There’s nothing quite like a round of golf on a Caribbean course. The clear skies, light breezes, and warm sun always make for a perfect morning or afternoon of 18 or even nine holes, but the views really make the experience better than anything we’ll find back home. Listening to waves crash, deftly maneuvering between sun-bathing lizards, grabbing quick selfies on greens with breathtaking views—these are the perks offered on golf courses in paradise.
Of course, amazing golf courses aren’t just a Caribbean thing. If you’re looking to plan your next quick vacation around the links, we have some great Caribbean spots, sure, but we also have two others that are equally amazing. Now it’s just a matter of choosing.
Divi and Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusives
A lot of people say that Aruba isn’t a golf destination, but I strongly disagree. The island only has two golf courses, sure, but this is a place that is perfect for a three-day weekend, and the nine-hole The Links at Divi Aruba is the kind of course you can play and enjoy two or three times without missing out on everything else this wonderful island has to offer.
The Summer Golf Package currently being offered by Divi and Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusives is only available for booking through July 31, but it’s good for travel through October 31, which is great for those of us who cherish an endless summer season. Guests will enjoy 35 percent savings on rates plus a 15 percent discount on golf and club rentals, so there’s no need to lug those giant bags to the airport.
Best of all, a discount for lessons at the Feel Golf school is included. Here, you’ll meet Donald Ross, one of the best golf teachers I’ve ever met—he fixed my flaws in a matter of minutes and helped me fall in love with golf again—so don’t pass on the opportunity to meet this quirky Scottish swing doctor. Oh, and be mindful of the iguanas on the cart path.
The Buccaneer, St. Croix
Having recently had the immense pleasure of staying at The Buccaneer, St. Croix’s flagship resort, I was thrilled to experience so much of this under-the-radar USVI gem, but it was golf that sat at the top of my to-do list. I’d heard so many great things about this course, mostly that it’s wide open and designed to be very forgiving for those of us with the occasional monster slice. In fact, thanks to the broad fairways and my aforementioned Aruban lessons, I shot an 88 on my first round, so that should be all the convincing anyone needs.
What makes this Bob Joyce-designed course truly magical, though, is the layout. For starters, I was incredibly lucky no one was playing behind me as I stepped into the tee box on Hole 3, because the view here made my jaw drop. An 8-iron and short wedge shot later, I was on the green and once again captivated by the 360-degree spectacle before me. It’s so nice that golfers will have to be patient with the resort’s non-golfing guests who make the trek just for a selfie or two (I happily paused between holes to help a family with photos).
With 13 holes offering an ocean view, the toughest part isn’t the hike to your ball when you inevitably blast your drive a mile from the cart path. It’s fighting the urge to walk away from Hole 14 and find a spot on the sand just a few steps from the tee box.
Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort
Why settle for one course when you can stay at a resort that offers two world-class courses? Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort’s Inclusive Package includes a bevy of perks, including daily meals, beverages, and discounts, but if your clubs are your most important travel partner, then it’s the comped green fee (one round per room) that’ll put some extra pop in your drive. And the unlimited use of the driving range will at least help you get loose before you make the ultimate decision: “Which course will I play first?”
Designed by Tom and George Fazio, the Ocean Course is highlighted by the natural beauty of both the Atlantic Ocean and the El Yunque Mountains, but when it comes to signature holes that every golfer should dream of playing, you won’t find many better than the 16th, which is bordered by the gorgeous golden sand.
With its wide fairways, the River Course is beneficial for building confidence in golfers of all ages and skill levels. And while everyone knows that you never turn down the chance to play a Greg Norman course, this one really takes the cake (bizcocho mojadito, if you prefer). The Shark designed this one to highlight the majesty of the Mameyes River, so try not to be too distracted.
Haven Riviera Cancun Resort and Spa
We’re cheating a little here, because the celebrated El Tinto Golf Club isn’t actually part of Haven Riviera Cancun Resort and Spa, but it’s close enough and no one said we can’t appreciate a great golf deal. And when it comes to a Nice Price course, there’s no way a golfer of any experience level should miss a shot to play here. Certainly not if the green fees are included in the resort rates.
All guests will receive a free round, but those who stay in the Serenity Club Suites for at least three nights will enjoy complimentary golf cart use as well, but why stop there? And why stay for only three days? Anyone booking four to seven nights will get to play two rounds, in addition to some other perks, so it shouldn’t take “Fluff” Cowan to know this is the right play.
As for the course, Price designed El Tinto to be challenging enough for the best golfers among us, but also fun for those of us who don’t mind losing a few sleeves in the five lakes.
Santa Maria Hotel and Golf Resort
Even if you’re a casual golfer with a handicap as high as the afternoon temperature, you should never pass on the chance to play on vacation—even if for the Instagram clout. The most average courses in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America are still better than the cookie cutter links you play back home, so imagine what it’s like to play the amazing Santa Maria Golf and Country Club at The Santa Maria Hotel and Golf Resort in Panama City.
If Panama isn’t already on your travel wish list, it needs to be—mainly because of this celebrated resort that offers access to the best of this bustling destination. Looking for luxury? It’s here. Romance? Oh yeah. Incredible food? Bring an appetite. But this is all about golf, and this course is as beautiful as it gets. The Stay and Play experience includes accommodations and daily breakfast, as well as one round per night, so if your hands blister easily be sure to bring enough tape for at least 54 holes.