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Abaco: the ideal Bahamian getaway

By Paul Knowles (first published in Forever Young)

It’s easy to get distracted when you are staying at The Abaco Club on Winding Bay. But all the distractions are utterly delightful.


Like when you stand on at a tee at the club’s truly terrific golf course, and take in the view of fairway, white sand, and aquamarine sea – you may be so enraptured that you forget to hit the ball!

Or when you catch a glimpse of the loud and lovely Abaco parrots whose boisterous chatter punctuates your day at Abaco.

Or when you travel the short trip away from the club, to Pete’s Pub, to try Pete’s signature rum punch (The Blaster) and amazing seafood, and think you must have stumbled into culinary heaven.

The truth is, the Abaco Club on Winding Bay is all about distraction. This getaway, on one of the 700 islands that make up the Bahamas, is built for busy people who need a place not to be busy for a while. Although located in the Bahamas, and owned by an American from Boston, there is also a distinctly Canadian accent to the place, with both residents and staff members hailing from our home and native land. In fact, I ran into Canada’s ambassador to the United States at Abaco Club – David McNaughton owns a home there.

Let’s be clear – Abaco Club on Winding Bay is not a resort to which you can return as a guest, a week a year. It’s officially “a private sporting club” – the only residents here, are property owners, or “international members” whose membership allows them to rent accommodation and use the facilities. You may also encounter a limited number of visitors who are allowed to visit a limited number of times, and then have to decide to buy or say goodbye.

For those who choose to join the club, it’s a magical place. Always assuming you are looking for a slightly remote, entirely non-urban get-away. If you want a perfect combination of laid-back and luxurious, this is it.

The accommodations range from relatively simple – although entirely pleasant – to highly upscale. Parked in front of each residence is a golf cart, labeled with your name. One of the delightful quirks at Abaco is that, if you park your cart facing the restaurant or your own cottage or cabana, “golf cart fairies” will turn it around for convenient departure on your next trip.

That short drive may take you to the best golf course in the Bahamas, to the spa, to casual dining at Flipper’s or more elegant fare at The Cliff House, or to the two-mile beach. You might also head out on the water for water sports, sailing, or some of the finest fishing – either saltwater flats fishing, or deep-sea angling. Abaco is especially noted for bonefish, permit and tarpon fishing – fishing fans come from all over the world to ply these waters.

And golfers are instantly smitten with one of the most beautiful courses, anywhere. A few years ago, a design decision saw the elimination of a lot of the rough, which was replaced with acres of white sand, making this course one of the most strikingly lovely layouts you will find – an abstract work of art that happens to be a championship golf course. Abaco Club on Winding Bay regularly hosts a tour event, and has welcomed golfers including Darren Clarke (a resident here), Brandt Snedeker, Rickie Fowler and emerging Canadian star Corey Conners. But the course can be played by golfers of any skill level, with a very high level of enjoyment. A unique feature of the Abaco course is that it spans the island, with some fairways stretching beside a tranquil, leeside beach, and others next to crashing ocean waves.

The Abaco Club on Winding Bay is still growing, with new homes and other accommodation options being built. It’s not surprising that it’s popular – everywhere I went, from the beach front restaurant to the infinity pool to the bar in the Cliff House to the pro shop at the golf course, I found people eager to tell me how much they love the place, enthusing about the combination of natural beauty, excellent service, leisure activities and overall tranquility.

Tranquility, that is, until a beach-front party breaks out, with live entertainment (usually featuring the locally popular Rake ‘n’ Scrape style) and everyone getting into the festive spirit. With every face wearing a smile.

You see a lot of that, on Abaco.

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