There are a few running themes here in the Bahamas that seem to repeat themselves at almost every island. Which is why so many people love the Bahamas, you can visit any of the islands and almost be guaranteed: beautiful water, snorkeling, diving, caves, blue holes, basket weaving, fishing, sites of movies scenes, and islands owned by famous people.
But, there are some stand out attractions that set a few destinations apart from the others. Staniel Cay in the Exuma chain of islands is one of those places. If you’ve heard of it then you probably know the reason for our visit and if you haven’t…well, then perhaps the swimming pigs aren’t as famous as we thought.
It’s 2017 and it seems the entire world knows about the famous swimming pigs in the Bahamas. I searched YouTube for Exuma Bahamas Swimming Pigs and found 22,900 results with collectively (I’m totally guessing here) a few billion views. So yea, these pigs are famous.
Sadly, the day we arrived these pigs in paradise had endured a tragedy that has now turned scandal. Internet out here on the water is limited, we don’t watch TV and therefore we don’t get to check the news often. It wasn’t until several days after we left Pig Beach that we heard the news.
Curiouser and curiouser! Right!?!
It’s a real bummer the pig drama went down, otherwise this post would mostly be about Thunderball Grotto. For us, the pigs weren’t all that exciting but then again we’re from Texas and have seen pigs a million times. The Grotto on the other hand is an absolute natural attraction. If it wasn’t so chilly we could’ve spent hours swimming around with the fish and popping in and out of the holes.
The James Bond movie Thunderball (Sean Connery) was filmed here as well as Never Say Never Again, Splash (Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah) and Into the Blue (Jessica Alba and Paul Walker).
It’s times like these that I wish we had a proper underwater housing for our ‘big’ Sony camera. I could have played with the shadows and light for hours capturing stunning images. Even still I think our little action cam did a decent job, especially considering the low light.
What surprised us is we were the only ones there. It is a popular tourist attraction so I guess we were lucky slack tide was early and the weather wasn’t perfect.
The island and town of Staniel Cay it’s super basic. Not much to do, see or buy here. We walked around the entire island to stretch our legs, thoroughly exploring the north one day and the south another afternoon. There is an outlandish amount of wealth on the island in the form of lush vacation homes, mega yachts and private airplanes. There seems to be a huge disconnect between the yacht club, private neighborhoods, and the local community. We’ve seen it often here in the Bahamas but the difference between poverty and wealth hits pretty hard when walking around the neighborhoods of the island. The locals nevertheless are kind, helpful and genuine people. It’s hard not to fall in love with the Bahamian people.
I’m not going to get on my pedestal and preach about Bahamian politics or animal rights, but I can tell you something feels fishy with the way things were handled with the pigs. We were hoping the story would unfold completely by the time we launched this video, but sadly there’s just as many questions as the day we visited.
If you want to read and make your own conclusions here are two interesting articles published in the Bahamas news outlet Tribune 242 website:
- This article was written by the same lady who initially threw the “silly sailors” under the bus as I mentioned in the video tribune242.com/news/2017/mar/06/insight-government-making-pigs-ear-out-treatment-a/
- This article goes a little deep into government conspiracy and cover up tribune242.com/news/2017/mar/29/tough-call-dead-pigs-and-suffering-horses-result-p/
As for animal rights and responsible tourism it’s always been a personal challenge for us to know what is okay and what does harm. Riding an elephant would be amazing, walking a tiger on a leash is no doubt a thrill and swimming with a dolphin sounds fabulous. But it’s been shown that many of these animal attractions are abusive and detrimental to the animals.
Here’s the website we found while searching out more info for our personal knowledge:
- What Can We Do? I think this article does a wonderful job of sharing ways for compassionate animal travel (BTW it is a UK site so when they say ‘holiday’ they don’t mean Christmas): https://www.worldanimalprotection.org.uk/protect-animals/our-guide-to-animal-friendly-travel
- What To Avoid. In this article, they lay out the most cruel forms of wildlife attractions around the world: https://www.worldanimalprotection.org/wildlife-not-entertainers/worlds-cruellest-attractions
We came to see what all the fuss was about with “the famous swimming pigs”. I believe we’ve left with a better understanding of ourselves along with the destinations and entertainment that best fulfill our curiosities. We want to see and experience the world but not at an expense to the world. Being a responsible and respectful human and traveler requires more than good intentions. We’re obviously going to have to increase our research to make sure we are doing our part along the way.
To see our full map with interactive pins, click here: gonewiththewynns.com/map
Dates: February 17-19, 2017
Nautical Miles Sailed: 27
Anchorage: Dropped the hook at Big Major Cay which is where pig beach is. The anchorage can be found easily on Active Captain with additional info and reviews.
Cell & WiFi: Our cell phone signal/data was good here.
Gear Used In This Video
- iPad Pro using Garmin Bluecharts App (and Active Captain): http://amzn.to/2d9Oopf
- Iridium Go and Predict Wind App for weather and communications: bit.ly/PredictWindIridium
- Portable Floating VHF w/GPS: http://amzn.to/2hwEoK7
- Dinghy: gonewiththewynns.com/dinghy-swap-ab-highfield
- Snorkle/Dive Gear
Cameras Used to Capture This Video
- Sony A7ii: http://bit.ly/a7rii-sony
- Sony Zoom Mic: http://www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/sony-gun-zoom-microphone-black
- Sony 24 – 70mm f4 lens: http://bit.ly/2470-zeiss
- Sony Action Cam: http://bit.ly/sony-as300
- All of our up to date photo and editing gear: gonewiththewynns.com/best-travel-camera-video-photography
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