These are 5 of the best courses in the U.S. to play a round of golf

At long last, Canadians are back on the green. For those looking for a change of scenery, the U.S. is home to some of the best award-winning courses. These top golf destinations offer an ideal mix of pure golf, relaxation, and memorable dining experiences. With so many golf resorts to choose from, we rounded up some the of best that offer luxurious amenities, quality courses, and a variety of destinations.

Cape Cod

Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club

 

Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club is a golfer’s paradise. As Cape Cod’s only Nicklaus Design golf course, the 18-hole Troon Privé course is carved out of breathtaking natural surroundings, offering tree-lined fairways, rolling topography, and dramatic elevation changes for players of all levels. With a mix of harrowing approaches and dizzying doglegs, the course features 7,011 yards of golf with a par of 72. Golfers of any level are invited to enjoy the property’s Stay & Play golf package, which includes complimentary rentals, bag storage, and unlimited same-day play. Green rates and room rates vary by season.

North Carolina

Pinehurst & The Sandhills
 

It’s said the Pinehurst area is the “Home of American Golf.” This resort is spread over an entire quaint village, it was the very first golf resort in the U.S, and is now the largest in the Western hemisphere, with a stunning nine eighteen-hole courses – and a new short course. Often called “America’s St. Andrews,” there is simply no place on earth, public or private, other than Scotland’s St. Andrews, that can lay claim to so much golf history. Its signature Number Two course is the only one on earth that has hosted two different Men’s Majors and the Ryder Cup, as well as Women’s Majors, the U.S. Amateur, the Tour Championship and basically every important event that ever changes venues – the U.S. Open is returning yet again in 2024.

One hotel was completely rebuilt, new restaurants and even a brewery were added, along with many other improvements. But for years the best kept secret here has been the Carolina Villas, freestanding units perfectly designed for a foursome (foursomes with spouses/partners) with eight beds in four bedrooms, all with private bath and separate entrances, plus a large central living area, immediately next to the flagship Carolina hotel with immediate access to all services.

 

Arizona

Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort
 
Settle into the comforts of home amid plush suites and amenities coupled with breathtaking mountain views of the Phoenix North Mountain Preserve. Enjoy a variety of dining options, The Falls Water Village with private cabanas and a waterslide, spa & salon services, Troon Golf and impressive event spaces. Conveniently located to all freeways, only 15 minutes from downtown Phoenix and 20 minutes from Sky Harbor International Airport and many other enticing attractions, Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort is the perfect place to choose as your home-away-from-home.
 

Missouri

 

Missouri Big Cedar Lodge 

 

Big Cedar Lodge in the Ozarks of Missouri (just outside Branson) is a spectacular outdoor sporting resort already had plenty of deluxe log cabins with large porches, luxury bathrooms and full kitchens, but in recent years has quietly grown to become one of the 20 largest golf resorts in North America by adding course after course by top designers including Coore & Crenshaw, Fazio, Nicklaus and most recently (this month), the only public course in the country designed by Tiger Woods.

The resort features a collection of lodges, cottages and cabins offering the perfect place to relax with family and friends after a day on the lake. Big Cedar is home to numerous world-class restaurants and attractions like a breathtaking spa, championship golf, an expansive shooting facility and a 50,000-square-foot activity center. Whether you are looking for an adventurous outing or a relaxing retreat, Big Cedar Lodge is your perfect getaway.

 

Puerto Rico

 
Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort


Calling all golf aficionados: if playing fantastic courses on an island paradise surrounded by stunning beaches and lush mountain views is on your bucket list, then your next round should be in Puerto Rico. 

A cornucopia of unique and complementary courses beckon from throughout the Island. Options abound, from luxury properties on the north coast near historic San Juan to an array of courses out west, down south, or on the east coast.

The Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort is the idyllic retreat for any occasion, whether you yearn for a Caribbean golf getaway, crave an oceanfront escape, or you and the one you love need a little time under the sun and stars, there’s no place like Puerto Rico.

3 amazing wildlife encounters you can only have in The Bahamas

A cool Caribbean archipelago encompassing 700 dreamy islands, The Bahamas has quickly become a favoured destination for Canadians flying south for the winter. Beyond its offering of beaches, sand and spas, The Bahamas is also a haven for wildlife lovers, its waters teeming with fascinating animals like   gentle nurse sharks, stingrays and the Instagram-famous swimming pigs.

