The ‘must see’ Dark and Secretive Road to the Cat Island Seaside
On my last trip to Cat Island, Bahamas I knew there was one place I had to visit: a little-known underground cave system that snakes through the bushes of the Bluff, a northern settlement in Cat Island, and empties out by the seaside, overlooking the Bahama Bank.
Peter’s Cave is not labeled on any tourist maps, so don’t bother looking for it. Not all Cat islanders know about this must see attraction in the bushes of the Blluff. Not even the wise oracles at Google know much about this mysterious site. According to the search engine, the only Peter’s Cave is an underwater system in Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands.
It was by chance that I met Alexander Wilson, a local farmer and travel guide who knows the cave intimately. He is a native of the Bluff, where you can probably find others to steer you in the right direction.
Last summer I was volunteering with a local non-profit, The Indaba Project, on our annual Island Stewards Summer Camp for New Providence children. We were scheduled to visit Alexander’s sister Ronnie for the children to tour her pig farm.
Through conversation over lunch we learned about the cave. As a child, Alexander and his friends would steal away from the gaze of adults to roam through the darkness of the cave. By the ocean entrance they would swing from towering trees, no longer standing, and plunge into the inviting water below.
Naturally, the entire group – all 20 of us – wanted to go see the cave. Unfortunately our schedule did not permit. On my next trip to Cat Island, I had no intention of passing up the opportunity again. I deliberately sought out Alexander so he could escort me on my journey to the cave.
The Underground Hideout: Peter’s Cave, Cat Island
The hike through the bush to find the entrance was not very long or treacherous. Alexander knows how to handle his cutlass. There was an abundance of Soap Bush on the trail, which is a flowering plant I know as Button of Gold. Its broad leaves are velvety, which is why Cat Islanders consider the leaves to be the substitute of choice for toilet paper. They can also be used as a cloth to wash the grease off dishes, according to Ronnie. I tried neither use, but I do take their word.
The cave itself is very cavernous. Bat Cave, which is another nearby cave, has only one known entrance and one known cavern. It is a relatively simple cave. Peter’s Cave has multiple passages and entrances. Not all of them are accessible for grown adults.
The bush entrance is pretty large, so you basically just walk in, but then it gets tighter and you have to duck and bend to reach the other side. There are a few pockets of light that illuminate little areas, but you definitely need a flashlight. The artificial light of course will wake up the bats. There is a small colony of bats in the cave, but nothing to write home about.
When you reach near the ocean entrance you start to hear the echoing sound of waves beating against the hollowed rock. It is an invigorating sound, because you know light is near. When you get close enough there is sufficient natural light from the different entrances to illuminate the path.
It is best to come prepared for a swim, as I did, but unfortunately the windy day made conditions dangerous. With the waves crashing hard over the rocks there was no way for me to get out once I dove in. One a calm day, however, there is a perfect platform carved naturally into the rocks for sunbathing and diving.
I highly recommend Peter’s Cave as a must see for anyone travelling to Cat Island.
If you happen to go:
How to get there? Peter’s Cave is located in the Bluff, Cat Island, which is a northern settlement on the island. Arthur’s Town Airport is the closest landing point if you are travelling to Cat Island by air. You can book tickets to Cat Island through a number of domestic airlines using the online booking engine www.bahamago.com. There are regularly scheduled flights. Rent a car and head down to the Bluff. Be sure to explore the many other attractions in Cat Island while you are there.
Where can I find a guide? Alexander Wilson, a native of the Bluff, is an excellent guide. He is a natural-born island storyteller, and bring the cave to life as well as the island culture that gives it meaning.
What else can I do? The North shore beach in the Bluff is a beautiful spot to take a dip and do a bit of snorkeling. The long dirt road to the beach passes through the historical Bluff Village, which is a community rich with history and culture.