Loreto: Mexico’s Top Golf Destination
How do people decide where to go on vacation? More specifically, how do notoriously fussy golfers figure out where they want to go?
Even for those who don’t wish to comparison-shop vacation components, all trips come down to a few key factors: climate, cost, accessibility and “Q factor,” a destination’s ambience or the way it makes you feel.
Let’s say a couple, both avid golfers, live in the upper Midwest of the U.S., where snow blankets the landscape for much of the winter. They want to escape to a place in the sun to tee it up. They’re been to Scottsdale, Arizona. They’ve taken the long flight to Hawaii. But friends say they’d love Mexico, so they’d like to head south of the border to a place that’s sunny, warm, safe and relatively easy to get to.
Mexico’s Trio of Major Golf Destinations
The Mexican golf map is pretty simple. In the state of Quintana Roo, on the Yucatan Peninsula, is Cancun, the nation’s largest tourism destination. South of Cancun, the coastline fronting the Caribbean Sea is known as the Riviera Maya. Here are found more than a dozen courses carved into a scrubby jungle on relatively flat terrain. The weather is consistently warm but can be humid. Tops among the region’s resorts is Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, its Greg Norman-designed El Camaleon course the former site of a PGA Tour event. The on-site hotels are top-notch: Andaz, Banyan Tree, Fairmont, and Rosewood. High season or shoulder season, room rates are pricey. There are all-inclusive resorts with golf in the area, but the golf course terrain along the Riviera Maya, with very limited or non-existent ocean views, is not very inspiring.
Moving west, there’s the cruise ship capital of Puerto Vallarta. There are a handful of worthy courses tucked in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains, notably the 36-hole complex at Vista Vallarta, although the club lacks on-site accommodations. An hour outside of the city, at the northern tip of Banderas Bay, is the resort community of Punta Mita. Here are found two Jack Nicklaus-designed courses, each routed near the sea. November through May, green fees for guests of Punta Mita’s two on-site hotels, a Four Seasons and a St. Regis, is upwards of $300 USD. The hotels are very nice but very pricey.
Mexico’s leading golf destination is Los Cabos, which commands the tip of the Baja Peninsula, where the Sea of Cortes meets the Pacific Ocean. Golf has grown by leaps and bounds in Cabo since the first Jack Nicklaus-designed course in Latin American opened at Palmilla in 1992. There are now 18 golf courses in Los Cabos. Unfortunately, very few offer unfettered public access. A new category, the “private resort,” now dominates Cabo. In this category, players must stay in a designated hotel to gain access to an otherwise-private club. Green fees at these facilities is well north of $400 USD. Hotel room rates in Los Cabos are by far the highest in Mexico. It’s a stunning desert-meets-ocean getaway with great weather and lots to do, but with 4.5 million visitors recorded in 2023, Cabo, with its overwhelmed infrastructure, high costs and frequent traffic jams, is becoming a victim of its own success.
Loreto: A Peaceful, Family-Friendly Getaway
Now to Loreto, a Pueblo Magico on the East Cape of the Baja. Loreto is the gateway to Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto, home of TPC Danzante Bay, the only Tournament Players Club in Mexico. The course, designed by Rees Jones with input from owner Owen Perry, is a majestic layout that rambles from winding arroyos and steep-walled canyons to cactus-studded hills and rolling sand dunes. It is appreciated by golfers, both experts and novices, for its exceptional beauty, its superb conditioning and for the firm but fair test it presents to players at all ability levels. It also represents excellent value. And while air access to Loreto is limited to flights from Tijuana, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Dallas and Calgary (seasonal), the resort’s get-away-from-it-all solitude and tranquility is part of its charm.
Like Los Cabos, TPC Danzante Bay occupies a subtropical seaside desert. The topography is a little different, but the basic setting is the same, with the added bonus that Loreto’s richly hued Sierra de la Giganta are more visually dramatic and closer to the fairways than Cabo’s Sierra de la Laguna.
Straddling the Tropic of Cancer, Loreto enjoys a mild, Mediterranean-style climate, with well over 300 sunny days per year plus cooling sea breezes. Conditions for golf are ideal year-round, though best from November through April, a time when the weather in the northern U.S. (and Canada) is inclement.
There are other factors in Loreto’s favor. Villa del Palmar is a full-service, all-inclusive, family-friendly resort with an array of dining options, a world-class spa and a plethora of scheduled activities.
In addition to hiking trails that traverse the desert foothills, the resort and its environs are ground zero for water sports and eco-adventures. There’s fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, sea kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing and swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the Bay of Loreto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Plus there’s whale watching from mid-December through March.
Nearby Loreto, its mission dating to 1697 (the oldest in the Baja), is well worth exploring for its historic colonial buildings and casual seaside cafes.
When choosing a golf destination, the old axiom applies: “Different strokes for different folks.” There is no one “best” place to go for sun and golf and relaxation. But a case can be made that magical Loreto, coupled with Villa del Palmar and one of Mexico’s very best resort courses, offers an unbeatable combination.
Learn about golf packages in Loreto: https://villadelpalmarloreto.com/golf
Resort Phone: +52 (613) 134 1000
Toll Free: 1 800 790 4187