Why Exuma’s Beach Pig Roasts Should be on Your Bucket List
The sweet smell of slow-roasted pork wafts along the breezy shores of the Exuma islands in the Bahamas. Just beyond the swaying palm trees, a crowd gathers on the powdery white sand beach, drawn by the smoke billowing from a large fire pit. Laughter and chatter mix with the sounds of steel drums and lapping waves. It’s a lazy afternoon pig roast – one of the unique experiences only found in the Exumas.
For both locals and visitors alike, the beach pig roasts of Exuma provide not just a tasty meal but a vibrant celebration of community, culture and life’s simple pleasures. The origins of this tradition stretch back generations as a relaxed way to bring people together on Sundays and holidays. At these immensely popular roasts, fresh-caught hogs are roasted slowly over hot coals and served up alongside local sides like mac n’ cheese, peas n’ rice and sweet plantains.
I’ll share all the details needed to experience one of these legendary Exuma pig roasts for yourself. You’ll discover where to find the best roasts on the islands, tips for attending, what to expect of these community events and how to fully immerse yourself in this singular Bahamian experience.
After reading, you’ll be ready to start planning your own beachfront pig roast getaway to Exuma!
Table of Contents
What are the Exuma Pig Roasts?
History and origins of the beach pig roast tradition
The Exuma islands are renowned for their beautiful beaches, crystal blue waters and laidback island lifestyle. But arguably one of the most iconic Exuma experiences are the traditional beach pig roasts. These whole pig roasts are a longstanding tradition going back over 150 years in the Bahamas.
Historians trace the roots of the pig roasts back to British Loyalists who fled to the Caribbean including the Exuma islands after the American Revolution. These settlers brought their pig roasting traditions with them to the Bahamas. Roasting a whole pig was a way to bring together friends and community for holidays and special occasions on the islands.
Over generations, the tradition continued and evolved into a fusion of Caribbean and European influences. By the mid 1900’s, the Exuma pig roasts became more public affairs put on by local restaurants and resorts as a way to showcase this unique island culture and cuisine. Now the pig roasts attract both locals and tourists who mingle together under billowing smoke and the hot Bahama sun.
“Discover the roots of Exuma’s iconic beach pig roasts, a generations-old island tradition fused from Caribbean and European influences”
Where Do You Need to Go to Get Some Pig Roasts?
The beach pig roasts take place all along the Exuma islands which stretch for over 100 miles. However, some beaches have become especially renowned spots for these roasted feasts. Here are some of the top locations to experience an authentic Exuma pig roast:
- Stocking Island – This smaller island near popular Georgetown hosts weekly Sunday pig roasts on the beaches near Chat N’ Chill bar. These are lively events with locals and visitors mingling.
- Great Exuma – The beaches at Great Exuma like Tropic of Cancer Beach host roasts that attract both tourists staying at nearby resorts as well as local families.
- Little Exuma – A less busy option, Little Exuma has roasts right on the white sand of the secluded Minns Beach.
- Staniel Cay – This central Exuma island is another hot spot for pig roasts, especially on Saturdays at the Yacht Club beach.
- Fowl Cay – For a private island feel, Fowl Cay Resort hosts intimate roasts for guests only on its 1 mile beach.
While roasts happen throughout the islands, these beaches offer quintessential Exuma roast experiences and breathtaking backdrops. Check schedules as some locations host them more frequently while others are only on holidays or weekends.
Let me tell you, that pig roast on Stocking Island was an absolute blast! As soon as our ferry docked at Georgetown, we headed straight to Chat N’ Chill on Stocking Island – it was a Sunday and we heard through the coconut telegraph they were having one of their famous roasts.
After grabbing an ice-cold Kalik from the bar, we settled into the beach chairs and just took in the sights and smells. They had this massive makeshift rotisserie set up over the pit and the pig was slowly spinning, getting that perfect crispy skin. My mouth was watering just looking at it!
While we waited for the pig to finish cooking, a fun little band was playing Caribbean tunes and locals and tourists alike were dancing and mingling on the beach. Such a lively atmosphere with kids building sandcastles while parents sipped rum punches.
Finally, they brought the perfectly cooked pig over, basted with a glaze of Bahamian spices. The meat just fell right off the bone – super juicy and flavorful. We loaded up our plates with the roast pork, mac and cheese, peas and rice – and don’t even get me started on those fried plantains!
With our bellies full of delicious roast pig and sides, we grabbed another round of Kaliks and joined the dance party on the beach.
The Secret of the Roasting Process
The roasting process itself is an art form the local pitmasters have perfected over generations. Early in the morning, a fire is started in a dugout sand pit right on the beach and kept burning for hours with coal or wood like Casuarina pine. Many use hand-cranked rotisseries set up over the pit to slowly rotate the pig for even cooking.
