With its calm breezes, varied terrain and some of the most celebrated courses in the game, Hawaii is a golfer's paradise. Add in awesome ocean and mountain vistas with lush greenery, dramatic volcanic rock and stunning wildlife in its natural habitat, and you've got a golf experience not found anywhere else in the world. The islands are packed with courses, but we've narrowed them down to the ten best. Some are the sites of international championships. Some belong to lavish resorts and offer deals to players staying on-site. All were designed by the masters to create a memorable and exciting experience, whether you're a novice or a world champion. So grab your clubs and get ready to tee off!
1. Club at Hokulia
81-6636 Pu'u Ohau Place
Kealakekua, HI 96750
On the stunning Kona Coast near the beach town of Kailua-Kona sits the Club at Hokulia. Opened in 2002, the exclusive Hokulia is the only private oceanside golf club on the Big Island. The Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course spans three miles and 1,550 acres of prime Hawaii real estate with panoramic ocean views. Nicklaus designed the par 72 course to be challenging, featuring frequent hazards and difficult greens. But despite the expertise needed to conquer the course, you can bask in the balmy ocean breeze, enjoy the scenery and relax as you consider club choices. The weather is superb year-round, with no strong winds and temperatures hovering in the 70s and 80s.
Click here for more information on the Club at Hokulia.
2. Hualalai Golf Course
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Kaupulehu
100 Kaupulehu Dr.
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
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 golf 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. The 7,100-yard course offers three pupu and drinks stations to ensure a lively game. Wrap up with Hawaiian favorites like Huli Huli chicken at Hualalai Grille, located above the eighteenth green and boasting breathtaking views of the course and ocean. Hualalai is open to players staying at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Kaupulehu, as well as club members and their guests.
Click here for more information on the Hualalai Golf Course.
3. Mauna Kea Golf Course
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Drive
Kohala Coast, Hawaii 96743
If you want a classic take on Hawaiian paradise, book your tee time at the Mauna Kea course at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Kohala Coast. 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 gold 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. After making your birdie on the eighteenth hole, the attentive staff will clean your clubs and offer you a cold mango-scented towel. Don’t forget to drop by the Number 3 restaurant for piping hot popovers and a cool and creamy Lava Flow to end your day.
Click here for more information on the Mauna Kea Golf Course.
4. North Course at Mauna Lani Resort
Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows
68-1310 Mauna Lani Dr.
Kohala Coast, HI 96743
Located on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island, the North Course at the Mauna Lani Resort is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Built on a lava bed, the sprawling 6,913-yard course offers a unique setting in which to tee off. 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. After eighteen holes, relax with an après-golf snack of guacamole or fish tacos at Huli Sue's.
Click here for more information on the North Course at Mauna Lani Resort.
5. Poipu Bay Golf Course
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
2250 Ainako St.
Koloa, HI 96756
A Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design, the Poipu Bay course hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 1994-2006. Its 210 acres feature 85 bunkers, five water hazards and a sweeping backdrop of grassy mountains and scattered temple ruins. Poipu Bay's signature 16th hole is the longest par 4 on the course and one of the longest in the state, packed with obstacles like a small lake, multiple bunkers and an ancient rock wall. The elite club offers an on-course beverage cart service and cold citrus-scented towels. Players can get instantly acquainted with each hole as Poipu Bay's golf carts come equipped with hands-free GPS maps detailing the entire course. The resort also offers daily clinics offered by professionals and hosts group tournaments so you can take on other players at the course. After working up a sweat, head over to the Poipu Bay Grill & Bar looking onto the eighteenth hole.
Click here for more information on the Poipu Bay Golf Course.
6. Prince Golf Course at Princeville
The St. Regis Princeville Resort
5-3900 Kuhio Hwy.,
Princeville, HI 96722
If you're up to the challenge, the Prince Golf Course at The St. Regis Princeville Resort will test your talent. The recently renovated par 72 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. Even if you're not yet up to par, you can play the red (novice) tees and soak up the incredible views of the north Kauai mountains. 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. Conclude your day at the Princeville Clubhouse and walk downstairs to Roy Yamaguchi's Tavern at Princeville where you can treat yourself to a Mai Tai, some Island poké or a cheeseburger with Katsu bacon.
Click here for more information on the Prince Golf Course at Princeville.
7. The Experience at Koele
Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele
1 Keomoku Hwy.,
Lanai City, HI 96763
Set 2,000 feet above sea level, The Experience at Koele lures players with lush landscaping, beautiful ocean, lake and mountain vistas, incredibly varied terrain with waterfalls, ravines, pine foliage, occasional roaming wildlife such as deer, and impressive holes you'll want to write home about. This traditional, par-72 resort course, sister course to The Challenge at Manele, 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 is signature hole 17, a 250-foot drop from the tee located in a lush gorge. Amenities such as a pro shop, putting green, club rental, driving range and instruction are par for the course at this unforgettable island experience.
Click here for more information on The Experience at Koele.
8. The Challenge at Manele
Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay
1 Manele Rd.
Lanai City, HI 96763
If you played The Experience at Koele and breezed through its eighteen holes, walk next door to The Challenge at Manele, its sister course also situated at the Four Seasons Lanai. Set dramatically above Hulopoe Bay, The Challenge has two holes built on cliffs 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 to be challenging to every level of golfer. If you visit in the winter months, you may be lucky enough to see a pod of whales passing by from the fairway. When tee time is over, stop by chef Nobu Matsuhisa's luxurious new Nobu Lanai for some top sushi.
Click here for more information on The Challenge at Manele.
9. Gold Course at Wailea Golf Club
Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
100 Wailea Golf Club Dr.
Wailea, HI 96753
The Gold Course at Wailea makes a great first impression with memorable views of the ocean and the Molokini islet. Architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr. worked the land's prehistoric lava rock and the natural rise and fall of the terrain into the design of the course. This "thinking player's course" is the most challenging of Wailea's three courses, but offers four tee boxes at each hole to allow visitors to play at their own pace and skill level. If you need a lesson, visit the outpost of the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. Guests of the resort can also take advantage of various "Stay and Play" packages to get the best bang for their buck. For a post-game meal, head to Mulligan's on the Blue, serving up sophisticated Irish pub fare overlooking Wailea's Blue Course.
Click here for more information on the Gold Course at Wailea Golf Club.
10. The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort
The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
2000 Plantation Club Dr.
Kapalua, HI 96761
Tee off like Tiger and enjoy pristine ocean-side turf at the home of the PGA Tour's Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Maui. 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. Its elevation changes and prevailing winds make this course, designed by famed duo Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, ideal for intermediate golfers. After a day on the fairway, head to The Plantation House restaurant located in the clubhouse. Sit back and enjoy one of their recommended wines and indulge in dishes like fresh island ahi with wasabi potato purée.
Click here for more information on The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort.
More from Gayot