BeachGirl's Cat Island Trip Report June 2008

Jul 10th, 2008, 08:39 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 7,840
BeachGirl's Cat Island Trip Report June 2008


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 ďbirthplaceĒ 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 Mikeís 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 Ė 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 Arthurís Town on the north end so we looked for options there. Sammy Tís: 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 Ė we laughed at how much we enjoyed their cheeseburger Ė 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 didnít see inside the rooms but everything seemed very nice. From Pigeon Cay it was about a 25 min drive (if you donít stop on the way for the mystery roads heading to the water).

ďConch manĒ (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 canít miss it Ė has conch on the stand with a colorful umbrella over it. Stopped in thinking itís already made but even better Ė 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 ďDis We PlaceĒ when they are on the island and it serves food, too. I bet that place is rocking when they are in town!

Ritaís Rum Shack on the shores in Arthurís 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 donít waste a trip. I was impressed at the choices but still a small store so donít 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 Ė 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 Arthurís Town also if needed.

Now the best part: Beaches of Cat Island

We visited these during our trip:

Fernandez Bay Ė 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 donít 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.

Smithís Beach: This is on the Atlantic side of the island where the waves are stronger and offers lots of trinkets for beachcombers. Youíll find the beautiful pink sand beach here Ė 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 ďFor RentĒ 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 youíll see where you canít go any further as it turns to sand and goes to a steep hill to the top of the dunes. Youíll see new housing structures at the beginning and then gravelly, dirt road coming towards the beach area.
Highly recommend visiting this beach!

Greenwood Resortís 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 itís 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 Arthurís 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 didnít notice any scratches on our car. The road goes for 10 minutes or so and youíll come to a ďyĒ 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 didnít 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.

Bennettís Harbor: We visited both the area where Sammy Tís is located and the area just south. Sammy Tís 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 Tís. It is the dirt road just south of Sammy Tís 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 donít 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 youíll come to the resort. I didnít 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 isnít for beginners. However, if you are a beach connoisseur you will enjoy this islandís variety of the perfect beach.

BeachGirl247


BeachGirl247 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 10:12 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 329
Your report was excellent. You said you travel from the middle of the US, what were your flight arrangements, I do want to visit some of the out islands of the Bahamas. I would fly out of the Baltimore, DC or Philadelpia airports depending schedules along with prices.
tch912 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 10:30 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,360
LOVED your report. You took me right back to some of my favorite spots.

tch912, if you're coming from Baltimore, Washington or Philadelphia, Cat Island is relatively easy to reach. Take your carrier of choice to Ft. Lauderdale (I like Air Tran out of BWI, but if you do that, you have to collect your bags and re-check because there is no interline bag agreement with Air Tran) and then transfer to Continental Connection/Gulfstream, which has a daily afternoon flight to TBI.
Callaloo is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 02:16 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 7,840
Thanks!
Callaloo, now I know why it's one of your favorite spots. I'm anxious to hear about your trip to Long Island. I did find a pilot to fly us there but it was too high a fare to consider.

As far as air, all I want to add is Do Not Take Cat Island Air!!! I didn't want to spoil the report with my airline woes on the way down AND back! I will leave it that we could have landed in India before we made it on to Cat Island.

Looked like Bahamas Air was running close to schedule but next time we will stick with the Continental Connection! Flies from Ft. Lauderdale Tue-Thur-Sat.

BeachGirl247 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 06:22 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 746
Beachgirl-
Thanks for the helpful report! Cat Island has been on my short list for way too long- your report made me want to start planning a trip. I guess I always look at the websites and travel book/board descriptions for the resorts then can't make up my mind. We do usually prefer renting houses but I know absolutely we would need AC in the bedroom. Did you see any places that you thought you would research (houses) if you did a return visit? Also, did you notice if there were any boat snorkel trips available? We really love snorkeling and I have read several reports that seemed to say the snorkeling was not so great there so we have opted for other places. Your report made me more optimistic about the snorkeling.
I love the out islands and you are so right about the friendly and welcoming people there. I assume you flew Cat Island Air from Nassau? I do want to heed your advice if we get to go there in the future.
Thanks again for the great advice.

