If you're a recreational golfer who likes to mix in some spectacular scenery, tropical breezes and a first-class stay with your golf outings, there are a lot of tantalizing choices in the Caribbean (and nearby Bermuda).
To our minds, a great golf outing is about the entire experience: not just what duffers do on the greens, but also beachside massages, watching the sun set with a tropical drink in hand, the whole mind and body getaway that contributes to your sense of well-being. Mixing in a few relaxing rounds of golf with your land or cruise vacation just makes sense.
To help you find your ideal getaway, here are 10 top golf resorts in the Caribbean with the latest details of what kind of experience you're likely to encounter.
Grand Lucayan Beach & Golf Resort
Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas
The resort: The beachside Grand Lucayan Beach & Golf Resort offers an Art Deco style with a traditional Bahamian ambience located along seven acres of pristine shoreline. Accommodation options include island-, marina- and oceanview guestrooms, including 1- and 2-bedroom suite alternatives.
The golf: Of the two courses available at Grand Lucayan, the open, breezy Reef Course — spanning 6,930 yards — must have been named for its water features, because 13 of its 18 holes play off water. Meanwhile, the Dick Wilson-designed Lucayan Course offers 18 holes that are divided equally into six relatively straight holes, six left-to-right routings, and six that favor one side. Both courses offer beverage carts throughout the tree-lined fairways.
The amenities: Guests can settle in for Movie Mania every Thursday night on the Great Lawn, or take part in Beach Olympics every Monday. Outside you can enjoy biking, jogging, horseback riding, basketball, tennis and water sports or you can stay in and play at the Vegas-style casino.
The scene: You'll have numerous excursion options, including shark-feeding dives, dolphin swims, birdwatching and horseback riding. Just across the street, Port Lucaya Marketplace is the place to go for jewelry, linens, leather goods and local crafts.
Rates: The Grand Lucayan periodically offers an Unlimited Golf package starting at $207 per night.
The resort: The Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda is surrounded by coconut palms, bougainvilleas and pink sand beaches, and no matter which of the 593 guestrooms, suites, specialty rooms or exclusive Fairmont Gold suites you stay in, you'll enjoy private balconies, marble bathrooms, walk-in closets and views of either the Atlantic Ocean, the Great Sound or the property’s lush golfing amenities.
The golf: Ranked one of the top five par 3 courses in the world by Golf Magazine, the resort's Turtle Hill Golf Club is the perfect course for golfers of all skill levels. Designed by Theodore Robinson, this 18-hole course stretches 2,684 yards, offering dramatic elevation changes and strong coastal winds, if you're up for the challenge.
The amenities: Beginning with Bermuda’s largest and most celebrated wellness facility, Willow Stream Spa, and continuing on to offer the only diving instructor development Dive Center on the island, plus six hardcourt, beachfront tennis courts, The Fairmont Southampton offers excellent extras to keep guests busy throughout your stay. Additional amenities include children’s Explorer Camp, oceanfront beach club, adults-only nightclub and 10 restaurants, cafes and lounges.
The scene: Lots of water-based activities abound throughout the island, such as dolphin encounters or tours through the Crystal and Fantasy caves, known for their limestone stalactites and stalagmites. Horse and carriage tours take riders through the city of Hamilton.
Rates: A three-night Bermuda Golf Around Getaway package starts from $717 USD per person for your stay, based on double occupancy.
Marbella Club at Palmas del Mar Resort
Palmas Del Mar, Puerto Rico
The resort: Combining a full menu of modern hotel luxuries with the comfort and convenience of a residential community, the vacation villa rentals at the Marbella Club make for a home-style vacation. As part of the Palmas del Mar Resort, The Marbella Club features 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom villas ranging from 1,064 to 1,960 sq. ft., all done up with stylish furnishings inside and colonial Spanish architecture outside.
