Dubai Travel – FAQs

Planning a trip to Dubai? Here’s some answers to those important questions you might have:

Between the glitz and glam of the lavish lifestyles offered in Dubai, skyscrapers, Friday brunches, attractions and world class championship golf, is a very complex and misunderstood judicial system as well and an air of mystery around the destination.

Having personally lived in Dubai from 2014 – 2018 and having always worked in the leisure and tourism sector, I believe my experience can really help you have a better understanding of Dubai before you travel, and if there are any other questions you may have, please reach out to me.

So, to help you fully prepare, here’s some of the most common questions tourists have about Dubai with answers and explanations for you.

1. Is Dubai safe to travel to for tourists?

Absolutely yes – Dubai has rapidly become one of the most popular go-to destinations for holidays and travellers and has a multitude of attractions, sight-seeing, activities, historical spots to explore and amazing golf courses.

In fact, Dubai is one of safest cities and arguably THE safest country in the Middle East. Thanks to stricter laws, crime is kept to a minimum and you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that many tourists feel very safe during their stay in Dubai.

Having moved back to London a few months ago and having been lucky enough to travel quite extensively around the world, I can honestly say Dubai is the safest place I’ve ever been to, period.

2. Can you take alcohol to Dubai?

Tourists visiting Dubai can bring the following goods free of duty into the city:

• Gifts with a value of no more than AED 3,000
• 400 cigarettes OR 500 grams of tobacco OR 50 cigars
• Up to 4 litres of alcohol OR 48 cans of beer (each not exceeding 355 ml)
• So yes, tourists can buy and bring alcohol into Dubai. Which leads us onto #3…

3. Can you drink in Dubai?

The city is continually enhancing its tourism industry, and so those visiting will have no issue purchasing a drink while staying here.

Tourists will find that most restaurants, bars and hotels serve alcohol to those above the UAE’s legal drinking age of 21.

If you’re a resident living in Dubai – that’s a different story, as you should purchase and register for an alcohol license. Provided you’re a non-Muslim.

From my personal experience, Dubai has some of the best nightlife I’ve ever seen. There is no wonder it’s a celebrity hotspot and you don’t get celebrities letting loose without a few drinks!

4. Can you swear in Dubai?

No, you should endeavour to keep your potty mouth shut while out and about in Dubai! Particularly in public places where crowds will form, like at the beach, or in a mall or restaurant. Be mindful of who is around you – Dubai is a melting pot of many different cultures, so it’s best to refrain from swearing to ensure you don’t accidentally insult someone.

In the comfort of your own hotel room or holiday residence, swear all you like – just don’t say anything that might cause offence in public.

5. Can you smoke in Dubai?

Dubai is one of the few tourist destinations left that still allows smoking indoors – which is great news if you smoke, but horrible news if you can’t stand it.

But don’t be alarmed – all restaurants that do allow indoor smoking will provide seperate seating areas for those who wish to smoke and those which don’t.

And if you’re a fan of shisha – you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find lots of local cafes or Arabic restaurants that serve it. If it’s your first time visiting, and you’re not against giving it a go – you can try it as part of your ‘authentic Middle Eastern’ experience!

Those who do smoke will also be pleased to learn that Dubai’s tobacco prices are still extremely cheap in comparison to other Western countries. For example, a pack of Marlboro Gold costs AED 20 for 20 cigarettes, which is around £2!

6. Can you hold hands in public in Dubai?

If you’re a married couple, holding hands is tolerated. But kissing, hugging or petting is a bit of a no no, keep this to the hotel!

7. What do you have to wear in Dubai?

As a rule of thumb, make sure your holiday outfits keep you covered from shoulders to at least the knee in public to prevent any issues from arising should you cause offence to anyone.
Back at your hotel, wear whatever you like.

At the beach, it’s fine to wear your swimwear, so long as you’re appropriately dressed once again after leaving the beach vicinity.

8. Do I need a visa to visit Dubai?

Requirements for obtaining a visit visa to travel to Dubai vary depending on your nationality, the purpose of your visit and its duration.

If you hold a British passport, you can obtain a visit upon arrival for a 30-day period.

Guld Co-operation Council nationals are granted entry upon arrival (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman) and other citizens from the following countries can obtain a visa upon arrival that lasts 90 days; France, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Holland, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Finland, Liechtenstein, Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg, Poland, Switzerland, Estonia, Portugal, Malta, Spain, Cyprus, Denmark, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania and Latvia.

Additionally, citizens of the following countries can obtain a visa upon arrival for 30 days, with a 10-day grace period; Andorra, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Monaco, South Korea, Brunei, Ireland, New Zealand, The Vatican, Canada, Japan, San Marino, United States and Russia.

9. What language is spoken in Dubai?

Although Arabic is the primary language of Dubai and the UAE, you’ll find that English is most commonly used in public areas, on road signs, in restaurants and shopping malls.

10. What tourist attractions are in Dubai?

There are SO many, and all suit different ages and lifestyles. From the Burj Khalifa, to The Beach in JBR, to the IMG Worlds of Adventure theme park, to City Walk’s HUB ZERO as well as Burj Al Arab, Souk Madinat, desert safaris, sand dune buggy rides, to the Dubai Canal and Dubai Marina… There’s SO much to see and do during your time in Dubai, with options that suit all budgets.

11. Do I have to tip in Dubai?

Many restaurants and bars include the service charge in the price of the meal/drinks bought, however there may be some instances like using a valet or using a Dubai taxi that you might feel it appropriate to tip – which is fine. Anything between the 10% – 20% mark will be fine.

12. When’s the best time to visit Dubai?

You’ll be very aware of just how HOT it can get in Dubai and the UAE during summer, but tourists wishing to visit Dubai will be glad to hear that this heat does cool down in the winter months. From October to April, the temperature is generally cooler – with the best time entirely being from November to March.
September & May: 28 – 39
October & April: 25 – 36
November – March: 18 – 31

13. How many golf courses are in Dubai

There is now a total of 12 golf courses in Dubai, which it’s quite remarkable seen as it’s such a small city.

There are also further developments ongoing.
There is a Tiger Woods designed golf course opening at the Trump International resort, as well as a further Emaar golf course called ‘Emaar South’ which is located near the new DWC airport.

1. Emirates Golf Club, Majlis Course (Home on the Omega Dubai Desert Classic)
2. Emirates Golf Club, Faldo Course (Fully Floodlit Night Golf)
3. Jumeirah Golf Estates, Earth Course (Home of the Race to Dubai Final & DP World Tour Championship)
4. Jumeirah Golf Estates, Fire Course
5. The Els Club Dubai
6. The Address Montgomerie Dubai
7. Arabian Ranches Golf Club Dubai
8. Dubai Hills Golf Club
9. Dubai Creek Golf Club
10. Trump International Golf Club
11. The Track at Meydan (Fully Floodlit 9 Holes)
12. Jebel Ali Golf Club

14. What are the best golf courses to play in Dubai?

This is such a tough question and its obviously very much opinion based, but I’ll give you my verdict!

