Home #WHERETONEXT Caribbean Monasteries and Other Mysteries inThe Bahamas

Monasteries and Other Mysteries inThe Bahamas

The Mount Alvernia Monastery
Photo: The Mount Alvernia Monastery, courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation

The 700-odd islands of The Bahamas are filled with notable landmarks – both natural and otherwise. While sublime beaches, sunken ships, and colourful corals dominate many of the “must-see” lists, lovers of both history and geology will find no shortage of attractions to fall in love with. Hidden away in some of the destination’s most remote places, these incredible spots are brimming with history…and in some cases, a little mystery!

The Mount Alvernia Monastery

On Cat Island, home to the highest point of land in the country, a Roman Catholic priest-turned-architect by the name of Monsignor John Hawes built a small stone medieval-style monastery in 1939. He called his getaway Mount Alvernia, after St. Francis of Assisi’s Tuscan retreat. A skilled sculptor known affectionately as “Father Jerome” by the Cat Islanders, Hawes erected the site as a place of peaceful contemplation. Mt. Alvernia stands at 206 ft (63 metres). Climbing the steep path up the hill, modern visitors will first see his hand-carved reliefs of the Stations of the Cross, before reaching the summit where they can admire his beautiful and detailed architectural work and enjoy a panoramic view of Cat Island.

The Cloister

In the capital city of Nassau, a cloister of gothic arches rests on white marble columns in a beautiful garden. The authentic structures were re-erected in the late 60s by the developer of Paradise Island. Packing cases containing the stones were mixed up in US Customs, so no one is entirely sure of the provenance of each piece, but they are an amalgam of the remains of a 12th-century Augustinian monastery in France and a Cistercian monastery in Spain. Part of the Four Seasons Ocean Club, The Cloister is a spectacular background for weddings and picnics or just a quiet spot to get away from it all.

The Bimini Road

Of the many compelling geological formations in The Bahamas, none is stranger than the underwater structure known as the Bimini Road, just east of Miami. Although now understood to be a completely natural rock formation, it was initially thought to be evidence of the lost City of Atlantis. Lying at a depth of about 18 feet off the northwest coast of North Bimini and looking somewhat like the ruins of an aquatic highway, the unusual arrangement and shape of the stones led to the belief it was a deliberately constructed feature. Dive or snorkel the site and decide for yourself!

These storied sites and more await your exploration! Start planning your Bahamas trip at https://www.bahamas.com/.