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I had breakfast looking out at the ocean, played a round of golf at Vista Vallarta, then lounged on the beach that afternoon before an excellent dinner at La Leche. A pretty perfect day, right? In Puerto Vallarta, it’s easy to mix championship golf with terrific hotels and a wide choice of great restaurants.

Imagine two 18-hole golf courses on 478 acres just a short hop from a major international airport and a large range of resort hotels. One course with lots of vegetation and natural barriers designed by Tom Weiskopf, the other an open and expansive course with mountain views designed by Jack Nicklaus.

Both opened in 2001 and have hosted plenty of tournaments. Lockers are adorned with the names of champs who have played there. I stuck my belongings in the one marked Phil Mickelson. I saw another guy put his in the one marked Vijay Singh. I don’t think the magic rubbed off on either of us though.

Puerto Vallarta golf

I found this to be a very challenging course, with lots of places to lose my balls and a lot of sand traps placed right in the direct line of the green. Experienced players who enjoy a challenge and have a long drive will have fun tackling Vista Vallarta and can play it often without getting bored. If you’re someone like me who considers a mid-90s score a great day, it’s a bit humbling.

There’s plenty of beauty to admire on each hole, however, and the “vista” part of the name is certainly well deserved. You won’t see the water much from here—you’ll need to play at Punta Mita for that—but the Sierra Madre mountain range is a regular fixture. With lots of mature trees and flowering plants around, this is a peaceful place to spend a few hours rolling around in a cart.

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A drink cart makes the rounds regularly, bringing by beer and soda, plus you have a cooler you can load up with water and sandwiches before taking off if you wish. Water is provided along the way and there are restroom facilities in several spots. Club rentals are available so you don’t have to lug yours on an airline with stingy baggage policies and if you forgot something, there’s a full pro shop on site with apparel, shoes, and equipment.

The holes here are quite long, but there are four sets of tee boxes for you to choose from. Service is friendly and Vista Vallarta has been rates one of the top 100 courses outside the USA by a major golf magazine.

Greens fees run $110 to $204 depending on time of day. My World members of Club World get their international perks here. See more info and book a tee time at the Vista Vallarta Golf website.

See our round-up of Puerto Vallarta golf courses and reviews of the best luxury hotels in Puerto Vallarta, Punta Mita, and Costalegre.