Puerto Vallarta has come a long way from the days in which it only offered two golf courses. While those pioneering clubs were very professional, Puerto Vallarta was not known as a destination for golfers. Everything changed, however, during the EMC World Cup 2002, held at Vista Vallarta, resulting in worldwide attention and investments to the area.

With nine golf courses, Vallarta has become a golf destination for professionals the world over.

Whether you are a professional, aficionado, or even a spectator, do your game a favor and try each of these courses. The variety and breadth is astounding and will make your stay in the region even more enjoyable. In addition to the courses listed below, there are 18 holes at El Tamarindo and 27 holes at Isla Navidad, both located in Costalegre.

El Tigre Club de Golf, Paradise Village • Riviera Nayarit

El Tigre was designed on a flat surface. To make the course more interesting, sand and water define the golf holes. 12 holes feature water with three "beach" bunkers. In addition, Hole 1 starts on a shallow green alongside a street, and Hole 18 certainly offers the toughest finish. This course hosts a number of national and international tournaments. Paradise Village created the additional draw of a full-service spa in the clubhouse and a complete sports club nearby. Tel. (322) 297-0773

Flamingos Club de Golf • Riviera Nayarit

Although this was the first golf course in the area, the design by Englishman Percy Clifford took total advantage of the natural terrain. Over the years, it fell on hard times, but renovations in 2006 brought it back to its deserved professional level. Three tee boxes from each hole offer every golfer a truly challenging game. Here, you can appreciate wildlife such as crocodiles, turtles, birds and even anteaters during the course of a game. Flamingos hosts a number of local fundraisers and other charity events for the community. Tel. (329) 296-5006

Mayan Resorts Golf Course Nuevo Vallarta • Riviera Nayarit

The Mayan Resorts Golf Course in Nuevo Vallarta underwent a major renovation, completed in mid-2010. The project, undertaken by Jack Nicklaus Design, provides for a fresh look for the professional 18-hole course. Tel. (322) 226-4000

Marina Vallarta Club de Golf • Puerto Vallarta

The Marina Golf Course was one of the early ones and continues to be one of the most popular because of its proximity to town, the Maritime Terminal, and airport. Its unique feature is that your game includes the added dimension of crocodiles, iguanas, turtles and a wide variety of native birds. Located in what was originally a swamp, water is a characteristic of most of the holes. It's a challenging course and fun to play. Tel. (322) 221-0073

Vista Vallarta Club de Golf • Puerto Vallarta

First Course

Second Course

Vista Vallarta features two distinct designers. Tom Weiskopf retains as much of the original landscape as possible, making modifications only to accommodate the game. The feeling is very natural; the trees are native and the contours follow the curves of the hills.

Jack Nicklaus likes to start with a clean slate, so he clears away to create wider greens. In fact, his stadium effect is what made this course function so well for the World Cup and other competitions. It's a great course to see golf as a spectator. And the spectator views include the sea on one side and the mountains on the other, a unique feature. Access from the airport or Maritime Terminal is an easy five-minute drive. Tel. (322) 290-0030 

Punta Mita Golf Courses • Riviera Nayarit (Private)

The Punta Mita Golf courses (Pacífico and Bahía) are located on one of the most beautiful locations at the north end of Banderas Bay, with magnificent ocean frontage. Pacífico is home to the acclaimed Tail of the Whale, an optional hole on a small islet accessible by an amphibious golf cart during low tides. The Jack Nicklaus Signature Course Pacífico has been voted "Best Course in the World" by Condé Nast Traveler. Both courses follow the contours of the coastline, along with lagoons, stunning slopes and challenging greens.

The Condé Nast Traveler 2008 Reader's Poll also voted Four Seasons Punta Mita Resort as the world's most luxurious golf resort. Completed anonymously by guests, this poll is considered to be among the most reliable sources for unbiased ratings of top luxury destinations. Tel. (329) 291-5590

Litibú Golf Course • Riviera Nayarit

Litibú Golf Course is located close to Punta Mita, one of the most exclusive areas in Riviera Nayarit, and just 25 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. Designed by Greg Norman, this challenging course covers 169 acres, with 18 holes at par 72. While the course's first seven holes are links-style, eight more are located in the jungle, with the rest on the Pacific ocean.

The Litibu Course will ulti­mately fea­ture a Club­house, Pro Shop, Snack Bar, prac­tice tee, dri­ving range, rentals of carts, clubs, and equip­ment, as well as sale of golf equip­ment and clothing. Tel. (329) 298-4091