The Hawaiian Islands are a golfer’s paradise

Updated: November 30, 2023

Thinking of making the golf getaway from the Pacific Northwest, then the Hawaiian Islands just might be your ticket to golf paradise. Places like Hokuala (top) on the island of Kauai and Ka’anapali on the island of Maui are two places that will make you want to keep Hawaii on your annual list of trips.

Tired of the weather that Mother Nature throws our way in the Pacific Northwest every winter? The cold, the wind, the frost delays …. everything? Then it might be time to make that investment in your golf game and take a trip to the island of Maui.

OK, let’s be real here first. Any time is a great time to head to the islands for a golf trip. Every island has its own golf treats from terrific course to great views to the best resorts. But winter time is especially the right time of year considering the weather in the Northwest is not exactly the best for wearing shorts, a golf shirt and playing 18 holes.

Let’s take a look at some of the golf that the island of Maui has to offer:


     • Ka’anapali Resort: Ka’anapali Golf Courses is home to not only 36 holes of championship golf, but also Maui’s only FootGolf course layout available daily after 4 p.m. So whether you’re a hard-core golfer looking to test your skills on the Royal Course where legends Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Price and Jan Stephenson have played, or you’re looking to take the family out or plan a corporate team building event on the FootGolf layout, Ka’anapali is the place to be. Several resort hotels offer golf packages and the courses offer multiple round packages direct, for those playing several times during their stay. After your round, be sure to treat yourself to the award-winning 19th hole at Roy’s Ka’anapali.  Roy’s Pacific-rim cuisine has something for everyone and ask for the chocolate lava cake for dessert.     

Kapalua Resort

     • Kapalua Resort: The Plantation course is known for its hosting of the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions every January featuring the tournament winners from the past season on the PGA Tour. Television does not do the course justice. This is a course with some great views, rolling terrain and a set of closing holes that are terrific. 

The 17th hole is a downhill par-4 with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop. Long drivers will find trouble off the tee if they don’t back off. Dramatic elevation changes, and nature’s challenges, as you test your ability and experience golf at its finest. A recent renovation shut the course down before it re-opened in November of 2022 with new grass on all fairways, greens and tees plus a new capillary concrete liner system on all bunkers.

The Bay Course at Kapalua hosted the 2008 Kapalua LPGA Classic, the Bay Course winds its way through towering palms and flowering hibiscus. The tee shot on the fifth hole carries nearby Oneloa Bay. Views are at a premium all along the Bay Course.

The Kapalua Golf Academy sits near the Bay Course and provides a terrific place for some instruction in case the golf game has gone sideways and you want to put the ball back into play.

Maui fires temporarily close Kapalua

The fires that ravaged the town of Lahaina on Maui caused Kapalua’s courses to close. But the courses re-opened as golfers made their way to the island to play. The Bay Course re-opened first followed by the Plantation Course. The Plantation Course is the home to the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions.

The fires hit Maui in the middle of August, causing the courses to close. But now the courses have been up and running and attracting golfers from around the world. Located in West Maui, the golf courses and facilities at Kapalua Golf were spared from the fires, however some employees at the resort were personally affected

Sentry event returns to Kapalua

The 2024 PGA Tour regular season begins in January at The Sentry as the Tour returns to a calendar year for the first time since 2012 and it all starts on Maui.

The Sentry boasts the most accomplished limited field in golf, featuring PGA Tour winners from the 2023 calendar year, including the FedExCup Fall, and the top 50 members from the final FedExCup standings. The 2024 event marks Maui’s 26th year hosting this iconic even at The Plantation Course at Kapalua. Since 1999, The Sentry has generated more than $8.5 million for local community charities.

Tickets to The Sentry 2024 are available at


     • Wailea Golf Club offers three different courses to choose from: The award-winning Golf, Blue and Emerald courses. In addition, the club has two full-service pros shops and outstanding Wailea Golf Academy. All told, the courses and everything with the club have collectively earned over 170 honors for such qualities as course design, customer service, friendliness to women and pro shop excellence.

    • Consider Kauai, the Garden Island, that can also be considered an island home to some terrific golf courses that will test your game and give you some Hawaiian sights that will keep your camera busy.