As a former tour pro and currently playing off +1 handicap, my opinion of golf courses will be somewhat different to say an 18 handicapper, but what I can tell you is that every single golf course is top quality and a joy to play.

At every golf course you will be given a golf buggy, range balls and water as part of your green fee and the daily operation and how these golf courses run is remarkable.

My favourite course in Dubai would have to be Jumeirah Golf Estates’ Earth Course.
The Earth Course is the venue for the European Tours season ending Race to Dubai and it’s such a fitting venue.
The course is designed by Greg Norman who is very well known for his huge bright white bunkering, it’s just so visually impressive.
The course conditioning is amazing, the club’s golf academy is a European Tour Performance Institute and as a whole it’s golfing paradise!

15. Best beaches in Dubai

The Beach – JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residences)
A hip, beach hangout.
For a taste of the idyllic beachside lifestyle make your way down to the relaxed district of The Beach at JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residences).

This bustling cosmopolitan area is like a beach resort anyone can access and enjoy a day in the sun with a contemporary Arabian touch. The family-friendly area is easily accessible from anywhere in Dubai. There’s plenty to do – from a wide selection of beachside dining and shopping to water sports such as parasailing and wakeboarding.

There’re also banana boat rides and even a train for the kids to enjoy. If you’d prefer to keep your feet dry, you can take a camel ride along the beach – and all with the iconic city landscape in the background.

Plus, there’s a 600m running track, outdoor gym and beach volleyball court if you’re keen to work up a sweat. Or take in an outdoor yoga class to get your day started the way you like.

If your visit coincides with the other end of the day, there’s a good chance of encountering some live entertainment to get your excitement levels up.

Take your pick among a huge variety of dining options and your day is made, I would strongly recommend The Cheesecake Factory!

Kite Beach
If you’re serious about your water sports and wish to test your skills on one of the best free beaches in Dubai, Kite Beach has the challenge you seek.
Located steps from Jumeirah’s main street, you’ll find high quality water sports equipment available along the sand, with kitesurfing, wakeboarding and stand-up paddle boarding gear all ready to go. Head down in the afternoon, as this is when the wind picks up and presents some better conditions.

If staying on land is more your thing, you’re bound to find a game of beach volleyball to join, along with a welcoming vibe and plenty of new friends to make in the process. Or, if you’re looking for a more chilled out vibe, Kite Beach exudes adrenaline as much as it does serenity and a casual beachside atmosphere.

Want to walk or jog along the coastline? Kite Beach’s 14km track is the perfect spot. Whatever beachside activity you wish to enjoy, at this stretch of sand you’ll have amazing views of the majestic Burj Al Arab to admire.

You’ll also find some casual bites to eat right off the beach at the shops and food trucks; don’t miss your chance to grab some sliders and a lotus shake at the ever-popular Salt!

16. Getting around in Dubai

Rent a Car
To hire a car, you need an international driver’s licence (UK Licence is fine), passport, credit card and third-party insurance. Once you’re on the open road, take a drive out to Dubai’s mountain town of Hatta.

Want to get in on the luxury car action? One of Dubai’s favourite past times is cruising down the streets in style in a car that turns heads; opt for a Bentley with Paddock Rent A Car or a Bugatti with Apex Luxury Car Hire.

Looking for ultimate flexibility? Try a pay-as-you-go car rental app, like UDrive or ekar.

Dubai’s taxis are available to hail nearly everywhere at just about any time, day or night. If you prefer to schedule a ride, you can call for a Dubai taxi pick-up at +971 4 208 0808.

While taxis are extremely cheap in Dubai, the price per kilometre does change depending on a few factors, like tolls or the time of day.

If you prefer to use an app to book a ride, Uber or Careem are available. Feeling extravagant? You can even book an Uber chopper for a bird’s-eye commute to the golf course!!

Travel by Rail

Dubai Metro
The metro is a world-class, fully-automated, driverless railway system. Most of the metro rides above ground providing a great view while you travel to landmarks like the Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina, the Gold Souk and Dubai’s financial district (DIFC).

Dubai Metro tickets must be purchased in the form of a Nol card – which can also be used to pay for bus, tram and taxi fare – and rides can cost as little as AED3. Discover the city by its metro stations or use the journey planner app, Wojhati, to make the most of your Dubai itinerary.

Dubai Tram
The Dubai Tram runs from Al Sufouh to Jumeirah Beach Residences in 42 minutes. Running on the Nol card, the tram provides access to destinations like Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lakes Towers and more.

The Palm Monorail
The tram connects directly to the Palm’s monorail station, which runs from the trunk of the Palm to the iconic Atlantis, The Palm. Whether you’re having a play day at Aquaventure Waterpark, making friends a Dolphin Bay, or enjoying the Boardwalk, don’t miss the chance to take in views of the Gulf from the Palm’s crescent.

Travel by Boat

Dhow Boats and Abras
Travel back in time on Dubai’s traditional mode of transportation with an abra ride down Dubai Creek or through Souk Madinat Jumeirah. Enjoy a dinner cruise on the much larger dhow boat, a vessel used traditionally for sailing. For a modern view, travel down the cosmopolitan passages of Dubai Marina or the brand-new Dubai Water Canal.

Ferry and Water Taxi
Another way to take in the sights is aboard the Dubai Ferry. Starting at just AED15, you can take a tour across the city’s key water links starting from Business Bay to the Marina via Dubai Canal. Ferries from the Al Jaddaf station depart daily at 10am, 12pm and 5:30pm.

Whatever your preferred mode of transport, we can offer private transfers for you. Just let us know when booking!

17. The best places to shop in Dubai?

From traditional souks to gleaming malls

While today Dubai is famous for the country’s oil boom and riches, not many people know about its ancient history of pearl diving.

Well before the money from the oil boom, the UAE was thriving off the money made from the pearls. Pearl diving offered seasonal if not full-time work for many local Emiratis, and many UAE families can still trace their fortunes back to the historic pearl diving their forefathers did.

While pearls are no longer an exclusive commodity only from the UAE, some of today’s most top-ranking brands began their careers by using UAE pearls for prestige and quality insurance. Cartier is one of the most famous examples of a loyal customer of the pearls of the Arabian coastline, with Jacques Cartier making his first journey to the region in 1912 to hunt for the mother of all jewels, which is what the pearl is so often referred to as.