As I experienced at Stocking Island, the pigs are typically whole hogs ranging from 100 to over 200 pounds. A spice rub is applied before roasting to impart that signature Bahamian flavor. It takes several hours for the pig to fully cook until the meat is succulent and falls right off the bone.
While roasting methods vary between each island, the end result is always a mouthwatering feast. The distinctive smoke scent lures hungry guests from all over to take part. Once finished, the piping hot pork is chopped and served alongside local Bahamian side dishes like peas n’ rice, mac n’ cheese, coleslaw, and skillet caked.
Key Details for Attending an Exuma Pig Roast
When to Visit?
The Exuma pig roasts traditionally took place on holidays and weekends when families and friends had time to relax and gather. While that’s still often the case, many roasts have expanded to multiple days per week to accommodate tourists interested in the experience.
The schedule does vary by location. As I experienced on Stocking Island, Sunday roasts are common there as well as Saturdays. Other beaches may host them more frequently or only on special occasions. Staniel Cay for example has beloved roasts every Saturday.
While weekends remain peak times, most beaches have roasts several days a week at this point. Even some of the more private island resorts will put on special roasts for their guests during the week. The exceptions are generally over the slower summer months, when roasts may scale back to just weekends.
So while the Exuma pig roasts used to be a primarily weekend tradition, now you can likely find one happening almost any day if you plan your trip right! Just be sure to check the schedule of your target roast location to time your visit accordingly.
“Get the inside scoop on everything you need to know before attending an authentic Exuma beach pig roast, from costs and booking to what to expect at these one-of-a-kind events.”
Booking requirements and lead time needed
Because the roasts have become so popular, booking ahead is recommended if you want to secure a spot, especially for larger groups. Walk-ins are still often allowed, but you may end up waiting if the roast is full.
For the more secluded private island resort roasts, booking is required as space is limited. These should be booked as far as possible in advance as part of your overall resort stay.
Public roasts like those on Stocking Island and Great Exuma are more flexible, but booking is still wise. Most roasts allow online reservations directly through the host restaurant/bar’s website or via your hotel concierge.
Ideally, book your roast spot at least 2-3 weeks in advance if possible. For peak seasons like the winter holidays, spring break or summer vacations, try to book 1-2 months out.
While walk-ins are welcomed, keep in mind the most popular roasts fill up fast. Booking ahead guarantees your spot at the feast so you don’t miss out on this quintessential Exuma experience.
Cost and what's included in admission fees
Attending one of these beachside feasts is surprisingly affordable, ranging from about $15-$60 per person. What’s included does vary between each location.
At the more casual public roasts like Stocking Island, admission typically covers the roast pork and sides. Drinks are often pay-as-you-go at the host bar. Other locations may include entertainment.
For private island resort roasts, the cost is usually bundled with your overall stay. At Fowl Cay for instance, their Wednesday night roasts are a featured activity included for resort guests.
At a minimum, your admission will get you a plate loaded up with succulent roast pork, local sides like the peas n’ rice and mac n’ cheese I devoured at Stocking Island, and seating for the event.
Overall, attending an authentic beach pig roast is a steal compared to what you’d pay for a comparable meal elsewhere in the Bahamas. Just come ready to eat – these roasts offer fantastic value for the price!
What to expect at the event?
The laidback atmosphere at an Exuma pig roast is just as memorable as the food itself. Expect a relaxed beach party vibe filled with music, dancing, and mingling.
Live bands featuring steel drums and Bahamian rake n’ scrape music set the lively tone. Kids often play games like limbo as adults show off their dance moves. The socializing is fun and friendly as locals mix with tourists under the sea breeze and swaying palms.
The food is undeniably the highlight. In addition to the succulent roast pork fresh off the pit, fixings include Bahamian sides like peas n’ rice, cheesy mac, coleslaw, skillet cakes, and fried plantains. Rum punches, Kalik beers, and other tropical drinks wash it all down.
Some roasts even have stalls selling handmade, locally crafted items like wood carvings, jewelry, straw bags and coconut candles.
Expect incredible food, new friends, and an overall unforgettable experience.
Planning Your Visit
Recommended beaches to attend for first timers
With so many picture-perfect beaches to choose from, which one offers the ultimate Exuma pig roast experience? Here are some top recommendations for first-timers:
Stocking Island – Ideal for a lively, social roast with a mix of tourists and locals. The Sunday roasts at Chat N Chill are legendary, affordable, and centrally located near Georgetown.
Staniel Cay – This less developed island has a more old-school Bahamian vibe. The Saturday roasts at the yacht club feel authentic and draw a fun ex-pat crowd.
Tropic of Cancer Beach – For families, this beach on Great Exuma combines kid-friendly amenities with an iconic roast setting. The resort-run roasts are a bit more “upscale.”
