In case you were short on things/places to do for your bucket list, we're here to help! You may or may not have heard about the swimming feral pigs somewhere off in the Bahamas; the place & these pigs are really real & truly fantastic. It's a random & arbitrary story as to how we on a whim decided to figure out where the hell this place really was & why we impulsively & with quite a stroke of luck decided to travel 11 hours & 3 airplanes from California to get there, but let me just show you the goods & I'll explain after how to get there!
nassau --> staniel cay
So, if you're like us, the swimming pigs are super compelling & what had urged us to come to Staniel Cay, Bahamas in the first place. But what we found was an island, less than 2 square miles in length, surrounded by 364 other small & mostly uninhabited islands full with culture, clearest bluest waters, crazy beautifully preserved nature, wildlife, adventure, fried conch, local lobster & rum punch!
Firstly, no one stays or lives on Pig Beach. Yup, the 20-or-so feral pigs get their own little island to share with some chickens & goats that hide away in the back... Where we stayed, Staniel Cay, which is a part of the Bahamas District called the Exuma, which is composed of 365 of these little islands, called "Cays." Staniel Cay is the closest (& super coolest) island to stay nearest the Pig Beach. If the Cays were neighborhoods, Pig Beach is literally just around the corner from Staniel Cay, so about 8 minutes by a little 13-17' boat.
approaching the pigs!
incase you're wondering, yes they do...do in the water =)
conch sandwich + lobster salad
Vegetarian Empanada-like snack found at the Nassau Airport; yummm.
never thought I'd say this but we had too much lobster!!!
Staniel Cay is an amazing, serene & gorgeous island with very few establishments but nonetheless great hospitality, food, people & it is quite central to many places you may like to go. All of the Exuma Cays are protected by the Bahamas National Trust, so you won't find big hotels, corporations or even many people on this side of the world & it is awesome. We went for a short 3 days & got super lucky on a cancellation to stay at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, which is comprised of 14 Bungalows mostly on the water. This is one of the more "fairly-priced" accommodations on the island, but more than that, it is one of the most authentic beautiful & luxurious places to stay on the island as well as the rest of the world in our opinion. There are a few other major luxury accommodations & some cottages from VRBO, but everything does book up way in advance & Staniel Cay Yacht Club in particular books up a year in advance. If you don't end up planning your trip a year before, I would just suggest checking the website everyday to see if anything opens up due to a cancellation. & if you don't end up staying at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, you'll definitely end up frequenting their bar & restaurant at the very least because it's quite lively and there simply aint much elsewhere around the cays, socially. Additionally, they have the some of the best food around the cays & they are the only watering hole or anything for that matter that is open late.
our lavender cottage had an attached dock. like whoa!
With a lot of luck, we got to stay in the Lavender Cottage on the water with our own deck for 3 days... In that 3 days we were given our own 13' skiff which we did upgrade to a 17' for the 1st day when we were out on the water all day going somewhat far. We swam with harmless nurse sharks at Compass Cay, got lost, fed & hung out with the pigs on 3 occasions, stood on sandbars in the middle of the ocean, snorkeled Thunderball Grotto, explored Iguana Island which we had all to ourselves, paddle boarded, kayaked, biked around the island, hiked around the cliffs of the thunderous ocean side, stumbled upon gorgeous abandoned homes with amazing views, watched the sunset on a deserted Pirate's Trap Beach, laid out on our dock, played with island kitties, ate everything from Conch to Tuna & Grits to Lobster and drank more rum then we have thus far in our lives. We did sooo much in 3 days, it was wild. I thought 3 days was perfect for this trip, but we're already planning to go back next year so that we can take our boat even farther to explore even more uninhabited islands that we heard from the locals can be even more beautiful! I'm not sure this is possible, but anything's possible...
Oh! & Staniel Cay also has a landing strip accessible by Flamingo or Watermaker's Air, so cool beans! You can obviously access Staniel Cay by boat too, but I don't think it's that much more economical given the amount of time it would take (8-10 hours), so we just didn't look into that....
Our route via Jet Blue was LAX > Fort Lauderdale > Nassau then via Flamingo Air (a seemingly sketchy but so super rad 10-person airplane ride) from Nassau > Staniel Cay. With layovers, it was 11 hours in airports & planes to get there & 10 hours to get back home... It's a trek, but beyond paradise & beauty, there is truly something so special & unique here at Staniel Cay that is definitely worth it all. We also stayed in Nassau for 2 days on the way home & though there is much more "city" life & some beautiful beaches with gorgeous water, I personally would pass on any of the main islands of the Bahamas... It can be a bit pricey on these islands & I just don't think the true wonder of the Bahamas should be experienced anywhere else but in the Exuma Cays. <3
Oh and one last note: Daniel had arranged some flowers, champagne, cake & an in-room massage to surprise me on my actual burrrday when we got to Nassau 4 days into our trip. A big hug to all the locals for contributing towards his planning: Sarah for the flowers/champagne; Deborah for the cake; & Antoinette for the 1.5 hour massage. We truly wish you all the best in your endeavors!
<3 <3 <3