The island of Andros is home to the world’s third largest barrier reef, which hosts more than 164 species of fish and coral, making it one of the most popular locations in the country for divers and snorkellers. The beauty of The Bahamas goes beyond (and below!) the surface of its beaches. Visitors to the region have the chance to experience and enjoy the thrill of close wildlife encounters and voyages on animal adventures unlike anywhere else. 

Meet Exuma’s most famous residents 

Most novel of these experiences has to be the renowned swimming pigs in The Exumas. A must-visit photo opportunity, popularly documented across social media, the Big Major Cay swimming pigs are equally adorable and mysterious. How did these intelligent creatures end up living the dream on their own private island, surrounded by crystal blue waters with cascading palm tree canopies?

The story is still unclear. Some share enchanting tales of buccaneers and pirates, their captive porkers making a grand escape, while others speak of farmers seeking a place for their animals to be away from their homes and villages. Whatever the truth may be, be sure to speak to the locals whilst there and see which story rings the most true to you. The captivating swimming pigs have captured the hearts and attention of many and are an important and protected asset of the Bahamian ecosystem.

Adhering to a strict diet, it is important for visitors to abide and respect the rules and regulations and to remember that though appearing cute and cuddly, the swimming pigs are still wild animals that should be respected, treated gently and should only be fed fruits and vegetables. Guests are able to visit the pigs via chartered tours where they can spend time in the water with the animals, feeding them, petting them and observing how they swim and interact with each other and their tropical surroundings.
 

Swim with the sharks

Over in Compass Cay, located 75 miles from Nassau, the gentle and docile Compass Cay sharks (also known as nurse sharks) await the attention and admiration of human visitors with eagerness not to be outdone by their porcine counterparts. Growing up to 10ft long and weighing anywhere between 200-300 pounds, these bottom dwelling sharks feed on a diet of shellfish and coral and can live for up to 25 years.

Brown in appearance and smooth to touch, with hundreds of tiny serrated teeth, Compass Cay sharks are mostly harmless to humans, but should still be treated like all wild animals, with care and consideration guiding your interactions with them. A unique attribute of the nurse shark is their sucking: they vacuum up sediments with a distinctive high-pitched squeal, which makes them all the more endearing.

Snorkel with sting rays

Similar in smoothness and the way in which they gracefully glide through the Bahamian waters are the beloved Stingrays of Grand Bahama Island. Swim, snorkel or simply stand and enjoy these stingrays and their shallow white sand home. A gentle hands-on experience, suitable for the entire family, including little ones who are certain to never forget the memorable experience of holding and feeding a friendly stingray.
 
The Islands of the Bahamas are rich and abundant in the natural resources and wildlife that they have to offer those who visit the region, with swimming pigs, sharks and stingrays as well as starfish, turtles and more. Whether in shallow waters or wading in the deep, you are guaranteed to make lasting memories and enjoy experiences that you’ll reminisce long past the end of your holiday as you plan and anticipate your next visit. 

Explore the heart of Mexico with a visit to the colourful colonial city of Guanajuato

Known as the heart of Mexico, Guanajuato is home to boutique hotels, vibrant colonial cities, top notch tequila, gastronomical experiences, Instagrammable views and passionate people.

It’s hard to appreciate or understand just how much time goes into producing a bottle of tequila. That’s why one of the premium tequilas at the Tequila Corralejo distillery boasts the name 99,000 Hours to call attention to the lengthy amount of time it takes to create the añejo (old) spirit. 

“Eleven years and three months is the time of the whole process. From when the agave is planted until the harvest, it’s eight to 10 years. Then comes the process in the company [for roasting, distilling] and aging it for one year and a half,” says Nohemi Murillo, e-commerce manager and marketing executive at Tequila Corralejo. “The shape of this bottle is like a tree. It represents that we wait patiently to do something right. We are passionate and proud of the final result. We are so proud of our tequilas.”

The distillery is housed in a hacienda that’s roughly 1.5 hours from Guanajuato City and two hours from San Miguel de Allende, two colonial cities that are a must to visit in Guanajuato, which is also the name of the Mexican state. 

Here, a walking tour (free guided tours are available daily) reveals more insight into the process of making tequila, which can only be made using blue agave. Notably, you have to pass through a confessional to get to the storage area for Tequila Corralejo’s best tequilas, including 99,000 Hours.

The hacienda is open 365 days a year and produces its own bottles so along with an impressive collection of tequilas and whiskey to choose from, it’s an ideal spot to pick up glassware like vases and shot glasses. 

