We tend to describe a ‘Golf Destination’ as a city or region that plays host to several great golf courses, all of which make for a great golf getaway. In the case of El Camaleon Mayakoba, however, it’s a destination all of its own.
El Camaleon is nothing less than a work of art. It’s a visually stunning, upscale course located in Playa del Carmen, approximately 45 minutes from the hotel hub of Cancun. Designed by the famed Greg Norman, and located on the resort property of Fairmont Mayakoba, this 18-Hole, Par 72 course was built in 2004 and is the one and only Latin American course included on the PGA circuit.
It’s almost impossible to describe the beauty of El Camaleon given its ever-changing scenery of tropical landscapes, white sand beachfront, and areas of thick mangroves, crystal lagoons and deep blue canals, all set against white limestone and brilliant green fairways. There is even a massive cenote located on the first fairway and a picturesque jungle-like cave that can be found on the second.
Made up mainly of Par 4 holes, this challenging course is the cream of the crop with a ritzy clubhouse, marshalls that deliver water and ice cold towels to help guest cool off in the punishing heat of Riviera Maya, and a food and beverage cart that frequently makes the rounds.
The driving range and short game practice facilities are among the best we’ve ever encountered, manned with assistants that continually clean your clubs, refill balls, and keep track of your tee time so you don’t fall behind. As a golfer, it’s difficult to stay focused on the game when there is so much to see and admire.
The Cadillac of golf carts exists here, all of which are equipped with advanced GPS systems that lay out the course, as well as electronically keep score, and allow for food and beverage orders. However, if you’re in the mood for something more substantial, the clubhouse provides fine dining. It also houses tournament style locker and shower rooms and a fully stocked pro shop. Also on site is the state-of-the-art Jim McLean Golf School for personalized instruction.
Despite that the course is undoubtedly challenging, all skill levels can experience this immaculate course, which offers tropical landscaping on the front nine holes, and more of a dense forest on the first portion of the back nine. Holes 7 and 15 bring the player to the ocean and offer idyllic views of a palm tree-studded beach and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Holes 16, 17 and 18 bring the tropics back to life as players head to the clubhouse, but not before passing some residential and resort properties along the canal ways that will make you wish you were staying there.
In addition to the striking panoramas, players can expect to see a variety of wildlife that ranges from colorful birds and iguanas to monkeys, coati, and crocodiles.
In keeping with the namesake of the course, tees are presented in the form of red, white and blue chameleons, with Tournament Tees at 7,024 – 73.8, Advance Tees at 6,562 – 71.7, Average Tees at 6,123 – 69.5, and Ladies Tees at 5,078 – 69.0.
Tee times are offered between 7:00 am and 4:30 pm.
It goes without saying that playing this pristine course is pricey, but its an experience you’ll never forget and one that any golfer should try at least once.