For many, golf is an essential ingredient of a great vacation. Cancun and the surrounding area boasts 15 golf courses and has become a world class golf destination for both amateurs and professionals due to its unique courses which have been designed by such architects as Jack Nicklaus– (El Manglar Golf Course), Robert Von Hagge– (Playacar Spa & Golf Club), Greg Norman– (El Camaleon Golf Club), Nick Price– (Grand Coral Spa & Golf), and Robert Trent Jones Jr.– (Cancun Golf Club at Pok Ta Pok and Riviera Maya Golf Club).
The Association of Golf Courses in the Mexican Caribbean has brought together local golf organizations in order to foster the construction of even more courses in the area. The local terrain and nature conservation regulations have presented challenges in the construction of new golf courses, however the result of ingenious planning has ultimately created challenging and unique– courses which can include cenotes (natural sinkholes), tropical jungle, lagoons, mangroves, sand dunes, ancient Mayan ruins, local flora and fauna and views of the turquoise blue Caribbean Sea. The Riviera Maya, the area south of Cancun, hosts Mexico’s only PGA Tour, the Mayakoba Golf Classic, which has been held at the El Camaleon Golf Club since 2007.
The Cancun Golf Club at Pok Ta Pok is located in the heart of Cancun’s Hotel Zone at km 7.5 and is open 365 days a year from dawn till dusk. The golf club includes an 18 hole championship golf course, two practice putting greens and a driving range. These are the stomping grounds of the ancient Mayans, and you will come across their ruins as you make your way through the course. If you get hungry or thirsty while you are playing, don’t despair, the roving bars will be by soon enough, or wait until you get back to the club and have a cold beer or cocktail while taking in the view of beautiful Nichupte lagoon.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: Cancun Golf Club at Pok Ta Pok is located in the Hotel Zone and offers roving carts with drinks and snacks.
Kristin’s expert tip: If you left your clubs or shoes at home, don’t worry, the pro shop rents equipment.
Formerly the Hilton, the Iberostar Cancun is the only resort in the Hotel Zone that features an 18 hole, Par 72 championship golf course. It is located at km 17 and is easily accessible by taxi or bus if you are not staying at the resort. This is a good course for all levels and the upkeep has improved since Iberostar bought the property. Reasonable green fees (if you are staying at the resort you will receive a discount) include a cart and all inclusive snacks and beverages from the beloved beer cart which will pass frequently. The facility includes a practice range, a putting green, lockers, showers, storage room, a restaurant, a golf shop, and equipment for rent. Pay attention to where you step, many crocodiles frequent the course.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: The Iberostar Cancun Golf Course is located right in the Hotel Zone. You can see a Mayan ruin from the course.
Kristin’s expert tip: Catch a glimpse of ancient Mayan ruin El Rey along the 16th hole. Watch out for crocodiles.
This beautiful 18 hole, Par 71 Nick Price designed course opened in February 2011 and was formerly part of the Grand Coral Resort in Playa del Carmen but recently underwent a rebranding. Nick Price’s vision was to create a golf course that integrated and was sensitive to the beauty of the natural environment. A team of wildlife consultants, biologists, civil engineers and environmental consultants were consulted on the project. The staff is friendly, courteous, and professional. Green fees include round trip transportation, a golf cart, two bottles of water, golf tees, a divot repair tool, fresh towels, dressing room with lockers and a safe deposit box.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: Gran Coyote’s course was designed by Nick Price. Wildlife consultants, biologists, civil engineers and environmental consultants helped plan the project.
Kristin’s expert tip: This course was formerly called Grand Coral Golf Riviera Maya.
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The course at the Moon Spa & Golf Club is one of the only two in Cancun designed by Jack Nickelaus. Guests staying at the Beach Palace, Sun Palace, Le Blanc Spa Resort and Playacar Palace receive complimentary transportation to and from the golf course but you do not have to be a guest of the Moon Palace to play this course. Green fees include food and beverages at the club house, a shared golf cart and snacks on the course. The club also features rental clubs, a practice range, putting and chipping greens, lockers, showers, clubs storage, a pro shop and a Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy with certified instructors.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: The Moon Palace golf course was designed by Jack Nickelaus and guests can use their resort credits to play.
Kristin’s expert tip: If your ball goes into the jungle, don’t go in after it.
