The Abacos are part of the Outer Islands in the Bahamas, which means they are still pristine tropics with the finest ocean fishing. If Ryder Cup Captain Darren Clarke needed to make good on the fishing bet joked by Davis Love III, he has the perfect spot at The Abaco Club on Winding Bay in Marsh Harbour where he often resides. Visitors may register at this exclusive, private Abaco Club and pick up their golf cart with a nameplate to commute between restaurants, rental home, beach and spa. No tee times are required at the golf course that winds through the island bush of Abaco and out by the serene blue sea. Sand bunkers throughout mirror the beach with a smattering of tiny seashells. Curly tailed lizards scooting across rocks represent the gallery along with Abaco parrots that squawk before flashing their striking bright tail feathers in flight. Native terrain is preserved by the absence of cart paths except for the stone lined strips between greens and tees and climbing up the steep hill to number 15 where the ocean comes into view again across a deep chasm. The pounding waves crescendo along the 18th fairway.
Buster’s Beach Bar serves breakfast, lunch and happy hour as well as the weekly barbeque. This is a stupendous buffet with marshmallow toasting at the fire pit. In case of inclement weather, it is relocated to the Cliff House, a fine dining restaurant perched next to the pool for a grand view. The Abaco Club is where grandparents, parents and kids dance to the local Rakes ‘n Scrape band after dinner.
Mornings begin with the sun rising over the Cliff House, illuminating the turquoise hues of ocean along the two-mile creamy beach. Wade out with the green sea turtles to the little island, Sugar Cay, for lounging or snorkeling on the reef. Or go by a glass bottom kayak or stand up paddleboard. Sail on a Hobie Cat or glide silently on the electric powered Funcat with fingertip control. All water toys are inclusive. A few minutes away Little Harbour has dedicated slips for Abaco Club members’ boats. This small spot is almost off the grid. Pete’s Pub and Gallery is the main attraction. It’s where Pete sculpts his bronze statues and Charlie might take you fishing on his dingy to catch some conch and show you the blue hole. His childhood buddy, Captain Mark has a much larger charter boat at the Treasure Cay Beach, Marina and Golf Resort. Trips are customizable by this native Bahamian whose knowledge and expertise is unsurpassed around the Abacos.
Island hopping is easy in a day. Visit Hopetown’s lighthouse, still manually operated or New Plymouth settlement, intact from the days of old with conch cracking on the dock. Lunch at Green Turtle Club is sure to delight. Pair the lobster salad sandwich with a Tipsy Turtle rum drink and you’re ready to hop back on the boat. Stop by No Name Cay to feed the pigs or by Guana Cay to hand feed the manta rays as their velvet skin tickles your toes. You never know day to day what you’ll see in the sea, perhaps dolphins or whales or flying fish. Our biggest thrill with Captain Mark was deep sea trolling. Wahoo! We caught two of these very impressive fish, wahoo, that the chef prepared for us. Treasure Cay’s spacious accommodations are more affordable but still clean and comfortable. Avis Miller, hotel manager has warmly welcomed guests for 35 years. It has been awarded best beach of the Caribbean (even though it is officially north of the actual Caribbean) by many sources through the years. The turquoise blues change hues through the day affected by sunlight and wind currents.
Nightlife is a little more active at Treasure Cay. Restaurants have a flashy fun event going on every day from the Coco Beach Grill to the fine cuisine at Spinnakers. The Dick Wilson designed golf course has public charm with wide fairways lined by woods or “bush” depending on if you are Bahamian or a transfer. Bright bougainvillea twines over tresses at the clubhouse. Sea grapes, morning glory, flowering trees and roaming roosters sprinkle color throughout. But let’s face it, golf is secondary in the Abacos where the sugar white sand beaches make for a romantic stroll. And like Darren Clarke says, “Fishing is more fun.” http://www.myoutislands.com http://theabacoclub.com http://treasurecay.com.
Alice and Danny Scott are known as America’s Golfing Couple and travel the world writing for many publications. Visit their website at www.americasgolfingcouple.com.