Murillo’s tour ends by sharing the product that’s at the heart of the business — the tequila that’s 99,000 hours in the making. With a smile on her face, she eagerly distributes a sample to everyone, passionately describing its smooth flavour profile. 

This passion winds up being a common theme across the people we encounter along the way over the next week across Guanajuato, from tour guides to restaurant owners to artists. Along with the highlights of the destinations themselves, it’s arguably the charm of the people that make the region known as The Heart of Mexico so special. 

It’s easy to see why San Miguel de Allende has become a popular spot for North American travellers. This city has a thriving culinary scene, delightful colonial Spanish architecture and photogenic boutique hotels. 

While Guanajuato City isn’t yet all well known in the Canadian market — it likely won’t be that way for long. For anyone looking for an alternative to their beach getaways or to tag on an authentic destination to a sunny stay, this UNESCO designated city offers something for everyone. With over 3,200 alleys to meander through, it’s indeed a city that’s best discovered by foot — and there’s a photo opportunity around every corner. For a stunning view of Guanajuato from above, take the funicular or steps up to Al Pipila monument. From below, the vibrant city almost appears toylike. 

Boutique luxury hotels are the norm across Guanajuato. In Guanajuato City, a great option is Casa del Rector, which has an awesome courtyard restaurant and a hard to top view of the colourful city from its rooftop bar. The boutique hotel also offers experiences like tequila and chocolate tasting with Jonathan Martinez of Xocola-T. Be prepared for chocolates with a twist — his creations have some unexpected ingredients like grasshoppers or fried pork skin, which pair surprisingly well with the chocolates. 

Another unique choice is Villa María Cristina, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The luxury villa has nineteenth-century roots and is like a labyrinth of discovery. For an Instagrammable stay near the tequila farms and plantations of Penjamo, look no further than Real de Piedra Hotel. If it looks straight out of a luxe magazine, it’s because the 20 room boutique hotel is owned by an interior decorator. For a modern hotel that’s steps away from the cobblestone street featuring one of the most iconic views of San Miguel, check into Hotel Matilda. Whether or not you spend the night, be sure to visit the rooftop Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar at Rosewood San Miguel de Allende for delicious tacos and spectacular views of the city. 

Travellers are drawn to Guanajuato for its boutique hotels, Spanish colonial architecture, gastronomical experiences and Instagrammable cities, but somewhere along the route you’ll discover it’s about so much more.  

Croatia..beautiful surprises are waiting for you

In Croatia, almost anywhere the land meets the water, rough steps carved from pure white limestone jut into the teal waters of the Adriatic Sea. The country’s impressive coastline is among the largest in the Mediterranean and has quickly gained recognition as one of Europe’s most beautiful.

Here, white sand beaches and towering palms are scarce. Instead, in July and August, when the heat from the sun is at its strongest, locals young and old can be found sprawled out on the nearest rock ledge that hangs over the sea, the rays turning their skin to a deeper shade of burnt bronze, while fishermen set up their boats and inspect their nets in preparation for a day on the water.

In 2011, 8.5 million international tourists trickled into Croatia. That year was also the same year that the first episode of what would eventually be one of HBO’s most popular television shows, Game of Thrones, aired with scenes filmed throughout the old town of the medieval city of Dubrovnik.

Now, a decade later, Croatia’s tourism numbers have more than doubled. Dubrovnik, though enchanting with its symmetrical orange clay roofs and ancient stone walls should by no means be the only city on your itinerary. As one of the five main airports in the country (Zagreb, Pula, Split, and Zadar being the others), Dubrovnik serves as the perfect jumping point for an extended Croatian holiday.

With its colourful coastal towns, balmy weather, and reputable culinary scene, Croatia is a country that can easily be explored from top to bottom.

Story & photos by CHRISTINE HOGG

HVAR

With more than 1,000 combined islands, reefs, and islets, Croatia’s archipelago is the largest in the Adriatic Sea, and the country has the second largest number of islands in the Mediterranean, second only to Greece.

The majority are inhabited, though some are home to only dense pine forests, wild boar, wolves, and bears, and secret beaches, whose crystalline waters can still be reached by boat for an exciting day trip.

Perhaps one of Croatia’s best islands, Hvar, is to Croatia what Ibiza is to Spain. Easily reached by ferry from Dubrovnik two times per day during the high season, Hvar is a destination that’s steeped in rich nightlife, making it an ideal spot to escape the larger crowds of Croatia’s landlocked regions, while still enjoying the social comforts a city can bring.

