Believed to be one of the most beautiful islands in The Bahamas, Cat Island is a lush, fertile sanctuary providing tranquility for those seeking to escape the pressures of modern society. Once a stop for Arthur Catt, famous British sea captain or notorious pirate (depending on whom you speak with), it is said that this island was named after him. Another theory for the name is the hordes of wild cats that the English encountered when arriving in the 1600’s. These cats were said to be descendants of the tamer pet cats that were orphaned by the early Spanish colonists when they left to find the gold of South America.
Since much of the myth and folklore of the Bahamas began here, the phrase “I’ll be with you in spirit” takes on a whole new meaning. Traditionally, when the last of a generation dies, his or her house is left for the spirit to live in. The relatives that remain gather stones from the site and construct a new dwelling. Residents on the northern part of the island place spindles atop their houses to prevent harm from coming to them; sort of a lightening rod for evil spirits.
Cat Island is sometimes called the “High Lands” of the Bahamas. The highest point throughout all of the Isles of The Bahamas, 206 ft. Mt. Alvernia, is located here. A hermit by the name of Father Jerome built a medieval monastery hewn from the limestone cliffs that lay atop this mountain - a perfect place for meditation. The view from these high cliffs is spectacular, looking down upon densely forested foothills and 60 miles of pink and white sand beach.
One of the most prosperous of the Loyalist colonies in the Out Islands was located here. During the 1700’s, many very prosperous cotton plantations were built and those who owned them became very wealthy. The mansions lay now in semi-ruin, covered in vines and the farm walls are crumbling. These once stately plantations are now a ruin competing for space with tropical flowers, grass and sand. Crumbling remnants of slave villages and Arawak caves hold artifacts that tell of an interesting past. Descendants of those early settlers still live in the area.
The philosophy the people who live here go by is “the Lord will provide”. Cat Islanders are renown for making due, using their ingenuity and the materials at hand to make what they need. Musicians from this Island have their own unique sound. Called “rake ‘n’ scrape” bands, they are featured at the local nightclubs and beyond. They make their instruments simply by using their imagination and ingenuity. For example; a piece of wood, some fishing line and an old time tub create a bass instrument; goat skins heated and stretched over wood make up a drum; conch shells for horns; and old comb covered with paper is a harmonica and an old carpenters saw scraped with a piece of metal make up a unique sound. A unique sound for a unique place.