Teeing off in paradise has perks beyond world-class greens and stunning landscapes

By Lydia Gregory

Imagine yourself under a cloudless blue sky, measuring your distance over an emerald green course that edges up against the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean. It’s as pretty a picture as it gets, and it’s brought to you courtesy of the Riviera Nayarit.

Marketed as a destination that offers its visitors the best of luxury and nature, the Riviera Nayarit boasts a collection of championship greens designed by the biggest names in the sport—Nicklaus, Von Hagge, Clifford, Lipe, and Norman, to name a few—set down on one of the loveliest landscapes in the world. And there’s more in the making: the first PGA-certified golf course jointly designed by Lorena Ochoa and Greg Norman is currently being built at the new Costa Canuva development, located in the northern area of the destination. It will have 18 holes, two with an ocean view and two more parallel to the beach.

Need something less challenging? There are nine-hole courses in San Pancho and just north of Sayulita in El Monteón, and if you want to learn or simply improve your game, The Punta Mita Golf Academy and the Jack Nicklaus Academy of Golf in Vidanta that can help with individual lessons, clinics, and custom programs for all levels. It’s no wonder golf vacations in the region have become increasingly popular for both novice and professional golfers.

How the Riviera Nayarit raises the bar on a seaside golfing getaway that could potentially also be enjoyed on “competing” coastlines in Mexico resides in its approach, one that is very much in tune with its definition of luxury as more of a holistic rather than a “thread-count” experience. Here, the active pursuit of an activity—golf—is complemented by a range of choices that reflect a lifestyle that promotes wellness.

Beyond combining a spa treatment with an extraordinary game of golf—though we’ll get to that later—the Riviera Nayarit sees its wellness offer as providing visitors with experiences that touch body, heart, and soul: think an afternoon Agave Experience at the Conrad Punta de Mita, immersed in the intriguing history of artisanal agave spirits (tequila, mezcal, raicilla) with a tequila master or a shamanic spiritual cleansing in their temazcal steam room. Outdoors, a late afternoon hike up the Cerro del Mono (Monkey Mountain) to contemplate the sun setting over the Pacific as the waves crash on the rocks below puts you in direct touch with nature.

As for treatments and pampering, golfers will find the high-end properties that border the courses have invested heavily in premium spa spaces that are ready to soothe tired shoulders and backs. Some of the course—like the El Tigre Golf Club—even have a spa onsite.

After a day on the greens, the SE Spa at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit welcomes tired players with a hydrotherapy area that includes sauna, a hot and cold lagoon, pressure shower, and more, that can be followed by their innovative Golf Ball Massage, which uses golf balls to add strength to the therapist’s movements to achieve a deeper level of relaxation, stimulate the body’s meridians, and provide integral balance. An even more immersive experience is available with a stay in the resort’s Wellness Suites, that include, among other things, a private second-floor Jacuzzi with a view, space for private massages, and healthy treats in the minibar.

Alternatively, the Four Seasons Punta Mita is debuting a new branded set of wellness experiences in conjunction with its Navi Spa. Pilates Golf (Improve Your Game) was created to reduce the risk of lesions, reduce tense lower backs, improve posture and game technique, strengthen the abdominal zone, back and spine, and increase distance in swing to improve your game. This can be combined with sessions at the Punta Mita Golf Academy.

The Riviera Nayarit also hosts one of the premier golf events in Mexico that can arguably be called a wellness experience unto itself: the Punta Mita Gourmet & Golf event, now in its tenth year, is billed as a “memorable experience built around food, wine, tequila, and golf.” Guest chefs and winemakers from Mexico and abroad converge on the destination, where visitors can tee off on Jack Nicklaus’ world-class Bahía and Pacífico courses, indulge in the finest flavors the region has to offer, and help raise funds for Mexico-based charities including the Lorena Ochoa Foundation and PEACE Punta Mita.

For more information on golfing and wellness in the Riviera Nayarit, please visit https://www.rivieranayarit.com


Health and Safety

The Riviera Nayarit continues to prioritize the health and wellbeing of their visitors and citizens. Updated protocols as they relate to COVID-19 for hotels, restaurants, main air and maritime entry points, and more can be found at https://www.rivieranayarit.com/covid-19-travel-health-advisory/


Where to Golf

Nayar Golf Course, Norman Signature Course, and The Lakes at Vidanta Golf

The Nayar Golf course is an 18-hole par 70 course that’s a technical and natural work of art surrounded by seven lakes and 49 bunkers. The Norman Signature Course has 18 holes that extends along the Ameca River with spectacular views of the Sierra Madre from each hole, plus an impressive trek across the longest hanging bridge for golf carts in the world. Finally, The Lakes is a matchless 10-hole course, par 3, and the only course in the region that has night lighting for playing up till 11 p.m. https://www.vidanta.com/golf

El Tigre Golf and Country Club

Designed by Von Hagge, Smelek and Baril, this is an especially challenging course, yet beginners will find it accessible and forgiving. It has five or six tees per hole, wide canals, twelve lakes, and three sand traps. Holes: 18. Par: 72. Yards: 7,239. Grass: Bermuda. Location: Nuevo Vallarta. www.eltigregolf.com

Flamingos Golf Club

This is the most traditional golf course in the bay. Designed by Percy Clifford for players of all levels, its scenic tropical setting incorporates lakes and mangroves, gentle slopes, and traps and tees in the roughs that all together offer an excellent challenge. Holes: 18. Par: 71. Yards: 6,853. Grass: Bermuda. Location: Flamingos. www.flamingosgolf.com.mx

Punta Mita Pacífico

Jack Nicklaus designed this signature course to take perfect advantage of the peninsula’s natural landscape. Set amid palm trees and lush, tropical vegetation, this is the most spectacular golf course in Mexico with breathtaking views of the ocean. Hole 3, known as the “Tail of the Whale,” is the only green in the world situated on a natural island. Holes: 18. Par: 72. Yards: 7,014. Grass: Champion Dwarf Bermuda on the greens. Location: Punta Mita. www.puntamita.com

Punta Mita Bahía

The second Jack Nicklaus design in Puta Mita, this outstanding golf course boasts five holes along the ocean and two more with a spectacular view of the sea. In winter, migrating humpback whales can be seen from the shore. The par 4 hole 15 has the most amazing vistas. Holes: 18. Par: 72. Yards: 7,035. Grass: Bermuda on the fairways, Miniverde on the greens. Location: Punta Mita. www.puntamita.com 

Litibú Golf Course

Gentle hills overlooking the bay, verdant fairways, and the splendid mountain backdrop inspired this demanding PGA course designed by Greg Norman. Holes: 18. Par: 72. Yards: 7,022. Grass: Paspalum SeaDwarf. Location: Litibú. www.fonaturoperadoraportuaria.gob.mx

Please note that some of these courses are private and available only to guests of the hotels where they are located.

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