Cat Island Bahamas: Home to Mount Alvernia & The Hermitage
There are so many other islands which make up the Bahamas chain and which provide tranquility and serenity. The story behind Cat Island, with its jewel-like hermitage, stretches out into the Atlantic Ocean and has a claim of being Columbus’s original landing site in the New World. 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.
History of Cat Island
The first permanent settlement at Cat Island made by the Loyalists in 1783. 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.
Rumor Behind the Name
Rumor has it 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 renamed San Salvador and the name Cat Island was used once again.
Geography of Cat Island
Cat Island is approximately 48 miles long and averages between one and four miles in width. It is located southeast of Eleuthera and northeast of Long Island. Located over 300 miles from Miami, Cat Island should not be confused with its very very small nephew Cat Cay–which is part of the Biminis.
This island’s distinct virtue is that it is home to the highest point in the Bahamas–Mount Alvernia–an astounding 206 feet (63 meters) above sea level (don’t look down!–Not). Which is about 200 feet too high–if you’re a Bahamian. 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 Anglican churches on Long Island. He was later ordained as a Roman Catholic Priest and became known as Monsignor Jerome Hawkes.
Cat Island also happens to be the sixth largest island too–and like all the other islands of the Bahamas, it is surrounded by gorgeous secluded beaches. If you want height try the Himalayas, or alps. If you want sun and fun–well try Cat Island.