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Trip Report BeachGirl's Cat Island Trip Report June 2008

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This remote island in the Bahamas has been on my short list for quite some time as I long to find the white sand beaches with water all the shades of turquoise and green. And the less developed the better! The difficulty in realizing this destination was the struggle and time involved in getting there from the middle of the US. But what awaited us made this difficult and most aggravating of travel experiences disappear as we saw the beaches and waters we had longed to see.

The people of the Bahamas have always been a friendly people and Cat Island appeared to be the “birthplace” of such gracious hosts. Encounters at the grocery, dining, and roadside stands offered up smiles and conversation. I will continue visiting these friendly and beautiful islands as I always feel welcomed and wanted as a visitor.

We rented Mike’s Beach House on the water and our beach was our own for the entire trip. The location was perfect on Pigeon Cay Beach, a 3 mile-long stretch of white sand and soft surf. There were areas of rock outcroppings that made for beautiful views and at high tide created private beach areas.

The weather was a little hot and without a/c at night was uncomfortable for us. During the day the very large verandah provided shade and a nice breeze. They had a very short rain while we were there that was the first since October. Mosquitoes were still in force even with the drought – biting me and not my dh as usual.

Food

Restaurants were few and far between since this was low season. Our locale was closer to Arthur’s Town on the north end so we looked for options there. Sammy T’s: lunch was good, not great. Great view from the patio of the grounds and bay in the distance. A couple of sandwiches and 2 beers was around $50 with tip. Dinner was good and early notice of dining (before 2pm same day) was required so they could accommodate you. We had grouper, lobster, and 2 glasses of wine which ran around $100. I do recommend eating there as we enjoyed dinner very much. Lunch was just ok for the cost but we liked having a little change of scenery.

Fernandez Bay: lunch two days was very enjoyable – we laughed at how much we enjoyed their cheeseburger – was worth the drive! Grouper sandwich was $12 as was the cheeseburger, Tuna sandwich $8, Grilled cheese or hot dog $8. Bar was an honor bar so mixing your favorite drink was at your disposal. Lovely setting on a very quiet bay. Rustic luxury, I would call it. The cottages reminded me of Petit St. Vincent in construction.
I would recommend dining here. We didn’t see inside the rooms but everything seemed very nice. From Pigeon Cay it was about a 25 min drive (if you don’t stop on the way for the mystery roads heading to the water).

“Conch man” (Derrick I believe) is up the road from Rokers (our township name by Pigeon Cay). He has a stand on the side of the road at the yellow house. You can’t miss it – has conch on the stand with a colorful umbrella over it. Stopped in thinking it’s already made but even better – he left for a few minutes and came back with conch and made it fresh for us while we enjoyed a cold beer. His wife makes jerk chicken and pork on Friday and Saturday but we missed it somehow. His brother is one of the players in the famous rake and scrape band Lassido Brothers. They have a place they perform called “Dis We Place” when they are on the island and it serves food, too. I bet that place is rocking when they are in town!

Rita’s Rum Shack on the shores in Arthur’s Town behind the police station was a gas! Small, small open air bar with beer and other libations. Worth a stop coming back from the northern beaches for a cool drink.

We found a few convenience-type stores and a larger grocery store on both ends of the island. The Bight has a large grocery with most everything you will need (not a super store by any means) and a liquor store next door. The hours varied so ask when you arrive so you don’t waste a trip. I was impressed at the choices but still a small store so don’t expect what you get at home but go with the flow of what is there. I would bring spices if you will be cooking.

Orange Creek on the north side has a large grocery as well. I thought the one at The Bight was bigger but Orange Creek still had lots of choices – frozen meats, eggs, few veggies (potatoes, celery, carrots, onions) and fruits (mangos, bananas, plantains, limes, grapes). Most of my fruits and vegetables came from Rev. Johnson who sells once a week when he gets a supply from the weekly boat from Nassau. Our house manager arranged for him to come by. I bought enough food for a family of 8 but it was nice to have choices throughout the week. The cleaning lady made a haul with our leftovers.

