Ten courses and tequila—a lot of tequila—await

Across the Sea of Cortez from Cabo San Lucas, on the Mexico mainland’s Pacific coast, it’s Nicklaus country. But it’s also tequila country, disparate entities united by their 19th-hole contributions, and each providing reasons to visit.

The Pacifico Golf Course at Punta Mita is one of four Jack Nicklaus designs in the Puerto Vallarta region and has 19 holes; the renowned Tail of the Whale is an optional par-3 third (pictured). It features an actual island green set in the ocean and requires a carry of at least 170 yards. The green is accessible only via an amphibious vehicle, surf permitting. Too choppy, you play the landlocked third.

As for tequila, by Mexican law the country’s most famous adult beverage can be produced only in the state of Jalisco (below), of which Puerto Vallarta is a part. Every 19th hole in town has an ample selection with which to wind down. But back to the golf.

The Puerto Vallarta area, extending 29 miles northwest to Punta Mita, features 10 courses that range from oceanfront to jungle, and even to an urban area, the Marina Vallarta Golf Club, a block from the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa.

The two Nicklaus courses at Punta Mita are what we have come to expect of his Mexico designs— on the water with spectacular views. His course at Vista Vallarta, meanwhile, is cut through dense jungle in the hills above Puerto Vallarta, as is the other course there, a Tom Weiskopf design that includes a great match-settling hole, the drivable par-4 18th.

All the courses in the region are accessible by cab, though it is advisable to agree on the fare before departing. It’s a safe and inexpensive way to travel around town, though the round-trip fare to Punta Mita, about an hour ride, can get pricey.

As for feeling safe, the U.S. State Department does have a travel warning in place for the entire state of Jalisco because of organized-crime violence, and it cautions visitors to avoid rural areas. But that shouldn’t be a problem. Seven of the 10 courses are in or around town, and the Punta Mita courses, as well as Litibu Golf Club nearby, are accessed via a populated highway. Cabs are a smart way to ensure you don’t venture too far afield.