Often as the Unspoiled Jewel of the Bahamas, Rum Cay is an island that is just 30 square miles full of white pristine beaches, green rolling hills, and clear blue waters. Just southwest of San Salvador Bahamas, this jewel of an island has attracted many fishermen, divers, and snorkeling enthusiasts due to the colorful reefs and azure waters that surround the island. World-class amenities can also be found here though the island is not as populated or as developed as the other Bahamas out islands like Exuma or Eleuthera. Despite the presence of only one settlement, Port Nelson, any traveler who stops by can be assured of a vacation filled with beauty, relaxation, and luxury.
History of Rum Cay Bahamas
Similar to the other Bahamas out islands, Rum Cay’s original settlers were the Lucayan Indians who named the island Mamana. Their drawings, artifacts, and carvings can be found on the island, a testament to their existence prior to the arrival of the Spanish. It is believed to have been Columbus’ second stop during his journey to the New World in 1942. It was at that time that the island was renamed to Santa Maria de la Concepcion. Its present name, Rum Cay, is believed to be in reference to a ship carrying a cargo of rum that went down just off the coral reefs near the island.
The salt industry on this Bahamas island was already underway before Charles II granted lands to the Lords Proprietors in 1670. The industry continued to boom, supplying salt to the plantations and colonies located on the coast of North America in the early 18th century and becoming the second largest salt producer in the Bahamas by the middle of the 19th century.
It was around the 18th century that Loyalists started settling on Rum Cay, creating plantations and slave settlements. The island’s population soon grew to more than 5,000 at some point, prosperous due to its numerous productions, from salt, sisal, and pineapples to cotton and various vegetables. Unfortunately, high import tariffs in America and natural disasters led to the downfall of these industries. Today, tourism is the main source of employment on Rum Cay Bahamas. And only about 100 residents live in the only remaining settlement, Port Nelson. Other settlements, such as Port Boyd, have been deserted and now overgrown.
Rum Cay Bahamas’ Attractions
There are quite a lot of places to see and things to do when visiting the Bahamas island of Rum Cay. Diving enthusiasts will certainly be happy to know that there are a number of places that they can explore, one of which is the ‘Underwater Museum of the Bahamas.’ This attraction is actually the remains of a 101-gun man-of-war named the H.M.S Conqueror which sank near Rum Cay in 1861. Huge 60-foot coral walls are located at the Grand Canyon while Sumner Point Reef allows snorkelers and divers to see staghorn coral. There are several other deep reefs and drop-offs surrounding the island, making it an ideal stop for those who love exploring the world under water.
Though Port Nelson is the only settlement on Rum Cay Bahamas, it is still quite a picturesque village to behold. It has an old world charm and is packed with rich history that will appeal to travellers looking for a glimpse in the past or just a quiet and quaint place to relax. Stunning beaches await exploration, including a pink sand beach called Ocean View Beach that’s perfect for sunbathing, picnicking, and beachcombing. History buffs will be excited to know that there are historical attractions to savor on Rum Cay. The Hartford Cave is one of the sites where residents have discovered artifacts left behind by the Lucayan Indians. Another historical site is the Cottonfield Point House where African slaves were trained.
Other activities tourists can indulge in include water sports like surfing, fishing, boating, nature tours, and shopping. Families can even entertain themselves by exploring caves and ruins all over the island.
Where to Stay on Rum Cay Bahamas
There are quite a number of places to stay at on Rum Cay Bahamas. Cottages and Beach villas can be rented out, particularly in the island’s only settlement, Port Nelson. There are also Bahamas resorts on the island such as Rum Cay Resort Marina, The Gone Surf Inn, and Sumner Point Marina and Villas.
Whether you stay on the island or just drop by for a day visit, there is no doubt that you will find something beautiful and memorable on this little jewel of the Bahamas.