Golf on the Riviera Maya

Where to tee it up along Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

The Riviera Maya, south of Cancún, is the where the “all inclusive” trend was popularized. A single fee covers your room, food, drinks and basic activities. So, the buck does go farther. Great golf has been added in the region to make this one potent vacation cocktail.

This area stretches along the coast for over 80 miles, so pick your home base wisely. The best itinerary is to play your home base course three times and two others once, as that provides the perfect blend of golf diversity combined with relaxation with pool/beach lounging.

The Moon Palace is a gigantic complex with endless pools, restaurants, beaches and kids activities.The MP has its own Nicklaus designed golf course with 27 holes. The kids have endless entertainment, food and pools. Be prepared, the Moon Palace is so big they run shuttles from one end to the other.

Pictured: Moon Palace #8

The Grand Coral is a Nick Price design with twists and turns from bunker placement to water features that make this course fun so you can play it every day. Get the inclusive cart service and you will have a drink or snack every three holes. The Playa Del Carmen shopping area is minutes away, so this course makes for a good springboard for shopping excursions within five minutes distance.

Close to the Grand Coral is The Sandos Caracol Eco Resort, which features minimal cut away to the foliage and jungle. Native/Mayan tradition abounds with cultural shows, including their over-the-top Day of The Dead extravaganza. Restaurants have unique local Mexican cuisine options which you don’t get in the U.S., extensive animals on property and a great kids club and pool area.

If you want Spa, then The Paradisus LaPerla is it. Be busy just going from the pool to restaurant to bar and back. There are more than enough relaxation and YHI spa options to bring out the ooh-aahh factor. The restaurants and bars are exceptional and diverse from South American to Asian.

The Iberostar Grand Paraiso is one of five hotels in the same complex with it’s own golf course. Consistently rated as top-shelf for both romantic and family get-aways, it is a mega-resort. Spanish architecture with an incredible pool that runs up to the ocean, and much better than average culinary options. The Dye designed golf course hosted the Big Break, and has enough challenge and use of natural hills and features it makes for a good home base course.

The El Camaleón at Mayakoba hosts the only PGA Tour event in Latin America. A Norman design, you golf through jungle, mangroves and swirling stretches of Caribbean sand. The Banyan Tree, is secluded and quiet, so great for couples. Each villa is private luxury and retreat. Dining is unique as with gourmet dining on a private boat in the lagoon.

Shuttle services like USA Transfers are best for airport connections, and transport to the various courses. Taxis in Playa Del Carmen are zippy for shopping excursions but too small for both golfers and their clubs.

Julianne Butler is the President of both Worldseeker Travel and Exotic Golf Destinations, specializing in worldwide luxury cruises and exotic golf vacations.

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