Year of the ‘Pig Island:' The One Thing Fyre Fest Got Right

As seen in ‘Fyre’: pigs swimming in the waters off Exuma, Bahamas.
As seen in ‘Fyre’: pigs swimming in the waters off Exuma, Bahamas.
Feb 5, 2019

Attendees have tried to banish all memory of the now-infamous Fyre Festival from their scorched psyches, but recently released—and widely devoured—twin docs on the subject are bringing back each cringe-worthy moment. In fact, some of the only characters to come out of the whole debacle looking good are the Bahamian swimming pigs. Even if you haven’t seen the movies, you know who we mean—those ridiculously adorable swine that made cameos in the festival’s ubiquitous promos alongside the gleaming A-list influencer-slash-models recruited to advertise the event (Bella Hadid and Alessandra Ambrosio among them). Of course, you may also have spotted the pigs in a Bachelor, Kardashian or Pitbull & Ke$ha context.

Now, between Fyre fever and Chinese New Year, we’ve reached peak porcinity—and travelers want a piece of it. (Figuratively, of course—although one version of the swimming pigs’ origin story says they were deposited on their tiny piece of Bahamian archipelago by forward-thinking pirates, who predicted that severe bacon cravings would follow all that pillaging and plundering.)

Whether pirates are to thank—or more likely, as CNN reports, Exumas residents whose land was more desirable for tourism development sans swine—the result is an idyllic islet 82 miles southeast of Nassau that’s inhabited solely by swimming pigs. The spot’s official name is Big Major Cay, but it tends, for obvious reasons, to go by Pig Island or Pig Beach.

And it’s become a hot-ticket item in the Bahamas. So do as I did and get yourself there, whether on an excursion from a nearby resort (plenty offer them; that’s how I got there)—or on an island-hopping boat tour that also stops by an endangered iguana outpost and a nurse shark hangout.

As you’ll gather from tens of thousands of #swimmingwithpigs posts, a lot of people are doing it for the ’gram. And while the Insta-version of the experience is real-ish, don’t expect your time with the pigs to be 100 percent glam. It’s true they’re not afraid of human contact, but they’re still feral. They’re neither soft nor cuddly. The beach is, uh, their bathroom. And if you’ve got food, they’re not above head-butting you for it.

Speaking of, don’t feed them anything stupid. That Fyre documentary image of people pouring beer down a pig’s throat? So not okay. In fact, several pigs died on the island after suspected tourist idiocy, and the government’s now considering tighter regulation of Big Major Cay. But until anything official’s in place, abide by the volunteer task force guidelines and feed your new friends only fresh, healthy foods—and only in the water (where the pigs are less likely to swallow sand).

All that said, swimming with pigs really is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences—and a shared one you’ll be able to reminisce about the next time you bump into Bella, Bachelor Ben—or whichever Kardashian.

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