The golf: You can choose from two 18-hole championship-caliber courses at Palmas del Mar Country Club: the Flamboyan Course, a Reese Jones design, and the Palm Course by Gary Player. Recognized as the second best course in Puerto Rico by Golf Digest, the Flamboyan Course opened in 1998 and features 7,117 yards of waterfront fairways, where the signature hole is the 12th, a par 3 requiring a strong hit into the wind to reach the raised, canal-protected green. Meanwhile, the Palm Course dates back to 1973, with a recent update in 1998 by Reese Jones. Fairways here are tight, and greens are protected by strategically placed bunkers and water hazards.
The amenities: With three miles of private beach and two pools, this property offers just as much an island vacation as it does a golfing one. Meanwhile, equestrian facilities provide trail rides, the tennis center stakes its claim as the largest in the Caribbean, eight miles of outdoor trails beckon joggers and bikers alike, and you'll have your pick of 18 restaurants.
The scene: Palmas del Mar Resort is located near El Yunque National Forest, a rainforest where you might spot wildlife such as the Puerto Rican parrot. Another popular spot is historic Old San Juan, bursting with museums, sites, landmarks and plazas for a busy afternoon of sightseeing and shopping.
Rates: The Golf package starts at $480 plus 7 percent tax per night, including 3-night accommodations in a gardenview villa, complimentary golf cart, and discounts on golf fees purchased at the golf club: three rounds for $165 or five rounds for $250.
CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa
Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla
The resort: CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa features 93 rooms and suites luring travelers into pure luxury, each featuring wide ocean views and large living spaces. Guestrooms housed in the main building each feature large bedrooms and living areas, with marble bathrooms and a private patio, while beachfront villas offer Junior and Luxury Suites.
The golf: When CuisinArt Resort gained ownership of its $50 million Greg Norman-designed golf course in 2011, a restoration project was put in place to enhance the site’s already incredible natural features. As part of the project, a salt pond was revitalized with a series of channels to allow seawater to flush in and out with the tides. The course itself, an 18- hole, 7,063-yard extravaganza, features a series of challenges including a 16,000-sq.-ft. green shared between the second and 10th holes, and a rather challenging 440-yard 16th hole, surrounded on all sides by trees, ponds, bunkers and tradewinds.
The amenities: The Venus Spa offers full-service spa, salon and fitness options, while two restaurants cater to dining experiences with a West Indies flare. The beach at Rendezvous Bay provides sunsplashed opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, sailing or just soaking up the rays.
The scene: The resort, mindful of its carbon footprint, was designed to build upon and strengthen the island’s own features. The property boasts its own 18,000-sq.-ft. hydroponic farm, where a variety of vegetables and herbs are grown year-round.
Rates: On a recent week, it cost $299 to play 18 holes, discounted to $275 for CuisinArt guests. Guests can choose packages such as Tee Up & Revive, starting at $3,655, including 5-night accommodations in a beachfront suite, three rounds of golf and more.
The resort: As luxury resorts go, it’s hard to beat the Royal Westmoreland. Its collection of villas range from 2- to 7-bedroom residences with high-end amenities like private pools, designer kitchens and balconies overlooking the golf course and the sea. You can also opt to stay in one of the resort’s penthouse apartments, 3- and 4-bedroom accommodations with covered terraces and sunny verandas, plus access to a private, communal pool for apartment guests.
The golf: The par 72, 7,045-yard championship course at the Royal Westmoreland Golf Club is every bit as posh as the resort itself. The design by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. makes use of topographical features like a former coral stone quarry, and as you make your way from hole to hole, golfers can take in views of the Caribbean from every green.
The amenities: This is the “Platinum Coast,” Barbados’ most upscale vacation area, and the perks are undeniable. Mullins Beach is known as one of the island’s best, with powdery sand and calm waters ideal for relaxing adults and playing children alike. The beach itself is public, but Royal Westmoreland guests enjoy special amenities like drinks, sun beds and umbrellas as part of its Bell Captain beach service. At the resort, the Indulgence Spa pampers guests with a full menu ranging from massages to more extended programs.
The scene: Royal Westmoreland’s ultra-luxe amenities suit its surroundings perfectly. Barbados’ western coast is home to plenty of similarly swanky resorts, including The Cliffs and Coral Reef Club. It’s also a great place for an epicurean adventure, thanks to the cluster of fine dining restaurants in the area, many of which morph into elegant evening hangout spots for a bit of upscale nightlife.
