Signature checks into… The Abaco Club on Winding Bay
Traveller: Sarah Driggs from Compass + Twine
Room: Beach Cabana
Address: The Abaco Club on Winding Bay, Marsh Harbour, Abaco, The Bahamas
Date: April 2017
Best for: Barefoot luxury in the Bahamas with one killer golf experience
The Abaco Club on Winding Bay is an exclusive sporting club in the Bahamas where members, homeowners and guests come to escape for the ultimate barefoot luxury experience. Calm cerulean waters, soft white sand and vibrant tropical foliage set the stage at this beloved island retreat. Located within a secluded pristine bay, the property embraces beach life with classic Bahamian architecture and a laid-back island vibe. But beyond the relaxed atmosphere and jaw-dropping natural beauty, the club is also home to one the best golf courses in the Bahamas, along with a wealth of world-class water sports.
The Signature factor
When some of the world’s highest ranked golfers choose this spot as their off-season playground, you know the course has to be pretty spectacular. Golf takes centre stage at the Abaco Club, and the private 18 holes prove to be as challenging as they are picturesque. Designed by Donald Steel and Tom Mackenzie, the course is recognised as the world’s first tropical links. Picture Scottish links-style fairways stretching along white-sand beaches with brilliant turquoise water on the front nine. Do you prefer more of a dramatic, rugged setting with waves crashing into the cliff-side, as you sink that par putt? No problem. That’s the back nine at The Abaco Club. Caribbean breezes and bunker-laden dunes make for a course so dynamic, it never plays the same way twice.
As a private club, the property offers an array of accommodation types from grand estates and waterfront homes to multi-bedroom cottages and charming single-bedroom cabanas. Golf carts are your main mode of transportation, taking you from a morning round of golf to an afternoon relaxing at the beach on a palm-shaded lounger. In addition to epic golf, water sports abound at The Abaco Club. On the pristine beachfront you’ll find a periwinkle-painted Activities Hut with kayaks, paddleboards, hobie cats and more. Sail out to the Sugar Cay, the club’s private island, or snorkel around Winding Bay in search of sea turtles. Whether you’re a member, homeowner or visitor, this exclusive retreat affords an experience unmatched in all of the Caribbean.
Pulling into the property, we were immediately greeted with fresh fruit juice and our own private golf cart for the weekend, ready and waiting. In no time at all, we were breezing down the flower-lined pathway to our beach cabana. On the right, we passed the golf course’s yellow, cottage-style clubhouse, and on the left was the Abaco Club’s beloved beach bar, Flipper’s. With that, our plans were set. We dropped off our bags and headed to the putting green for a friendly, barefoot putting match followed by coconut cocktails across the way at Flipper’s and a stroll on the beach.
We stayed in the most charming, peach-coloured beach cabana that was perfect for two. The fresh, bright interior space boasted soft yellow walls, fun turquoise island décor and modern amenities. The decadent king-sized bed was like a cloud to sink into at the end of an activity-filled day, and the cabana’s private patio offered a peaceful spot to enjoy our daily sunrise cup of coffee. Stepping out the door into the soft white sand each morning, we were presented with the difficult task of choosing whether to head to the beach (a stone’s throw to the left) or the golf course (a stone’s throw to the right). Equally enticing, you can’t go wrong with either choice.
The club has a range of homes, cottages and cabana options, but the most prestigious would probably be the custom estate homes. Many of the estates are over an acre in size and lie either on the beachfront or golf course. Own, rent or visit one of these villas and experience your own stately island retreat.
On my plate
We loved having lunch on the beach at Flipper’s (amazing conch fritters!) and then would head up to The Cliff House for dinner. The more upscale of the two, The Cliff House restaurant serves a myriad of delicious seafood, steaks and pastas, along with some really excellent wines. While the meal is sure to impress, so will the view. Floor-to-ceiling windows afford breathtaking views of tangerine sunsets over the tranquil waters of Winding Bay below. If you’re looking to head off-property for an evening, one of the coolest beach bars in the Bahamas, Pete’s, lies just 10 minutes away.
I wish I could take home…
Our private golf cart to breeze through the streets of Manhattan and park in those impossibly small spots.
With a 3.2-kilometre stretch of postcard-worthy beachfront, water sports galore, delicious restaurants, a spa, and amazing golf on property, there’s really no reason to leave. The Bahamas is famous for its world-class fishing, so if you’re looking to get out on the water for a day, the club can set you up with some of the best outfitters in the islands.
Multiple PGA-professionals call the club home, including Europe’s Ryder Cup team captain, Darren Clarke.
It was closer! The club’s secluded location is part of what makes it special, but there are no direct flights from NYC to Marsh Harbour International Airport on Great Abaco (unless you have your own private jet, which many of the members do). That being said, there are plenty of direct flights to the island from numerous other cities in the US, including Atlanta, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Getting there really ends up being quite easy… and definitely worth the trip.
No need to bring your own golf clubs; the property’s rental set will most likely be better anyways! While the golf and fishing are excellent, don’t forget to hop on the club’s paddleboards or kayaks and search for sea turtles in the bay just offshore.
Where to find it
by Sarah Driggs of Compass + Twine
Sarah Driggs and Lindsay Ridenour are the storytellers behind the NYC-based luxury travel blog, Compass + Twine. Follow along on Instagram @compassandtwine as they unearth some of the best hotels and travel experiences around the globe. From scenic landscapes to local cafés, they reveal the true character of a destination, always highlighting the best place to stay!