Take the Plunge. Can You Really Swim at Cat Island?


Cat Island is one of the districts of The Bahamas, and is located in the central Bahamas about 150 miles southeast of Nassau. It has a population of around 1,500 people and is known for its miles of untouched beaches, fishing villages, and natural features like the Blue Hole. This article will provide an overview of Cat Island and the swimming conditions, activities, where to stay, and travel tips for visitors. We’ll cover the best beaches for swimming, safety considerations, and what makes Cat Island a unique destination in the Bahamas.

Overview of Cat Island

Cat Island is located in the central Bahamas, approximately 150 miles southeast of Nassau and 50 miles south of Eleuthera. According to Wikipedia, Cat Island has a total area of 150 square miles, making it one of the largest islands in the Bahamas archipelago. It is very sparsely populated, with only around 1,500 inhabitants as of the 2010 census.

The main settlement on Cat Island is New Bight, on the east coast. Other towns include Old Bight, Arthur’s Town, Orange Creek, and Port Howe. Some of the main attractions on the island include Mt. Alvernia, the highest point in the Bahamas at 206 feet above sea level, and the Hermitage monastery located near its peak.

Cat Island is also home to several beautiful beaches, including Hawk’s Nest Beach, Orange Creek Beach, and Bennett’s Beach on the north coast. Miles of secluded, sandy beaches make Cat Island a popular destination for those looking to get away from the crowds and experience the natural beauty of the Bahamas.

Beaches on Cat Island

Cat Island is home to many beautiful beaches with fine white or pink sand. Some of the major beaches include Pine Bat Beach, Old Bight Beach, Port Royal beach, Turtle Cove Beach, and Orange Creek Beach.

The sand at the beaches is soft and powdery, made up of finely crushed coral and seashells. This gives some beaches a pinkish hue. The eastern beaches tend to have whiter sand while the western beaches have more of a pink tint.

Most beaches on Cat Island are protected by offshore reefs, so the surf is generally calm and gentle. However, some northern and eastern facing beaches can experience larger waves when the wind picks up. Swimmers should be cautious of strong currents that can form between the reefs.

Swimming Conditions

The water temperature around Cat Island is typically warm and swimmable year-round. According to SeaTemperature.info, the sea temperature averages around 77-78°F during the winter months and rises to 82-84°F in the summer. The warmest ocean temperatures occur from July through October.

There are variable ocean currents around Cat Island that swimmers should be aware of. The main current flows westward along the northern coast, which can make swimming challenging at times. It’s best to check the latest ocean conditions before going for a swim. Resources like SwellInfo.com provide up-to-date information on surf height, wind speeds, and currents.

When swimming around Cat Island, it’s important to be aware of safety considerations. Lifeguards are not present on most beaches, so swimmers should stay near shore and avoid going too far out. The ocean floor drops off sharply in parts, creating unpredictable undertows. It’s best to swim at popular beaches where others can assist if needed. Avoid swimming alone. Hazards like sharks, jellyfish, and sea urchins may also be present.

Where to Swim on Cat Island

Some of the best beaches for swimming on Cat Island include:

Fernandez Bay Village Beach – This long stretch of soft white sand is great for swimming and snorkeling. There are beach chairs and umbrellas available to rent. No lifeguards are present (Source).

Greenwood Beach – The calm, shallow waters make this beach ideal for swimming. There are lounge chairs and umbrellas for rent. No lifeguards are on duty (Source).

Hawk’s Nest Resort & Marina Beach – This secluded beach offers excellent swimming in turquoise waters. The resort provides beach chairs and umbrellas. There are no lifeguards (Source).

Port Royal Beach – The gentle surf makes swimming enjoyable. There are no amenities or lifeguards at this quiet, pristine beach (Source).

Sea Glass Beach – Calm waters and soft sand provide ideal swimming conditions. No amenities or lifeguards are available at this secluded beach (Source).

Activities Besides Swimming

Though swimming and lounging on the beach may be the top draws for many visitors, Cat Island offers a variety of other activities for those looking to explore more of the island. Some popular options include:


With it’s pristine beaches and clear turquoise waters, Cat Island provides excellent conditions for snorkeling. Popular spots to snorkel and observe the colorful marine life include Mermaid Beach, The Bight, and Devil’s Point.[1] Guided snorkeling tours are available from local operators.


