The swimming feral pigs of the Exumas, Bahamas are one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen! Just looking at them makes me laugh. It’s just so incongruous….swimming pigs in the ocean! Enjoy!
I recently returned from a lovely vacation in the Exumas, an archipelago of 365 small islands which are 35 miles southeast of Nassau. Most of these islands, or Cays (pronounced “keys”) have to be accessed by boat. You could visit one island a day for a year and never get tired of the pristine beaches and coral reefs. I chose to explore from Great Exuma, the largest of the islands.
There are many choices of hotels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, but I chose the Grand Isle Resort and Spa, a private and luxurious villa community with all of the benefits of a 5 star resort. Upon arrival, we were greeted at the gate by a very friendly member of the staff. Checking in was a smooth and quick process, and we were soon unpacked and on the beach! The aqua blue of the water has to be seen to be believed! Our week sped by, and we enjoyed every moment we spent at the Grand Isle. Here is why:
1. The Villas are beautiful, and tastefully appointed. There are several different floor plans, from 1 bedroom to 3 bedrooms. The villas are owned by individuals, and many of them give the Grand Isle permission to lease their villas when they are not in residence. I enjoyed our floor plan, 2 bedrooms on the ground floor, and upstairs a chef’s kitchen, dining room, living room, powder bath, and a desk. Free wifi, of course.
2. Grand Isle’s access to pool and beach is excellent. The infinity edge pool is heated, so even when the cool wind blew in, swimming was warm and inviting. The beach was perfect for walking, sunning, and playing. On a windy day we watched one of the guests Windsurf. Towels and water sports gear are available poolside. Massages are also offered at the pool, overlooking the aqua seas.
3. The restaurant, the Palapa Grill, served healthy, delicious and well presented, meals. We enjoyed the Hummus Duo almost every night as an appetizer. Regular Hummus and Sweet Potato Hummus were served with toasty pita bread. I ate fish nightly, and everything was very tasty. The restaurant service was also exceptional, but maybe that is because my cousin accidentally gave a 20% tip on a bill which already had a gratuity on it! I’m sure that is not the reason, but it was an amusing incident.
4. Golf Carts! If you choose to utilize it, each villa has it’s own golf cart. The golf course is beautiful, with fabulous views of the ocean. I do not golf, but I loved driving the golf cart. It was so much fun, touring the golf course and the property on the left hand side of the paths (yes, the Bahamas drive on the left). I’m sure the golfers in your group would love the course and the close access. Many villas overlook the course and beautiful Emerald Bay.
5. The Concierge Service was one of the best I have ever experienced. They were on top of everything. All of our tours (the famous swimming pigs of the Exumas with Exuma Water Sports!) were handled exceptionally well, and professionally. I never saw any member of the staff without a smile or a helpful word. Every request was handled quickly and thoroughly. They were tremendous!
The Grand Isle also has a spa and fitness room. I did not get a chance to use either, I was busy snorkeling, swimming with the famous Exuma pigs, hanging out on Stocking Island with the Stingrays at the Chat and Chill…). It is a relaxing, resort community, and a beautiful one at that, where you are taken care of,and given prompt attention with a smile. I won’t hesitate to head back to the Exumas, and I will stay again at the Grand Isle Resort and Spa. The experience was a true delight!
These swimming pigs are causing a sensation, and it is easy to see why! PIGS are not supposed to be swimming in the ocean…are they? Have YOU ever seen such a thing? Or heard about it? A couple of months ago I saw a video on youtube with the swimming pigs of the Exumas, and I was so amazed (and laughing so hard) I decided I had to come and see this for myself! It must have been meant, because a few weeks later I had the opportunity to come to the Exumas (outer islands of the Bahamas). I checked to see where these swimming pigs were, and when I found out they were in the Exumas, I booked a ticket!
On arrival, I asked how I could get to the pigs. It turns out there are unbelievable animal encounters here in the Exumas! I booked with Exuma Water Sports, not just to see the pigs, but to see huge Iguanas (and feed them!), swim with nurse sharks, and snorkel Thunderball Grotto (where 007 movies Thunderball and Never say Never were filmed). There are over 300 cays (pronounced keys), small islands, throughout the Exumas. The only way to really check it out is to do it by boat. In comes Exuma Water Sports, owned by Ray and Phillipa Lightbourn. The Lightbourn family has been in the Bahamas since 1735, and it doesn’t appear that they plan to go anywhere! Be glad, because their tours are top notch. I went the first day for a full day tour on board the 007 by myself as my cousin, who planned to go with me, was ill. What an incredible day! Great people, it was lovely to chat with Ray and his son, Justin, and the highlights were so incredible I don’t want to rush them all into one blog. SO. Pigs first! I already published a photo blog of the bigger piggies here, so please check them out. These are the pictures of the second day, when we did the half day tour!
