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You'll be purring on Cat Island's exquisite pink-sand beaches and sparkling white-sand-ringed coves, as calm and clear as a spa pool. Largely undeveloped, Cat Island has the tallest hill in the Bahamas, a dizzying 206 feet high, with a tiny stone abbey on top, a lovely spot for meditation or a picnic. The two-lane, potholed Queen's Highway runs the 48-mi length of the island from north to south along a gorgeous sandy coastline, through adorable seaside settlements and past hundreds of eerie abandoned stone cottages; some are 200-year-old slave houses, crumbling testaments to cotton and sisal plantation days. Trees and vines twist through spaces that used to be windows and roofs and the deep-blue ocean can be seen through missing walls. In 1938, the island had 5,000 residents and today only about 1,500. Many of the inhabitants left the cottages long ago out of necessity, to find work in Nassau and Florida, but the houses remain because they still mark family land.
Cat Island was named after a frequent visitor, the notorious pirate Arthur Catt, a contemporary of Edward "Blackbeard" Teach. Another famous islander is Sir Sidney Poitier, who grew up here before leaving to become an Academy Award-winning movie actor and director. His daughter Ann lives here and spearheads the annual Rake 'N' Scrape Festival held in June.
Cat Island at a Glance
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