A Cat Lover’s Guide to Exploring Cat Island

Introduction to Cat Island

Cat Island is located in the central Bahamas, about 150 miles southeast of Florida and 125 miles south of Nassau. With an area of 48 square miles, it is one of the largest islands in the Bahamas [1]. The island’s topography consists of ridges, inland valleys, and wetlands. The highest point is 206 feet above sea level at the summit of Mount Alvernia.

Historically, Cat Island was once a refuge for Seminoles escaping from Florida and for enslaved Africans [1]. It was one of the first islands colonized by Europeans in the Bahamas during the late 1600s. The island gets its name from the French phrase “île aux chats” referring to the wild cats that inhabited the island when it was first explored [2].

Today, Cat Island is known for its stunning yet secluded beaches, fishing, eco tours, hiking, and historical sites. The island’s laidback atmosphere attracts those looking to get away from more crowded and developed islands. Popular attractions include Mt. Alvernia Hermitage, the Hermitage Beach, and the Big Blue Hole.

Transportation Options

There are several ways to get around Cat Island depending on your budget and preferences.

Ferries and Private Boats

The most common way to reach Cat Island is by ferry or mailboat from Nassau. The main ferry operator is Bahamas Ferries which offers daily service to and from Nassau with a travel time of about 5-6 hours (https://www.bahamasferries.com/schedules/). There are also private charter boats and yachts that can transport visitors directly to Cat Island.


There are a few airports on Cat Island served by regional carriers like Western Air and Southern Air. Flights from Nassau to New Bight Airport take around 30 minutes. Many resorts and hotels offer shuttle service to/from the airport.

Taxis and Shuttles

Visitors can arrange airport transfers and get around the island using local taxis and shuttle services. Popular companies include Golden Sunshine Tours and Raymond Taxi Service, with rates starting around $50-75 for airport transfers (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g147427-Activities-c59-t182-Cat_Island_Out_Islands_Bahamas.html).

Renting a Car

Renting a car is a popular way to get around Cat Island due to the flexibility it provides. There are several car rental companies on Cat Island to choose from. Some of the most well-known companies include Gilbert’s Inn and Car Rental, Favors Car Rental, and MLR Car Rental.

The types of vehicles available for rent range from small economy cars to SUVs and passenger vans. The larger vehicles like SUVs and vans that can transport 6-8 passengers are useful for group trips. Some companies also offer jeeps and trucks for rent.

Rental car rates average around $50-100 USD per day. Factors like the vehicle type, rental duration, and time of year impact the rate. It’s usually cheaper to rent for longer periods of time. Rental prices are higher in the peak winter tourism season compared to the summer. Insurance fees and taxes will also add to the total rental cost.

Most rental companies offer free pickup and drop off at the New Bight Airport. Travelers should book rentals in advance online or by phone since vehicle availability is limited on Cat Island. Having an international driver’s license is recommended but a valid license from your home country will also work.

Taxis and Shuttles

Taxis and shuttle services are readily available on Cat Island for getting around conveniently. According to Tripadvisor, some of the most popular companies include Cat Island Experience Taxi and Tours, Taxi Cat Island Bahamas, and Dean’s Boys Taxi Service.

Taxis can be booked in advance or flagged down on the street. Fares are not metered, so be sure to negotiate the price before getting in. Expect to pay $3-5 for a short trip within a town, or $20-40 for transportation between North or South districts. Taxis generally accommodate up to 4 passengers.

Shuttles offer more flexibility for groups, airport transfers, and island tours. Cat Island Experience provides shuttle service for up to 14 passengers starting at $60/hour. Booking 1-2 days in advance is recommended to ensure availability.

Bikes and Scooters

Renting a bicycle or scooter is a popular way to get around Cat Island. Many resorts and private rental companies offer bikes and scooters for rent by the hour or day.

Prices for bike rentals are typically around $15-25 USD per day. Scooter rentals generally range from $40-60 USD per day. Some places may offer discounts for rentals of 3 days or longer.

Major rental providers on the island include Fernandez Bay Village, Pigeon Cay Beach Club, and Glen’s Rentals. Advance reservations are recommended during peak seasons.

Helmets are required by law when operating both bicycles and scooters on Cat Island. Riders are expected to follow the same rules of the road as vehicles, staying to the left side. Extra caution is advised when riding at night due to lack of street lighting in many areas.

While bikes allow you to take a more leisurely pace, scooters provide increased mobility for covering longer distances across the island. Both offer a fun way to experience the island’s scenery and architecture.

