Points of interest on Cat Island include an Arawak cave at Columbus Point, on the island's southern tip. In addition, you can see the ruins of many once-flourishing plantations that saw their heyday during the island's short-lived cotton boom. Early planters, many of them British Loyalists, marked their property boundaries with stone mounds -- some of which are now nearly 200 years old. The ruined plantations include Deveaux Mansion, built by Col. Andrew Deveaux, who led the fledgling U.S. Navy to recapture Nassau from the Spanish in 1783, and Armbrister Plantation, which lies in ruins near Port Howe.

You can also hike along nature paths through native villages and past exotic plants. You'll eventually reach the peak of Mount Alvernia, the highest point in The Bahamas, at a mere 62m (203 ft.) above sea level. For your efforts, you'll be rewarded with a spectacular view.

The mount is capped by the Hermitage, a religious retreat built entirely by hand by the late Father Jerome, the former "father confessor" of the islands, who was once a mule skinner in Canada. Interestingly, the building was scaled to fit his short stature (he was a very, very short man). Formerly an Anglican, this Roman Catholic hermit priest became a legend on Cat Island. He died in 1956 at the age of 80, but his memory is kept very much alive here.

Cat Island Dive Center, at Greenwood Beach Resort (tel. 242/342-3053; www.greenwoodbeachresort.net), takes visitors out on diving or snorkeling excursions and rents out snorkeling gear and other water toys. A single boat dive costs $75 per person, a double costs $110, and half-day snorkeling trips go for $35 per person. Our favorite diving spot is along the west coast, where Dry Heads is the finest reef. It gets its name because at low tide, a blanket of purple sea fans stands high and dry. The drop here is 7.6m (25 ft.), and as you plunge below, you'll meet butterfly fish and queen angels swimming over the coral heads.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.