PS I am also very anxious to know how Callalou liked Long Island!!
ishkribbl is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 03:31 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,360
ishkribbl, my Long Island trip is in a few months, so although I'm fantasizing about beaches, they are a way's off. I promise to report when I return!
Callaloo is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 04:02 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 607
BeachGirl

It's been four years since our trip to Cat Island but your report brought back many fond memories. One thing that really stuck me, the Rav4. That's a luxury rental on Cat Island.

'Conch Man' is new to me. Somehow we missed him.

I've never been to an island with beaches as empty as those on Cat. Port Royal and Greenwood's were two of my favorites. Since we stayed at Shangri La, Bennett's Harbour was 'our' beach.

We took Southern Air to Cat Island. I'm not sure if that's still an option. I've also looked at Long Island and, to arrive same day, involved taking a different carrier on the legs from Nassau.

Fodor's is getting to be a source for Cat Island experts.
RobertoB is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 04:21 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 746
Callalou- thanks, I couldn't remember when you were going. I am envious! Hope you have a wonderful time and I can't wait to read about it.
ishkribbl is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 06:37 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 7,840
Roberto, you had a great beach at Shangri-La. You are right, the pictures don't do it justice.

Callaloo, where did you decide to stay on Long Island? Stella Maris is on our list.
BeachGirl247 is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 07:04 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,360
BeachGirl, we are going to stay at Cape Santa Maria. Stella Maris would have been fine, too, but we kind of flipped a coin.
Callaloo is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 11:51 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
Ahh, sounds just blissful! Thanks for posting your TR, which definitely reinforced my interest in Cat Island. Look forward to seeing some photos when you get them uploaded.
ejcrowe is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 12:06 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 7,840
ishkribble, I have some other houses that I marked and have put them somewhere. ?? I'll look for them this weekend and get back to you. If it were not a summer month I wouldn't worry about a/c at all but I do understand.

BeachGirl247 is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 04:56 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 524
Ahhh, thanks, BeachGirl! Fantastic report. It's Cat Island, Long Island or Eleuthera next Spring. You just made the choice harder!! Pics??? Pleaes???
seasweetie is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 05:36 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 627
Thanks so much for the report! I'm looking forward to seeing photos. Cat Island is still on our list of islands to get to.
mymoosie is offline  
Jul 12th, 2008, 04:55 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,567
Thanks for the trip report. Cat Island is high on our list of places to go. Looking foward to your pics.
caribtraveler is offline  
Jul 12th, 2008, 10:10 AM
  #16  
WannabeinaMontserrat
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I'm happy to see your report as this is a place high on our list as well. Sounds like it is right up our alley. Do you have a link or can you provide more info on the Beach house ? That is likely the way we would try to go.
 
Jul 14th, 2008, 08:08 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 7,840
Hi wannabe, here's the link for Mike's Beach House:

http://www.vacationrentals.com/vacat...als/36475.html

There was one on Fernandez Bay that looked nice but a little big for just the two of us.
Also, Shangri-La looked nice and was on a good beach. More houses on it than Mike's.

Hope you make it to Cat Island!
BeachGirl
BeachGirl247 is offline  
Jul 16th, 2008, 10:27 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 18
Beach Girl, we recently returned from Cat Island and stayed at Sammy T's. The beach is beautiful, but the worst thing about Sammy's is the restaurant. It was really hit or miss. The quality was very inconsistent. We had most things at least two or three times, usually more than that, and we never knew what we would get. It changed each time. The most consistent thing though was that most of the dinner entrees were dry. The fish was usually okay, but the meats were universally overcooked. It's sad because it really is a beautiful spot.
EsmJ25 is offline  
Jul 16th, 2008, 05:33 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 81
Great report. A real resource.
Tuscanson is offline  
Jun 9th, 2010, 08:28 AM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 7,840
topping for retired1
BeachGirl247 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:02 AM.