Playing Tennis in the Caribbean

Tennis players of all levels can improve their game in the Caribbean

Photo credit: © Onurbfg |

The tennis is terrific in many Caribbean locations, so whether you're a casual player, an absolute fanatic, or somewhere in between, you'll find places to enjoy your sport.

Most of the major Caribbean hotels and resorts have courts for their guests to use and for non-guests to rent by reservation. Hotels without tennis facilities are usually happy to assist you in locating a place to play, and in locating the equipment to play with.

Some of the islands also feature public courts, and there are even a few at which there is no fee. The charges for playing on public courts are regularly much lower than at the hotels and resorts. With a bit of advance planning, you might be able to attend a professional tournament or play in a pro-am one yourself. Lessons are readily obtainable, the cost varying widely.

It probably goes without saying that such an active endeavor is best left to the cooler times of the day, before 10:00 a.m. and after 5:00 p.m. when the tropical Caribbean weather is at its finest. Many of the tennis venues have lighted courts for nighttime play, though you'll most likely pay extra for the illumination. Scanty attire and beachwear is not generally considered acceptable except at the beach, so make sure to bring a spare set of clothes to use specifically for tennis. You should ask for advice about what to wear at your hotel if you are unsure of the island's clothing customs.

If all you want to do is simply get in a brief tennis match, you can succeed in doing just that throughout the Caribbean by checking with your hotel for suggestions on where to find a court. However, if tennis is to be an integral part of your vacation, there are some terrific places to plan on visiting.

Some people say that one of the loveliest places in the world to pick up a tennis game is at Antigua's Curtain Bluff. Because Curtain Bluff is such a popular court, visitors find it to be more expensive than the average Caribbean court. Curtain Bluff hosts Antigua Tennis Week, both in May and in December, and offers four lighted championship courts.

There is no need to worry about finding a tennis court in Aruba, as most of the beachfront hotels have them available. Watch out for strong winds, or you'll likely be competing against them rather than your opponent.

There are some top-notch resorts featuring tennis in Jamaica. Half Moon in Montego Bay is considered to be the best in Jamaica and one of the best in the Caribbean. There are 13 all-weather Laykold courts, seven of them lit for nighttime play. Guests play free of charge, and non-guests must obtain a general $40(USD) per day pass, which will include access to the tennis facilities. You'll find a pro shop and a pro on-site, with lessons available for $50(USD) an hour and up.

Also in Montego Bay is Tryall Club Jamaica, with its nine well-maintained hard-surface courts, three of them lit. Guests play free of charge but must pay $20(USD) an hour for nighttime lighting. Non-guests are charged $30(USD) an hour to play, and reservations are necessary. Lessons start at $40(USD) an hour and go up from there.

The Sandals Grande Ocho Rios, built to combine Sandals Ocho Rios and Beaches Grand Sport, in Ocho Rios, Jamaica has three clay courts and three hard-surface ones, all of them lit. The courts were formerly a part of the Beaches Grand Sport complex. Guests always play free, whether day or night, and lessons are $30(USD) an hour. This resort frequently holds guest tournaments, and twice a day there are clinics for players of all skill levels.

Another great Caribbean destination for the tennis lover is Puerto Rico. The best facilities, in Isla Verde, are at the Hyatt Dorado Beach Resort and its sister resort, the Regency Cerroma, which are within walking distance to one another. Both book tennis packages and occasionally host a Tennis Week. They welcome guests only. The Dorado has seven Laykold courts, two of them lit, and the Regency has 14 Laykold courts, also with two lit. Some of the courts have stadium-type seating, and of course, lessons are available. You even have the options of a videotaped session, which can help you to better assess your game.

El Conquistador in Las Croabas, Puerto Rico, has seven Har-Tru courts for use by guests only. Here single plays have the option of a partner-matching service.

The U.S. Virgin Islands are home to several first-rate resorts offering tennis. The Buccaneer in Gallows Bay, St. Croix is considered to be the best in the Virgin Islands, and by many, to be the best in all of the Caribbean. There are eight Laykold courts, two of them lit for nighttime play. With reservations, non-guests may play for $18(USD) per hour per person. There is a pro shop and a pro who'll give lessons. Tournaments are hosted at various times during the year.

The best tennis on St. Thomas (USVI) is at the Wyndham Sugar Bay Beach Club. Here you'll find five Laykold courts, all of them lit, one of them with stadium-type seating. There is a $10(USD) an hour fee for non-guests to play. For a much larger fee, non-guests may obtain lessons as well. There is also a pro shop on-site.

Caribbean tennis can be great for a whole range of visitors, from the beginner to the seasoned veteran.


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