While today shopping is a national pastime in the UAE, a place where high street and designer brands from around the world stand side-by-side in shiny, air-conditioned mega malls, while old-school souks still look much like the mock historic market on display in Dubai Museum. Elsewhere, emerging artisans are carving a niche off the beaten path.

Downtown Dubai
The Dubai Mall

The UAE’s highest concentration of designer boutiques can be found here, alongside the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and an Olympic-sized ice rink, while the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa are on the doorstep. Walking through the several million square feet of retail space is a workout: you can navigate with the Dubai Mall mobile app and be sure to pack comfortable shoes – or buy a pair. With more than 1,300 shops, including anchor departments stores Galeries Lafayette and Bloomingdale’s, finding the right footwear for the job shouldn’t be a problem.

Al Barsha
Mall of The Emirates

The only place in the UAE where you’ll find a ski slope, Mall of the Emirates is a magnet for Middle Eastern travellers who’ve never seen snow. The mall’s Fashion District looks like the pages of Vogue brought to life, with Bulgari, Dior and Gucci stopping shoppers in their tracks with attention-grabbing window displays. High-street offerings include Next, Topshop and the popular Turkish equivalent, Koton, while Harvey Nichols and Debenhams go head to head as the flagship department stores. The ‘Hands Free’ service means shoppers can have their bags collected and delivered later anywhere in the mall, car parks or connecting hotels (Kempinski and Sheraton hotels in the mall itself).

Jebel Ali
The Outlet Village

This incongruous Tuscan village-styled mall on the outskirts of Dubai is to the UAE what Bicester Village is to England. From Armani to Ermenegildo Zegna, several discounted high-end collections can be found in bespoke boutiques or one of three multi-brand department stores: The Deal, Priceless and Galeries Lafayette L’Outlet. Hotfoot it to Coach, Dunhill, Michael Kors and Montblanc for luxury leather accessories, and bag high street bargains at stores including Banana Republic, Gap Factory, Diesel, Superdry and Ted Baker. In addition to the 100 or so shops, there’s a food court and Stay & Play, a care facility where children can be entertained while grown-ups splurge.

All set for your Dubai Golf Holiday? See our extensive list of golf holidays here

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Mauritius Revisited: Mark & Marcella Return to Paradise

It had been 3 three years since my last visit to Mauritius and with all the changes on the island, I felt a trip was very much needed to get up to speed with things. Stuart and Jean from the office had both been over recently to see a lot of the changes which had whetted my appetite. With Marcella and I now being empty nesters it was great to be able to go away on a ‘work trip’ together and this was her first time back in 10 years. We flew out of Dublin via Dubai and couldn’t find fault with Emirates who consistently rank as one of the world’s leading airlines.

Day 1 – Arriving to a Sunny Festive Mauritius and straight onto the Heritage golf course

After a comfortable and stress-free journey from Dublin via Dubai with Emirates we arrived and were quickly out of the bright and modern airport and into a sunny, warm Mauritius morning. We were driven along the south coast by our charming concierge Clifford from Emotions who look after all of our clients’ transfers and local tours requirements as well as giving us a 365 day /24hr presence on the island. We passed an amazing Tamil religious festival en route to the hotel, the bright bold colours of the silks and exotic flowers immediately stirred the senses, making us suddenly feel like we were a long way from the hustle, bustle and any stress left at home.

Straight on to the Heritage Golf Course

Of course within an hour of arrival at the African themed Heritage Awali Golf and Spa Resort I was out on the Heritage golf course. It was great to be back out on one of my favourite courses, I remember seeing the course when under construction and had the pleasure of watching it blossom into maturity when attending its official opening, over the years it’s just got better and better. I enjoyed playing with the South African golf director Jonathan Menteath and his friend Nico who was over visiting from Legends Golf and Safari resort in SA. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Legends 3 times and even taken on the ultimate golf experience with a helicopter up to the Extreme 19th! As such there were 3 of us Southern Africans playing together but unfortunately only two good golfers! I used every excuse in the book about our 8 month winter in Europe to try and justify my wayward golf, I must thank them for their patience. The weather was absolutely perfect, 28c with a lovely soft breeze and clear blue skies, we played in these absolutely ideal conditions until the sun set. I was pleased to hear from Jonathan that they are soon starting the 2nd course and I look forward to playing it in the future!

After the obligatory post game Phoenix beer sundowners I met up with Marcella and we enjoyed an early dinner at Infinity Blue restaurant down alongside the beach. Sitting outside with your feet in the sand at this relaxed restaurant was a perfect end to our first day back in Mauritius!

Day 2 – Catching up with Golf Developments in Mauritius

Another day in paradise for Marcella and I: beach, massage, food, beer and a tough lunchtime meeting with my old friend Michael Geerdharry at the stunning Heritage Le Telfair Resort. Michael has been involved in golf on the island since day 1 and I’ve known him for over 20 years! It was great chatting about how golf has developed on the island and I’m pleased to say more courses are in the pipeline including the second Heritage golf course! I love the local food in Mauritius and we had a delicious meal in the Mauritian-Asian style Zafarani restaurant at the Heritage Awali.

Marcella and Michael Geerdharry Le Telfair Golf Resort Mauritius
Marcella with Michael Geerdharry at Heritage Le Telfair

Day 3 – Meeting an old friend at the new Avalon Golf Club

After breakfast we headed up the from the south coast to Avalon Golf Club where we were met by the Estate Manager Ryan Dodds. Whilst it was my first round at Avalon it wasn’t my first time meeting Ryan who I’m sure many will remember at Heritage GC just down the hill! Marcella and I really enjoyed this superb Peter Matkovitch course, he’s a great designer and I’m pleased to say a fellow Zimbabwean. The course has spectacular views of the ocean from virtually every hole, surrounding tea plantations and nearby mountains. The course has wide forgiving fairways as it winds through rivers, ravines and indigenous forests, we thoroughly enjoyed our round yet again played in perfect conditions. During the round we bumped into Jean Patrick who I had met many times over the years at Heritage Golf Club – it was really pleasing to see that a local Mauritian who had started working at the range has progressed to being Avalon’s PGA pro, a true sign that Mauritius has matured as a golf destination. After golf we set off across the Island with our ‘concierge supreme’ Clifford who stopped at the very impressive recently constructed statue of Parvati the Hindu goddess of fertility, love and devotion – what an island, even after 23 years of coming here and still so much to see…… We went on to Anahita Golf and Spa Resort on the east coast of the island ending the day with a wonderful dinner on the veranda.

