February 26, 2016
Undulating green hills, spectacular scenery and year-round blue skies make Puerto Rico an ideal spot for golfing. The island has been chosen to host the PR Open for the past seven years, garnering attention across the world for its ocean-side courses and world-class resorts. For those looking to practice their swing in the Caribbean, these are the best place to play golf in Puerto Rico.
The sheer number of clubs available across Puerto Rico means there’s something to suit every skill level, from complete beginner through to golfing pro. Four of the most famous courses on the island can be found in the 1,400-acre Dorado Beach Resort and Club on Puerto Rico’s northern coast. Dorado Beach East offers some of the most challenging holes on the island, all set amidst gorgeous natural scenery. Designed by famed architect Robert Trent Jones in the 1950s, it’s one of the oldest courses in Puerto Rico, with plenty of ocean views on offer across the greens.
The West course at the resort is also worth a visit, set around a beautiful lagoon and with some strong ocean breezes to contend with. If you’re looking for some trickier holes, try the Sugarcane course at the Plantation Club, where deep bunkers, hilly greens and water features on the closing holes make for a challenging game. The Pineapple course, also at the Dorado Resort, is considered slightly easier, with flatter terrain and softer bunkers, and its 12th hole is widely recognised as one of the best on the island.
If you’re looking for a quieter area away from the hustle and bustle of Dorado, head to the Royal Isabela, located on the northwest coast and around an hour and a half from San Juan. Set in a boutique resort, the course – designed by the tennis players Charlie and Stanley Pasarell – sits on a cliff-top plateau, providing superb views over the Atlantic and beyond. It only opened in 2012, so it’s comparatively new, and several of the holes that make up its second circuit are right next to the sea. There’s also a golf pro shop, outdoor bar, tennis court and delicious Puerto Rican restaurant in the resort.
Over on the northeast side of the island, Bahia Beach Resort & Golf Club offers 80 acres of saltwater lagoons among its 483-acre space. A certified Silver Signature Sanctuary, the area is a haven for wildlife fans, counting the Caribbean coot, Tarpon and Snook among its rare creatures. You’ll pass the Espiritu Santo River as you wind your way round the course, which offers plenty of par threes and something to suit a variety of skill levels. It’s all bordered by coconut palms, and the views of El Yunque are spectacular.
Around half an hour from there is El Conquistador, located just inland from the coast. With a par of 72 across its 18 holes, this modern course is suitable for anyone, from beginner through to pro. Elevation changes of over 200 feet make for some slightly complex parts, so get practicing over at the 1,100 foot driving range first if you’re a little rusty – or make the most of the private lessons on offer.
For one of the most talked-about spots in the Caribbean, head to the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa, also in the northeast, and try your skills out at the 16th hole. The resort offers two golf courses, including River, a good choice for all levels with its shallow bunkers and generous fairways. Sand iguanas slope around the course, and it’s all surrounded by breathtaking scenery – think towering mountain peaks and rainforest vistas. It’s also worth trying a spot of tennis here if you have time – the resort is home to the largest centre for the sport in the Caribbean.
If you’re looking for a serious challenge, head to the Palmas Athletic Club on the east coast. The 18-hole Flamboyan course is considered one of the most difficult in the entire region – and one of the best in Puerto Rico – with deep bunkers and wide fairways snaking their way around a large freshwater lake.
Its second course, the Palm, is tournament standard, with the first nine holes demanding an especially high level of precision. The second half is a bit easier, with elevated holes offering beautiful vistas over the Caribbean Sea and Vieques Island (with holes 14 and 16 providing particularly good photo opportunities). The club is also a great place to take beginners, with a junior programme; two practice greens; a driving range and lessons all available on-site.
If you want to see the place that hosted the Puerto Rico Open in 2004 and 2005, venture down to the south of the island. The 27-hole, championship course at Costa Caribe Golf & Country Club offers a unique, creatively designed route, which includes three loops of nine holes, palm tree-bordered fairways and a standout, 188-yard hole at number 12. You’ll enjoy spectacular mountain views and glimpses of the sparkling Caribbean Sea, and when you’re done playing, the Costa Caribe restaurant will be on hand to serve delicious food against a backdrop of beautiful ocean vistas.
Are you planning a trip to Puerto Rico? Our partnership with Delta means we can connect you to a wider range of destinations across the United States, bringing these golfing greens within easy reach.
Have you played golf in Puerto Rico? Have you visited any of these courses? Let us know in the comments section below.