Rates: Cost for 18 holes is $350, or $250 if you're accompanied by a resort guest. Room rates start at $323 per apartment per night, and $365 per villa per night.
Colony Club Beach, Barbados
The resort: The 96-room boutique Colony Club earns its AAA four-diamond status with a wealth of amenities and devotion to maintaining high luxury standards while doing so. Rooms range from cozy oceanview suites with balconies, to 1-bedroom oceanview suites done up in marble, mahogany and limestone. Families traveling together will love the spacious accommodations and multiple layouts to suit families of any type. Romantic travelers, meanwhile, can snuggle up in romantic luxury poolside rooms, with walk-out access to the swimming pool and sunken patios that provide plenty of privacy.
The golf: Elegant Hotels’ agreement with nearby Apes Hill, a private championship golf course, gives guests at Colony Club (and its four other Barbados resorts) access to one of the newest courses on the island. Opened at the end of 2009, Apes Hill is a par 72, 18-hole course that’s set inland and takes advantage of the remnants of the past, like the old kiln that’s become part of the scenery on hole 5. Interesting note: Access to the course is generally restricted solely to club members and their guests.
The amenities: Elegant Hotels continues its satisfying culinary tradition here in the form of Laguna Restaurant, specializing in seafood and local dishes. After a hearty meal, the Sunset Bar & Deck is the perfect place to kick back and relax with a banana daiquiri. Water sports like snorkeling, sailing and kayaking come at no extra cost, and an exercise room and floodlit tennis courts provide options away from the four lagoon-style swimming pools.
The scene: Colony Club offers a dine-around program that provides transfers between its five resorts to explore the other acclaimed restaurants, including Daphne’s, ranked among the island’s best by Zagat.
Rates: Rooms start at $503 a night.
Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica
The resort: Built on a 2-mile half-moon beach (hence the name), the exclusive Half Moon Resort with 33 villas and 197 rooms and suites has hosted Queen Elizabeth, Clark Gable and George H. W. Bush. A neighbor to The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon became a RockResort property on Jan. 1, 2011.
The golf: Frequent host of the Jamaica Open and other tourneys, the Half Moon Golf Club course was designed by golf royalty: Robert Trent Jones, Sr., planned the original, which Roger Rulewich updated in 2005, putting in five sets of tees and repositioning some fairways and bunkers for today’s gear.
The scene: Although Half Moon offers a slew of diversions, many of the guests, including couples and families, are there for the golf. After all, having Half Moon's course, plus the nearby White Witch and Cinnamon Hill courses, is compelling. The after-dinner scene migrates to Lester’s, a “swellegant” piano bar.
The amenities: Modestly sized Half Moon has six restaurants and seven bars/lounges, including the much-acclaimed Sugar Mill. The smallish resort also has an equestrian
center, a swim-with-dolphins facility, a 68,000-sq.-ft. indoor/outdoor spa, 13 tennis courts, a children’s program and a camp for teenagers. And did we mention the beach?
Rates: Green fees are $150 for 18 holes. Rooms start at about $279. If you pony up an additional $210 per person, you can get the Total Golf Experience package, which gets you all meals, beverages, daily golf — including one round at White Witch and one at Cinnamon Hill — and a golf cart and caddy who will coach players through that killer 13th.
Puntacana Resort and Club
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
The resort: Puntacana Resort & Club is the place to head for world-class golf (although you do have other options: Casa de Campo, the new Westin or the all-villa Tortuga Bay). The resort is tucked between a lovely beach and La Cana Golf Course.
The golf: La Cana Golf Club is a golf course with 27 holes consisting of three nines: Tortuga, Hacienda and Arrecife. Fourteen of the holes have sweeping views of the Caribbean. Designed by P.B. Dye, this course has become a favorite of golfers from all over the world. Golf Magazine has compared La Cana to Pebble Beach and declared it the “number one course in the Caribbean.”
