Golfing on Kauai
“On Kauai you will find some of the most spectacular golf anywhere. Designed by some of the most prominent golf course architects of the last 50 years – Jack Nicklaus, Robin Nelson, Robert Trent Jones Jr. – our courses take full advantage of all that Kauai has to offer. Whether you are looking for majestic mountains, rugged ocean cliff sides, mountain streams and waterfalls, deep ravines, or dense tropical jungle, all can be experienced in a single round of golf at one of Kauai’s fine courses.” The Kauai Golf Course Guide
Wailua Municipal Golf Course
The Ocean Course at Hukuala
Puakea Golf Course
Kukuiolono 9 hole Golf Course
Cradled between the Kauai Marriott Resort and the Marriott Kauai Lagoons is Hokuala Kauai, a newly introduced resort that offers the longest continuous stretch of oceanfront golf in Hawaii. Hokuala translates to “rising star.” It is the result of an expansion project for the Kauai Lagoons and included in the plan was bringing in some much needed changes to their key piece of real estate: their golf course. What was known as the Kauai Lagoons Golf Club soon became the Ocean Course at Hokuala. The course has been under constant development by Jack Nicklaus, a retired American professional golfer who has won a total of 18 career major championships. Among Golf Digest’s 2015-2016 “America’s 100 Greatest” golf courses, five Nicklaus design layouts were selected. Hokuala is the only property on Kauai that has had the honor of having Nicklaus breathe new life in a course that has been open for play since 1988.
The original layout included 27 holes, but after a 2015 update, the course is now shortened to 18 of the property’s best holes. The Hokuala course can be broken into two parts: the front nine and the back nine. The front nine is the first half of the course and is set in jungle-type tropical scenery. The back nine is the highlight of the course; it stretches roughly half a mile along the oceanfront with up-close mountain views just across the water. Truly a remarkable backdrop for a game of golf.
Hokuala Kauai offers a Tuesday 9-Hole Golf Scramble, which includes green fees, warm-up bucket of range balls, 9-Hole club rental, a sleeve of golf balls and prizes for the winners. Kama’aina rates are available; please inquire with the resort golf shop for more information.
You may find their most recent rates here, including standard green fees and club rentals here.
Do a little shopping at Kukui Grove, grab a bite to eat at Kalapaki Joes, and then maybe squeeze in a round of golf before calling it a day? Sounds like a plan to me. Except, you’re probably thinking, “Don’t you have to do quite a bit of driving until you get to the nearest golf course?” Not at all. Just a minute drive beyond Costco on Nuhou Street and you will find the views suddenly open up to more than 200 acres of green, displaying an 18-hole layout, all open to the public. Any golf activity in sight has been tucked away behind retail shops and residential houses.
This place is called Puakea Golf Course; it has been open for play since 1997 and designed by Robin Nelson. The golf course is built on historic sugar plantation property and was still in construction when Hurricane Iniki hit the islands in 1992; it wasn’t until 2003 when development of the course was completed. In fact, before Robin Nelson returned to finish Puakea. It had 10 holes open for play and, oddly enough, was garnered with the distinction of being in the “Top 10” nine-hole facilities in the US by Sports Illustrated in 1997. Golf Week ranked Puakea 7th best in Hawaii in 2008 and 15th in 2010, respectively. When playing on the course you may notice some familiar images, Puakea is built at the foot of the Haupu Ridge, where much of Jurassic Park was filmed. No better place for a photo opportunity if you are an avid moviegoer.
Puakea boasts a few amenities for its players: a practice facility, a pro shop, and Ho’okipa Cafe. Within the practice facility, golfers will have access to over 30 hitting stations and grass tees, clinics, as well as private and group lessons. The pro shop offers the latest in golfing equipment to help you improve your game, including the best in fashion and fabric technology. Ho’okipa Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch, and pupus from 7am-sunset. Whether you’re there to golf or to enjoy the Puakea atmosphere, the Ho’okipa Cafe also hosts parties and even offers catering services.
There’s a lot to love about this resort-quality course. So, maybe it’s time to start planning your next trip into town.
I am in the green. Wind 5mph to the east. Slight 10-degree angle downhill.
Now, maybe if I just ricochet this off the cave wall hard enough…
Located in Kilauea on the North Shore is Kauai Miniature Golf and Botanical Garden. It is the only mini golf course on the island. For those that have yet to test their putting game in this 18-hole course, there will undoubtedly be preconceived notions of mini golf being somewhat of a wacky carnival experience. Instead, you find yourself surrounded by greenery. As you make your way through the 18 holes you receive an introductory course on the diverse history of the islands. Visitors will learn about the Polynesian discovery of the islands, indigenous gardens containing endangered species, Zen gardens showcasing the influence of the Japanese and Chinese during the plantation period, and some insight on the plantation town that was alive and thriving in Kilauea in the late 1800’s.
Do not let the garden scenery discount the fun of this course. You begin the first hole with a simple, short, straight line putt. Easy enough, right? Well, as you progress so does the difficulty. Add ponds, curves, elevations, and obstructions that will test one’s shot creativity. Take hole 16, for example. The path bends left with a dip, but there is also a small log tunnel that creates a straight shot to the hole. From personal experience, if you’re going to “Shooter McGavin” your way through that shortcut, don’t be bashful with it. You don’t want your ball stuck in the tunnel, especially now that your friend knows exactly what not do and reminds you of the losing bet you made at the start of the game.
The entire course is fit for every one of all ages and skill levels. Bring a friend, a date, even your family. It’s first come, first served, so no time to waste. Be prepared to fish your ball out the water. Trust me.
This nine-hole course, nestled on the hills above Kalaheo, may be one of Kauai’s best kept golfing secrets. Originally built as the personal course of sugar king Walter McBryde, Kukuiolono Golf Course offers generous fairways, limited hazards, and panoramic views of Kauai’s scenic southwest side. This is a great course for beginners.
Following its creation, McBryde donated the course to the people of Kauai. The local name for the course is Kook’s. The best part is the laid back atmosphere and the no schedule tee time. If you need to wait to tee off, get a bucket of balls and take in the panoramic view from the driving range, or grab some food and beer in the newly opened Paco’s Taco’s Cantina.
Besides the scenic beauty and great golfing, the price can’t be beat at $9 dollars to play, $9 dollars for a cart (that fits 2 people) and only $9 for club rentals. To share a fun family golfing experience on a relaxed course, we recommend Kooks! Head west on the Highway to Kalaheo, make a left onto Papalina Rd at the traffic light and wind up the hillside residential neighborhood of Mauka Kalaheo and check out this awesome 9 hole hidden gem.