| Lat.: N24 20' 00"
Long.: W75 28' 00"
Size: 150 Sq. mls
Cat Island is perhaps the least-known inhabited island in The Bahamas. It is about 48 miles long and averages between one and four miles in width. It is located southeast of Eleuthera and northeast of Long Island. It is believed that Cat Island was named after pirate Arthur Catt, who used to frequent the island. For more than four centuries, Cat Island was called San Salvador and thought by some to be the first landfall of Columbus in the New World. However, in 1926, Watlings Island, also named after a pirate, was redesignated San Salvador and the name Cat Island was used once again.
The first permanent settlement made at Cat Island was in 1783 when the Loyalists arrived. Plantations were set up and the ruins of some can still be seen today. One such plantation is located in Port Howe, a small picturesque village. It was believed to have been built by the intrepid Colonel Andrew Deveaux who recaptured Nassau from Spain in 1783. Cat Island is also known as an ‘obeah’ island, with many tales of illness, retribution and “fixes” meted out by the workers of obeah, a form of witchcraft.
Cat Island is the home of Sidney Poitier, the internationally acclaimed Bahamian actor who spent his boyhood days at Arthur’s Town, one of the many settlements on the island. The highest peak in The Bahamas is Mount Alvernia, located in the settlement of New Bight, it reaches 206 feet. On its peak is a monastery called The Hermitage, built by Monsignor Jerome Hawkes who came to The Bahamas as an Architect and an Anglican priest to repair five Anglican churches on Long Island. He was later ordained as a Roman Catholic Priest and became known as Monsignor Jerome Hawkes.
Information courtesy of Bahamas Information Services, Department of Archives and Local Government.