Avalon Golf Course Mauritius Mark & Ryan Dodds
Mark & Ryan Dodds on the Avalon Golf Course

Day 4 – Some welcome down time at Anahita Golf and Spa Resort

After a fairly busy start to our trip we treated ourselves to a really relaxing day around the pool at Anahita Golf and Spa Resort. The resort is truly top class and offers a wide range of accommodation all set in beautiful gardens as well as having a superb golf course which I was looking forward to playing the following morning. In the evening we headed up the coast to the recently completely renovated One&Only Le Saint Geran resort for dinner with Rheena, the charming manager of Emotions and her equally charming husband Martin. We had a tour of the resort before enjoying a memorable meal in excellent company. On&Only LeSaint Geran for many years set the standard on the island and whilst we only enjoyed a short visit I believe it will have all of the other leading hotels knowing they will have to up their game as the bar has been raised.

Anahita Resort Mauritius Beach
Some relaxation on the beach at Anahita

Day 5 – An early golf game at Anahita then onto Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok

With another sunny morning I was up early and the first out on the Anahita Golf Course, as always the course was in fantastic condition. With the construction of a number of new villas alongside the course, there was some background noise and the normally picturesque 4th hole had fencing most of the way down the fairway. Fortunately, the stunningly located green with wonderful views of the turquoise ocean was unaffected. The course is very forgiving off the tee box which suits me, to score well you need a good short game as designer Ernie Els made sure scoring wasn’t easy with well protected, tricky greens.

After lunch we moved around the bay to Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok, Mauritius where we would be spending a couple of days. Having been taken over by Shangri La since my last golf break in Mauritius I was interested to seeing any changes. Having been to a number of Shangri La’s resorts including the Shangri La’s Rasa Ria Golf Resort in Malaysian Borneo and the Shard in London I knew the standard would be high. Overall the biggest difference we found was that the resort had a more relaxed and informal feel having previously been very elegant and chic. I particularly enjoyed the late afternoon sundowner session they now have every afternoon on the beach which brought people together with music in the background creating a lively and fun atmosphere. Throughout our stay we were looked after like royalty by the affable marketing director Peter Donlevy, we joined him for dinner in the Japanese restaurant and the company and the food were of the highest order!

Anahita Resort Mauritius Plunge Pool Overlooking Golf Course
Plunge Pool overlooking the Golf Course at Anahita

Day 6 – A golf transfer with a difference – off to Ile Aux Cerfs course by boat!

Marcella and I spent a magical day playing on the iconic Ile Aux Cerfs course. This was her first time there and I really enjoyed sharing the experience with her. Everything was perfect, from the boat ride out to the island, to playing the immaculately maintained course and enjoying post match drinks and lunch in the lovely clubhouse, it is truly an experience that will live long in the memory of anyone lucky enough to grace Ile Aux Cerfs fairways. The course was in tip top condition and with just a gentle cooling breeze conditions were once again ideal. I have played it many times and enjoy it a lot more now since they have made it easier to play – when it was first opened it was ridiculously tough! Hats off to the Director of Golf Marc Amelot and his team who do an amazing job in keeping the course at a consistently high standard!

Mark on the Ile Aux Cerf Golf Course Mauritius
Mark on the Ile Aux Cerfs Golf Course

Day 7 – The ultimate in laid-back luxury – a relaxing day on a private island!

We spent most of the day at Shangri La’s Le Touessrok’s private island Ilot Mangenie – truly paradise!!! Just a short boat ride from the resort and you find yourself in heaven, nothing more than a few sun loungers dotted along the stunning beaches plus an excellent beach restaurant providing world class food – how do the Mauritians do it! Our overall impression was that the Shangri-Las Le Touessrok has notably changed and is now less formal but equally as impressive! After lunch we moved back around the bay to the Four Seasons Mauritius. We were lucky enough to be given a beachfront villa with a private pool. These outstanding villas are the absolute epitome of luxury as one would expect from Four Seasons. The resort has a number of excellent restaurants and dinner was enjoyed under the stars with a gentle breeze keeping things really comfortable.

Ilot Margenie Private Island Mauritius Boat Trip
Boat trip to the private island of Ilot Margenie

Day 8 – On your bike!

Marcella and I decided we needed to work off some of the amazing food (and in my case numerous cold Phoenix) so we hired some bikes and went off for a fun ride through the cane fields and down the east coast. Whilst the weather was cloudy and breezy it was great to get out of the resorts and enjoy the island. Later in the day we moved to the superb Constance Prince Maurice Resort, in my opinion the finest resort on an island famous for its world class hotels! Le Prince Maurice shares two superb golf courses, the Legend and the Links, with its sister hotel the Constance Belle Mare Plage. Le Prince Maurice is an extremely elegant resort, renowned for its exceptional service, luxurious décor, amazing cuisine and a wonderfully extensive wine list. After a cocktail at the floating bar we had an excellent meal at the Asian Restaurant, where the superb food is prepared by the chefs in full view of the diners.

Day 9 – Epicureans & wine lovers, be ready!

Another day, another great golf course! This time Marcella and I played the Links course. Opened in 2002, The Links is Constance Hotels second championship golf course, it’s a fair course that rewards good play but can be equally tricky, particularly on the back nine. There are reasonably generous fairways leading to tricky greens which puts an emphasis on solid iron play as well as making really think about your choice of approach shot. There’s considerably less water than on the Legend course but there are still 6 water hazards as well as volcanic rock features that must be avoided. Following the golf we relaxed on the beach at the resort before winding down even further with a relaxing massage at the superb spa. We had a wonderful evening with pre-dinner drinks at the floating bar before the ‘La Paulée’ dinner dedicated to sumptuous wine and food pairings!

Mark Links Golf Course Constance Belle Mare Plage Golf Resort Mauritius
Mark on The Links at Constance Belle Mare Page

Day 10 – A warm welcome at the new C Palmar Resort

After this we moved to the new C Palmar Resort, I was really looking forward to seeing our great friends from Constance Resorts latest offering. This is a smaller boutique style resort and on arrival we were given a typically warm Mauritian greeting. As we walked through the hotel we took in the stunning view of the beach and sea which dipped beyond the horizon. The bright natural light as well as the airy feel to the resort really complimented the colourful setting. We were fortunate to have a room that shared this wonderful vista and spent the afternoon enjoying the crystal clear sea and sparkling white sandy beach! After the obligatory pre-dinner cocktail we had dinner in the main restaurant. Whilst the buffet didn’t have an overwhelming selection there was plenty to keep us happy and we were well looked after by the attentive and friendly staff.

View of the Beach at C Palmar from the Deck
View of the Beach from the deck at C Palmar

Day 11 – A testing round at the new Mont Choisy golf course

We woke to strong winds and a cloudy sky so made sure we had waterproofs packed before heading to the north of the island to try out the new Mont Choisy golf course. We played with our old friends Jo and Rory Kirk who originated from South Africa but have been in Mauritius for many years. Jo did a wonderful job looking after our Mauritius Mixed Pairs tournament for many years and was as enthusiastic as ever to get out and show off their new golf club regardless of the weather.

