Hit the links: The top golf resorts in Hawaii and the Caribbean

Players use the driving range at The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall's White Witch course
Players use the driving range at The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall's White Witch course

Last week, we shared our list of the best golf resorts in the continental U.S. to help you plan your fall golf getaway -- before it gets too cold. But if you can't plan a trip before the weather gets chilly, not to fear: Some of the world's best golf courses are located in tropical locals, where you can hit the links at any time of year. Below, see our picks for the best golf courses in Hawaii and the Caribbean, or head to our main site to browse our list of 50-plus hotels with golf courses for more options.

Aruba

Divi Aruba Beach Resort Mega All Inclusive

The Golf Course at The Divi Village
The Golf Course at The Divi Village

Play: The Links 9-hole course is on the property of Divi Village and is also shared by the Tamarjin Aruba All Inclusive.

Stay: The remote, all-inclusive Divi Aruba, part of the massive Divi complex, shares the following features with the Tamarijn: a 9-hole golf course, a huge casino, several pools, 9 restaurants, 5 bars, a top-notch fitness center, and an amazing beach.

Bahamas

One and Only Ocean Club

Golf at The One and Only Ocean Club
Golf at The One and Only Ocean Club

Play: The Tom Weiskopf-designed Ocean Club Golf Course fills up the eastern chunk of Paradise Island. The course plays host to the annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational.

  • Fantastic ocean vistas
  • Rental clubs: Callaway Fusion and Odyssey putters
  • Green fees start at about $86 -- not bad, compared to the rates at other championship-quality courses
  • Clubhouse Grill serves breakfast and lunch daily, and dinner on the weekends (and also has a nice bar).

Stay: Bringing tranquility to otherwise-crowded Paradise Island, the 105-room Ocean Club's personal butlers, beautiful pools (one for adults, one for families), restaurant from Jean-Georges, and access to Atlantis' water park, casino, and other attractions make it one of the Caribbean's best resorts.

Radisson Our Lucaya Resort, Grand Bahama

Grounds at the Radisson Our Lucaya Resort, Grand Bahama
Grounds at the Radisson Our Lucaya Resort, Grand Bahama

Play: Two par-72 golf courses are a five-minute shuttle ride away at the Lucayan Golf Club. The 18-hole Lucayan Course, designed by Dick Wilson, opened in 1962 and has played host to the Bahama National Open tournament. The 18-hole, links-style Reef Course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and has hosted PGA Senior Tour events.

Stay: It's the top lodging on Grand Bahama -- immaculate grounds; great beds; convenient, scenic location. It has a wide range of rooms, features, and dining options.

Dominican Republic

Casa De Campo

Teeth of the Dog Golf Course at Casa De Campo
Teeth of the Dog Golf Course at Casa De Campo

Play: In 2008, Travel & Leisure Golf ranked Casa de Campo the top golf resort in the Caribbean. The resort's signature course, Teeth of the Dog, which was redesigned in 2006, is ranked No. 43 on Golf Magazine's top 100 courses in the world.

There are three courses on the property, including Teeth of the Dog (6,888 yards, par 72), Dye Four (7,770 yards, par 72), and The Links (6,461 yards, par 71), all of which were designed by World Golf Hall of Famer Pete Dye Each course has 40 groundskeepers assigned to it, which doesn't come as a surprise -- our reporter couldn't find a blade of grass out of place.

Caddies are $25 per day, and, though not required, several guests said they're extremely helpful since the holes aren't especially well-marked.

Stay: The D.R.’s classiest, most famous resort since 1974, Casa de Campo’s massive, 7,000-acre property comes with three world-class golf courses, an on-site horse stable, an immaculate beach, a luxurious spa, 20 restaurants, and even a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean villa. This place is excellent for families, honeymooners, and anyone who loves variety.

Secrets Sanctuary Cap Cana

Secrets Snactuary Cap Cana
Secrets Snactuary Cap Cana

Play: One of the Sanctuary's biggest assets is its on-site golf course. Punta Espada -- a par 72, 18-hole golf course -- is immaculately groomed. Guests seemed to agree, and many spend huge chunks of time there. In fact, the hotel maintains a fleet of golf carts that constantly circulate around the property, picking up guests and dropping them off at the course. The Teeth of the Dog course at the similarly ritzy Casa de Campo has been hailed as one of the Caribbean's most famous golf courses, but the course at the Sanctuary and other new courses, like the one at the Punta Cana Hotel, could provide some real competition.

Stay: Built in 2009, the 176-room Sanctuary Cap Cana looks like a small Spanish village perched on a cliff by the ocean -- note the breathtaking views. Its beautifully decorated pools, spa, golf course, and restaurants are all among the D.R.'s best.

