When we came to The Exumas, the swimming pigs was a goal. Swimming with sharks was an added bonus! Here’s what it’s like to go swimming with sharks and pigs in Exumas – not at the same time.
Just a half day south of Warderick Wells is an adorable island called Compass Cay. The entire island is run by the marina, which rents out private cottages by the week and houses some pretty snazzy boats. We saw a boat with a waterslide!
Compass Cay Marina is also home to some friendly nurse sharks. We had to visit!
Sava was anchored just outside the channel leading to the marina so we took the dinghy ride to check out Compass Cay.
Pay $10 to tie your dinghy at the marina, and you can swim with the nurse sharks too!
We explored the island a little. It’s a very cute set-up, with childish signs pointing to the various cottages, beaches and trails. We visited the pretty beach and walked around but the main goal was the sharks.
This was a planned stop so we were prepared with our masks, snorkels and Go-Pro. The water was so shallow by the dock we didn’t need to swim, but it was more fun that way. Others would just stand and let the sharks come to them. We had the sharks to ourselves and swam in the refreshing water for about 15 minutes.
After one night outside Compass Cay, we moved a little bit south to the comparably much busier Staniel Cay. It has three grocery stores and a liquor store that is also a laundromat! Huge!
I joke, but we needed the grocery stores. I am on an ongoing mission to keep us from getting scurvy like the sailors of old, so am always on the lookout for fresh fruits and veggies. We scored in Staniel! Tomatoes, avocadoes, oranges, mushrooms, we got them. We also could have bought a tiny bottle of Clamato for $9 but financial prudence won.
Staniel Cay is home to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, which has accommodations and a nice bar/restaurant where we spent some time.
At the dock here were a bunch more friendly nurse sharks. So, you don’t have to go to Compass Cay to see them if you don’t have time.
Staniel Cay is very close to a few other islands, and is a cruising hotspot. There were boats in at least three separate anchorages the two nights we spent in Staniel.
One of the islands has a very cool cave, known as the Thunderball Grotto, i.e. Sean Connery as James Bond. After visiting, we watched video of the water scenes from the movie (LOL the 60s scuba gear!) and couldn’t quite identify it as the same place, but it is a really beautiful snorkeling spot. We liked it so much, we snorkeled there both days. We intentionally anchored quite close by so we could go multiple times, ideally during non-peak times.
If you’re not a strong swimmer, don’t go to the grotto during high tide. We went at low tide, and in between tides, and I could feel the current in between. It would not be comfortable. Otherwise, it’s pretty easy, you swim in through the opening, there are tons of fish, and a big cave space with holes for light in the middle.
The other must-see attraction here is Pig Island and the swimming pigs. The pigs are famous! People pay hundreds of dollars on full day trips on crowded power boats from Nassau to visit these hilarious pigs. We took our dinghy around the corner yesterday morning at 8am to be among the first to visit them- for free!
When we arrived at “Pig Beach” we saw some large bulky shapes on the sand. Those were PIGS! They came right out to us, and we were prepared with some cut up carrots to share with them. We probably spent 35 minutes watching and interacting with these pigs, mostly laughing and taking photos. They live on the island, and trundle into the water whenever boats approach because they can count on being fed by dumb humans who find them entertaining!
We had so much fun with these pigs. They come right up, open their mouths up HUGE and let you toss food right in. One pig climbed into our dinghy (we weren’t in it, we were feeding its friends) looking for food!
After we had depleted our supply of carrots, the pigs just stood there placidly watching us. Another boat arrived and one of the bigger pigs swam pretty far out to see what kind of snacks they had.
The little baby pigs came out later and we were sad we didn’t have food left but they were still so cute and playful. I would have loved to bring one back to Sava but doubt Domino would have liked it as much.
Today we moved further south. We are working our way to the big community of Georgetown, Exumas. There we will do laundry, more provisioning, and hopefully get some needed parts to repair some things on the boat. They have supermarkets and restaurants there so it will probably feel very big and crowded to us. We hope to be there by Friday.