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You can swim with pigs in the Bahamas—and it's so worth the trip

When you think about a trip to the Bahamas, certain details spring to mind: the clear blue ocean, sandy beaches and maybe even a fruity cocktail.

What might not be so obvious, are snorting, swimming pigs.

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On Big Major Cay, an uninhabited island in the Exumas, that is what you'll find. A group of wild but adorable pigs swim freely through the waters, wander the island and rush out to meet boats bringing tourists and snacks.

The pigs are now celebrities, from fans posting on Instagram, visits from celebrities ranging from Donald Trump Jr. to Bella Hadid, and an appearance on ABC's "The Bachelor."

"Pig whisperer" Nadine Umbscheiden snorkels with a pig in the Bahamas
Getty Images | Barcroft
"Pig whisperer" Nadine Umbscheiden snorkels with a pig in the Bahamas

The real story about how the pigs got to the island may be lost to history but local lore abounds: They are rumored to have been "left by a group of sailors, who planned to come back and cook them" or some say they swam "over from a shipwreck nearby," according to the Islands of the Bahamas site. The TODAY Show reports that a man named Wayde Nixon brought the pigs to the island to create a farm in preparation for Y2K in the 90s.

However it happened, the pigs now number near 40, according to the Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources. (Sadly, several pigs unexpectedly died earlier this year, but the Ministry says that the pigs are now doing just fine.)

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In order to get to "Pig Island," as it's affectionately known, you'll first need to fly to the Exumas, a stretch of 365 cays and islands in the Bahamas about 35 miles southeast of Nassau, where stars like Johnny Depp and Faith Hill and Tim McGraw own private islands.

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The Staniel Cay Yacht Club is a popular place to stay (Jimmy Buffett is reportedly a fan of the bar there). Or you can really splurge and do a private island resort, like Fowl Cay, where a stay comes with your own boat to tool around.

Once there, you'll need a boat, which you can charter, or you can take a guided tour. Travel + Leisure recommends 4C's Adventures for a tour and exumavacation.com to rent your own.

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Take as many pictures of the doggy-paddling pigs as you want. But if you choose to swim with them, stay further off shore where you can stand but the pigs can't. And be cautious if baby piglets are around.

–Video by Jon Fazio

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