Golf in Hawaii: The Ultimate Guide to the 5 Islands

“The finest fleet of islands anchored in any ocean,” said novelist Mark Twain of his 19th-century excursion to the Hawaiian archipelago. Long the tropical target of many travelers’ desire, America’s distant 50th state is a bucket list item worthy of a trans-Pacific flight: giant waterfalls, screensaver-worthy beaches, pounding sapphire surf, active volcanoes and a flood of jurassic park greenery are just some of the wonders that await you there. From hiking to surfing, helicopter rides to lazing on the beach, Aloha State has no shortage of thrills and relaxation. And if you pack your clubs, nothing beats golf in Hawaii.

For the flag hunters among us, Hawaii’s incredible topography makes it one of the best golf destinations on the planet. The state has more than 70 courses spread across five islands, with plenty of pros — from the PGA, LPGA and Champions Tour — playing for a paycheck every year.

Like a pilgrimage on the Links of Scotland, you won’t get to all the trails in one visit to Hawaii – there’s just too much to see. What you will be get, however, consistent 80-degree temperatures, immaculately manicured turf, volcanic vistas and lava-covered fairways that are surefire landing spots for the longest drives of your life.

For now, your best approach to playing golf in Hawaii is to give yourself a week and build a à la carte visit using the course guide below. You’ll want to play as many holes as possible, of course, but make sure you enjoy paradise and don’t spend your whole week driving and jumping in puddles between courses.

Our advice? Pick an island (or two), grab a handful of tee times on some of the world’s best tracks, pack your most stylish floral collared shirt, then grab it and rip it. Golfing in Hawaii is a pin seeker’s dream. By the time your ball settles after that first-tee bomb, you’ll already be thinking of a reason to come back.

Golf in Hawaii: The Best Golf Courses in the Aloha State

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Where to play: The Ocean Course in Hokuala, a design by Jack Nicklaus, hosted the top male collegiate golfers last winter. His outside nine takes you through lush jungle before digging Hawaii’s longest stretch of oceanside holes, punctuated by the spectacular par-3 fourteenth (that’s your Instagram pic) and the daring but drivable par-4 sixteenth (get out the big stick and go for it – you haven’t crossed the Pacific Ocean to disarm yourself).

To Poipu Bay on the sunny South Shore of Kauai, Phil Mickelson shot a 59 at the 2004 PGA Grand Slam of golf, an event Tiger Woods has won seven times. Verdant mountains and humpback whales off the back-nine cliff coast highlight this Robert Trent Jones Jr. layout.

RTJ II also designed Princeville Makai Golf Club on Hanalei Bay in the North Shore; it is rated one of the top public tunes in the United States by golf summary. Be sure to hire a GolfBoard so you can surf its pristine fairways from shot to shot.

Where to stay and eat: Located in the 450-acre Hōkūala resort community and minutes from Lihue Airport, Timbers Kaua’i Ocean Club & Residences‘The two- to four-bedroom villas (equipped with multiple verandas) make an ideal base camp for Garden Isle golf groups. Sip a Happy Madison rum cocktail (named after the logo of Adam Sandler’s production company, which features the Ocean Course background) in a surreal, two-tiered infinity pool before dining on the delicious menu at the farm to table chef Zach Cummings at Hualani’swhich includes fresh ingredients from the resort’s 16-acre organic farm.

Off property, dinner at Hukilau Lanai to historic Kapa’a for an old-school Hawaiian-style meal. The ahi poke nachos are a must.

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Where to play: Your purpose to play on the east valley island Kapalua Planting Course, the jewel in Maui’s crown and home of the PGA’s Sentry of Champions Tournament every January. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the game’s best design duo, designed the pine-framed mountainside course, located on a former pineapple plantation, in 1992. They renovated it a few years ago for the make it more guest friendly (think extra-wide fairways). Prepare for high winds, jungle ravines, breathtaking views over the Pacific Ocean to the island of Molokai, and the chance to take the longest drive of your life on the 18th hole. more than 600 meters downhill. (Pro tip: book a front caddy to help you read the greens and provide target lines off the tee. You’ll need it).

On the west side of the island, The Royal Kā’anapali Course offers a fun day on links and a history lesson. Cultural plaques adorn each trailhead, telling the stories of Maui’s royal leaders who once lived on this sacred land. Wailea Emerald is a scenic design by Robert Trent Jones Jr. with great elevation changes and excellent course conditions. His difficult brother, Wailea Goldrequires a bit more skill and strategy if you want to post a small number.

