Aruba is probably not the first destination that springs to mind as a golfer. After all, on the tropical island where the sun always shines, isn’t it far too hot? And aren’t the fairways and greens one big bunker due to limited rainfall? With these preconceptions, we recently visited two golf courses on the relatively small island. Since that we have labelled Aruba as perhaps the best golf destination in the Caribbean! You’ll read why in this blog.
Golf destination Aruba
On the ‘one happy island’ there are three golf courses. Two of them are also accessible for non-members: The Links at Divi Aruba and Tierra del Sol. We visited them both and played in the hottest part of the day. Was it doable? Yes, it was! One of the big advantages of golf destination Aruba is the ever-present trade winds. The standard wind force 5 provides pleasant coolness. And an extra challenge during the game!
But it is not only the pleasant golf weather that positively surprises us about Aruba. The leeward island has a very dry climate just like Bonaire and Curaçao. Nevertheless, the greens, fairways and even tee boxes are generally green. Of course, this takes a lot of water, which is precious because of the desalination process. However, in recent years Aruba has switched to a more energy-efficient and therefore cheaper way of desalination. The technology of this desalination process is still under development. It is expected that this will make the production of fresh water much more environmentally friendly and cheaper in the reasonably near future. This, of course, will also benefit the greenness of Aruba’s golf courses.
Another big advantage of golf destination Aruba is the size of the island. As the smallest island of the Leeward Islands, the sea is always nearby. On almost every hole you have a fantastic view of the turquoise sea. Add to that the beautiful flora of palm trees, dividivi and cacti. And special fauna, including large iguanas and even hummingbirds. Fantastic activity through beautiful nature: an activity that can be perfectly combined with the many other highlights the island has to offer.
The Links at Divi Aruba
We really enjoyed playing on The Links at Divi Aruba at Eagle Beach. This is a 9-hole course with a beautiful view of the sea. The relatively flat nine holes are situated around an island with the most beautiful holiday villas. There are also beautifully designed water features and challenging bunkers. All in all, with a slope rating of 133, it is not an easy course. Yet we found it suitable for almost every handicapper.
You start the nine with two relatively easy holes. Soon after, it gets a bit more difficult, partly due to the many palms that adorn the tropical landscape. The ninth hole is one of the best: the par 4 ends with a beautiful, fortunately not too difficult island green. Fortunately, because you can then dig in under the watchful eye of the guests of Mulligan’s, the excellent club restaurant.
One of the advantages of The Links is the use of different tee boxes per hole. The second nine after lunch are therefore really different from the first nine in the morning. If you prefer not to spend the whole day playing golf, then The Links is also ideal. For example, after a delicious breakfast in Mulligen’s you can go for a walk around. You then have all the time for the beach, the city or nature in the afternoon.
The FeelGolf golf school of Don Ross
One of the highlights at Divi Aruba was our meeting with Donald Ross. Don(ald) is an older veteran among the golf pros who has developed his own teaching methodology. Normally, we would not take golf lessons on our holidays, but Don is a living legend. What makes him so unique? Unlike all the pros we have gone through in our golfing lives, Don is all about feeling. Not the execution of x-number of ‘mechanical’, learned actions.
Curious about his methodology, we booked a one-hour lesson. In that one hour we learned a totally different way. Actually, like an uninhibited child would probably teach himself to play golf. With extreme relaxation in our swing, we hit the balls high, straight and far one after the other. A true revelation and a lesson never to forget. Are you going to play golf at Divi Aruba but don’t have the time or feel like a complete lesson? At least book a clinic at Don’s FeelGolf (only $15).
Divi Village Golf & Beach Resort
Looking for a reasonably affordable all-inclusive resort and also want to play golf (occasionally)? Then consider the very luxurious and charming Divi Village Golf & Beach resort. We stayed in a comfortable flat during our holiday on Aruba but during our next visit to the island, we might go for this resort near the golf course! Their all-inclusive formula includes playing golf on this fantastic nine-hole course.
Green fees for guest players
Guests of the Divi Resort and members do get priority, but you can also play as a visitor. As a guest player, you pay 96 dollars (88 euros) including golf cart for nine holes in high season. In the low season (summer and autumn) it is 80 dollars. For 18 holes you pay 137 or 116 dollars respectively. Certainly not cheap, but the experience and the quality of the course makes up for everything (for us). Book your tee time here.
Tierra del Sol Aruba
In the northwest of Aruba, near the lighthouse, you will find an 18-hole championship course: Tierra del Sol. Even more than at The Links (Divi Aruba), the views of the sea are fantastic here! With a slope rating of 132 (yellow) and 121 (red), it is certainly not an easy course. This is mainly due to the long par-3s and the always strong trade winds.
We found the first nine holes the most difficult. Here we were plagued by the strong wind. To be honest, we also found these holes the least beautiful. They look very dry and badly maintained. The roughs are even desert-like. The fairways are fine to play by the way but you do see big dry patches. The super-fast greens and tee boxes, on the other hand, are nice and green. No doubt, the current state of this first loop is the result of high maintenance costs (irrigation) in combination with the Covid crisis. Fortunately, the market is now picking up. We hope that the appearance of the first nine holes will also improve soon.
Tierra del Sol Aruba
The second loop surprised us in a positive way. These last nine holes are located along the fantastic looking holiday villas. The views of the Caribbean Sea are less spectacular than on the first nine. But the much greener roughs and fairways more than make up for that. The holes are more sheltered from the wind and therefore easier to play.
All in all, we found it enjoyable to play golf on this course. The first nine holes look, as indicated, less well maintained, but are still playable. And thanks to the spectacular views of the sea, the golf course itself and the lighthouse, we enjoyed every minute. The cosy terrace on the 19th hole and the over-friendly staff completed the golf experience.
Villas and condos at Tierra del Sol
The Tierra del Sol golf course also offers excellent accommodation. On the grounds you will find many very luxurious villas and condos, many with private pools. And with a good restaurant and two cosy bars with terrace, you don’t really have to leave the grounds.
The green fee for the 18 holes is between 79 and 159 dollars, depending on the season and time of day. In addition, you can make use of the attractively priced three-day or five-day golf package. The green fee includes use of a cart with navigation system.
Answers to (practical) questions regarding golf destination Aruba
Since there are two totally different courses to be found, you will not get bored easily as a golfer here. We wouldn’t really go to Aruba exclusively for golf but the beauty of the island is that you don't have to. Consider golfing as one of the many other fantastic activities that you can do on the island. Like relaxing on the beach, taking a stroll through San Nicolas or visiting the Arikok National Park. If you are looking for a combination of activities, we think golfing in Aruba is definitely worth it.
The best time to travel to Aruba is from mid-December up to and including April. This is the driest season. And because it is winter and there is more wind, it is not too warm. However, this is the busiest and therefore also the most expensive season. If you come mainly to play golf, the months May to July are perhaps even better. And especially October to November. The sparse rain that falls then makes for greener fairways!