The amenities: You'll find three miles of beach, water sports (including fishing and diving), tennis, horseback riding, shopping, an ecological reserve, a day camp, a mini-zoo(!), the superb Six Senses spa, and eight splendid restaurants, one of which, Bamboo, was designed by Oscar de la Renta.
The scene: By day, you see golf widows and hookey-playing duffers on boats, horses, tennis courts, and beach chairs; at night, dining is the primary sport. It's an international crowd, drawing travelers from the U.S., Europe and South America.
Rates: Off-season rates start at $710 for a 1-bedroom suite at Tortuga Bay. Puntacana’s 4-night golf package includes a room at the Puntacana Hotel, round-trip pickup from the airport, three rounds of golf and taxes and gratuities. With lodging at the Puntacana Hotel, that package is $469 per night for singles, $738 for couples. Rates at the more pricey Tortuga Bay start at $1,230 per night per couple.
Here's a 3-minute look at Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Puerto Rico.
Dorado, Puerto Rico
The resort: All the raves about the Dorado Beach, which opened in December 2012, are well-deserved. With just 115 all-beachfront units on an estate once owned by one of the Rockefellers, this getaway respects its surroundings while raising the bar for casual elegance. What’s more, North American work-hounds on a short leash can easily fly there.
The golf: There are four 18-hole courses on site, the star of which is Robert Trent Jones, Sr.’s East Course. Jones Jr. has restored 15 of its 18 holes, using native sand for contoured bunkers and fast Champion Bermuda grass on the greens. This 7,200-yard beauty is both challenging from the championship tees and negotiable from (our recommendation) the forward tees.
The amenities: From the grilled fish at Encanto Beach Bar & Grill to the Spanish and fusion dishes at open-air Mi Casa, Dorado Beach’s cuisine rises far above mere “gourmet.” Guests also love the five-court tennis center, the extensive nature reserve, Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment programs, the five-acre Spa Botanico and that lovely beach, replete with water sports and a jetty to keep the surf as smooth as the greens.
The scene: The guests are primarily North Americans who take the time to appreciate a Rioja Gran Reserve with dinner and feel that the greatest show in the Caribbean is the star-filled sky, as viewed during a post-dinner stroll on the beach.
Rates: Low-season rates start at $719. The Discover with You package, from $1,739 a night, includes golf for two at any of the courses, a $100 resort credit, a $75 recreational credit and breakfast for two.
St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort
Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
10The resort: This AAA five-diamond St. Regis Resort has made Conde Nast Traveler’s “Hot and Gold” list for several years in a row. With only 139 units in updated plantation-style buildings, its smallest room is almost 700 sq. ft., featuring a spacious private balcony, a restrained color scheme and enough electronic gizmos to stock a Best Buy.
The golf: Guests can play three world-class courses. The spectacular St. Regis’ Bahia Beach Course (Robert Trent Jones, Jr., 2010) is a Silver Audubon International Signature Sanctuary with 15 waterfront holes that track the lakes, lagoons and the ocean. The St. Regis can also arrange play at the two neighboring Tom Kite layouts, the Trump International/Coco Beach and the Trump Championship course, host of the Puerto Rico Open.
The amenities: This is the kind of place that hires Jean-Georges Vongerichten to oversee its premier restaurant, Fern. Guests can pursue virtually every sport or go shopping at the Golf Pro Shop and Resort Wear Store. Tennis instructor Carl J. Gavine could improve anyone's stroke, both the jogging trail and the Iguana Children’s Club (from $50) make use of a nature reserve, and the Remede Spa customizes treatments to each traveler's needs.
The scene: Many of the guests come for the golf, while others immerse themselves in the Remede Spa’s locally inspired treatments. There’s a small tennis contingent, too. The unifier is that virtually everyone is an active, well-traveled professional with worldly tastes.
Rates: Rooms start at about $450 ($519 with breakfast); some weeks the fourth night is free. The $699 Golf in Paradise aka Fourrr package includes continental breakfast, golf on the Bahia Beach Course and rental clubs or a complimentary golf clinic.
Cruiseable editors contributed to this roundup. Republished and updated from an earlier post.