5 Reasons Why Puerto Rico is the Hottest Caribbean Island for Golf Travelers

Move over, Dominican Republic.

Lately, no Caribbean island has been making bigger waves in golf travel circles than Puerto Rico, and the stunning Royal Isabela (pictured) is just the tip of the palm tree.

Here are the five main reasons you may want to consider putting Puerto Rico back on your golf vacation radar screen:

1. Robert Trent Jones, Sr.'s East Course at the Dorado Beach Resort has been brought back to respectability thanks to a restoration/renovation by his son, Robert Trent Jones, Jr.

2. Also at Dorado Beach is a luxurious, oceanfront Ritz-Carlton Reserve, only the second of the brand's ultra-luxury properties to open and the first to open in the Americas.

3. Speaking of luxury hotels, a swanky St. Regis opened at the Bahia Beach resort to accompany its scenic and enjoyable Robert Trent Jones II golf course.

4. The PGA Tour has continued its tweaking of (and theoretically improving) Trump International Golf Club, site of the PGA Tour's Puerto Rico Open.

5. The aforementioned Royal Isabela. This is the biggest, best, and most recent golf resort news to come out of Puerto Rico.

The former professional tennis playing brothers Stanley and Charlie Pasarell teamed with Pete Dye-disciple David Pfaff to create a clifftop golf course that is visually stunning and strategically captivating.

The accompanying, ocean-facing casitas, which opened in late 2012, are among the finest suite-style club accommodations you will find anywhere. The bathrooms are larger than many suites I've stayed in.

And here's what may be the most exciting news of all:

The Pasarells want to build two more 18-hole golf courses -- one in the highlands like Royal Isabela and one amid the ocean dunes -- once membership sales reach a certain level.

Have you played in Puerto Rico lately? Do the above developments make you want to go?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine, USAToday.com, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
Commented on

The Golf coursesin Puerto Rico are absolutely the best Ive ever played thru out the world...if anyone ever gets the chance to play with Larry Nelsons absolute double...I mean its increddible...he looks like him...he plays like him...he even smells like Larry Nelson...this guy is the true deal...Mr. Dale Duhon.
Dale..."I call him Larry" can teach us all a few things" Hey Larry...luv you man and thanks for all youve done for my golf game!


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We spent our annual winter down south golf vacation in Puerto Rico this year. Booked a golf villa at Wyndham Rio Mar resort thru VRBO and golfed both courses at Rio Mar and the Bahai Beach Resort. Golf Magazine had said that the Bahai course was better than the Trump courses and they were right. With 3 holes along the ocean and the rest of the holes basically going thru a forest, this course should be on everyones Puerto Rico bucket list. Both Rio Mar courses were a joy to golf. Green fees were higher than we expected but got a good deal for the Bahai course through EZ Links. We will definitely return but there are so many islands down south with so many beautiful golf courses that it may be difficult.

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Recently returned from a 4 day stay at the Dorado Hyatt vacation club which we won in a charity auction. Three stars for that property. We wound up eating two meals at the Ritz-Carlton beach side restaurant. The property is spectacular and very pricey at $1200-1400/night. Great food at reasonable prices on the beach!! We played the Dorado Beach East course which is a very nice course with great greens and bunkering. The signature 5th hole is beautiful and the par 3's are very good. I don't think it is worth the $200 prime time green fee. We played at 3 pm for $125 and finished 18 which is reasonable. The Plantation is a very nice facility as well and we played the Pineapple layout which is a solid layout in good condition. Nice practice facilty. Dorado Beach is still a bit of a work in progress.

Commented on

Puerto Rico is just 100 x 35 miles big. Still we have over 19 great golf courses thru out the island, spreading from the north, south, center, west and east of our beautifull country.
As a local golfer, I recomend that for your next golf vacation, in adition to Isabela, do visit Bahia Golf Course,El Conquistador, Dorado Beach, Costa Caribe Golf Course and El Legado.

This will give you the oportunity to visit our towns and country roads. Best time is from November to May, no hurricanes and a lot cooler.


Commented on

played Bahiia. trump international and trump championship with a Larry Nelson look-alike and i mean a look-alike...Mr. Dale Duhon. Mr. Duhon and I really enjoyed playing all three of these beautiful challenging golf courses. Cant wait to go back someday...some of the best memories of my life were spent in beautiful Puerto Rico.

Commented on

Love the course at the El Con, Ed. This article was simply focusing on the most recent golf/resort developments in P.R.

Commented on

I just returned from my second trip to Puerto Rico for a planned golf vacation. You left out one of the best and most affordable golf courses on the island. El Conquistador is a definate must play when in PR. And, you can find some great restaurants in out-of-the-way places.

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I had some friend who recently visited Royal Isabela for their wedding anniversary. They said it was unbelievable, with fabuous accomodations and a great golf course. Got to find a way to work it into the budget as soon as possible.

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5 Reasons Why Puerto Rico is the Hottest Caribbean Island for Golf Travelers