Hawaii is a chain of eight islands that is home to more than 70 golf courses on the Big Island, Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. Hawaii’s golf courses are, in fact, world-famous, and golfers from everywhere come to the islands every year to experience them. On Hawaii, the courses feature more than luscious greens – you will also be guided through lava outcroppings, gorgeous vegetation, beautiful ocean views, and more.
In fact, there are so many options that it can become daunting to try and find the “best” course(s) for your trip. You could easily come back to Hawaii every year for ten years and still not experience all of the majesty offered by the various courses scattered across the islands. To help you narrow down the search, here are two of of the top-rated courses on the biggest islands:
Big Island (Hawaii)
Mauna Kea – Robert Trent Jones Sr. built Mauna Kea out of land that was written off as a barren lava, and it has since become one of the most popular and world-renowned courses in Hawaii. Without changing the character and basic design of his father’s course, Rees Jones Inc. re-planted the course with the most efficient grass and added state-of-the-art irrigation systems, liners in the bunkers, and advanced drainage improvements keep the course in the best shape possible. It is a true gem for any level of player.
Four Seasons Hualalai – The Four Seasons Resort is known for it’s fantastic amenities, and the Hualalai Golf Course is no exception. It features lush kipukas (oases), gorgeous greens, and black lava. Of course, it also offers stunning views of the ocean at various holes. The Mitsubishi Electric Championship at is set at Hualālai January 19 – 21, 2017, and promises to be an event full of fan-favorite pro golfers and champions. It is the perfect time for golf fans and players alike to visit the resort.
Turtle Bay (Palmer) – Turtle Bay (AKA Palmer) Golf Course is often considered the best course on Oahu, and perhaps even the best of all the islands. If you will be golfing during your trip to Hawaii, this is an absolute must-see. It is set along the scenic North Shore, it settles naturally with the natural wetlands, waterways, and jungle of the area, offering both beauty and natural buffer against the coastal wind. The signature hole, par-4 17th, meets with the ocean to round out the amazing experience.
Ko’olau – Ko’olau Course is quite literally carved out of the magnificent tropical forest, and is one of the most beautiful golf experiences in the world. It rests just below the historic Pali Lookout and offers incredible views of the 2,000-foot cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and the vast Pacific Ocean. It is considered a gem of Oahu, and unlike any other golf course in the world. It is also considered one of the most challenging courses in the world by most players – with a slope of 152 ( a mere three points shy of the maximum value in the rating system.)
Kapalua (Plantation) – The Kapalua Plantation Course is the home of the The PGA TOUR Hyundai Tournament of Champions each January. It is built around the West Maui Mountains in a way that takes full advantage of the awe-inspiring views, natural elevation changes, and nature’s challenges. It easily ranks as one of the world’s greatest courses. It stretches across pineapple plantation fields and in winter you can even spot Humpback whales breaching the water surface and spot the islands of Lanai and Molokai.
Wailea (Gold) – Wailea offers three golf courses, and the Gold Course is the most challenging, due to more bunkers and a tighter course. For this reason, it’s commonly referred to as a “thinking player’s course”, and provides a true test to any golfer’s skills. During play, you will enjoy magnificent vistas of the ocean, pass ancient walls of lava rock, coconut trees, and white-sand bunkers. The Maui Historical Society has even recognized the course for its preservation of prehistoric lava rock walls during its construction.
Makai – The Makai Golf Course in Princeville recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation and re-opened in January 2010. The renovation changed the course from two 9-hole courses into one 18-hole course, reshaped and brand-new bunkers, expanded the practice green, and added two large practice tees. The course offers gorgeous views of towering mountains, Hanalei Bay, and breaking surf below towering cliffs. It makes for a perfect relaxing day of golf and draw visitors year-round.
Kauai Lagoons (Hokuala) – Kauai Lagoons, renamed to Hokuala, is a lush resort that is secluded in the southwest corner of the island of Kauai. The course weaves through forests of mango and guava trees, travels along ocean cliffs with breathtaking views, and among 40+ acres of freshwater lagoons. It is a beautiful and secluded course to offer a mix of relaxation, fantastic scenery, and test of skill for the perfectly well-rounded golf experience.
With so many wonderful options available on the different islands of Hawaii, it would be easy to spend months getting lost on them all! Be sure to choose your courses wisely and maximize time for the best experience.