Whether you're a diehard golfer or just getting into the swing of the game, you're sure to appreciate championship fairways that come with their own luxury hotel. Here are the top 10 golf hotels in Hawaii, presented in alphabetical order.
1. The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii
1 N. Kaniku Dr.
Kamuela, Hawaii HI 96743
One of the premier destination resorts along the Kohala coast, this hotel offers a quality resort experience that is uniquely Hawaii. The rather formal U-shaped hotel provides attentive service, varied activities and 32 acres of gorgeous grounds. The 486 rooms and 54 suites are big and well-appointed, with spacious lanais ideal for leisurely breakfasts. The large bathrooms are done in marble. As for leisure, there are a sprawling 10,000-square-foot pool (open 24 hours), two lava whirlpools, a meticulously tended beach with a private cove for swimming and a complete selection of water sports. The adjacent 36-hole Francis H. I’i Brown championship golf course -- actually, two eighteen-hole courses – is built on lava beds and features ocean views. Guests also enjoy the warm hospitality of staff who teach water sports and lead historic hikes, oceanfront yoga sessions and stargazing gatherings. On an environmental note, the hotel doesn't use chemical cleaners, fertilizers or herbicides.
2. Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka'upulehu
72-100 Kaupulehu Dr. (Kumukehu St.)
Kaupulehu Kona, Hawaii HI 96740
Fronting the spectacular Kona-Kohala coast, this Four Seasons enjoys one of the most prized stretches of oceanfront on Hawaii Island. There are seven pools, including two adult pools, a lap and oceanfront pool, a kids' pool and a very special pool called the King's Pond. This snorkeling pond is stocked with an eagle ray and more than 3,500 tropical fish. Guest rooms are situated in low-rise bungalows with ground floor units offering outdoor lava rock shower gardens. All rooms are outfitted with subtle tropical décor, dark woods and fine linens. The Hualalai Resort is home to two courses, but the Nicklaus Signature Design is the one you want. The eighteen-hole course, which hosts the annual Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, was the first on the island to be designed by legend Jack Nicklaus. Signature hole 17 will remind you of why you picked up golf in first place, and a nighttime round of glow-in-the dark "scramble" will bring out the kid in you.
3. Four Seasons Resort Lana'i at Manele Bay
Terraced down a hillside, this hotel overlooks the blue crescent of Hulopoe Bay, a marine preserve where dolphins often frolic. The designers of this luxury property have used a bit of the flora and fauna of Old Hawaii and an island color palette to create an elegant cosmopolitan flair. The buildings are surrounded by five lavish theme gardens that range from Hawaiian to bromeliad. Attention to detail embraces custom-designed Italian chandeliers and original artwork. The guest rooms are larger than average, with bathrooms big enough to waltz in and plenty of closet space. If you can afford it, many of the suites have lanais with premium ocean views and daybeds for lounging. The hotel offers one of the most magnificent beaches in Hawaii, in addition to The Challenge at Manele golf course built on lava outcroppings with gorgeous Pacific views. Set dramatically above Hulopoe Bay, The Challenge has two holes where one must pitch the ball over the ocean to get to the green. The par 72 course was designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus. Its less challenging sister course, The Experience at Koele, was designed by Greg Norman in 1991 with architect Ted Robinson's eye for seamlessly integrating the architecture with its impressive natural setting and water elements. The piece de résistance here at The Lodge at Koele, the other Four Seasons Resort Lanai, is signature hole 17, a 250-foot drop from the tee located in a lush gorge.
4. Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel
62-100 Kauna'oa Dr. (Old Puako Rd.)
Kamuela, Hawaii HI 96743
Located about a 45-minute drive from the Keahole-Kona Airport and about two hours from the Hilo Airport, this mega-resort is located along the sun-drenched shoreline of the Kohala Coast on the shores of Hapuna Beach, one of the few wide, wonderfully white sand beaches on the Big Island. The view from the semicircular lobby unfurls over the azure swimming pool and out to the waves. The hotel consists of 32 oceanfront acres, with restaurants, a spa, a golf course and 350 guest rooms, including 36 oceanfront suites and one very grand Hapuna Suite. With elevation that ranges from sea level up to 700 feet, Hapuna Golf Course is a championship course designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay that measures almost 6,900 yards. The signature twelfth hole, at just under 700 feet, offers panoramic views of the Big Island. Opt for at least an oceanview room since the views are spectacular and panoramic.
5. Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki
100 Holomoana St. (Ala Moana Blvd.)
Honolulu, Oahu HI 96815
Located on the very western edge of Waikiki and set back from the beach, this twin tower hotel was completely renovated in 2011. All rooms feature an ocean and marina view. Amenities at the property include a full-service spa and beauty salon, a fitness center, a pool, a Jacuzzi and --- for those who simply must work on vacation --- a business center. The nearby Ala Moana area offers a large open air shopping mall, the largest in the state, numerous restaurants, entertainment and a large beach park, a favorite for stand-up paddling and ocean swimming in nearly always calm waters. Eighteen holes not enough? Golfers will appreciate the 27-hole course designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay. With views of the Waianae mountains, the 7,225-yard course covers 270 acres. Note that it's a 40-minute ride from the hotel to the course.
6. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr. (Hwy. 19)
Kohala Coast, Hawaii HI 96743
The location of this legendary hotel is incredible. The Mauna Kea volcano dominates up the mauka (mountains), while the Pacific Ocean and a gorgeous bay front the guest rooms, public areas and restaurants. Since Laurance Rockefeller opened the property in 1965, this elegant resort has set the standard for excellence. After nearly five decades of reigning as one of the world's best resorts on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, this hotel re-emerged in 2008 with changes most notable for their subtlety, including the removal of a front desk --- instead, guests enjoy convenient tableside check-in. The 258 guest rooms and four restaurants offer a variety of choices for your stay. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Mauna Kea Golf Course opened in 1964 and was christened by the "Big Three," Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. Nearly five decades later, it remains the golden standard by which other island courses are judged. The course was renovated in 2008 by Jones' son Rees who oversaw the planting of highly efficient TifEagle and 419 Bermuda grasses, as well as the additions of state-of-the-art irrigation and drainage systems. The challenging par 72 course spans 7,370 yards with elevation ranges from zero to 300 feet above sea-level.
7. Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows
68-1400 Mauna Lani Dr. (Hwy. 19)
Kohala Coast, Hawaii HI 96743
Even if you weren't familiar with this hotel's longstanding reputation for quality service and unforgettable surroundings, you'd be impressed the minute you walked through the door. Located about a 40-minute drive from the Kona International Airport, this hotel is one of the best on the Kohala Coast. Thirty oceanfront acres include three miles of shoreline dotted with bays and inlets. You can choose from garden or ocean views, villas almost right on the ocean and sumptuous bungalows with private pools. Built on a lava bed, the sprawling 6,913-yard North Course offers a unique setting to tee off in. The rolling terrain, dotted with mesquite forests and herds of wild goats, is breathtaking. Opened in 1981, the par 72 course distinguishes itself from its sister South Course by its location further inland and its calmer winds. The unique seventeenth hole is a charming par 3 encased in a lava coliseum.
8. The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
1 Ritz-Carlton Dr. (Office Rd.)
Kapalua, Maui HI 96761
Located five minutes from the smaller Kapalua airport and about 45 minutes from the larger Kahului airport, the luxurious 463-room The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, is perched on a knoll overlooking the splendid D.T. Fleming Beach. The property underwent a multi-million renovation in 2007, adding residential suites. In addition, rooms were treated to all new furnishings, dark-wood floors, flat-screen televisions and marble bathrooms. On-site is an ancient Hawaiian burial ground called Honokohua which was discovered during the original construction in 1991; it has since been preserved and contains over 900 ancient Hawaiian burial sites. Set on a 22,000-acre, historic pineapple plantation and flanked by both the Pacific Ocean and the West Maui mountains, the public, par 73 Kapalua Plantation Course offers a stunning setting for a day on the green. The home of the PGA Tour's Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Maui, its elevation changes and prevailing winds make this course, designed by famed duo Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, ideal for intermediate golfers.
9. The St. Regis Princeville Resort
5520 Ka Haku Rd.
Princeville, Kauai HI 96722
This is one of Kauai's top resorts and is located about an hour from the Lihue Airport on the cooler, greener and wetter North Shore of the island. The regal non-smoking hotel boasts one of the most stunning settings in Hawaii, with breathtaking views of Hanalei Bay and the mountains visible through nearly every window. The resort reopened in 2009 after a monumental renovation that added a luxurious spa and a few more Hawaiian accents. Accommodations are spacious, and the showers have liquid-crystal windows that allow you to gaze at the scenery --- for privacy, click a switch and the window clouds over. The recently renovated par 72 Prince Golf Course, named after the Hawaiian Prince Albert Kamehameha, was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. with five sets of golf tees for various levels of ability. The black tees are the most difficult and reserved for players with a handicap of five or less. Since this course is set against the ocean on Kauai's green North Shore, the winds can become quite strong, so make sure to plan ahead and bring extra golf balls.
10. Turtle Bay Resort
57-091 Kamehameha Hwy. (Rte. 83)
Kahuku, Oahu HI 96731
Casual, quiet and seasonally lively, this resort is located about 45 minutes from the Honolulu Airport and the shopping and nightlife of Waikiki. This North Shore property offers a peaceful setting with un-crowded beaches, lots of activities and amenities, and fantastic sunset views. The resort has two challenging golf courses with a total of 36 championship holes designed by Arnold Palmer and George Fazio. The Palmer Course winds its way through natural wetlands, with its signature 17th hole on the coast, while the Fazio course is easier. The area comes into its own during the winter months when nearby beaches are the setting for gigantic surf and numerous surfing competitions. It’s a mecca for the international surf crowd, and the air can be absolutely electric with activity. All standard rooms have ocean views, and the newer villas and beach cottages are spacious and luxurious.
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