Golf Carts

Golf carts are a very popular way for visitors to explore Cat Island. The island’s small size makes golf carts a convenient option for getting around (Source). There are several rental companies on Cat Island that offer golf carts, including Harbourside Golf Cart Rentals and Island Cart Rentals. Prices typically range from $50-$100 per day (Source).

Golf carts allow you to easily access various points of interest around the island. Most major resorts and rental properties also offer golf carts to their guests. With a small island layout, golf carts provide the perfect way to leisurely explore Cat Island’s beaches, restaurants, shops, and attractions.


Cat Island has limited sidewalks and paved roads, so walking can be challenging in some areas (Source: Bahamas.com). However, there are several trails and paths suitable for walking, especially in the Mt. Alvernia and Port Howe areas.

The hike to the peak of Mt. Alvernia, Cat Island’s highest point, takes about 20-30 minutes and rewards walkers with panoramic views of the island (Source: Afar). The trails are steep and rocky in some sections but doable for most fitness levels.

There are also a few flatter coastal trails near Old Bight and Port Howe offering beach access and scenic ocean vistas. Guided nature walks are available through tour companies like Island Routes.

When walking, be cautious of traffic as there are few sidewalks or pedestrian zones. Wear sturdy shoes, bring water, and apply sun protection. Walking early in the day will avoid the midday heat. Overall, Cat Island’s peaceful atmosphere and striking landscapes make it ideal for leisurely walks and hiking.

Boat Rentals and Tours

One of the best ways to explore the crystal clear waters around Cat Island is by renting a boat or going on a boat tour. There are a variety of options available for renting motor boats, sailboats, catamarans, and other vessels to take you on a sailing adventure. Many local companies offer full or half-day snorkeling tours to secluded cays and reefs, providing all necessary gear and often lunch as well.

The types of boats available for rental include:
– Small motorboats and dinghies for 2-4 people (costs around $100-150 per day)
– Larger motor yachts for groups up to 12 people (costs $300-800 per day)
– Catamarans and sailboats for full or half-day trips (costs around $80-200 per person)

Snorkeling tours typically range from $50-100 per person for a half day trip. Most tours provide all snorkel gear, take you to 1-2 pristine reef locations, and serve a snack or lunch onboard. Some companies also offer sportfishing charters, scuba diving trips, and sunset cruises.

A few of the top operators for boat rentals and tours in Cat Island include Calvert’s Catamaran Charters, Top Cats Fishing Charters, and Bow Leg Charters. Advance reservations are recommended during peak seasons.

Where to Stay

Cat Island has a variety of accommodation options for travelers including hotels, resorts, villas, vacation rentals, and more. Popular hotels and resorts on Cat Island according to TripAdvisor https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g147427-Cat_Island_Out_Islands_Bahamas-Hotels.html include:

  • Rollezz Villas Beach Resort – A beachfront boutique hotel with villas and suites
  • Shannas Cove Resort – Small beachfront hotel with cottage rooms and villas
  • Greenwood Beach Resort – Beachfront hotel with cottage-style rooms

There are also many vacation rental options on Cat Island like private villas, beach cottages, and condos that can be booked on sites like VRBO and Airbnb. These offer amenities like full kitchens and multiple bedrooms for families and groups. Good locations for vacation rentals are near beaches like Hawk’s Nest Resort and Fernandez Bay Village according to https://www.myoutislands.com/bahamas-resorts/island/cat-island-resorts.

Getting Around Specific Areas

Each part of Cat Island has its own options and tips for transportation based on where you want to go and what you want to do. Here’s an overview of getting around some key areas:


At the main port area, you can easily walk around to shops, restaurants, and attractions. Taxis and rental cars are also readily available if you want to venture further. The port tends to be bustling with cruise ship passengers during the day.


The gorgeous beaches of Cat Island like Bennett’s Beach are best reached by rental car or taxi. The main beaches have parking available. You can also rent a bike or scooter to leisurely explore the coastline. Just be ready for the challenge of sandy roads.


To access historical sites, inland caves, and secluded settlements, a rental car is highly recommended. Taxis can also provide transport further inland but may have minimum charges. The inland dirt roads are rough and require a sturdy vehicle.

Tips by Location

In busy port areas, walking or biking works well during the day. At night or for farther destinations, take a taxi. For flexibility in exploring beaches and inland areas at your own pace, rent a jeep or SUV. Travel with caution on bumpy roads and designate a sober driver. When planning beach trips or inland tours, schedule transportation in advance.

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