Rum Cay and San Salvador Fact Sheet

Rum Cay is one the best kept secrets in The Bahamas. This authentic Out Island gem is prominent for its historical ruins, lush landscape, pink sand beaches and thrilling surf on the island’s north coast.

Located just 35 miles away from Rum Cay you’ll find San Salvador, a premier scuba diving destination and well-known historic island where Christopher Columbus may or may not have first made landfall in 1492. This off-the-beaten-path island offers diverse terrain including rolling hills, secluded beaches, salt-water lakes and lively reefs, which make for ideal diving sites.


Rum Cay was originally named Mamana by the Arawaks, but the present-day name is said to have come about following the discovery of a shipwrecked cargo of rum during the rum-running days of the 1800s. San Salvador’s several name changes are a reflection of its deep historical past. The Lucayan Indians, an indigenous Arawak tribe, initially named the island Guanahani which meant “welcome” in Arawak. However, in 1492, Columbus named it San Salvador or “Holy Savior,” and by the 17th century, British Pirate Captain George Watling took over the island, making it his headquarters and named it Watling Island, after himself.  The island retained this name until 1925 when it was once again named San Salvador.


  • Town/Settlement: Port Nelson
  • Size: 30 square miles
  • Population: Approximately 53


  • Town/Settlement: Cockburn Town
  • Size: 12 miles long and five miles wide
  • Population: Approximately 1,000


Club Med Columbus Isle – This secluded, all-inclusive and environmentally friendly resort offers a paradise for those seeking a diving or romantic vacation. The resort invites guests to experience premium oceanfront accommodations, two gourmet dining venues, soothing massages by the ocean and a private, pristine beach.

Riding Rock Inn Resort & Marina – This family-owned and operated property has been welcoming travelers since the 1960s and is one of two resorts located on the island’s oceanfront. It offers customized diving vacations that attract visitors from around the world.    

San Sal Resort and Spa – This boutique beachfront resort offers 20 rooms, each with their own private balcony or porch that overlooks the ocean. In addition to the on-site spa, the hotel offers an abundance of activities including sailing, snorkeling, fishing, diving, kitesurfing and boating.


Rum Cay and San Salvador are both great destinations for lounging on secluded beaches, diving, snorkeling and fishing in idyllic, crystal clear waters. On San Salvador, visitors of the island can enjoy touring the old plantation ruins, climbing to the top of the kerosene-powered lighthouse (one of only a few remaining in operation) and exploring the archaeological site of the Lucayan Indians.


Rum Cay

Wreck of the HMS Conqueror – This famous shipwreck located just off Rum Cay’s shore is known as the Underwater Museum of The Bahamas. It is an ideal site for history buffs, scuba enthusiasts and deep-sea divers.  HMS Conqueror was built in 1855 and was lost on Sumner Point Reef, Rum Cay in 1861.

Ocean View Beach – This fine, pink sand beach is a quiet escape. Perfect for beachcombing and sunbathing, it is also within walking distance of the Ocean View Restaurant & Bar.

Hartford Cave – The walls of this ancient cave are decked with petroglyphs from Lucayan-Arawak tribes.

Two Sisters Take Away – This cash-only island jewel offers local specialties including baked crab, cracked conch, cake and pastries.

San Salvador

Dixon Hill Lighthouse – Built in 1887 on a former plantation owned by John Dixon, this lighthouse is still occupied and operated by keepers who refuel the 400,000 candle powered lighthouse by hand every 2 hours and 15 minutes.

New World Museum – Located at Cockburn Town, the museum is housed in a 1910 building and contains important artifacts as well as a display on the life of Christopher Columbus.                                   

Watling's Blue Hole – The inland water hole is located on the southwestern end of San Salvador and is a karst feature produced by the erosion of limestone and extends well below sea level.

Green’s Bay National Park – This national park includes offshore cays, like Great Lake and Low Cay, which are significant nesting sites for sea turtles and iguanas.

Columbus Monument – This moment is home to a simple white cross, erected in 1956 by Mrs. Ruth D. Wolper, commemorates the location where Columbus made landfall at Long Bay in 1492. It is one of the most photographed spots on the island.  


  • Rum Cay is also known as the “Sleeping Beauty.”
  • The street signs in Port Nelson are made in the shape of Rum Cay.
  • San Salvador has more than 50 dive sites on the island's lee side.
  • The Great Lake stretches the entire length of San Salvador and connects all of the island's major settlements.
  • San Salvador is actually the exposed peak of a submerged mountain that rises 15,000 feet from the ocean’s floor.


Port Nelson Airport (RCY) serves Rum Cay’s departures and arrivals, with flights from Nassau by Pineapple Air on occasion. San Salvador International Airport (ZSA) serves San Salvador’s departures and arrivals.


  • U.S. currency is accepted and is interchangeable with the Bahamian dollar.
  • Year-round temperatures range from 68 to 86 degrees during the day and 62 to 70 degrees at night. 
  • Sea water 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