As I understand it, one of the cays had a pig farm on it, and the pig farmer was not only tired of farming, but tired of complaints about the odor of his pig farm. I cannot remember if he just turned them loose, or if he relocated them (I think the latter because they seem to have their own island), but when boats would stop to look at them, they began to swim out to the boats for food! And so, the swimming pigs of Exuma were born.
Exuma Water Sports sees those pigs on their full day tour, but they are too far for half day tours. So what did they do? They brought their own pigs to a small cay and taught them to swim and come for food! They are now a year and a half old, and cute as they can be. I was lucky enough to see both sets of piggies, I loved the full tour so much, I took my cousin back for the half day tour!
I am rather accident prone, and Exuma Water Sports helped me stay on my feet instead of tripping around the boat, they figured out the first day that falling on flat surfaces seems to be quite natural for me…though I did fall off the boat ladder once, too. Just call me Grace.
Swimming pigs need to be on your bucket list, folks! Want to see them in action? Check them out on YouTube!
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What a day in the beautiful Exumas! I went out on a full day tour with Exuma Water Sports, in the Exumas (Bahamas) and part of the tour? Swimming feral pigs! We are not talking about your average farm pig…we are talking huge! And yes, they are hungry! I will post longer blogs about this wonderful trip, but for now, you just have to see these pigs! Our guide, Ray, said, “this is swimming with dolphins for rednecks”! Hilarious!
Thank you, Ray, Justin and Phillipa (she makes an unbelievable rum cake!) of Exuma Water Sports for an absolutely amazing day!
Well, I must say this trip has gotten off to an interesting start! Here I am, in the Great Exumas, Bahamas, and as far as diving goes, it has been a true fiasco.
I bought new gear for this trip, a new dive computer and transmitter, new regulator and an alternate breather so I don’t have to wear an Octopus (an extra mouthpiece for breathing). My alternate air source has a breathing piece attached to my inflater hose, doing away with the bothersome Octopus. So…it came time to dive yesterday, and of course, none of it worked except my regulator. The computer would not pair, the transmitter would not even turn on! The alternate breathing/inflater hose leaked from the get go. The boat we were on basically doesn’t carry much in the way of extra gear, so guess who didn’t get to dive? Yep. Me! THAT is a first. I did try, and while trying to get my inflater hose to work, my brand new snorkel came off my mask so it is probably in the Turks and Caicos by now (it was rough out there). My cousin did dive, and the visibility was lousy so she lost the dive master and had to come up. It was rough enough out there that we were both a bit seasick, too!
Today, I tried it again, with a rental BCD, rental gauge, a new snorkel, and of course, the transmitter would still not turn on. At least I was able to dive. One certainly cannot judge a place on two dives, but the dives were pretty marginal. Of course, I am spoiled by diving Cozumel so very often…it is crystal clear with LOTS of marine creatures (not the case here, so far). Cozumel often has 100+ feet of visibility. I would say it was about 50 today, not bad at all. Yesterday my cousin said it was around 30 or less. I anticipated two nice dives…and then…my camera housing malfunctioned. The buttons were sticking, the camera had to be turned off in order to stop it taking photos, or it would get stuck in the wrong mode. Really, what can you do but laugh? Talk about Murphy’s Law! Best to get any issues with equipment out of the way before diving Thailand and Myanmar in March, though!
Exuma is a lovely island though…beautiful water color! And, on the bright side, I drove on the left side of the road without killing us. I also have a golf cart I can zoom around in, which is fun, especially since the views from the golf course are terrific. We are staying in a villa, gorgeous place, but the problem? They are running out of food at the restaurant! Really?You have no fish to eat, here in the Bahamas? Pretty amazing. Oh, and no pizza, and no buns. The pickings get slimmer every day. Time to go in search of other dining experiences! I may have to ask friends to send food, ha ha.
Tomorrow I plan to tour the grounds again in the morning (an excuse to tool around in the golf cart, on the left side of the paths) and take some photos, perhaps snorkel a bit, and tomorrow afternoon we are diving my first blue hole! So, I’m going to see if I can fix my camera housing, and then to bed. Ciao! And keep warm!
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