The Bahamas, which is made up of a total of 600 islands, is one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure of exploring. Everything about the Bahamas screams perfection, whether it is the crystal clear (but really it is crystal clear) water, palm trees on every corner, and beautiful white sand, it is just an all around perfect destination for any type of traveler! Out of the 600 total islands, 365 are a chain of islands called the Exuma Cays. The Exuma Cays are typically known for their secluded vibe, aquamarine water, and home to some of the worlds biggest celebrities! One of which are known as the famous swimming pigs in Big Major Cay!
Nassau is the Capital city of the Bahamas and is located on New Providence Island. It is also the most populated city and island in the whole chain of the Bahamas. Nassau is also populated with the most resorts in the Bahamas ranging from Paradise Island to the Baha Mar area to other beach front properties. Check out my post here about where you should stay in Nassau. Nassau is also not your typical capital city in that it is super colorful! We did not have the opportunity to walk around the town center, but we did drive through it and I was pleasantly surprised with all of the pink, blue, yellow, orange, and green buildings. I almost wanted to tell our cab driver to pull over so that I could swing a few photos for Instagram, but we were cutting it close for our tour and the swimming pigs win over colorful buildings! Anyway, if you do have some spare time while in Nassau and get bored of lounging by the most beautiful turquoise blue water than walk around the town center to get a more authentic Bahamian feel!
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Ok now back to the day trip to see the infamous swimming pigs, iguanas, and nurse sharks in none other than the beautiful Exuma Cays! Prior to our trip and flight to Nassau, I vigorously searched and searched for the right tour from Nassau. I almost gave up at one point because I could not find very many tour companies that did a day trip from Nassau to the Exuma Cays to see the pigs! Luckily, I came upon Hidden Beaches Tours during my extensive research on how I can possibly get to these pigs and other wildlife! Hidden Beaches Tours had all of the stops that we wanted to fully experience the Exuma Cays! Continue reading below to see what our itinerary included from our day trip from Nassau to the Exuma Cays!
Our morning started off at 830 at the Margaritaville ferry dock in Paradise Island. We left our hotel around 8:10 and arrived within 15 minutes to the ferry dock. We checked in, got our wrist bands, and boarded one of the speed boats for our fun adventure in the sun! A big plus with the Hidden Beaches Tours is that drinks, alcohol included, is included in your booking rate. There is also an included lunch at Staniel Cay as part of the tour. Ok now lets start with the first stop of our tour, feeding the rock iguanas at Allen Cay.
Our first stop at Allen Cay, which took probably about an hour and a half boat ride from Nassau, was to feed the rock iguanas! The rock iguanas are actually listed as an endangered species and the Bahamian government does everything they can to protect these little (or some rather large iguanas). Honestly though the first thought in my mind when we arrived at Allen Cay was OMG this water is so clear! I am pretty sure I was the first one off of the boat haha! Anyway back to the iguanas. Initially I was pretty afraid of the iguanas, so it took me several minutes to warm up to them. I am naturally a cautious person who is afraid of most reptiles (probably all reptiles), so feeding an iguana was a huge feat for me. These iguanas really only want your food and will run away once they get it. It was such a cool opportunity and I totally would do it again if I had the chance!
Next stop is the moment I have been waiting for so long, the Big Major Cay swimming pigs! We set sail from Allen Cay to Big Major Cay in full excitement and of course a few cocktails, all while enjoying this paradise that was all around us. It took about 2 hours to get to Big Major Cay, but it was all worth it for those piggies!
As soon as we arrived, I noticed there were several other tours and boats along the shore with the beach packed with people. I got off of the boat as soon as I could and made my way to shore to try and get some photos of these very interesting pigs. Prior to getting off of the boat, our tour guide mentioned that the pigs love the food so much that if your back is turned to them they may bite your butt. I immediately panicked deep down but decided I was not going to let that stop me.
My husband and I walked up to the shore from the boat and with carrots and bread in our hands tried to lure the pigs into the water. Another interesting fact about these pigs is that in the recent years they have gotten used to these crowds of people feeding them almost daily. Since they know they will get food one way or another, they have become more lazy and do not swim out for food. So in all reality we literally had to lure them to the water, and at times it was not an easy task. There is one specific pig called “big mama” that is definitely one of the biggest pigs on the island and the oldest who has been known to bite people and get a little aggressive. Naturally I avoided big mama as much as I could.
Regardless of my irrational fears, it was still one of the best experiences I have ever had! Seeing the pigs and even piglets walking around, swimming, taking our food was truly priceless. There are several little piglets hiding in the shade, I fell in love with them and wanted to smuggle a few home. We spent about an hour feeding these pigs, swimming with them, and capture/making some of the best memories! If you ask me, this experience is totally worth it in every way! I plan to do it again one day, and hopefully this time around I will be more relaxed from the beginning.
Once we were done with pigs and piglet, we made our way to Staniel Cay to have lunch at the local marina. After a delicious lunch and some more drinks, we boarded our speed boat again to go see the nurse sharks at Compass Cay.
So who wants to swim with sharks? This girl did for sure! I planned all of my shots with the nurse sharks in my mind before arrival, I gave myself a pep talk and promised I would swim with them when I got there. We arrived to Compass Cay from Staniel Cay within an hour or less. I hopped off of the boat, walked along the boardwalk to the site of the nurse sharks. There were already people in the water petting the sharks and attempting to get those floating in the water shots with the sharks around them. I took off my shoes, left my camera with my husband, climbed down into the water and very slowly made my way to the nurse sharks.
I was definitely nervous once I actually got into the water and realized how big these harmless sharks were. I immediately had flashbacks of shark week on the Discovery channel. I inched my way close to the sharks all while mentally telling myself that I can do this. I made it by the sharks and realized that I just could not get comfortable, so no floating in the water shots for me! Meanwhile, since I was a total chicken, my husband very gracefully and freely swam with the sharks like it was no big deal!
Afraid or not, seeing these nurse sharks this close up and being in the same water as them was enough for me. It was truly an awesome experience, because who else can say they were in the water with sharks?? Even if they do have smaller teeth and are bottom feeders! After our little shark adventure, we boarded the speed boat again for a special surprise before we made our way back to Nassau.
Our last stop of our tour was one of my favorite stops of the day. We stopped at one of the Exuma Cays that is completely uninhabited. It is a perfect white sand island with water so clear that if I did not know any better I would think it was drinkable! The water had such a beautiful light aquamarine tint that glistened so perfectly in the sun. We spent about 30 minutes on this island swimming, diving, flipping our hair in the water (mostly me flipping my hair in the water), and taking in the surreal tropical vibes around us. If I could be shipwrecked on one island it would totally be this one, and I would not want any help leaving either. After our fun in the sun adventure, we hopped back on board, turned up the music and made our way back to Nassau.
To sum it all up, if you are in Nassau do not miss the opportunity for a day trip like this. The good news about these day trips is that you do not have to stay in the Exuma Cays to experience all of this wonder! It was everything and more that I could have ever dreamed of and If I had the opportunity to experience it all over again (maybe with a little less fear this time), I would in a heart beat!
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