Here is a look at some of what Kauai has to offer for those traveling golfers:


    • Ocean Course at Hokuala: One signature hole after another. One picture postcard after another. Here, where the ocean meets the land, is as good as a golfer’s life gets. The Ocean Course at Hokuala is the longest stretch of oceanfront golf in Hawaii and the recipient of several awards, making Hokuala the premier golf resort on Kauai, Hawaii.

“I think of Kauai as a laid-back tropical paradise. The island is quainter and less commercial than Oahu and Maui. I put forth my best effort in the design process. The quality of conditioning, maintenance, and playing experience is important to me. It all reflects on my name and brand. It’s reassuring Timbers Resorts is willing to make a commitment to ensure that the product I have produced is taken care of, enjoyed, and thought well of for generations to come,” said Jack Nicklaus

The Hokuala Ocean Course winds through mango and guava groves to seaside cliffs, earning its many accolades along the way—including an MSN Travel nod as one of the world’s 12 most beautiful courses.

There are plenty of ways to explore the Garden Isle from the luxury oceanfront residences at Hōkūala. Find your private oasis on their 450-acre exclusive Kauai resort, featuring a collection of luxury vacation rentals.  

Timbers Kaua‘i has been honored as a “Top Resort Hotel in Hawaii” in the 2021 Travel & Leisure’s World’s Best Awards. Resorts were nominated by travel enthusiasts around the globe and voted to the top by Travel & Leisure readers. We are thrilled to be in great company with fellow high-caliber resorts offering stunning ocean views, serene spa treatments, and full concierge.

Poipu Bay Resort

    • Poipu Bay Resort: Adjacent to the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa on the sunny south shore of Kauai, this outstanding course is backed by lush emerald mountains and sculpted from a rolling plateau eight stories above the Pacific Ocean. Nestled among the gentle contours of Poipu Bay you’ll discover the remains of Hawaiian heiau (places of worship) and ancient stone walls. If this weren’t challenge enough, Mother Nature presents you with one distraction after another. From rare Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles, and humpback whales, you’ll have lots of wild excuses to back your scorecard. Plus, Poipu Bay is home to Nene Geese which are endemic to Hawaii, and not encountered anywhere else in the world outside of their native environment.

The course has also been in the golf spotlight having hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf from 1994-2006, featuring the winners of the grand slam events from the PGA Tour.


    • Princeville Makai Golf Club opened in 1971 as the first solo effort of Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and was completely renovated in 2009, introducing spectacular new Seashore Paspalum turf grass on all fairways and greens. Incorporating the original Lakes and Ocean nines, the new Princeville Makai Course features surreal vistas of Bali Hai and Hanalei Bay, including the signature par-3, 7th hole that offers a 213-yard shot over scenic cliffs onto a green surrounded by brilliant white bunkers.

And there have been plenty of awards to go along with the course including a 2022 rating among the best 200 resort courses in the world by Golfweek and a ranking of #11 among the best golf courses in the state of Hawaii by Golfweek.

There course and resort sit on the north side of Kauai and in addition to the golf there are also plenty of other activities to check out. The view of nearby Hanalei Bay along with the sunset are always a great way to add to your photo collection.

Puakea is a course you might not even know it is there. As you drive through Lihue and see the Costco, WalMart and other stores and shops, you might not realize but there it is – tucked in behind those places. And when you play it, you realize that none of the surrounding shops matter. This might be a course in town but has the feel of out in the country and surrounded by mountains.

The course rides up, down and around deep ravines. It has beautiful pali views on about three-quarters of the course and ocean views for the rest. Each of the holes are distinctly different so you’re constantly facing new, interesting challenges. designed by architect Robin Nelson, Puakea is open to the public as a daily fee golf course. The course is resort quality and built on more than 200 acres of historic property, which was once a sugar cane plantation.

    • Kukuiolono Park and Golf Course is part of a park that was once the site of an ancient Hawaiian Heiau and more recently the estate of the late Walter McBryde. The park offers extensive walking paths and gardens with breathtaking mountain and ocean views. The challenging 9-hole golf course is popular with the locals for its beauty and the most inexpensive greens fees on the island. In fact, McBryde made sure the land would always be a park when he passed away.

The newly renovated Japanese garden is a great place for a stroll down a quaint path and over a footbridge where visitors can see fountains, statues, bonsai trees and other plantings. The garden path leads up to a unique and extensive collection of Hawaiian lava rock artifacts and a newly-built meditation pavilion.