht club is the most convenient. They have a formal dining room as well as a bar and grill as mentioned before. Because everything is on ‘Island Time’ don’t expect for restaurants to be opened on time, or at all. 2.) If you’re sick of eating at the SCYC try Taste N See. It’s the purple building just before the SCYC. You won’t miss it. The grilled fish is amazing here, and caught fresh daily. You can’t go wrong with the fish there. 3.) Cook for yourself. There are 2 general stores on the island where you can purchase groceries. Although it may sound like a great idea, it is actually a horrible idea! We purchased a few breakfast items like eggs, spinach, garlic butter, bread, and water – the total came out to be $68 USD. We were shocked at the prices, and decided that it was much cheaper to just eat out. A grilled Mahi Mahi was only $14 at Taste N See. We ended up using all of our left over bread to feed the pigs, so nothing was wasted.
Must Sees and Do’s in Exuma Islands: See Top Ten Must See and Do in Exuma, Bahamas.