Fortunately the rain stayed away apart from one large shower and I really enjoyed playing a truly testing round in high winds, living in Ireland has made me accept it as part of the challenge! The course is another excellent Peter Matkovitch design, it’s built on a former sugar plantation with few mature trees and offers wonderful views of the mountains. The 15th hole is an absolute gem, it’s a short par-3 across a wetland to an island green, it’s located near an old chimney, a landmark that harks back to the past. We had the pleasure of lunch and a few drinks in the stylish modern clubhouse with the Kirks. As Rory had to fly off to South Africa that afternoon Jo joined us for dinner in the C Asian restaurant back at the resort, we had a superb meal reminiscing about the island and all of the changes it has undergone over the last 20 years – fortunately the majority of these are very positive both for tourism as well as the locals.

Mont Choisy Golf Club Mauritius Mark & Jo Kirk
Mark taking on the challenge of Mont Choisy

Day 12 – Home from home at the Belle Mare Plage

We thoroughly enjoyed the C Palmar and would have happily stayed on for another week but it was time to move on again! Luckily the trip wasn’t too arduous as it was just a few minutes up the road to what is generally rated the best golf resort on the island – Constance Belle Mare Plage. Having first visited the resort in 1995 I have really enjoyed seeing the resort develop from a ‘charming’ old beach resort with one golf course to the wonderful stylish current version with two excellent courses and a third in the pipeline! Belle Mare Plage, like the island itself, really feels like a second home to me, we have had thousands of happy clients enjoy the resort and many of these return year after year and like me feel totally at home.

Villa Gazebo at Constance Belle Mare Plage Mauritius
Villa Gazebo at Belle Mare Plage

Day 13 – Golf with old friends at the Links course

In the afternoon I caught up with my old friends Sarran and Dinesh who have been looking after the golfers at the Belle Mare Plages two courses for many years. It is always a highlight of my visits to Mauritius playing golf with these fun-loving, charming guys and it was a real pleasure playing the Links course with them. Golf with these laid-back guys whilst enjoying a couple of beers on the way round is my type of golf, lots of laughs and whilst competitive it’s always played within the right spirit. Many of our returning clients would know Sarran and Dinesh and I’m sure they would agree with me that the two of them, as well as the rest of the staff, really enhance the golfing experience with their charm and professionalism. It was a shame that Sebastian the director of golf was unable to join us due to a bad back but I’ll be sure to get out with him on my next visit. Our delightful dinner in the Blue Penny restaurant at Belle Mare Plage was preceded by a tour of the very impressive wine cellar and a sumptuous wine tasting experience.

Day 14 – On your bike again!

To combat all the wonderful food and drink on this trip we took on another bike ride, this time along the beautiful east coast of the island, the stretch along the Belle Mare public beach with the spectacular colours of the sea right next to us was truly memorable! A well-deserved swim and lunch were followed by a lazy afternoon enjoying the resort. We ended the day at La Spiaggia, one of my favourite restaurants, where the superb food was up to its usual high standards, before heading to the main bar to listen to some music and enjoy a nightcap (or two).

Day 15 – A quick 9 holes at the Legend Course and travelling like a star!!

Our final day had unfortunately arrived However, we were departing on an evening flight so still had the whole day to savour. We spent the morning relaxing on the beach and after lunch, we went out for a final 9-holes on the Legend Course. The changes made to the course over the last two decades have been considerable, it now plays a little easier due to wider landing areas but the abundance of water, as well as dense forest and volcanic rock, means you can expect to lose a ball or two. Overall the course was in excellent condition with well-maintained tee boxes, bunkers and pure well-paced greens. In the evening we tried out the Yu Lounge at the airport. This is in a separate building to the main terminal and is ideal for stress-free travel. On arrival at the lounge your luggage disappears, and whilst you enjoy bubbly and excellent food your passports are taken away and returned with your boarding passes. When it’s time to fly out you are taken to the main terminal in a Porsche Cayenne! At the terminal, you are whisked through a private security route and onto the departure gate. This is one indulgence I recommend particularly for those who like to be pampered!

Warm welcomes, superb golf and idyllic weather – what more could you want!

May is the perfect time of year out here with great hotel rates and idyllic golf and beach weather! The courses were all in fantastic condition particularly considering winter officially started when we were out there. The Emirates flights were all on time throughout our journey and all of our luggage appeared at the right times and places so we are grateful to them for their usual high-quality service!

I am so fortunate to have been to Mauritius many, many times and the island itself really feels like a second home to me. It was a real privilege and pleasure to spent two weeks with Marcella enjoying the best that the island has to offer. We could not have been looked after better and are very thankful for the kindness and hospitality we enjoyed throughout or visit. We have had thousands of happy clients enjoy the superb golf courses, idyllic weather and world-class resorts that Mauritius has to offer, many of these return year after year and like me I’m sure they are always planning the next return to paradise!

Gerard revisits Mexico – the Golf Holiday Destination with something for everyone!

Having been to Mexico on four previous occasions I relished returning and I looked forward to showing Mark Marais (Chaka Travel MD) around one of my favourite golf holiday destinations. We both looked forward to getting out for some winter sun and seeing a wide range of resorts, playing the golf courses and enjoying the legendary Cancun nightlife.

Days 1 – 2 Cancun, Mexico

After leaving a very cold, wet, miserable UK behind and after a 10 hour flight we arrived early evening on the same day into Cancun, Mexico. We flew with Virgin and as usual their friendly efficient service meant we were well supplied with both food and drink whilst watching the latest movies on their excellent entertainment system.

On arrival we were greeted by our local representative and had a comfortable 20 minute journey to our first hotel, Secrets The Vine Cancun. On arrival at The Vine we were greeted with a very warm, “Welcome Home”, a cool refreshing towel and an ice cold glass of champagne….what a cracking start to our trip! This is a superb 5-star adult’s only hotel where we were to spend our first two nights.


After getting a tour of the hotel by our excellent concierge, Alberto, we were then shown to our rooms, which were Preferred Club Junior Suite Ocean View and they were located on the 21st Floor. The views of the beach and sea from our rooms were memorable!

Mark and I decided to quickly freshen up and make our way down for something to eat and I am pleased to say we chose the Blue Water Grill, Steak Restaurant which is located on the 12th floor. Well, all I can say is, there is nothing that beats tucking into a t-bone steak and beautiful glass of red wine 2 hours after touching down in Cancun!

After dinner we enjoyed the entertainment and atmosphere in and around the lobby bar. We also made sure to sample a drink that Mexico is very famous for ………TEQUILA!

The following morning after breakfast we explored the hotel further and we were very impressed with the layout and all the facilities on offer. As we had a free afternoon we decided to spend the day at the pool, enjoy the atmosphere and of course sip some excellent ice cold cocktails to battle the warm sunshine.