This par 3 golf course was the first in the world to receive the Green Globe distinction for its operation and efforts in sustainable tourism. It was designed by ex-professional golfer “The Golden Bear” Jack Nicklaus and is part of large Mexican golf course developer, Vidanta. One of a kind hole 17 is surrounded by a lake, two sand traps on each side and one more in the center of the green. This course has predominant trade winds that demand accuracy and challenges even the most experienced of players. Facilities include equipment rental, a driving range and putting green, a pro shop and a snack bar.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: Vidanta Golf was the first to receive the Green Globe distinction for its operation and efforts in sustainable tourism.
Kristin’s expert tip: Get there early. There are security checks and you have to park your car near the lobby.
The Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club course is extremely well maintained. It is also home of the Canadian Tour Iberostar Riviera Maya Open. This 18 hole, Par 72, P.B. Dye course is located in the heart of the Mayan jungle, about 45 minutes south of Cancun in the Riviera Maya and features restrooms every four holes. Green fees include a golf cart, range balls, all food and beverages before, during, and after your round, as well as a souvenir yardage book and all taxes. You will see crocodiles, iguanas, and even monkeys on this course.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club is the home of the Canadian Tour Iberostar Riviera Maya Open and you can see wildlife on the course.
Kristin’s expert tip: The yardage guide provided on the carts is right on.
Playa Mujeres Golf Club is located in Punta Sam, a newly developed area 20 minutes north of the Hotel Zone and is open from sunrise to dusk. The course is 18 holes, Par 72, and was designed by Greg Norman with respect for the abundant local flora and fauna. This course is one of the only ones in Mexico supported by the Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWG) and is considered one of the best in the country. Green fees include cart rental, practice range balls, bottled water and tax. The course features SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum greens, tees and fairways. There is a restaurant called the Lagoon Grill Restaurant and bar carts offer soft drinks and snacks on the course.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: Playa Mujeres Golf Club was designed to preserve local flora and wildlife and is supported by the Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWG).
Kristin’s expert tip: Entrepreneurial groundskeepers will emerge from the bushes and offer to sell you bags of good as new balls that they have found. Cheaper than buying balls in the pro shop!
This golf club, designed by Jack Nicklaus, is located only 5 minutes from the Cancun International Airport at km 26 of the Hotel Zone. This course was built with habitat preservation in mind. There are large pipelines that run below the golf course that serve as artificial channels and maintain the water flow into the mangroves, which are an essential part of the local ecosystem and are abundant on this course. Crocodiles even use the pipelines to move from one area to another. This facility features a club house with a premium liquor bar on the 19th hole, a pro shop, a practice area, equipment rentals, bag storage and breathtaking views of the turquoise Caribbean Sea. The last tee time is 4:00 pm.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: Riviera Cancun Golf Club was designed by Jack Nicklaus and features a premium liquor bar on the 19th hole.
Kristin’s expert tip: Don’t worry if you didn’t bring your clubs and shoes on vacation, you can rent both here.
This is the only Tournament Players Club facility outside the United States and it boasts an 18 hole course, a championship Nick Price designed layout. The club, located just south of Cancun and only 7 minutes from the airport, has an outstanding English speaking staff and is one of the best places to play golf in the area. Facilities include a pro shop, a grill, a luxury club house, a practice area, and a golf academy. The Cancun Country Club is part of a much larger project which includes residential homes, a hotel and a beach club.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: Cancun Country Club’s course was designed by Nick Price and boasts boasts Platinum Paspalum grass.
Kristin’s expert tip: Bring bug spray, it’s a necessity on this course.
This amazing golf course is part of the Five Diamond Mayakoba hotel complex in the Riviera Maya. Its terrain includes tropical Mayan jungle, mangroves, cenotes, lagoons, and spectacular views of the Caribbean. El Camaleon is home to the Mayakoba Golf Classic, the only official PGA Tour held outside the U.S. or Canada and is 18 holes, Par 72, covers 7,024 yards and is open daily from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, with tee times from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm. The course has received six Audubon International certifications for environmental stewardship and awareness. The Jim McLean Golf School is also located at the resort and offers group and private lessons, camps and free workshops for locals.
Recommended for Golf Courses because: El Camaleon is home to the only PGA tour outside the US and offers spectacular tropical landscapes.
Kristin’s expert tip: This course is pricey but you’ll receive a large discount if you are staying in one of the three Mayakoba resorts.