Rum Cay is an island and district of the Bahamas . Lat.: N23 42′ 30″ – Long.: W 74 50′ 00″ – Size: 30 Sq. mls Rum Cay, 20 miles (32 km) southwest of San Salvador Island, is mainly flat with rolling hills that rises to about 120 feet (37 m). Christopher Columbus called it Santa Maria de la Concepción. The island is believed to have acquired its more racy modern name from a shipwrecked cargo of rum.
The main settlement is Port Nelson, a picturesque village lying among coconut groves. First known as Mamana by the Lucayan Indians, the cay was later renamed Santa María de la Concepción by Columbus . Spanish explorers once found a lone rum keg washed up on a shore and changed the name again to Rum Cay (pop: 53 1990 census). In the north there is an interesting cave, which has Lucayan drawings and carvings. Various artifacts from the Arawak period have been found by farmers in the fertile soil, which the Indians enriched with bat guano. In common with other islands, Rum Cay has experienced a series of booms and busts.
Pineapple, salt and sisal have all been important industries, but competition and natural disasters, such as the 1926 hurricane, have all taken their toll and today tourism is the main source of employment. Plantation boundaries known as ‘margins’ can be seen all over the island, which date from the beginning of the 19th century when Loyalists settled here. Nearly everybody lives in Port Nelson where cottages can be rented.
Settlements such as Port Boyd, Black Rock and Gin Hill are now deserted and overgrown. Deep reefs and drop-offs surround this former pirates’ haven. There is staghorn coral at Summer Point Reef and good diving at Pinder’s Point. At the Grand Canyon , huge 60-foot coral walls almost reach the surface. Summer Point Marina has dockage, moorings, bar and restaurant. There is a small guesthouse available from former Constable Ted Bain. The Last Chance Yacht Supply has groceries. Batelco office for phone calls closes at lunchtime. Yachts wait here before sailing to Mayaguana or the Turks and Caicos Islands, or before returning to Georgetown and points north. Adventuresome divers can still find the shaft, anchor chains and hawser holes of the H.M.S Conqueror, Britain ‘s first propeller driven warship. It sank in 1861 and can still be found in 30 feet of water in a staghorn gully near the breaking reef.