Days 3 – 5  Moon Palace Golf Resort & Spa, Cancun Mexico

On our third day we checked out of the excellent Secrets The Vine and made the short 15 minute journey to Moon Palace Golf Resort & Spa.

Moon Palace is a large resort split into 3 lobbies, Sunrise, Nizuc and Moon Grand and we were staying at the Sunrise section.

The hotel also has an excellent 27-hole golf course attached.

After a quick check in we left our luggage in our rooms and made our way to play the first 9 holes, Lakes on the Moon Palace Course and let’s just say this was an interesting 9 holes of golf. Whether it was a long journey, not playing much over the winter at home or just bad golf, we didn’t exactly light up the course.

The highlight of the day was my 6 iron leaving my grip after my tee shot at the Par 3 and ending up in a tree! I put this down to hot weather and not wearing a golf glove!


A day of golf better forgotten, but on a brighter note the 9 holes we played just whet our appetites to play the remaining 18 holes!

That evening Mark and I had the pleasure of meeting up with clients of mine, Mel and Joy Wright who were also staying at the Moon Palace. We had such a great time in the company of the Wright’s and we ended up having dinner with them all three nights during our stay. It was great to meet clients of mine and the Wright’s were as lovely in person as they have been on the phone with me over the last few years. We thoroughly enjoyed their company and are looking forward to seeing them in Belfast for a game of golf and showing them around our wonderful home city (don’t believe what you see on the news!)


The following day Mark and I played the remaining 18 holes, Jungle & Dunes on the Moon Palace course and I am pleased to say they did not disappoint. Our golf also improved thankfully but unfortunately Mark ran away with the win 4&3 so I was left licking my wounds. Whilst I lost a bit of my pride having to play with my shorts around my ankles for not having driving past the ladies tee on one occasion at least I managed to keep a tight grip on my club and didn’t have to search for in the jungle again!

On the Saturday we had arranged for a site inspection of Le Blanc Resort & Spa which is part of the Palace Resorts Group. Le Blanc is located in the hotel zone in Cancun and Mark and I were both wowed as soon as we entered the lobby. It’s a beautiful serene adults only hotel with an outstanding spa, perfect for couples looking a relaxing getaway, golfers looking for luxury or honeymooners alike.

We also sampled some culinary delights in each of the restaurants and the food was definitely up there with the surroundings. Clients staying at Le Blanc can also avail of the unlimited golf package that Palace Resorts offer on the Moon Palace and Riviera Cancun Courses.

After our Le Blanc visit we did a tour off the area including downtown Cancun where tourists can pick up some great bargains in the many shops in this area. We also visited the infamous nightclub zone where popular venues like Coco Bongos and Senior Frogs are located. Thankfully they were closed when we were there or it could have been a very long day!


Days 6 – 7   Dreams Riviera Cancun, Mexico

The following day we checked out of the Moon Palace and made our way to Dreams Riviera Cancun which was to be our final hotel for our last two nights. Dreams Riviera Cancun is an excellent resort for those looking for a relaxed informal resort and is particularly well suited for families with plenty of activities during the day to suits all ages and superb entertainment at night for the whole family to enjoy.

As we had nothing planned for that afternoon we decided to take advantage of the 30 degree heat relax at the pool and beach.

The following day we had arranged for more hotel inspections so our transport was waiting on us at reception and off we went. Our first stop was the Secrets Silversands Hotel situated in the Riviera Maya. Another fantastic adults only hotel which would be perfect for, honeymooners, groups of friends or couples looking a romantic getaway. The hotel itself is very modern with excellent pool areas where you can enjoy the activities or just kick back and relax.

Next on our list was Secrets Maroma, on which I had already had the run down as my little sister spent her honeymoon at this hotel. Well, everything I was told was exactly right and it even exceeded my expectations. It is a truly wonderful hotel which would be perfect for honeymooners or couples looking to celebrate a special occasion in the most beautiful setting. One particular point of note is the beach at Maroma, turquoise blue water, soft white sand, I thought I was in the Bounty Bar advert!

The final hotel we visited was Now Sapphire, a lively 4 star family hotel which would be great for groups, families or a wedding with children. They also had excellent kid’s facilities from 3 years right up to 17 years.

Our final day arrived and as we were on a night flight we decided to play one last round of golf. We played the beautiful Grand Coral Course situated in the Riviera Maya, an excellent Nick Price designed course with many fantastic holes. I very pleased to say that my golf game had finally returned and the outcome was a 7&6 demolition of the boss (I’m lucky I am still in a job) so all in all the golf ended up pretty even over the week!

After golf we returned to the hotel and as we had arranged a late checkout we were able to enjoy the last few hours of sunshine before catching our transfer to the airport for our flight home.

In summary it was great to see so many variations of excellent accommodation which will certainly suit all of our clients no matter what their requirements. The food was spectacular and I had some of the best meals I have ever had, from outstanding Osso Buco to mouth watering Fillet Mignon, there is something for everyone’s taste.

What truly made this trip worthwhile was experiencing the friendliness and warm hospitality of the Mexican people. The hotel staff always greet you with a smile and a, “Buenos Dias” or “Buenos Noches”. It makes you want to return to this wonderful destination again!

Thank you for taking the time to read about our trip to Mexico. So if it’s a golf trip, honeymoon, family holiday or if you just want to discuss the destination please do not hesitate to contact me.

Mark and Jacques take on Sri Lanka 2017 – Chaka Travel

We at Chaka are passionate about golf and have been extremely fortunate to go and explore the world so we can, with confidence, give you first-hand advice. The resorts we feature are always tried and tested, and our team can tailor-make the perfect golf holiday that suits you down to a tee.

We have been sending golfers all over the world for over 22 years and would love to organise your next golfing getaway. To get the ball rolling please call us at Chaka Travel on 02890 232112 or send an enquiry to Below is just an appetiser of what you too can experience!

Our PGA Professional Jacques Gous and our Managing Director Mark recently made a trip to Sri Lanka. Check out Jacques’ report from the trip, including a few comments from Mark. :-

Hi Guys

Well, Mark and I are back after an epic adventure in Sri Lanka and let me tell you that this is a magnificent country to visit for all sorts of reasons. We did, of course, go to investigate the golf holiday possibilities and trust me when I say that this was great from a golfer’s point of view. (Mark – also from a hacker’s point of view!)

