Pigs may or may not be able to fly but we now know for certain that they can swim.
We were on a day-long speedboat excursion from the new Sandals Emerald Bay Resort on Great Exuma Island, one of 365 remarkable, picturesque cays in the 120-mile Exuma archipelago, just south of Nassau. Our excursion, operated by Island Routes Adventure Tours, was called the “Thunderball Cave Adventure”. That was only part of the story.
Among several unique experiences, we were promised “swimming pigs” but thought this may have been PR exaggeration. We were wrong.
As we approached and stopped in the crystal-clear water about 50 metres from a small, uninhabited island, two large pigs, one cream coloured and the other with dark spots, ambled out of the brush by the shore and moved excitedly towards the vivid turquoise water. Without hesitation they charged forward and began swimming, dog-paddle style (perhaps pig paddle?), snouts in the air, towards our boat and its 14 occupants.
Our captain and guide invited us to jump in the water to greet the pigs. Several did just as the porkers pushed their large snouts towards the boat to accept the food offerings that the crew was now sending their way. By this time four more swimming swine has entered the water and were pumping their hoofs rapidly to get to the boat and their share of the feast. The humans in the water seemed more of a distraction to the pigs and they tended to be ignored…unless they had food to give. It was a remarkable sight. Pigs and passengers cavorting merrily in the warm water. Once the food gave out, the pigs swam leisurely back to shore.
The boat’s captain said the feral pigs have been on the island for decades, perhaps abandoned by an early farmer or possibly there as a result of a shipwreck. Nobody knows for sure. What they do know is that the hungry hogs now associate boats with food and have lost all fear of water. They’re certainly the cleanest pigs around.
“Adventure” was the name of the tour and it didn’t disappoint. We would have happily paid full price for the swimming pigs but there was more excitement to come. Excitement spelled SHARK.
We approached another of the magnificent small Exuma islands, Compass Cay, this one withsome homes, shops and a busy wharf. When we docked we could see many long shapes gliding about in the transparent water below. With hearts beating rapidly, several of us jumped in the water to join the fun as more than a dozen nurse sharks circled and nuzzled searching for handouts. We were warned not to put our hands too close to their mouths (or to pull their tails!) but we were free to stroke their backs. It was an adrenalin releasing adventure no one would forget.
At a third small island, we ran the boat onto the beach and hopped out to join a dozen or more fat iguanas which waddled along the sand looking to snap their jaws at any food offerings. The captain gave us grapes which the reptiles gobbled greedily. We’d seen many iguanas in the Galapagos but these Bahamian beasts were fatter and hungrier.
As if these three stops weren’t enough, we also had a chance to don snorkel gear, duck under a protruding ledge and swim into Thunderball Cave, large as a house, the location of one of the scenes from the James Bond film. With light from above, the cave was very eerie and mysterious with many multi-coloured fish below.
With lunch at the secluded and luxurious Royal Plantation Island and another stop on a thin, barren sandbar, several kilometres long, our adventure lived up to its hype as “the most thrilling and exciting tour offered in the Bahamas.” With visions of pigs and sharks still swimming in our heads, it’s hard to disagree.
All photos © 2010 John and Sandra Nowlan. All Right sReserved.
“Surrounded by Sharks”
“Swimming Pigs – Back toLand”