6 Best Sights in Cat Island, The Southern Out Islands

The Hermitage

Fodor's choice

At the top of 206-foot Mt. Alvernia, the highest point in The Bahamas, The Hermitage is the final resting place of Father Jerome, who lived quite an astonishing life. Born John Hawes, he was an architect who traveled the world and eventually settled in The Bahamas. An Anglican who converted to Roman Catholicism, he built many structures, including this hermitage on Mt. Alvernia; St. Peter & St. Paul's Church in Clarence Town, Long Island; and the St. Augustine Monastery in Nassau. He retired to Cat Island to live out his last dozen years as a hermit, and his final, supreme act of religious dedication was to carve the steps up to the top of Mt. Alvernia. Along the way, he also carved the stations of the cross. At the summit, he built an abbey with a small chapel, a conical bell tower, and living quarters comprising three closet-size rooms. He died in 1956 at the age of 80 and was supposedly buried with his arms outstretched, in a pose resembling that of the crucified Christ.

The pilgrimage to The Hermitage begins next to the commissioner's office at New Bight at a dirt path that leads to the foot of Mt. Alvernia. Don't miss the slightly laborious climb to the top. The Hermitage provides a perfect place to pause for quiet contemplation, with glorious views of the ocean on both sides of the island. A caretaker clears the weeds around the tomb—islanders regard it as a shrine—and lights a candle in Father Jerome's memory.

Fernandez Bay Beach

Imagine the perfect calm cove in the tropics—a 1-mile stretch of glistening, pristine white sand, inviting shade under coconut palms and sea grape trees, quaint resort cottages and verandas facing the spectacular sand, and calm azure water. Fernandez Bay Village has an elevated restaurant and bar overlooking the water. Kayaks and paddleboards are available to guests. The beach is uncrowded and known for its calm waters and offshore snorkeling. Amenities: food and drink; water sports. Best for: solitude; snorkeling; sunset; swimming; walking.

New Bight, Bahamas

Greenwood Beach

An 8-mile stretch of pink sand on the Atlantic Ocean makes this one of the most spectacular beaches on Cat Island. Hypnotized by the beauty, most visitors walk the entire beach, some going even farther to an adjoining sandy cove accessible only by foot. After such a long walk, a dip in the shallows of the turquoise ocean is pure bliss. The beach is on the remote southeastern end of the island and is home to just one hotel, Greenwood Beach Resort, which is a good place for a bite and a drink. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; snorkeling; swimming; walking.

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Ocean Beach

On the eastern Atlantic side, 4 miles from Queen's Highway at Smith's Bay is Ocean Beach, 1.8 miles of pink sand and cool breezes. This is a stunning beach that sits below a towering sand dune. There's no shade here, and you should bring whatever water-sports equipment you want. When conditions are right it's good for surfing and, when calm, paddleboarding, kayaking, and snorkeling on the nearby reefs. Bring water and snacks. Only reasonably accessed with a four-wheel-drive vehicle due to the rugged off-road that leads to this beach. Amenities: none. Best for: snorkeling.

Old Bight Beach

Fall asleep on this beach and be completely undisturbed. Walk the five-mile stretch and find only your footprints. The peace and solitude you find at Old Bight Beach is due to the light-touch development along this southwestern part of Cat Island's coast. If you need access to the basic comforts, a small boutique resort is seamlessly blended into the natural surroundings on the southern end of the beach. Amenities: food and drink; nonmotorized water sports. Best for: solitude; sunset; swimming; walking.
Old Bight Beach, Bahamas

South Cat Island Plantations

The Richman Hill–Newfield and the Deveaux plantations show what plantation days on the island looked like. Look for the slave quarters near the bigger stone buildings. Take photos from the path but be careful exploring these crumbling buildings.