Little Exuma – A great option if you want a more secluded, private beach setting away from crowds. Minns Beach roasts cap at 50 people for an intimate experience.
Each beach has its own devoted fans. Chat N’ Chill on Stocking Island is tough to beat for convenience, value and liveliness. But avid roast goers often try hitting up different spots to compare. You really can’t go wrong with any of these world-class Exuma beach settings!
“Get tips on the top roast locations like Stocking Island and Staniel Cay to find your ideal Exuma beach bash.”
Lodging options nearby to stay at while visiting roasts
Luckily, finding accommodation near the top pig roast beaches is easy with options for various budgets and styles.
For Stocking Island roasts, consider Georgetown hotels like the Grand Isle Resort, Hideaways at Palm Bay, or the boutique Pineapple Point for convenience. Home/villa rentals on Stocking Island itself are also popular.
On Great Exuma near Tropic of Cancer Beach, the all-inclusive Sandals Emerald Bay provides both ease and luxury. Affordable self-catering cottages at Augusta Bay and True Blue Suites are also nearby.
Staniel Cay has more limited lodging, but Staniel Cay Yacht Club, the exclusive Pigeon Cay, and cottages at the boutique Rainbow Inn work well.
Little Exuma’s perfect pairing is the charming Pitcher Inn Hotel – an easy golf cart jaunt to Minns Beach. February Point Estates luxury villas are also very close.
Based on my experience, private vacation rentals often have the most flexibility for large groups and long stays.
Getting to the secluded Exuma beaches does require some logistical planning. Here are some tips:
For Stocking Island, ferries run daily from Georgetown in Great Exuma to the Chat N’ Chill location I visited. The ride only takes 10-15 minutes.
To reach Staniel Cay or Little Exuma, scheduled ferries and private charter boats are the best option. The rides are 30-90 minutes depending on where you depart from.
On Great Exuma, if staying near Tropic of Cancer Beach, most hotels provide complimentary shuttles to and from the roast. Rental cars are also very handy for getting around the island.
At more exclusive resort-hosted roasts like those on Fowl Cay, transportation is arranged by the hotel via private boat tender shuttles from nearby islands.
Once on the Exuma Cays, golf carts can usually be rented affordably to scoot around and explore the beaches at your leisure.
Just be sure to confirm ferry/boat schedules in advance, as they often run less frequently on Sundays and holidays. Leave ample time so you don’t miss the big feast!
Know that getting around is very doable with proper planning.
What to bring and wear?
The Exuma beaches are famously casual, but you’ll still want to come prepared for a day of fun under the sun.
As I quickly realized on Stocking Island, beachwear is the standard dress code. For men, swim trunks or shorts and a breezy shirt or tank work perfectly. For women, you’ll see everything from swimsuits to sundresses.
Bring sandals that can get wet – you’ll want to take a dip in the gorgeous waters. A swimsuit is a must if you plan to swim, but cover-ups and hats are recommended too.
Don’t forget sunscreen and sunglasses – that Caribbean sun gets intense. Bug spray can come in handy too if you plan to stay for sunset. A light beach blanket or towel is useful for seating.
Waterproof phone cases let you safely capture photos. Cash is preferred for food/drinks, though some spots take credit cards too.
Ultimately, just dress light and casual, bring swimwear, and get ready to soak up the amazing beach backdrop.
“Get our packing list of must-have items to bring and casual attire to wear to fully enjoy Exuma’s famous beach pig roasts.”
Making the Most of Your Exuma Pig Roast Experience
The Exuma pig roasts capture the laid-back, welcoming spirit of the islands. Still, following some basic etiquette will ensure you make the most of the experience:
- Arrive on time – the feasts start promptly once the pig is finished cooking so you don’t want to miss out!
- Dress is casual, but avoid overly revealing bathing suits out of respect for locals. Cover-ups are encouraged.
- Be prepared to mingle – the social, communal atmosphere means saying hello to your neighbors!
- If staying at an all-inclusive resort, don’t just stick to yourself. Introduce yourself to locals and other travelers.
- Although the mood is lively, keep voices and laughter respectful during any speeches or performances.
- Ask before taking pictures of locals, particularly of kids. Not everyone may want to be photographed.
- Don’t overindulge on alcohol. Remember Bahamian laws prohibit public drunkenness.
- Contribute to the experience! Share a story, teach a dance move, offer to help clean up – give back to the community.
I’ll admit, as first-timers my friends and I were a bit unsure about the protocol when we arrived at that Stocking Island roast. But we quickly realized the vibe was chill and the locals were so welcoming, any awkwardness faded fast.
When that awesome live band started playing, a few locals grabbed our hands and practically pulled us out of our seats to come dance with them. Before we knew it, we were part of the party!
