Scouting each year’s photo shoot location for Southern Boating’s Annual Swimsuit Issue begins nearly immediately after the magazine arrives in your mailbox. This year was no different. Last spring we started our search for the ideal location and considered dozens, all of which are spectacular in their own right. When it came down to the short list, the decision was unanimous for Cat Cay, Bahamas, located just 50 miles east of South Florida.

Clear, turquoise water and silky, white-sand beaches are just part of what has attracted both the famous and infamous to Cat Cay throughout history, including fearless pirates, Hollywood starlets, British royalty, and American presidents. Even before the small island was converted to a members-only club in 1935, Cat Cay offered protection and privacy—and a dreamlike escape from daily life.

For a few short days in early February, Southern Boating crew and models reveled in the luxury of Cat Cay—an oasis that is so close yet feels so remote.