Bahamas Cruise: 5 Animal Encounters You Must Experience

Be sure to check out animal encounters such as swimming with bigs on your Bahamas cruise.

Calling all animal lovers! Take a walk on the wild side and discover the most memorable excursions that await on your Bahamas cruise — up-close animal encounters. Whether you’re in the market for a unique wildlife photo opportunity or a full hands-on animal experience, a Bahamas cruise vacation gives you the opportunity to meet five of the Caribbean’s most celebrated inhabitants: swimming pigs, nurse sharks, rock iguanas, stingrays, and reef sharks.

Swimming Pigs at Big Major Cay

The world-famous wading pigs made their television debut during the 2016 season of “The Bachelor,” and have been a popular Bahamas cruise attraction ever since. Upon arrival to Pig Beach, which is only accessible by boat, visitors are greeted by a healthy population of jolly piggy-paddling swine.

Keep in mind that the swimming pigs are not shy and they will assume you come with food in hand, so use your best judgment when approaching Pig Beach. Prepare to feed them natural foods, like fruits and vegetables, and avoid things like pop-tarts, hot dogs, and especially alcohol. Be kind, be careful, and be sure to capture a photo with your new four-legged oinking friends before bidding farewell to these animal encounters at Big Major Cay.

Nurse Sharks at Compass Cay

Compass Cay is located in the Exumas, a remote island district in the Bahamas, where the water is remarkably blue and the resident nurse sharks are delightfully friendly. The non-threatening nurse sharks, which have also become a well-known Bahamas cruise attraction, are pets of the local proprietor, Mr. Tibbs, who has been running Compass Cay Marina for almost 20 years.

For those not entirely gung-ho about jumping into shark-infested waters, rest assured — the nurse sharks’ appetites are tended to regularly, and over time they have proven not to mind the company of humans. They even have names like Herman, Hook, Lefty, Scar, Squirt, and Woody. As long as you follow the posted rules and respect the nurse sharks that call Compass Cay home, there is no reason not to get in the water and enjoy these truly one-of-a-kind animal encounters during a Bahamas cruise vacation.

Iguanas at Allen’s Cay

Make your way from your Bahamas cruise to another Exumas island, Allen’s Cay, to meet and greet the locals — a docile group of large scurrying lizards. Sadly, these northern Bahamian rock iguanas are endangered, and Allen’s Cay is just one of two locations where they can be found.

These long-tailed reptiles are typically very active on the island from sunrise to sunset and they are completely unafraid of people. As with the pigs and nurse sharks found on other islands, use common sense when interacting with the iguanas, which can reach up to 24 pounds.

Insider tip: Don’t be alarmed — the iguanas may jump or attempt to crawl on you, providing the ultimate Insta-worthy photo souvenir!  

Stingrays at Great Harbour Cay

Plan a visit to the private island of Stingray City to make friends with the locals — affectionate stingrays in shallow crystal-clear water. Prepare for sensory overload as you enjoy the super smooth texture of the rays’ expansive flowing fins and experience the unique suction feeling you get when feeding them. Rest assured, these southern stingrays have been de-barbed, so this wild animal encounter is 100% safe and 110% worthwhile.

Insider tip: Stingray City is part of the Berry Islands, which are also home to Norwegian’s Great Stirrup Cay and Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay, making it an idyllic day excursion when your cruise ship docks here.

Reef Sharks in Freeport

For those interested in up-close, but not-so-personal animal encounters, glass bottom boat tours out of Freeport allow passengers to remain dry while getting a spectacular view of reef sharks, vibrant coral, and various marine life below. The highlight of this excursion comes during feeding time, when the captain drops a tasty treat into the ocean for the hungry reef sharks.

Whether you are sailing with your spouse, best pals, or whole fam, Bahamas cruises are not complete without at least one of these up-close animal encounters. To capture unforgettable excursion memories of your own, visit for the largest selection of cruise line deals. We can help you book the smart way! We give you our exclusive bonus offers and all qualifying cruise line offers, plus all of the cruise line loyalty program benefits. Book online at or call 800-288-6006 today.

Author: Kaitlyn Nakagoshi

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