One really memorable moment was when an older gentleman sat beside us and told stories of growing up on the island over his plate of roast pork and peas. We must have chatted with him for over an hour just soaking up his stories.
The pig roast really felt like being invited to a big family gathering where everyone was eager to share their culture. Even when I was eliminated super quickly during the silly limbo contest, folks were so encouraging and cheered me on. No room for being shy at the Exuma pig roasts!
Attending with an open mind and embracing the communal spirit of the roast is key.
Other activities to enjoy on the Exuma beaches
The beaches of Exuma offer more than just pig roasts
Before the roast, popular activities include snorkeling the reefs, kayaking through mangroves, chilling at beach bars, feeding the swimming pigs, or booking boat tours to secluded sandbars.
At Stocking Island, you can rent paddle boards and kayaks to explore right from the Chat N’ Chill beach. On Staniel Cay, hike to the iconic Thunderball Grotto sea cave before the roast kicks off.
After you’ve had your fill of roast pork, walk off the feast with sunset strolls on the pink and purple-hued sand. Or book a bonfire and stargazing party to continue the revelry into the evening.
If you really want a full Exuma beach day, stay overnight at one of the island cottage rentals or boutique resorts. That way you can enjoy sunrise yoga on the sand before tucking into those roast pig leftovers from the day before!
Insider Tips for Travelers
Guidance for families with kids or solo travelers
The Exuma pig roasts attract all types of travelers – don’t be shy if you’re attending solo or with a group.
For families, the roasts make for a unique tropical getaway the kids will love. Most public roasts welcome children and offer free admission for little ones under 5 or 6. Expect a lively, community atmosphere with other families.
If traveling solo, embrace the social vibe and chat with your neighbors – you’ll make fast friends. Sit at the bar area to meet fellow roast goers over tropical drinks. Solo travelers rave about feeling welcomed.
For a more exclusive experience, adults-only and private resort roasts allow for a peaceful kid-free day in paradise. Just note any age restrictions when booking.
“Get tips to help make your Exuma pig roast experience special whether you’re attending solo, as a couple, or with a family group.“
Tips for first time attendees
As a first-timer at an island pig roast, some aspects may surprise you – so come with an open mind!
The pace is relaxed – don’t expect rushed service. Sit back, sip a drink, and enjoy the slow-roasted flavors. Timelines are flexible in Exuma.
Food is served when done with an emphasis on freshness over presentation. Don’t expect lavish plating – focus instead on the incredible taste.
The community, do-it-yourself vibe means you may even get asked to lend a hand, from pouring drinks to passing plates. Go with the flow!
Facilities are usually basic and eco-friendly with minimal electricity. Consider it a digital detox and embrace the rustic island experience.
While the pigs look mouthwatering, remember they were alive earlier that day which can be tough for some. It’s understandable if seeing whole-cooked pigs is a bit jarring at first.
Going with realistic expectations allows you to truly soak up the heart of the roast – don’t sweat the small stuff! Sinking your teeth into succulent roast pork on a secluded beach is a delight for all your senses. Savor it!
Peak seasons vs. off-season pros and cons
My first time at that lively roast on Stocking Island was in August, which I soon realized is off-season in Exuma. The locals were beyond thrilled to have some fresh faces join the party.
While the crowds were smaller, that gave the roast a super intimate, community vibe. We got to chat with the same folks all afternoon since it was mostly regulars. Getting to know the people there so well really made it special.
The only bummer was that some of the beaches had more seaweed than peak season with fewer staff to rake and clear it daily. A small price to pay though for no crowds and cheaper hotels!
I met travelers who came during the packed December holiday roast and they described an awesomely festive atmosphere. But they said booking anything last minute was tough, and beaches packed with tourists changed the local feel.
My advice? Shoulder seasons like spring or fall offer a perfect balance – great weather and infinite crowds before summer slowness or winter holiday madness. Either way, fresh roast pork tastes delicious any time of year in paradise!
KEY TAKEAWAYS ...🛪
From the moment the first Spanish explorers arrived, roasted pig feasts have been an integral part of Caribbean culture. Now, the Exuma beach pig roasts carry on this tradition in a uniquely Bahamian way that brings people together.
Beyond just a mouthwatering meal, the roasts offer a vibrant immersion into Exuman life. The laughter, storytelling, and laidback atmosphere reflect the spirit of the islands. Don’t miss out on experiencing this iconic activity yourself!
I hope this travel guide provided all the details needed to plan your own beachfront pig roast getaway in Exuma. From the juicy roast pork to the new friends you’ll make, it’s sure to be a highlight.
Take inspiration from generations of Bahamians and let the smoky scents and island rhythms rejuvenate your soul. Grab your swimsuit, bookmark those ferry schedules, and get ready for a taste of paradise at an Exuma beach pig roast!