Most people don't know enough about or have never heard of Cat Island. It's an island in The Bahamas most notably known for boasting the highest point in The Bahamas - Mount Alvernia (aka Como Hill).
How do you get there?
Like all islands in The Bahamas, the beaches and warm island hospitality are world-renowned. I took a 40-minute flight from Nassau's Lynden Pindling International Airport on Western Air. Western Air is currently the only commercial airline to provide daily flights to Cat Island. The flight set me back about $US200 roundtrip. If you're a person who's against flying on smaller planes, you'll be fine. The aircraft that generally services to Cat Island is a SAAB 340A that seats 33 passengers.
I chose to stay at Fountain Bay Resort & Marina. Fountain Bay boasts its own beach, clubhouse, and restaurant. I was picked up from the airport free of charge. It was only a 5-minute drive to the hotel from the airport. I paid $220 for my studio room (for $80 more you can book a 1 bedroom beachfront villa). From my observations, all of the furniture and appliances were brand new. The owner of the hotel, Ezra Russell, confirmed that I was correct. The room was very modern and had all the amenities that I would expect. If you want to rent a car while you're there that can also be arranged via Fountain Bay. The hotel also had its own clubhouse that was open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Fountain Bay also has its own gas station and garage available for you to use.
I think it's pivotal that I mention that Fountain Bay is 100% Bahamian owned. It is smoothly run by the Russell family who will ensure that your trip is one to remember.
What is there to do in Cat Island?
Cat Island is perfect for snorkeling, kayaking, diving, and fishing.
Fountain Bay also has its own 'Swimming Pigs'! I didn't get the opportunity to go due to inclement weather. The winds and waves weren't conducive to be on the water at the time we wanted to go. However, if you speak to the Russells I'm sure they can arrange a tour.
While we were in Cat Island we never had to share a beach with anyone. We had our own sense of privacy and more importantly, uninterrupted peace. I can guarantee you that does not and will not happen in Nassau.
As mentioned earlier, the highest point in The Bahamas is Mt. Alvernia (aka Como Hill) is on Cat Island. At the top of the hill lies a former monastery that was built by Monsignor John Hawes, known to Cat Islanders as 'Father Jerome'. Father Jerome built the Hermitage (as it is formally known) all by himself using local stone.
At the Hermitage, you can walk into his 'humble abode' and see the living quarters that he had for himself.
I've been there twice and my favorite thing is to sign my name in the log. In the log, you'd see that hundreds (if not thousands) of people from all over the world have come to visit Cat Island and more specifically, the Hermitage!
I've proclaimed the view from the top of Mt. Alvernia to be the best view in The Bahamas. I challenge somebody to find a better view.
Where should you eat on Cat Island?
I ate from a few different places. Naturally, I had food from the Clubhouse at Fountain Bay. The food there was great. The second place I ate from was in Fernandez Bay at Fernandez Bay Village. I tried their conch burger, that really was just conch fritter patty. One thing about the Village was that it was a good spot to eat with a view! Finally, I also had some cracked conch and cracked lobster from Ceedee's Restaurant and Bar. Ceedee's was always open whenever we went there even on Sundays.
That's significant becauseCat Island is one of those islands in The Bahamas where some places close early and without notice. Luckily, there are few spots that are known to remain open like the Clubhouse at Fountain Bay and Ceedee's by the Regatta site.
I think to eat at Ceedee's near the Regatta site was a real island experience. My stomach and I must thank Yvonne and Julius from Rollezz Villas Beach Resort for calling Ceedee to see if she was open and telling us where exactly to find her. Honestly, there's nothing like having an ice-cold Kalik (a popular Bahamian beer) listening to some old tunes waiting on your food. Chrystal (I hope I spelled that right), an exuberant woman in every sense of the word, took our orders and served us our food. She had a warm personality and helped to make our wait for our food go by in a flash.
Notwithstanding the aforesaid, Cat Island isn't the place you go to be constantly entertained. Cat Island is remote. Cat Island is the place you visit to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and stresses of your everyday life. It's remarkable how therapeutically relaxing on a Family Island can be.
Cat Island is more than ideal for a weekend getaway - in fact it's perfect.
I'm going to visit Cat Island again, and I hope that you take the opportunity to do the same for yourself!
If there's anything that I can assist with i.e. advice on the best ways to get to Cat Island or activities/recommendations - don't hesitate to ask!