Hvar island is also home to the town of Hvar (not to be confused with the island itself ), which dates back to the 13th century. It’s the biggest settlement on the island, and where the majority of restaurants, bars, and shops are located. Hvar acts as an open-air museum to the past, with many well-preserved sites, like the Stari Grad Plains, an agricultural landscape that were constructed in the fourth century by the ancient Greeks.

One of the best ways to take in the entire island, including Stari Grad (just 25 minutes outside of Hvar town) is by renting a gaspowered scooter or a quad for the day.

From mid-June to mid-July, the island of Hvar is bathed in a sea of blooming, violet-coloured lavender fields, with the majority of the fields being on the stretch of road that connects Stari Grad back to Hvar town. When lavender is in season, the fragrant floral also makes its way onto the gelato menus all over the island, where a popular flavour combo is one scoop of lemon, and one scoop of lavender.

SPLIT

Split, Croatia's coastline from the Adriatic Sea features the towering white Cathedral of Saint Dominus

Head back to mainland Croatia for a brief visit by taking the ferry from Hvar to Split.

Arriving by water, Split’s picturesque skyline which features the towering white Cathedral of Saint Dominus, constructed in 305 AD, is the first glimpse visitors will have into the city’s thrilling past.

Split is Croatia’s second largest city and one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, thanks to its easy link to the surrounding Adriatic islands. It’s a city whose history is as beautiful as it is complex, and in the heart of it all lies a nearly 2,000-year-old compound built for a former emperor, known as Diocletian’s Palace. Its immaculately preserved grounds form a protective rectangle around the historic city of Split, with hundreds of shops, bakeries,
and restaurants found on the grounds.

Visitors to the palace are greeted by a 3,000 year-old Egyptian sphinx made from black African granite, which is said to have been dragged all the way from Egypt to Croatia under orders from the emperor himself.

Don’t miss the massive underground market inside of Diocletian’s Palace where tourists can purchase anything from genuine coral jewellery to stuffed lavender pillows and silk ties.

ZADAR

Continue heading north along Croatia’s Dalmatian coast to the city of Zadar, unmistakable for its dazzling white limestone streets and lively waterfront. In the evenings, listen along to the strums of soft guitar music and sing along to traditional Croatian songs that eventually lead to dancing in the streets.

The city of Zadar has a striking promenade with major fashion labels and an overwhelming restaurant scene that extends well beyond North America’s traditional palette.

A country that’s famous for its creative expression, whether through the visual arts, theatre, or, perhaps most importantly, music. Zadar is also home to several modern art installations, including the Sea Organ (2005), an experimental architectural instrument that uses the waves of the Adriatic Sea to produce randomized chords of music, which occur when the water flows into a series of pipes and a cavity constructed below a set of concrete steps, and the Greeting to the Sun (2008), a large circle made up of 300 glass solar panels. In the evening, the panels emit coloured lights, and the art installation transforms into a dance floor.

PULA

At one of Croatia’s northernmost points, and directly across The Adriatic Sea from Venice, Italy, lies one of Croatia’s best-kept gastronomical secrets —Pula.

Most easily reached by plane from Zadar aboard the regional carrier, Croatian Airlines, Pula is Croatia’s eighth largest city, located in the Istrian Peninsula. Much of its tourism stems from its impeccable food and wine offerings, which are much different than the cities further to the south.

The Istrian region gained even more recognition in 2012, when the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain traversed through Croatia to film an episode for his series, “No Reservations”. During the episode, Bourdain hunted for rare white and black truffles that nowadays can fetch upwards of 2,500 euro for even the smallest mushroom. 

While the restaurants found along the Dalmatian coast all serve the freshest catch of the day and a series of traditional pastas, including frutti di mare (grilled squid, clams, and shrimp done in white wine garlic or tomato sauce), in Pula, the diet becomes largely influenced by the proximity of Croatia’s next door neighbour, Italy.

Here, the wine flows as freely as the olive oil, which is poured on everything from woodfired pizza crusts to hearty traditional stews and soups. Homemade olives make their way onto charcuterie boards and meat dishes are featured more prominently on the menus.

Croatia is home to more than 300 geographically-designated wine regions, with a history of winemaking that dates back 2,500 years when the Ancient Greeks inhabited the area and planted the first grapes. Istria’s rich, red soils and sub-Mediterranean climate enables the wines made here to be flavourful and full-bodied. Food and wine tourism continues to dominate the Istrian Peninsula, and many culinary tours are available for booking.

