What the “Garden Isle” lacks in quantity of golf courses is superseded by the premium quality layouts that make the most of their dramatically unique environments. With more oceanfront holes than any other Hawaiian Island, the fairways on Hawaii’s oldest and northernmost island may include lava rocks and thorny Kiawe patches, while the greens are framed by sparkling ocean horizons, volcanic cliffs, massive ravines, giant sinkholes and lush-tropical undergrowth.
Feature Photo: Courtesy of Princeville Makai Golf Club
Kiahuna Golf Club
Kiahuna GC provides a combination of the lush, natural beauty of Kauai within a fascinating area of ancient Polynesian archaeology in sunny Poipu Beach. Architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. skillfully included many ancient remnants of an authentic Hawaiian Village into the 6,925-yard course that includes narrow fairways and some unusual obstacles such as lava walls and stone structures. The property also serves as a sanctuary for many of Kauai’s endangered species including the state bird of Hawaii,.
Ocean Course at Hokuala
Conveniently located minutes from the Lihue Airport and Nawiliwili Harbor in the southwest corner of Kauai, the Ocean Course at Hokuala (formerly known as Kauai Lagoons) was created by legendary golfer and architect Jack Nicklaus. With sparkling white sand framing all 18 holes, the 7,156-yard Ocean Course provides the longest stretch of continuous unobstructed oceanfront holes (four) of any course in Hawaii. Combined with Timbers Kauai, Kauai’s newest luxury resort, players can stay in style.
Poipu Bay Golf Course
Adjacent to the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa and backed by lush emerald mountains, Poipu Bay GC was sculpted atop epic 150-foot cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This links-style layout designed amongst remains of Hawaiian heiau (places of worship) and ancient stone walls by Robert Trent Jones Jr. stretches to 7,123 yards with the ocean coming into play on holes 15-17. The championship course was host for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 1994-2006.
Princeville Makai Golf Club
With a backdrop of towering mountains, Bali Hai and world-famous Hanalei Bay, Princeville Makai GC re-opened next to the Princeville Resort in January 2010 after a major renovation by its original architect, Robert Trent Jones, Jr., who reconfigured the Lakes and Ocean nines into one beautiful 18-hole layout. The signature par-3, 7th hole offering a 213-yard shot over cliffs onto a green surrounded by brilliant white bunkers helped solidify the 7,233-yard layout on the Top 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses in America (#65), by Golf Digest.
Set on sugar cane fields at the base of Mt. Haupu, Puakea GC rides up and down through deep ravines, crosses mountain-fed streams, reveals views of the Pacific Ocean, and even plays along one of the epic locations for the filming of the blockbuster movie Jurassic Park. The Robin Nelson-design originally opened as a 10-hole course due to the destruction from Hurricane Iniki (1992) and the final eight holes were finished in 2003 to complete the current 6,954-yard layout.
After opening on the Pacific oceanfront in 1931 as a 9-holer just north of Lihue, Wailua GC expanded to 18 holes in 1961 with more elevation changes and trees framing the holes. Regarded as one of the top municipal courses in the country, the 6,991-yard Wailua GC has hosted three USGA Amateur Public Links Championships and is highlighted by stunning mountain views along the Coconut Coast.