Cat Island Fact Sheet

Cat Island is perhaps the most serene island in The Bahamas with its sandy beaches, nature preserves and historical ruins. Birthplace of The Bahamas’ indigenous Rake ‘n’ Scrape music and much of the country’s folklore, Cat Island exudes Bahamian tradition and rustic charm. From soaking in the natural beauty, to diving into the island’s many water activities, visitors can do everything or nothing at all.


During the American Revolution, Loyalists from Virginia fled to Cat Island to start cotton plantations but the industry became unprofitable quickly on the limestone island. Their agricultural aspirations eventually led them to sow fields of peas, corn and potatoes, tended to by freed slaves after their emancipation in 1834. It was believed by many that Cat Island, not the current San Salvador, was Christopher Columbus’s first place of landing when he discovered the New World, which is why the southern part of the island is named “Columbus Point.” In 1925, the name "San Salvador" was officially transferred from what is now called Cat Island and given to what was then called "Watlings Island."


  • Town/Settlement: Arthur’s Town
  • Size: 48 miles long and 4 miles across at the widest part
  • Population: Approximately 1,700


Hawk’s Nest Resort & Marina – Located on 450 acres of land at the southern tip of Cat Island, this tropical beachfront resort features oceanfront guestrooms and two 3-bedroom houses from which to choose. With charter fishing, onsite diving instructors and complimentary bicycles and kayaks, activity and adventure are encouraged. The sprawling property includes a 28-slip marina and privately owned airstrip, making the resort a favorite among pilots and seafaring travelers alike.

Fernandez Bay Village – This family owned and operated resort includes 21 seaside rooms by way of cozy cottage or seaside villa, each with amenities such as complimentary kayaks and bikes, meal plans and babysitting services. The Clubhouse tiki bar overlooks the bay and stretches to a beachside terrace that provides a jaw-dropping dining experience.

Shannas Cove Resort – This beautiful five-cottage resort is the epitome of tranquility with pristine beaches and a private pathway to the most northern point of Cat Island, Man-O-War, where guests can explore the deserted beaches on the Atlantic side. With a fully equipped, certified scuba diving center onsite and access to stunning dive sites, Shannas Cove Resort is an ideal location for guests that enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling and swimming.

Rollezz Villas Beach Resort – Rollezz Villas Beach Resort is the perfect location for those wanting to rest and unwind. Its colorful, oceanside villas offer privacy and comfort, with views of breathtaking sunrises over the Atlantic. Guests can relax on the beach, fish in Joe Sound Creek or enjoy farm-to-table meals.

The Ocean Dream Beach Resort – This eco-conscious, hilltop hotel is 100% solar powered and boasts a collection of cheerfully colored beach cottages spread over 40 acres of tropical landscape, each with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. The Ocean Dream Beach Resort is the ultimate eco-escape, giving guests an isolated, oceanfront experience.


Cat Island is especially known for its long stretches of secluded beaches and superior water activities such as fishing, diving and kitesurfing.


Deveaux Plantation Ruins – This former 18th-century cotton plantation and antebellum-style mansion belonged to Colonel Andrew Deveaux, a Loyalist and veteran of the American Revolutionary War. He was given the land in 1783 for helping to protect and recapture Nassau from the Spanish invasion. Visitors can explore the site free of charge.

The Hermitage on Mount Alvernia – Mount Alvernia is the highest point in The Islands of The Bahamas at 206 feet. On the hill sits The Hermitage, a medieval-style monastery hand carved by cathedral architect and sculptor, Monsignor John Hawes. In 1939, he built this miniature monastery as a contemplative getaway from the world.

Cat Island Rake and Scrape Festival – Rake ‘n’ Scrape, The Bahamas' indigenous music, is celebrated at this festival each June. The music is composed using inventive instruments such as a saw, a piece of wood, fishing line, a tin washtub and a goatskin drum. The festival is a great way for visitors to experience local dances, food and customs.


  • Originally called "San Salvador" and thought to be the gateway to the New World, Cat Island was given its present name in 1926—reportedly for the pirate Arthur Catt, who used to make frequent stops here to hide his treasure.
  • Academy Award-winning actor Sir Sidney Poitier grew up on Cat Island, just outside of Arthur's Town. He became the first African American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for “Lilies of the Field” in 1964.


Arthur’s Town Airport (ATC) and New Bight Airport (TBI) service Cat Island.


  • U.S. currency is accepted and is interchangeable with the Bahamian dollar.
  • Many resorts have seasonal closures for one or more months in the fall. Travelers should consult their hotel properties directly for details.
  • Temperatures range from 68 to 86 degrees during the day and 62 to 70 degrees at night, year-round.
  • Seawater temperature ranges from 73 degrees in February to 82 degrees in August. 
  • The entry requirement for U.S. and Canadian residents is proof of citizenship, in the form of a passport. All U.S. citizens and foreign nationals traveling to the United States from The Bahamas, are required to present a valid passport or another secure document accepted by United States Customs and Border Protection.


With over 700 islands and cays, and 16 unique island destinations, The Bahamas lies just 55 miles off the coast of Florida offering an easy fly away escape that transports travelers away from their everyday. The Islands of The Bahamas have world-class fishing, diving, boating and thousands of miles of the earth’s most spectacular water and beaches waiting for families, couples and adventurers. Explore all the islands have to offer at or on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram to see why It’s Better in The Bahamas.

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Anita Johnson-Patty
General Manager, Global Communications
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation 


Weber Shandwick
Public Relations