Apart from a settlement of Arawak Indians, probably dating to the 11th century, Pine Cay has had no permanent population until The Meridian Club, Turks and Caicos was built here in the 1970s. Today, the people who work on the island come primarily from North Caicos and Middle Caicos. Their names and the ruins of plantations around their villages date back to a short-lived wave of settlement by English loyalists escaping the American revolution. Prior to that, some believe that Columbus made landfall in the Turks and Caicos Islands on his second trip. Perhaps the fresh water lakes on Pine Cay filled his water barrels. Certainly during World War II, submarines put in at Pine Cay for fresh water.
Pine Cay's most striking natural feature, aside from its beach, is its underground fresh water lens. The structure and porosity of the limestone is such that rainfall is absorbed and held as if in a sponge. Being lighter, the fresh water floats on the underlying salt water, forming an underground lens-shaped layer of pure fresh water, varying in depth from a few inches to over 40 feet.
There are several distinct vegetation zones on Pine Cay, each with its own set of plants and attendant bird life. Over 100 plant varieties have been identified, including an ancient mahogany tree, branched cacti, and two varieties of native orchid. The eastern shore has the deepest soil and correspondingly densest vegetation. The bird population varies with the season, with peaks during the migration periods. Island walks may reveal several nesting areas.