We started off in Colombo with a wonderful overnight stay in the Jetwing Colombo 7 Hotel. This new hotel is well located and has great views from the sky-roof restaurant both in the day and at night

Mark – We overlooked the floodlit T20 match against Bangladesh below us, as we enjoyed dinner in the open air, overlooking the city with Hiran Cooray, the charming Chairman of Jetwing. We learned a lot about the ongoing growth of tourism in Sri Lanka from him and his son Dmitri as well as from Ramesh, the very experienced general manager of the hotel. Sri Lanka has moved on a long way since the civil war which ended in 2004 with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. Colombo’s tower-crane littered skyline reflects the inward investment resulting from the country rebuilding and moving rapidly forward. The meal was a relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable affair – the natural friendliness and hospitality was something we enjoyed throughout the week.

Mark & Jacques arrive in Sri Lanka on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri LankaThe pools at the Jetwing Colombo 7 Hotel, Sri Lanka

Jetwing Seven Colombo pool

We woke up early the next day and we were off to Royal Colombo Golf Club for our first round with two lovely Sri Lankan gentleman and let me tell you it was a pleasure. The temperature was a mere 34 degrees and we had to keep drinking water all the way. I thought it was a great course and the greens were pure as anything.

Mark – We played with two members, Priath Fernando, the President of the Sri Lanka Golf Union and Rinal Pieris, both could not have made the round more enjoyable or informative as they shared their knowledge about the course and the history of golf in Sri Lanka. Enjoying their company plus the wonderful colonial clubhouse and the, at times quirky, course made for a super morning. It’s not often you wait for a train full of commuters to pass the tee box before you continue with your game! Royal Colombo opened in 1879 and is the second oldest ‘royal’ golf course in the world outside of the UK)

Royal Colombo Golf Club, Sri Lanka on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri LankaMark & Jacques at Royal Colombo Golf Club

Mark & Jacques at Royal Colombo Golf Club

Train passing the tee box at Royal Colombo Golf course on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday

It’s not often you wait for a train full of commuters to pass the tee box before you continue with your game!

'Pure' greens at Royal Colombo Golf Club on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday

“the greens were pure as anything” – Jacques

After golf, we drove to Kandy (Mark -the less said about the drivers in Sri Lanka the better, but it’s definitely not for the faint hearted!) where we stayed and overnight at the Mahaweli Reach Hotel. This had a very colonial feel to it and sat on the riverside with some great views. We enjoyed dinner with the owner Jay who had kindly upgraded us to superb suites. The next morning was another early wakeup call and we were off to Mark’s and my number one course in Sri Lanka, namely Victoria Golf Club designed by Donald Steel. This course was set between the hills and valleys and the views with the Victoria reservoir in the distance was amazing. We had two great caddies and trust me when I say that these are the most happy go lucky people you have ever met and we really enjoyed their knowledge of the course and company.

Mark – as you drive into Victoria Golf Club you pass a par-5 with the narrowest fairway I have ever seen – my accuracy has always been a problem so my heart was in my mouth as we prepared to tee off. Fortunately, the rest of the course was much more forgiving and thoroughly enjoyable, and I played some of my best golf in a long time. This stunning course with its amazing views, huge trees, and clever layout is in my top 10 courses and I’m delighted to have finally played it after hearing Ian Botham raving about it during a cricket commentary many years ago. I understand that he never fails to play here when cricket tours bring him to Sri Lanka. On one occasion, he wrote in the visitor’s book; “try to stop me playing at Victoria.” I can fully understand why and know my next trip to Sri Lanka will involve at least one round at Victoria!Sri Lankan breakfast Kandy on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan breakfast Kandy

Sri Lanka Victoria Golf Course on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri LankaVictoria Golf Course Sri Lanka Mark teeing off on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri LankaVictoria Golf Course Sri Lanka Mark 1st hole on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri LankaVictoria Golf Course Sri Lanka lakeVictoria Golf Course Sri Lanka restaurant on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri Lanka

After finishing our game and a quick shower we enjoyed a light lunch washed down by a few cold Singha beers before heading off to Nuwara Eliya, also known as “Little England” which was set at one of the highest points in Sri Lanka. We left Victoria which was set at 1,800ft above sea level to drive and reach our next hotel, Jetwing St Andrews which was at 6,000ft above sea level. This drive was amazing, climbing all the way through the most beautiful scenery, with waterfalls and tea plantations wherever you looked. This hotel and golf course was epic and the course boasts as not only one of the oldest in Sri Lanka but the world, constructed in 1889.

Mark – I didn’t have particularly high expectations of Nuwara Eliya golf course but was delighted to arrive at a lovely old clubhouse and a well-maintained course. Being such an old course it was no surprise to find that the trees lining the fairways were all very mature. It’s definitely a quirky course which has been molded to fit its location in the centre of the town, it has a few crossing fairways and one of the tee boxes is across a narrow laneway next to the course. One tee box is virtually in the high street so as you are teeing off, the local shoppers are watching from behind a fence just a few yards away! Jacques and I both came off the course very pleased with having played a well designed, clever layout with some superb holes and all in a stunning region high in the more temperate mountains.)

Sri Lanka Nuwara Eliya tea plantationMark & Jacques at the Sri Lanka Nuwara Eliya tea plantation on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri LankaMark teeing off on the Sri Lanka Nuwara Eliya golf course on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri LankaMark on the Sri Lanka Nuwara Eliya golf course on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri Lanka

We left Nuwara Eliya after golf and headed down south to Hambantota, where the luxurious Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort awaited us. Just before arriving at the resort we were treated to a game drive in the Yala National Park. This was the closest thing to a game drive in Africa that I have ever experienced and the park and surroundings were awesome. Then off to the resort where everything was as expected, five-star from start to finish and the golf the next morning did not disappoint either.

Mark – the course only opened in June 2016 and apart from a few holes where they are replacing the fairways, was excellent – A great finish to a wonderful golfing adventure was watching Jacques and super caddy Kurunda work hard to ensure he rolled in a birdie putt to take him to one under for the round. As always it was a real pleasure to play with Jacques, he makes the game look so easy and is always cool, calm and collected…Kurunda the caddy was charming, helpful and knowledgeable and never stopped smiling even when I nailed drives into the long grass – which unfortunately I did quite a lot of for most of the front nine…..)

Sri Lanka temple & Ella Gap waterfall on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan temple & Ella Gap waterfall

Sri Lanka Yala Elephant rock on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri Lanka

Yala Elephant rock

Sri Lanka Yala National Park elephant on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri Lanka

Elephant at the Sri Lanka Yala National Park

Mark teeing off on Shangri La's Hambantota Golf Course on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri Lanka

Mark teeing off on Shangri La’s Hambantota Golf Course

Shangri La's Hambantota Golf Course on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri LankaMark and Jacques at Shangri La's Hambantota on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri LankaJacques getting a birdie on the Shangri La's Hambantota Golf Course on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri Lanka

Jacques getting a birdie on Shangri La’s Hambantota Golf Course

Shangri La's Hambantota the view from Marks room on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri LankaShangri La's Hambantota golf course card on Sri Lanka Golf Holiday Sri Lanka

We left straight after golf and headed back to Colombo where we would spend our last night at the Jetwing Lagoon Resort, only a short hop away from the airport. On the way there we stopped at the beautiful Jetwing Lighthouse Resort for some sight-seeing and lunch in Galle where the famous cricket ground also sits. We saw the fort and the lighthouse which was built by the Dutch way back in 1663.

