The Abaco Club on Winding Bay is a members-only paradise on Abaco, one of the largest Bahamian islands. This under-the-radar-gem is where a Scottish-style links course meets the Caribbean’s signature turquoise waters: island golf as fine as the sands of its beach.
You might remember Hurricane Dorian from 2019, the storm that made landfall and waited days to move on. The drive to the club from the airport is eye-opening, and much of the devastation still remains. Piles of debris, trees snapped in half and downed power lines are a reminder of the extreme devastation.
But as you continue to drive south, every mile brings a bit more green, until you finally arrive at the lush paradise that is the Abaco Club – spared almost entirely, and miraculously, from Dorian’s impact. Covid cases here have been rare and Abaco Club is open — some say better than ever.
World’s Best Golf Destinations was recently invited for a weekend at the Abaco Club. Here’s a list of our must-dos:
- Play Golf, and Play as Much as Possible
Well of course golf was going to be on this list, but believe me when I say that it earned it’s number one spot. There’s a reason the Abaco Club’s course is top-rated in the Bahamas, but just because you’re in the islands doesn’t mean it’s a breeze. This 18-hole course stretches 7,000-plus. The toughness builds with a trying back 9. Offline golf balls vanish into dense tropical bush along the fairways, never to be seen again. But with so many water views, it’s hard to lose your cool.
Daly tee times are a must. You’ll discover something new about the course with each round such as a hidden Yeti cooler on #5 that stores ice-cold Kaliks beers. By day three, I stepped out from my cottage and hopped in the golf cart to the course. The staff at the course must have seen me coming because by the time I parked my golf cart, my clubs had been loaded in a course cart and I was going off the first tee no more than a minute later. It must have been a total of three minutes from cabana to tee.
Be sure to stop in the pro shop where brands you love, G/Fore and Peter Millar, are adorned with the Club’s striking and colorful mascot, the Bahama Parrot.
2. Enjoy Island Drinks and Cuisine.
Set on the beach, but just steps from No. 1, Flippers is the place to go for a pre- or post- round drink. Mai Tais, Bahama Mamas and Pina Coladas – the menu has everything you’d expect for a quick refresh. Pair it with a fresh slice of pizza from the bar’s wood fired oven, or local catch tacos from Tingum, the resort’s food truck parked nearby.
Dinner is served at the Cliffhouse, with a varied menu that includes conch chowder, fresh lobster, blackened grouper and lambchops. The octagonal clubhouse has a cocktail bar at its center, and a wine list that will impress any connoisseur. In the mood to stay in? Stop by the Club’s wine and cheese shop to pick up a bottle and hors d’ouvres, and order from an extensive private dining menu.
3. Be Active, Or Not
Beyond golf, Abaco Club has it all. Water sports, tennis and pickleball courts, world-famous saltwater flats fishing, deep-sea fishing, boating, and sailing. Enjoy a game of cornhole, beach volleyball, or take a paddle board or kayak to Sugar Cay, a small island just in sight. You can find all the action you want, or not. The pristine two-mile beach on the tranquil waters of Winding Bay is a destination in itself. A palm-frond umbrella and a cool breeze is really all you need.
4. Chat with Locals.
Bahamians are friendly, welcoming, charming, and funny. The staff at the Abaco Club is no exception, but maybe now more than ever. Having endured Hurricane Dorian, and the subsequent shut down that came with the pandemic, the greeting you receive when you arrive is genuine and grateful. The majority of staff was on the island for the storm, and all of them have an incredible survival story to tell. I was moved to tears hearing about their experiences and now, how they spend their extra time watching YouTube videos to install dry wall, or a new roof, and rebuild their homes. Abaco Club is certainly a gem, but the Club’s staff that truly shines.
Travelers fly into Marsh Harbour, about 25 minutes from the property. Regularly scheduled commercial flights are available from Nassau, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, and seasonally from Orlando and St. Augustine. Two to five bedroom cottage rentals are available once as a preview experience and membership initiation fees range from $5,000 to 100,000.
Travelers to the Bahamas must obtain and submit a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within five days of travel. For more information, visit https://www.bahamas.com/tourism-reopening. The U.S. also requires a negative COVID-19 PCR test to re-enter. The Abaco Club has a doctor on site that can administer the test for you at no extra cost.