If you can’t have fun golfing in Mexico, you must not love golf all that much. Spectacular but playable, resort-style golf played in the knowledge you can lounge by the pool post-round …. what more can you ask for? There are plenty of amazing Mexican holiday destinations, but one of the most famous is the Rivera Maya coast. An 81 mile stretch of beaches, resorts, and tourist fun taking in Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, and Tulum, to name a few fun spots.
Getting to Rivera Maya and getting around
The vast majority of people visiting the area will fly into Cancun, a modern international area. Then take shuttles down to their respective resorts. You can hire cars, and they are not badly priced, but driving in Mexico can be an adventure. Unless you plan to drive every day, I suggest taking advantage of local shuttles and taxis.
Based on the intimidating security presence outside most of the resorts and courses, it’s safe to assume you need to keep up your guard in Mexico at all times. I never felt personally scared, but obviously, tourists can be soft targets if you leave yourself exposed.
The weather in Mexico can be hot, but it is the humidity that can be killer. Temperatures do not normally drop below 80 but also rarely get above 100. There is no escaping the muggy climate, but if you can play golf early in the morning. You will generally pay more for this, however.
There is a golf course for all comers on the Rivera Maya. Unlike the more mountainous west coast of Mexico, the Riviera Maya is generally flat, so the courses lack the dramatic elevation and views of many Cabo San Lucas courses. You will more typically be playing amongst rain forests with the occasional visit to a beachside course.
Golf would not be considered cheap, with the top courses normally being $200 to $300 for a round in peak time.
There are at least a dozen well-regarded courses, with many of the big-name designers having their input. Some highlights include :
- El Camaleón Mayakoba – Playa del Carmen
Perhaps the flagship course of the area and home to a yearly PGA tour event. You will feel a million miles away from resorts as you weave between cenotes, mangroves, water, and rainforest. The course can punish you if you don’t keep your ball straight and offers scoring opportunities if you play a smart set of tees. Rates can jump up to $300 per round, but most Mexican courses will come down in the afternoon.
- Gran Coyote Golf Riviera Maya
A Nick Faldo Design that has recently undergone a major renovation. Gran Coyote offers both excellent golf for all skill levels and some lovely all-inclusive packages. Your green fee includes a GPS-equipped cart, tees, bottled water, access to the beach club, and round-trip transportation.
- Hard Rock Riviera Maya Golf Club
Situated in the heart of Playacar is the Hard Rock Golf Club. Arrive early to have time to fuel up with a buffet breakfast or lunch provided in your all-inclusive fee, and post-round explore the famous 5th Avenue of Playa Del Carmen. The course is typical of the area and is both flat but enjoyable. Make sure you make a day of it if you visit this course!
- Playa Paraiso Golf Club
Part of the Iberostar group of resorts, the Playa Paraíso Golf Club, this P.B Dye masterpiece offers the most vertical change of any course in the area, undulating greens, incredible hand-laid stonework, and some of the best conditions you can ask for.
- The Nicklaus Par Three Experience at Vidanta Riviera Maya
For Something, a little different, check out the Nicklaus Par Three experience. Stunningly beautiful and, most importantly, fun, this course is a great option if you have less passionate golfers in your group.
Should you take your clubs?
As mentioned in past blogs, I am always a fan of taking clubs if I plan to play more than 2 rounds. That is the cut-off for me to make it worth the effort and potential extra cost. Most clubs in the area offer name-brand rentals, so taking your own clubs is less of an issue than in some holiday destinations.
What to do when you are not golfing
There are endless things to do on your holiday in Mexico, including doing nothing at all and just relaxing away your days. But from the first-hand experience, I can genuinely say that completing an underground cenote tour was one of the most awe-inspiring things I have done on holiday. After squeezing through tight rocky entries only to find ourselves in spectacularly floodlit and water-filled caves was incredible. Cenotes are scattered up and down the coast, so depending on where you are staying, look for a highly recommended tour close to you.
The water parks on the Rivera Maya are also legendary and very different from what you might expect when you hear ‘water park.’ They blend into the natural scenery, and whilst there may be a slide or two, a lot of the fun is spent traveling down natural rivers and snorkeling amongst the wildlife. Check out Xel-ha if you have a spare day.
Do your research into what courses have affiliations with certain golf courses? Some all-inclusive resorts offer free golf at some of the courses mentioned above (you may need to hire carts and pay some taxes). If you are flexible around where you stay, you can find some steals on the golf front.
Also, most courses have some all-inclusive package, be it with a meal or everything you touch on course.