Puerto Rico Is A Top Golf Travel Destination—For You And PGA Tour
Bahia Beach Resort

Puerto Rico Is A Top Golf Travel Destination—For You And PGA Tour


The Puerto Rico Open finished with a dramatic playoff Sunday, but it was hardly the end for the event. In fact, while I was attending the tournament—one of the most spectator friendly in all of golf—the PGA Tour and Puerto Rico Tourism Company announced a two-year extension of the longest running PGA Tour event in the Caribbean, since 2008.

“The Puerto Rico Open beautifully showcases what visitors can expect when playing golf here,” said Brad Dean, chief executive officer of Discover Puerto Rico. “Watching top-echelon players compete on one of our 18 courses during the tournament broadcasts with views framed by swaying coconut trees, crashing turquoise surf and towering rainforest ridgelines inspires golfers to visit Puerto Rico.”

Unlike most tournaments where it is hard to move through the crowds and sometimes impossible to get up to the ropes, the PuertIt's also the easiest place in the Caribbean to get to, with non-stop flights from many cities. A lot of travelers from the States like the fact that it is part of the U.S., with no need for passports, our laws, money and if you choose to rent a car, familiar driving.

o Rico Open is a spectator’s dream, uncrowded and welcoming, in a beautiful tropical setting. It’s also easy to combine a day at the tournament with great golf of your own, very close by. The PGA Tour came on the heels of Puerto Rico hosting an American Junior Golf Association Championship, the Latin America Amateur Championship, and in 2022, the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball—the first United States Golf Association (USGA) championship played outside the U.S. mainland.

But golf in Puerto Rico is about much more than tournaments. It’s about great courses and lots of them, swaying palms trees, beautiful beaches, and a bevy of resorts that have been completely renovated and upgraded since the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017. It’s also about delicious food—there are more than 4,000 restaurants here—and much of it is very affordable by Caribbean island standards. It’s also about the charm of Old San Juan, casinos, watersports and rum, including the world’s largest rum distillery (Bacardi). It’s increasingly about sustainability and stunning biodiversity—Puerto Rico is home to amazing natural wonders, including rain forest, cloud forest, waterfalls, the world’s three most famous bioluminescent bays, and El Yunque Park, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system.

Many Caribbean islands have no golf, and among those that do, most are lucky to offer one or two courses, with only a handful featuring enough for an actual golf vacation. Puerto Rico has a whopping eighteen layouts, including five that have been rated by Golfweek among the Top 50 Courses in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and the Atlantic Islands. World famous designers represented in Puerto Rico include Tom Kite, Greg Norman, Tom and George Fazio, Gary Player, Rees Jones, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and Robert Trent Jones, Jr.

But the big news is that there is more on the way, with two hotly anticipated new courses coming soon. A new 18-hole oceanfront golf course and resort tentatively called Moncayo is expected to open this year in Fajardo, in the island’s northeast, while a third course at TPC Dorado Beach should be close behind, making that the largest golf resort on the island. Currently the two courses at Dorado Beach are for members and resort guests only, but the new one is expected to allow outside play. Dorado Beach is home to one of only seven Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties on earth, the fabled brand’s higher ultra-luxury tier. From budget to 5-Star luxury, there’s golf and lodging for every taste here.

The main cluster of courses are fairly close together in the Northeast (on the North coast, east and west of San Juan), with a handful of options on the South Coast, the Eats Coast and a few on the West Coast. These are the highlights:

St. Regis Bahia Beach

Puerto Rico’s other Forbes 5-Star resort, also with Forbes 5-Star spa, also Bonvoy, the St. Regis is located wtihin the Bahia Beach community, which was one of the first resort developments in the world to get Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Certification for the entire property, including its golf course (the environmentally friendly program has traditionally been mainly for golf courses). It is a beautiful, garden-like community that puts sustainability front and center, a really special place with great food, two-miles of pristine beach, outdoor sculptures throughout and its own on-site environmental non-profit foundation. About 65% of the nearly 500-acres are preserved as green areas, sanctuaries or nature trails, and there is a very extensive trail network throughout.

It also has the island’s most demanding golf course, especially from the tips—with a scary 75.9 course rating. The park-like routing is tied for Number 37 on the Golfweek list, is pristinely maintained, has every hole isolated by lush jungle so you rarely see more than one hole at any time, and offers tons of risk/reward decisions, tricky angles and lots of water in play. The Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design can swallow balls, and is the kind of course where every shot requires careful thought. Good players love it! The St. Regis Bahia Beach, as well as the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve and Wyndham Grand Rio Mar, with 91-holes between them, all sit close together on the North Coast east of San Juan. This is the biggest concentration of golf on the island, and very easy to get to, half an hour from the airport.