Swimming with wildlife can be a life-changing experience—spiritual even, some people say. Tiny seahorses delight travelers with their strange prehensile tails and bright camouflage, while whale sharks leave swimmers in awe of their size and their (luckily) vegetarian diet. Then there are dolphins, who mesmerize onlookers with their acrobatic tricks, intelligence and shiny coat.
Tourists should always adhere to locals rules when splashing around with these creatures, to make sure it's as safe for them as it is fun for us. Here are six incredible animals to commune with in the water—respectfully, of course:
Wild Pigs at Big Major Cay, Bahamas
There is an animal called a sea pig, which crawls along the ocean floor and is related to the sea cucumber (actually an animal, not a plant). But you can also swim with real pigs: “pig pigs,” the mammals with the snout. In the waters off Big Major Cay in the Exhumas, Bahamas, the kind of pigs we normally think of as land-only animals also splash around in the surf. Even ecologists aren’t completely sure how the pigs originally got there—legend has it that Europeans long ago stocked the island with the animals, who have since made the place their home. Today, the local tourism board says that visitors who want to join them in the waters can expect to find feral yet exceptionally friendly animals.