Out of all the time I’ve spent in Hawaii, there’s no question that Kauai is my favorite island. I’ve spent the most time on the big island and don’t get me wrong, it’s a golfer’s paradise and the geographic diversity isn’t something you’ll find anywhere else in the world.
As much as I love spending time in places like Kona and at Mauna Kea, the whole resort vibe gets a little tiresome after a while.
That’s why last time I went to Hawaii, I thought I’d change it up a bit and go to Kauai. I’d always heard great things about this small island; that it was more of a local’s vibe, that there wasn’t the commercialization of the Big Island and Oahu, for example.
While my daydreams didn’t exactly match reality when I stepped off the plane, I can honestly say that life is much more laid back on Kauai, and I’ll be back again soon.
As far as the golf goes, you know I played a fair bit. But I’m definitely not qualified to come up with a list of the best courses on my own. As usual, our readers chimed in with their thoughts as well.
Be advised, this is small island and public golf opportunities are limited more by geography than anything else. Hence, we’ve shrunk the list to the five best public tracks anyone can play on Kauai.
Before the Mai Thai kicks in, let’s get started.
As you’re flying into Kauai, you circle Poipu Bay. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t about to jump out the airplane window when I saw palm trees and emerald green fairways perched on the cliffs above the Pacific.
I had to wait a couple days to play here but I’ll be the first one to tell you, what a welcome this course was.
The difficulty in Poipu Bay lies in concentrating on your golf. The views are so spectacular, you just want to throw your towel down in the fairway and kick back.
With that being said, the course is in immaculate condition and welcoming for players of all abilities.
Unlike a lot of courses in Hawaii, the grass here is Paspalum which lacks the grain of the more traditional Bermuda.
I don’t remember what I shot, and chances are, you won’t either. Worth the hefty price of admission for a round you’ll remember forever.
Makai Course at Princeville
For his first ever solo design, Robert Trent Jones Jr. did one heck of a job with the Makai Course at Princeville.
Called one of the “Top 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses in North America”, this track features six oceanfront holes, unforgettable views, and an experience unlike anything you could ever imagine.
All I can say is you need to see this place to believe it.
If golf isn’t on the agenda for everyone in your party, there’s plenty of other activities at this outstanding property. Resort guests can choose from disc golf, Sunrise Yoga, tennis, and horseback riding to name just a few.
It’s not hard to see why National Geographic Traveler called Princeville a “Top 5 Great Golf Setting.”
Puakea Golf Course
Lihue is only a short drive from the airport. If you’re anxious to peg whitey and stretch your legs after a long flight, Puakea is a great choice.
Be ready for a roller coaster of a round out here, literally. This track’s elevation changes make it a fun, even exhilarating round.
Ranked “7th Best Golf Course in Hawaii” by Golfweek, Puakea is one of the more affordable on Hawaii’s northernmost island.
A gateway for what the rest of this heavenly island has to offer, I’d make Puakea your first stop.
The Ocean Course at Hokuala
The Ocean Course at Hokuala is one that escaped my aggressive itinerary on Kauai. From what the locals and other loyal readers tell me, however, it’s one I shouldn’t have skipped.
This track is the only one designed by Jack Nicklaus on the island. In that vein, it should come as little surprise that Puakea is so highly revered.
Perched several hundred feet above the Pacific on volcanic cliffs that afford views for days, this is an iconic spot I wish I’d put on my list.
Regret but what it may, you can be sure my wife and I will put this property, and all it’s amenities on our list next time we’re on Kauai.
Kiahuna Golf Club
When you think of Golf on Kauai, one word comes to mind – lush. That’s more than evident at Kiahuna Golf Club.
At this course, you’ll be immersed with blue views of the Pacific, emerald playing surfaces, and ancient Polynesian archaeology. That’s right, remnants of civilizations centuries past are still visible from the fairways.
I played this course late in the day, I’m glad I did… My wife’s spa appointment magically got extended by a couple hours. Am I the only one that happens to? Regardless, put this property on your list.
Our readers agree, this is one of the best bangs for your buck on Kauai.
Whenever you hear about Hawaii, you start dreaming about all matter of things. Warm ocean breezes, lush fairways with the quiet whisper of waves in the background, and an evening umbrella drink… It truly is paradise. Like many of our readers, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience Hawaii in this regard on more than one occasion.
I’m going to be brutally honest here, however. Kauai has it going on. In terms of relaxation, the local vibe, activities, and of course, golf, this small northernmost island is a place you need to get to if you can. I know I’ll be back soon.
As I said, I’m not an expert on Kauai golf. If it weren’t from the continual input I receive from you guys, none of this would be possible.
I’m sure I’ve missed something here. So please, let me know your thoughts about public golf on Kauai down below in the comments.