Fishing is a popular pastime on Cat Island, known for its bountiful ocean waters. Visitors can go deep sea fishing, reef fishing, and bonefishing for a chance to reel in snappers, groupers, marlins, and more. There are a number of knowledgeable local guides who can take you out fishing for half-day or full-day trips.[2]

Water Sports

In addition to snorkeling, visitors can also try their hand at other water sports like kayaking, paddle boarding, and kite surfing. Many beachside hotels offer rentals and lessons. For boating enthusiasts, power boats, sail boats, and jet skis can be rented as well.[1]


Cat Island has excellent hiking trails, especially to the top of Mt. Alvernia at 206 feet above sea level. The 3-mile hike offers panoramic views of the island. Guides are recommended. Other notable hikes are to Armbrister Plantation Ruins and Hickman’s Hill.[2]

[1] https://www.frommers.com/destinations/cat-island
[2] https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g147427-Activities-Cat_Island_Out_Islands_Bahamas.html

Where to Stay

Cat Island offers a variety of accommodation options for those looking to enjoy the swimming beaches. Some of the top hotels near the best swimming beaches include:

Rollezz Villas Beach Resort [1] is an all-inclusive resort situated along a 2-mile beach and close to swimming spots like Old Bight Beach. The beachfront villas and rooms make it a convenient option.

Greenwood Beach Resort [2] is another beachfront hotel located near good swimming beaches like Smith’s Bay Beach and Bennett’s Harbour Beach. It features cottage-style rooms and onsite dining.

For vacation rentals near the beaches, Airbnb [3] offers various privately-owned villas, apartments, cottages and more across Cat Island. These give you easy access for swimming as well as amenities like kitchens.

Camping is allowed at many beaches around the island. Old Bight Beach, Hawk’s Nest Resort Beach and Orange Creek Beach have camping facilities. You can pitch a tent right by the beach to enjoy swimming and water activities.

[1] https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g147427-Cat_Island_Out_Islands_Bahamas-Hotels.html

[2] https://www.myoutislands.com/bahamas-resorts/island/cat-island-resorts

[3] https://www.airbnb.com/cat-island-bahamas/stays

Travel Tips

When to visit: The best time to visit Cat Island is between late November and mid-April to avoid the rainy season. Winter months bring cooler temps in the 70s and 80s. Spring offers warm weather in the 80s before the summer heat and humidity arrive. [1]

How to get around: Rent a car at the North Bight airport to explore the island. Taxis and mini bus routes are also available, but sporadic and unreliable. A rental car allows the most freedom. Driving is on the left side of the road. [1]

Food/drink options: Stock up on groceries and water in the main towns before heading to more remote beaches. Restaurants and shops are limited, so come prepared with snacks and drinks if spending the day beach hopping. Conch and fresh seafood highlight local menus. [1]

[1] https://www.outislandlifebahamas.com/2018/08/a-mini-travel-guide-to-cat-island/

Safety Considerations

When swimming at Cat Island, it’s important to be aware of potential safety hazards like rip currents, wildlife, and limited medical services.

Rip currents are a common occurrence at beaches on Cat Island. According to a post on TripAdvisor, rip currents can be especially strong on the eastern side of the island near Devil’s Backbone [1]. It’s critical to swim near a lifeguard and pay attention to any posted warnings about dangerous swimming conditions.

In terms of wildlife, sharks and jellyfish are present in the waters around Cat Island. While shark attacks are rare, it’s best to avoid swimming at dawn, dusk or night when sharks are most active. Jellyfish stings can also occur, so if you’re stung, seek first aid right away.

Medical services on Cat Island are limited, with the nearest hospital located in Nassau. For this reason, travelers are advised to purchase travel insurance and take safety precautions to avoid any accidents or injuries requiring extensive medical treatment [2].


In this article, we explored the beautiful beaches and swimming conditions at Cat Island in the Bahamas. This remote island offers several scenic beaches to choose from for swimming, including the famous Pink Sand Beach on the north end. While the beaches look idyllic, it’s important to be aware of rip currents, reefs, and other potential swimming hazards before getting in the water.

To safely enjoy swimming at Cat Island, stick to designated swim areas watched by lifeguards when possible. Avoid swimming alone and stay close to shore. Check with locals on tide and weather conditions each day. For water activities beyond swimming, Cat Island offers great snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding and more.

Overall, with proper precautions, Cat Island does offer excellent opportunities to enjoy swimming and water activities in the Bahamas. Just be sure to educate yourself on the conditions, follow safety advice, and take advantage of local guidance. With its beautiful beaches and natural charm, a trip to Cat Island in the Bahamas promises a wonderful tropical getaway.

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