Foam waves crash on white sand beaches which stretch down miles of crystal clear blue water, waterslides run through gigantic shark-filled aquariums, stingrays float under right under snorkelers - as soon as you arrive in Nassau, Bahamas, you are going to start a list of have-to-do activities. You'll want to log a few days relaxing on the beach and a taste of the local food of course, but the one thing you don't want to miss is exploring the network of 700 amazing islands and cays that make up the Bahamas. The secrets revealed as you tour through Exuma show what makes this area unlike any other on the face of the planet.
The gateway to this adventure is just across the bridge from Paradise Island at Bay Street Marina where Harbour Safaris pushes off most mornings for their day-long excursions. The tour itself is adventure focused, with touches of leisure.
the best news is, If you are looking for more than one day of this amazing experience, they are hiring a first mate!
The first mate's job is to accommodate the captain and guests throughout the day, going through safety before heading out onto the open ocean, guiding guests as they experience this once in a lifetime experience. Whether you'd like to go on the tour as a guest or staff, your morning begins as the tranquil distance of the sea turns into chopping waves, which the boats make easy work of, only occasionally sending up a spritz of Bahamian mist. Guests and the crew skirt across the open waters for five hours broken up into hour or so long sections which fly by to the views of sand bars, palm tree beaches, historical sites such as Pablo Escobar's secret landing strip and celebrity getaways like those of Johnny Depp's personal island. The crew shares facts on the passing features, stresses care for the habitat around them, and even goes so far as to hire a vet to ensure the pigs you swim with stay healthy and happy!
The first stop of the day is at an iguana beach where the lizards come out in droves soon after the boats reach shore. Guests with painted toes are warned to keep them buried in sand as the curious iguanas have terrible vision and might mistake them for a piece of fruit. There's plenty of time to explore and snap some photos of your new reptilian friends. The tour continues as the captain starts weaving between small islands for an amazing ride. The next stop is at an exceptionally beautiful beach, but the focus shifts from the isolated stretch of sand as soon as the pigs run out into the water to greet the boats. The friendly swines range in size from that of a medium sized dog to massive coffee-table-sized hogs. Harbor Safaris provides carrots, and you get 45 minutes to an hour to swim, take pictures, and play with the pigs. The pigs themselves are quite smart and love spending time visiting with their favorite Harbor Safari friends. Some will even do a few tricks and will come into the water when they get hot and need a dip (or follow if you have a carrot with you). They are playful and hungry and mostly tolerant of everyone walking on their beach, but the larger ones will roughhouse with each other. The smallest piglets hide in the brush, but will run out and join you in the ocean with the promise of a snack!
After the pigs see you off, it's straight to lunch at a bungalow style restaurant right next to the water. After a solid lunch of conch, you'll have some time to walk the docks or, if you're adventurous, interact with the nurse sharks and stingrays exploring next to the waterfront. If you're feeling like a more relaxing experience, there are plenty of docks to walk around on this heavenly island. On the way back to Nassau the crew keeps their eyes open for a sandbar for a quick stop. Luckily, one popped up for us, and we hopped off to enjoy a beer or water with the sand between your toes. The rest of the trip back stirs the imagination with the history of the real-life pirates that navigated the same waters, history of shipwrecks, smuggling, mutiny, and John Glenn's historic landing after becoming the first American to orbit the earth.
By the time you've cruised all the way back to Nassau, you'll be exhausted and happy. Having this experience was amazingly fun and should be on everyone's bucket list, but landing the job as the first mate and having it be your 9-5 would be an absolute dream.