Moon Spa & Golf Club - Dunes Nine Holes Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.8

Golf - Resort Public Course · 9 Holes · Par 36
Cancun, Mexico
· Stay & Play

Dsc_0809 Dsc_0836 Dsc_0812

Moon Spa & Golf Club - Dunes Nine Holes Review

Review and Rating of Moon Palace Spa & Golf Course Dunes Course Cancun, Mexico

Located just 10 minutes from Cancun International Airport, The Moon Palace Cancun (a huge all-inclusive resort loaded with restaurants and amenities) is home to the first Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course in the Mexican Caribbean.  Jack designed three very different nine-hole layouts that provide a unique golf experience that is both challenging and enjoyable for all levels of play and as Jack states “most of all, it’s memorable.”

Jack created the Dunes, Lakes, and Jungle nine hole courses comprising 10,798 yards that harmonize with the tropical lushness of native jungle vegetation, mangroves, and natural wetlands.  You’re likely to encounter lots of wildlife including tucan, grey fox, iguanas, anteaters, marsh crocodiles,  margay (small wild cat), and the infamous coati, a cute mammal that looks like a cross between a raccoon, a lemur, and an anteater. Make sure you hide any food or valuables you take on the course because these cute little mammals will clean you out before you get to the green.  They like beer, too!

Part of what makes playing golf at Moon Palace Cancun fun is that each of the three nines is different, unique, and has a personality of its own and all are Jack Nicklaus Signature Courses.  For example:

  • The Dunes nine is shorter from the tips but longer from the other 4 tee boxes and it’s considered to be the hardest of the nines thanks to water on 8 holes (either off the tee or in play near the greens), strategically placed bunkers that pinch the landing areas and put a premium on approach shots, and of course the jungle that will devour your stray golf shots.  
  • The Jungle as the name implies is 3603 yards long from the tips and it plays through dense jungle that lines both sides of the fairway (typically creating fairly narrow corridors) plus water on 7 holes and 38 bunkers – all of which makes this nine very interesting and fun to play. Read our review of the Jungle Course which we rated 9.1 out of 10.
  • The least difficult and probably the most enjoyable for the higher handicappers is the Lakes nine.  The jungle and not much rough make this nine a little tight and the water on 4 holes and 33 bunkers force you to focus.    

Moon Palace is a pioneer in the all-inclusive concept which applies to the Moon Palace Resort as well an all-inclusive golf package that includes:  green fees, food and beverage in the grill as well as from the beverage cart, practice golf balls, and more.  Stay 3 nights or longer and play unlimited golf at Moon Palace Spa & Golf Course and Riviera Cancun!

The Dunes is spectacular and close to a perfect 10!  It’s scenic, challenging, in excellent condition, every hole is a little different, and with Moon Palace’s Unlimited Golf Package it’s an excellent value.  The Dunes is fair but requires some shot-making to avoid the 32 strategically placed bunkers (and several natural sand/waste bunkers) and water on 8 holes and because dense jungle lines both sides of the fairway, you don’t want to spray the ball. During your round, particularly from the back tees, you’ll encounter some excellent risk-reward opportunities and long carries over natural areas or water.  The key to a fun and enjoyable round on the Dunes is to pick the right tee box (there are five with yardages from 2478 to 3597) and don’t bite off more than you can chew. 

All of the holes on The Dunes are unique and fun to play, but some of our favorites included:

  • #1 sets the stage for what to expect on this nine – a 442-yard par 4 with a pond on the left side of the tee box, a big bunker in your landing zone, and two bunkers guarding the green
  • #2 is a fun 569 yard par 5 with a great risk-reward shot to try to carry more of the lake to shorten the hole (miss right and the lake or a long natural waste sand bunker are trouble) but you’ve got to avoid the dense jungle lining the entire left side and the approach to the green needs to be deadly accurate to avoid the 4 front-side bunkers
  • Both of the par 3s (229 and 161 yards) are excellent and natural sand bunkers, lakes, or bunkers around the green put a premium on accuracy
  • #4, a 438 yard par 4, is superb – an excellent risk-reward shot to try and carry more of the lake that lines the entire left side of the fairway and then cuts in front of the green – the fairway heads left and a right and left side bunker can cause problems off the tee box, and a carry over the lake to the green with two bunkers can be very challenging

#6 is a 536 par 5 that requires excellent course management to avoid the left and 2 right bunkers in your drive’s landing zone and the shot to the green may be blocked on the left side by a cluster of trees forcing you to try and fly the trees or layup on the right side for a short shot to the green -– a long natural waste bunker protects the front side of the green plus two bunkers surround the green

The paspalum greens at Moon Palace Spa & Golf Club Dunes Course were in perfect condition when we played and some of the best we’ve played on in quite a while.  They were smooth, ran at a great speed (around a 9.5 or so), very true, and held the ball well.  They are a variety of shapes and range in size from long and skinny to about average size (around 35 yards).  The slope and contour is not dramatic and fairly easy to read.  All of the greens are guarded by one to four bunkers and if you’re long or wide right or left you’re most likely lost in the dense jungle. 

The fairways were also in perfect condition with a wide playable rough.  Water, jungle, bunkers, and waste bunkers can cause plenty of problems!  Generally speaking, the fairways are more than ample.  The rough is wide and playable and if you miss that you’re lost in the jungle.

The bunkers on the Dunes Course are strategically placed along the fairways and around the greens.  Most of the bunkers have a tall lip that will stop you from rolling out.  The sand was perfect – soft, fluffy, and deep.  There are at least 8 natural sand or waste bunkers that can be challenging, particularly if you land in or behind one of the many native bushes growing in the sand. 

Bottom line – Moon Palace’s Dunes Course is a must play if you’re in the area – it’s challenging but fair, the conditions from tee box to cup are perfect, it’s scenic and peaceful, each hole is little different from the others, and it’s a fun and memorable experience! The facilities and service are superb and make sure you stop in for a treatment at the Spa after your round.

Moon Palace Resort has another excellent Jack Nicklaus course in Cancun close to the airport – Riviera Cancun Golf Course – read our review to learn more.  If you’re looking for a place to stay, it’s hard to beat Moon Palace Resort, a five star all –inclusive resort with luxurious accommodations, numerous activities, beautiful and enormous meandering swimming pools, a full size gym, lush landscaping, a wide variety of dining venues, a spa, fitness center, evening entertainment, and the best service we have ever experienced at a resort.

Dsc_0836 Dsc_0814 Dsc_0831

Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 3,597
Blue 3,131 36.4 136
White 2,789 35.9 133
Gold 3,312 37.9 144
Red 2,478 35.8 131

Course Information

Course Architect:
Jack Nicklaus
Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Beware of water on 7 holes and the 44 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.8 out of 10
Fun to Play:
Front Nine Rating:
Back Nine Rating:


Approximate Weekend
$187.00 to $303.00

The Club House is a luxurious structure with open terraces and breathtaking views, featuring a deluxe SPA, well-stocked golf shop, a snack bar and two specialty restaurants. The Moon Palace Golf Academy has the latest technology at the coaching studio and personalized instructions programs are designed for each student. The practice facilities are very good. Service is top notch!



Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.