Exploring

Our car was an air-conditioned Rav4 and was well worth the $75/day expense to explore all the beaches this island has to offer. I learned rentals are few as it is so expensive to get them there as well as the damaging effects of sea air that shorten the life span of the cars. The gas station was located at The Bight where we rented our car. Gas was $5.69/gallon which was lower than we were expecting to pay considering the cost to get it there. There is a gas pump near Arthur’s Town also if needed.

Now the best part: Beaches of Cat Island

We visited these during our trip:

Fernandez Bay – picture postcard of tranquil water, barely lapping at the shoreline. Resort and several houses are on this beach. We saw the most people on a beach of all the beaches but when its around 10 people, I still consider this a quiet beach. At full occupancy, I don’t know what it would be like. This is all relative since I love privacy on beaches so if you are a South Beach kind of person, full occupancy here would look empty to you.
Excellent beach for young kids with the calmness of the water. Good snorkeling off the shore around the mini-cays.

Smith’s Beach: This is on the Atlantic side of the island where the waves are stronger and offers lots of trinkets for beachcombers. You’ll find the beautiful pink sand beach here – the same as on Harbour Island. It was absolutely beautiful. We did hear there can be sharks around this area. To get here, turn at the white sign on the light post “For Rent” in red letters. I know that is too simple, but that is how things are on Cat Island and what makes it so charming. Follow the dirt road for maybe a mile and you’ll see where you can’t go any further as it turns to sand and goes to a steep hill to the top of the dunes. You’ll see new housing structures at the beginning and then gravelly, dirt road coming towards the beach area.
Highly recommend visiting this beach!

Greenwood Resort’s Beach: (not sure of the name) Located at the southern end of the island past The Bight. The road turns a little toward the NE just before you arrive at the resort. It was a windy day on our visit so it is difficult to judge if it’s always a windy spot. Good snorkeling is just offshore and has a gorgeous beach as well as the best dive center on the island with diving just offshore. It has a few palapas on the beach and a few covered areas a few steps up from the beach to enjoy a cold drink and take in the view. Fun German family that runs this resort.

Old Bight Beach:
Another long, white sand beach with light waves providing another good swimming spot. It is right off the main road and very easy to find. No facilities are here so bring your ice chest and beach chairs.

Port Royal Beach: This was our favorite beach. It was the quintessential Bahamas beach for us. This is a stunning, undeveloped beauty that has miles of powder pink sand, wispy pines and tranquil water. It was such calm water for such a large area and we still had a nice breeze on the beach. Go north of Arthur’s Town past Orange Creek. The road will turn to a sandy, gravel road with the mangrove on your left side. At the very first road past the mangrove, turn left. There is brush on both sides of road but we didn’t notice any scratches on our car. The road goes for 10 minutes or so and you’ll come to a “y” in the road, take the right and go for another 5 minutes before you arrive at the pine trees and see the ocean ahead. You could drive on top of the heavy needles over the sand but I didn’t want to risk getting stuck as you are all alone. We drove around and took the other roads taking us to the northwestern part of the island. It took us to the beach you can see in the distance from the road at Orange Creek. I would skip this one.

Bennett’s Harbor: We visited both the area where Sammy T’s is located and the area just south. Sammy T’s is small horseshoe bay with very calm water and not much of a breeze. It is much smaller than Fernandez Bay but very similar. The next part of the beach is around the bend of the bay at Sammy T’s. It is the dirt road just south of Sammy T’s and only a few minutes off the road. It is another powder-sand beach with hardly any waves and tranquil water. There was no breeze at all and for June it was needed. This is the beach where the Shangri La house rental is located.

Pigeon Cay Beach. I don’t know what the real name of the beach is but we call it Pigeon Cay beach since the resort is located there.
Turn off the road where the colorful Pigeon Cay Beach Club sign is located. Follow the club sign and you’ll come to the resort. I didn’t check out other ways to get to this beach. It is a 3 mile-long white sand beach with light, crashing waves. Great for swimming, some snorkeling, and offered the breeze and relaxing sound of crashing waves. You could see for miles and miles to the south of the island. Grab a cold beer at the PCBC beach bar and take in the gorgeous views.

I had issues with my Nikon D200 so I have very few photos. I will work on them and post when I have some more time.

I highly recommend this remote out island but would have to say it isn’t for beginners. However, if you are a beach connoisseur you will enjoy this island’s variety of the perfect beach.

BeachGirl247
((h))

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