Believe it or not, Costa Rica is a top golfing destination in Central America with six renowned golf courses on its Pacific Coast and in its Central Valley. Aside from the thrill of playing an 18-hole round of golf on vacation, these courses are set among some of the country’s more spectacular settings with beautiful views of the ocean, beaches, volcanoes, tropical dry forests, and rainforests.
Cariari Country Club
The Cariari golf course was the first 18-hole golf course in Costa Rica. Designed by George Fazio and built by his nephew Tom Fazio in the ’70s, it was the only championship golf course in Central America for twenty years (the land Cariari is built on once hosted a coffee plantation). Playing golf on a course that’s located in the middle of the Central Valley is very pleasant, as the weather there is much cooler than on the coast. However, it is reserved for members and their guests only so you have to know someone to play. But if you do, it is a prestigious experience!
Valle del Sol
Valle del Sol was a work in progress for a long time, but in 2001 all 18 holes were completed. Views of the Irazu, Barva, and Poas volcanoes can definitely be a distraction as you make your way through the course and there are ponds and streams scattered throughout to challenge your game. Located just twenty minutes west of downtown San Jose, Valle del Sol is open to the public and its climate, views, and design make it a fantastic place to play golf.
Valle del Sol, San Jose Province, San Jose, Costa Rica, +506 2282 9222
La Iguana is a par-72 course that was designed by Ted Robinson in 1999. Located right behind the famous Los Sueños Marina and Resort near Jaco on the Central Pacific Coast, this 6,125-meter (6,698 yards), 18-hole course has several ocean views and backs up to primary and secondary rainforests. Monkey and macaw sightings are quite common at one of Costa Rica’s most famous and frequently played at golf courses.
Hacienda Pinilla Golf Club
The Hacienda Pinilla Golf Club is part of the exclusive gated community of Hacienda Pinilla near Avellanas Beach. This par-72 course was designed by revered architect Mike Young and its 18 holes are set between a rustic dry forest and a dramatic seascape. Wildlife sightings aren’t a rarity here and the dry, crisp air and faint ocean breeze provide an authentic Guanacaste feel. On top of being an award-winning golf course and designated Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary (for its preservation of ecological balance), it has a sporting goods shop, restaurant, and on-site bar.
Four Seasons Golf Club
The Four Seasons golf course, once only accessible to those staying at the Four Seasons Resort on the Papagayo Peninsula, is now open to the public and was designed by Arnold Palmer, world-famous golfer and for whom the iced tea-lemonade drink is named. This championship par-72 course is ranked among the top 100 golf courses outside of the United States by Golf Digest and is also a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. When you play this course, you will be treated to exquisite ocean views at 14 of its 18 holes, lush landscapes, and an opportunity to observe some of the local wildlife.
Garra de Leon
It has been widely claimed that Garra de Leon (the “Lion’s Paw”) is the best golf course in Costa Rica. This 71-par course was designed by Robert Trent Jones II in 1996 and is part of the upscale and luxurious Reserva Conchal Beach Resort. The challenging course is laced with 63 sand traps, multiple lakes and rivers, and expansive ocean views and was host to the first international golf tournament ever held in Guanacaste.
Garra de Leon, Reserva Conchal, Cabo Velas, Costa Rica, +506 2654 3000