Mark – one of the highlights of the week was Jacques asking me if the Lighthouse was inland or up the coast……I was tempted to say it was in an arid region to warn the ships of the desert!)

In Galle, we also witnessed a Sri Lankan trying to make a living by risking his own life and throwing himself of a ten metre cliff diving into some of the shallowest water you can imagine. This was impressive. Our last night was spent at the Jetwing Lagoon at Negombo near to the airport. Breakfast the following day was enjoyed watching the sunrise over the lagoon.

Mark – Once we got to Colombo we were treated like kings at a superb final dinner with Chandana and Ayomal from Island Leisure Lanka. Chandana is known by many of his friends as Chaka!!!! Ayomal accompanied us around the island and is a charming, well-mannered and extremely courteous young man, he is a rugby player also which went down well with Jacques and me!! We were looked after like royalty from start to finish and we couldn’t be more grateful for the wonderful hospitality we enjoyed!!!)

All taken into consideration, this was an epic adventure and one that myself and Mark will remember for a very long time. Thank you Sri Lanka, it was great!!
Jacques Gous

Mark – yes Sri Lanka was a fascinating, diverse country – great scenery, food and thoroughly enjoyable golf. Jacques many thanks for the laughs – you were great company! We both really appreciated the wonderful hospitality and friendliness we enjoyed throughout the trip and like Ian Botham I’ll definitely be back!)
Mark Marais

South Africa: First Hand Golf Course Review

Kallam Craigs, a sales consultant at golf holidays specialists Chaka Travel, recently visited South Africa for a golfing holiday for the first time, and we were very eager to hear his take on the incredible golf courses he played during his trip. Here’s his first-hand golf course review from the many courses he played in South Africa, and the surprising things you can learn from his personal experiences.

Course 1: Hermanus

On our first day of golf, we were eased into the “swing” of things with 9 holes at Hermanus Golf Club. The stunning backdrop of the Overberg Mountain Range left us gawking on every tee box. This parkland course is very easy to walk around, and famed for its year-round playability – all in all, a highly enjoyable 9 holes, with the par-4 sixth being the toughest hole on the course as it’s slightly downhill and requires a long approach shot from a hard sloping fairway.

Course 2: Arabella Golf Course

The next morning we adventured onto the highly anticipated Arabella Golf Course. We had been warned that she was a cruel mistress, and they certainly weren’t lying! The course is an amazing challenge for golfers with its tight fairways and lightning-fast greens. It was in spectacular condition, which was amazing as the Cape was experiencing a real drought at the time. My golf was shaky to start but I got things together on the back 9. Maybe it was the beer at the halfway house! The 18th hole par 5 is without a doubt one of the best closing holes in golf that I’ve ever experienced, it defines the coastal links at Arabella which is a must stop when travelling between the Garden Route and Cape Town.

First hand golf course review of Arabella putting green by Chaka Travel

Course 3: Pinnacle Point

The golf facilities at Pinnacle Point are fantastic and we were shown everything on our site inspection, which was carried out on golf buggies due to the sheer scale of the operation. They whet our appetites by taking us out and showing us a couple of the signature holes on the golf course. I can honestly say I have never been so excited to play a golf course in my life. To put it simply Pinnacle Point is without a doubt the most aesthetically stunning golf course and area in general, I have ever seen. Every single hole has the feel of a signature hole and warrants a photograph, the best way to describe the course is dramatic. It’s a fantasy land that you didn’t think was possible on a golf course, tee boxes raised about a hundred feet above pristine fairways, par 4s that can be driven in one if you wish to hit over a 300 foot drop into the Indian Ocean, and par 3s that give you the option of hitting the green or donating more golf balls to the Ocean. The course is kept in spectacular condition and I was lucky enough to actually put a good round together of +2 on the front 9 and +6 back nine (the wind picks up as the day goes on making things VERY interesting) giving me a +8 total of 80, and most impressively only 1 lost ball!

First hand golf course review of Pinnacle Point by Chaka Travel

Course 4: Knysna Golf Club

Knysna Golf Club has often been described as one of the hidden gems on the Garden Route. Adjacent to and at the same level as the Knysna lagoon, this flattish parkland layout is the oldest course in the area by a considerable number of years. It is also one that has made excellent efforts to keep abreast of the changing demands of golf. We played a round on the beautiful parkland Pezula course which was in great condition and through up a significant challenge once the wind got blowing!

Course 5: Fancourt

Fancourt is a golfing Mecca, a bubble that caters, provides and promotes golf at an exceptional level. In the afternoon we went out to play the Montagu Course, a par 72 parkland classic Gary Player design, as always it was in spectacular condition and the greens felt like they were running at about 12 on the stimpmeter! The condition of the course as well as the classic layout with tree lined fairways and water hazards galore has earned it the number 6 rank for golf courses in the country. I took on the tour host Werner on the back 9 and finished him 3 & 2 even with giving him a few shots – sweet revenge for the closest to the pin competition back at Pinnacle!

First hand golf course review of Fancourt 18th of Montagu and Outeniqua by Chaka Travel

Course 6: George Golf Club

This was one of the most ‘interesting’ rounds of golf I’ve ever played in my life! Oubaai’s course is a classic Ernie Els design, fairly wide and open off the tee, and then everything narrows in towards the hole, there are beautiful views and the place is kept in great condition. However, as we were teeing off the wind was blowing so hard that the flag sticks were not just sideways but nearly touching the greens! Huge dark clouds filled with malice were heading straight towards us, huge bolts of lightning sparking the sky to life every couple of minutes followed the deep roar of thunder. I have to say, I honestly found the sight of this impending doom quite beautiful and appropriate with the conditions we were playing in, mother nature at full force. The rain drops began to fall on the 2nd tee box and they felt the size of water balloons, freezing cold as well. Then out of nowhere the dark clouds vanished and the sun came out accompanied by a very warm breeze, quickly the temperature had reached about 30 degrees and the half way house cold beer was well needed! I played a much better back 9 and managed to come out with the victory against my two playing partners who are both low single figure golfers! Some how the weather had then turned into quite a cool fresh wind on the back 9 which was followed by a thick mist reducing visibility to about 15 feet as we finished! Never in my life have I experienced such a range of weather conditions in one round of golf, not even in Northern Ireland!