Hawaii

Makena Beach and Golf Resort

Makena Golf Course at Golf at the Makena Beach and Golf Resort
Makena Golf Course at Golf at the Makena Beach and Golf Resort

Play: Wailea is home to some of Hawaii's best golf. As the highest-elevated course on Maui's south shore, Makena Beach and Golf Resort's Makena Golf Course gives players stunning views of Mount Haleakala, the island's dormant volcano, and the Molokini and Lanai islands. Like the Wailea Golf Club's Emerald and Gold courses, the 18-hole Makena course is designed by famed golf architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. But the 6,914-yard Makena, with its narrow fairways, is considered the most challenging of the three.

  • Free shuttle takes guests to the golf course
  • Green fees: $129 in the morning ($99 for Makena Beach and Golf Resort guests with advance reservation), $99 after 12 noon ($79 for guests); and $60 after 2 p.m.
  • Golf lessons are $100 an hour, $50 for a half hour
  • Wailea Golf Club also boasts the David Leadbetter Golf Academy.

Stay: A quieter, less-crowded alternative to nearby Wailea luxury resorts, the 310-room Makena Beach and Golf Resort boasts a great snorkeling beach, five restaurants, a golf course, and weekly luau.

Turtle Bay Resort

Golf at Turtle Bay Resort
Golf at Turtle Bay Resort

Play: The resort often makes, but doesn't top, lists of the best golf in Hawaii. The more notable of its two 18-hole golf courses is the Arnold Palmer course, designed by Ed Seay and Arnold himself. With narrow fairways and sneaky bunkers, it's a challenging course. It's also a beautiful one, surrounded by jungle and a wetland bird sanctuary. The course's signature hole, the 17th, offers stunning ocean views from a plateau 100 feet above the sea, but the course lacks the oceanfront yardage of Kauai's top courses. The second and older Fazio course by respected designer Tom Fazio is easier both on the player and the pocketbook.

  • Palmer charges resort guests $150 to tee off in the morning: Fabio charges $100. (Guests save $15 to $30 over the public.)
  • When our reporter visited in August 2009, the hotel was offering great deals on twilight rounds.
  • Prices include carts. They are not GPS-equipped, but a GPS can be rented, as can clubs and shoes.
  • Clubhouse restaurant, Lei Lei's, is popular with locals, and serves some of the best food at the resort.
  • Daily clinics ($30), private lessons ($85), and full and half-day schools ($175 to $350). Resort guests receive a free 10-minute range lesson with a pro.
  • Stay: A 448-unit resort on the scenic, isolated North Shore with an unbeatable array of amenities -- two 18-hole golf courses, a stable, helicopter rides -- plus five miles of shoreline and great restaurants.

    Jamaica

    Royal Plantation

    Golf course bar at Royal Plantation
    Golf course bar at Royal Plantation

    Play: Once the Upton Golf Club -- opened in 1951 as a nine-hole number designed by P. K. Saunders -- the Sandals Country Club (not an actual country club) quickly grew to a championship-grade course.

    Although it's technically free for guests, you'll still have to drop at least $57 for a round. Once you also throw in the required caddies -- $17 a bag plus tips, also required -- and the golf card ($40 for 18 holes), the "free" round of golf could develop into a $200-per-couple excursion. Should you leave anything at home, it will be even more: Anything you need is available to rent, including Nike clubs ($45) and Nike shoes ($16, but they include free socks).

    Being fairly short (6,311 yards, with a par 71 and 128 slope from the blue tees) it's great for a less golf-centric couple.

    Stay: Quiet and classy, the colonial-style, 74-room, adults-only (18+) Royal Plantation snatched a prime patch of beach when it was built in the 1950s along with luxury icons Round Hill and Half Moon. Excellent food, service, beds, and spa -- it's Ocho Rios's best luxe for the buck.

    The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall

    Golf at The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall, Jamaica
    Golf at The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall, Jamaica

    Play: At the peak of a mountain, with 16 of 18 holes overlooking the Caribbean Sea, White Witch mocks the low-lying, much easier courses below, including the Half Moon golf course.

    According to most guests at the hotel (as well as Travel + Leisure), the White Witch golf course is about the best golf course in the Caribbean (athough Teeth of the Dog at the Casa De Campo in the Dominican Republic is worthy challenger). As one guest put it, "Not playing White Witch is like going to California and not playing Pebble Beach."

    Stay: Attached to the Caribbean's best golf course, the Rose Hall Ritz offers traditionally top-notch food, service, facilities, bathrooms, beds...well, everything.

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