Where to stay and eat: On the west side of the island, the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua covers 54 verdant acres and borders an ancient Hawaiian burial site. The spa is also top-notch (book the Lomilomi specialty massage). Each of the hotel’s six restaurants is delicious, but the fan favorite is the beachfront burger shackwho makes burgers, fries and some of the best handmade milkshakes.

From the hotel, walk down the coastal path to Merriman’s to taste its mahi mahi in a macadamia nut crust and its famous pineapple bread pudding. For arguably the best ahi poke bowl in Hawaii, head to by Tamuraa no-frills market with multiple locations all over the island.

Island of Hawaii (the Big Island)

Where to play: You’d be hard pressed to find a more exciting tee shot than the par-3 third at Mauna Kea, which requires a long, forced traverse from a spellbinding nook along the Kohala Coast to a peninsula green. The rest of Mauna Kea, considered one of America’s finest public courses, shines from start to finish with picture-perfect Hawaiian beauty.

In the Kona neighborhood, another par-3 worth the price of admission is the 17th hole at the virgin Four Seasons Hualalai Hotel, a Jack Nicklaus-designed course that hosts the Mitsubishi PGA Champions Tour tournament. You’ll weave your way through a maze of gleaming green fairways and crisp black lava landscapes before crescendoing to the signature sandy seaside hole where a birdie could definitely be in your future.

The 15th hole of Mauna Lani South Course will never leave your memory: it plays on a blue bay in a clover-shaped green surrounded by palm trees and sand. It is one of the most photographed holes in the world.

Where to stay and eat: After a $100 million renovation in 2021, the 865-acre waterfront Four Seasons Hualalai Hotel features the famous Jack Nicklaus Golf Course, superb sushi at Ulu Ocean Grill, a swimmable aquarium, and tours of nearby Kona coffee farms.

For some of the best poke and local dishes on the island, head to Umekes Fish Market Bar & Grillfifteen minutes from the station.

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Where to play: Located forty-five minutes north of Honolulu, Arnold Palmer of Turtle Bay is Oahu’s preeminent track. Blending Scottish features with an Eden-like landscape, it meanders through 100 acres of natural wetlands, jungle and marshland and features more than 70 bunkers dotting the rugged, evergreen-lined layout. Although the course hugs Oahu’s sparkling North Shore, the 17th hole offers one of your only views of the coast: it plays directly on the waves.

Nestled along the sunny lee east coast Koh Olina Golf Club, where the LPGA’s top players have played every year for most of the past decade. And unless you play it or fly over a plane, you may never find Royal Hawaiian Golf Cluba cruel but worthwhile design by Greg Norman set in the middle of a jurassic park-sque landscape. Pack an extra round (or two) of balls for that real bucket-lister in Windward Oahu twenty minutes from Waikiki.

Where to stay and eat: Backdrop for TV show Lost and blockbuster movie Forget Sarah Marshall, Turtle Bay ComplexThe 850 acres of Côte-Nord frontage are a dream for surfers and swimmers.

Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani is an urban oasis in the heart of Honolulu. For homemade Hawaiian dishes, the neck of smoked kalua pork and boiled butterflyfish Helena’s Hawaiian Kitchen, an Oahu landmark since 1946, has you covered. Fancy a Chef’s table live? A meal at Senia high on the list of many foodies in Hawaii.

Manele Golf Course at Four Seasons Resort Lanai

Courtesy Image

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Where to play: Some experts will tell you that Manele Golf Course at Four Seasons Resort Lanai is the best golf course in the Hawaiian Islands. It is difficult to dispute this statement. Not only is the Nicklaus-designed masterpiece a treasure, but it’s also the only 18-hole course in town. To get there, board the 1-hour Lahaina-Maui ferry for the remote, unspoilt shores owned by tech billionaire Larry Ellison. Card a deuce on the mesmerizing par-3 12th hole, flanked by 150-foot-high seaside cliffs above Hulopoe Bay, and you’ll import a lifetime of bragging rights home.

Where to stay and eat: Lagoon-style pools, a two-story observatory, koi ponds and serene gardens highlight the immaculate grounds of the Four Seasons Lanai Hotel. It also faces an aquatic sanctuary, offering guests some of the best snorkeling and dolphin and whale watching in the area.

After the round, recap your best shots over drinks and lunch (and a signature ice cream sandwich) at Views, the course restaurant. Come for dinner, book an in-house reservation Nobu Lanai and enjoy the ingenuity of sashimi and sushi by renowned chef-restaurateur Nobu Matsuhisa.


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