Eat Istria, led by Istrian-born Goran Zgrablić, is one such company that offers both private cooking classes and organized wine tours. Guests can try their hand at rolling out traditional Croatian pasta (fuži), or chopping vegetables and preparing meat to make a traditional žgvacet or brodet goulash.

Not to be missed in the quiet city of Pula is the Pula Arena. Constructed between 27 BC and 68 AD, this Roman amphitheatre is one of the world’s largest six surviving arenas, and the only one of its kind to have all four walls preserved. Purchasing a ticket grants entry to the ancient seating area, where gladiators and beasts once faced off for royal entertainment, as well as a museum located beneath the arena where ancient artifacts can be viewed.

With their endless historic archaeological sites, modern attractions, breathtaking beaches, and culinary delights, these four regions are among Croatia’s most popular tourist destinations, and all provide yearround entertainment, whether visitors come in the high season or the low season.

Visit offshoretravelmagazine.com for more Croatia and updated information on travel arrangements.

Day and Night in Reykjavik

Day

Night

Island2

CHECK IN  Downtown Reykjavik’s imposing Hotel Borg By Keahotels (keahotels.is/en) is an elegantly styled lodging in the centre of it all, boasting modern amenities and a relaxing spa. Or for the ultimate in luxury and spectacular views, stay at one of only eight suites at the Tower Suites Reykjavik (towersuites.is). Large groups can book the entire floor of suites for up to 27 guests.

LOBSTER SOUP  Reykjavik’s cafes may be famous for their selection of sandwiches but skip this in favour of a walk down to the Old Harbour district for a hearty bowl of lobster soup at either Sægreifinn (saegreifinn.is/en) or Verbúð 11. 

SHOP  For a taste of Iceland to bring back home, find hand-harvested salts in flavours like licorice and smoked birch, by Saltverk (saltverk.com). For something sweeter, Omnom (omnom.is) creates small-batch chocolate bars in creative flavours like sea salted almonds and coffee + milk. Both sweet and salty souvenirs can be found at shops around town. 

BLUE LAGOON  A rite of passage for any visitor, the Blue Lagoon (bluelagoon.com) offers a multitude of geothermal experiences in their milky blue waters. The ultimate in rejuvenation is the five-hour Retreat Spa package that includes access to the Blue Lagoon, eight subterranean spaces, and private Retreat Lagoon, plus skin care amenities, a ritual treatment, refreshments, and more. 

GOLDEN CIRCLE  All around the island, Iceland boasts incredible nature: waterfalls, hot pots, black sand beaches, glacier hiking, and more. It’s worth a longer stay to travel the famous Ring Road navigating the circumference of the nation. But if you’re only in town for a few days, don’t miss the Golden Circle, a trifecta of natural treasures just outside the city limits, including Thingvellir National Park, Geyser, and Gullfoss Waterfall (visiticeland.com). Join a tour or rent a car for a self-guided day trip. 

VIEW  Standing guard over the city is Hallgrimskrikja Church (en.hallgrimskirkja.is), still one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. A visit to the church is free, but a $10 admission fee will give you access to the tower and some of the city’s most incredible views.  



DINNER  Dining options abound in Iceland’s capital. For a quiet night in, grab a pizza at Eldsmidjan (eldsmidjan.is). Try the Rustico with cream cheese, ground beef, and pepper cheese. See and be seen at the lively Tapas Barinn (tapas.is/is) serving small plates of adventurous Icelandic delicacies like puffin, lamb with wild berry sauce, minke whale, and skyr for dessert. Wash it all down with a bottle of house- made sangria. For an haute- cuisine experience, Icelandic-style, there’s no place better than Dill (dillrestaurant.is/en). The tasting menu is ever-changing and an expression of traditional and sustainable ingredients and preparations. Wine pairings highly recommended. Reservations required. 

HARPA  Reykjavik’s centrepiece, Harpa (en.harpa.is) is a glass goddess located at the foot of downtown. The facility is home to Iceland’s finest productions, concerts, theatre works, events, and more. If you’re not into live theatre, roam the beautiful building on the weekend when it hosts a market of local crafts, foods, and goods. 

AURORA  During the darkest part of night, between September and April, visitors to Iceland have a good chance of spotting the elusive beauty of the northern lights (visiticeland.com). Join a tour group with skilled excursion leaders who know how to “hunt” down the lights. 

 

 

 

 

Story by Ashley Rochefort