Golf may not first come to mind when you think of Hawaii; however, you might be surprised to know that some of the most world-renowned golf courses are located here. There are 75 golf courses in Hawaii, 17 on the Big Island, and 11 of those are along the ever sunny Kohala Coast, within about 20 miles of each other, and surrounded by some of the most spectacular ocean views on the planet.
If you are a golfer staying in one of the Kohala Coast resorts (Waikoloa, Mauna Lani, Hapuna, or Mauna Kea), you may as well welcome yourself to a golfer’s paradise. Many courses here are created by famous golf course designers and present a lot of fun and challenges for professionals and beginners alike. This blog post features the best Kohala Coast golf courses for you to enjoy while on your Hawaiian vacation.
Waikoloa Beach Resort Golf
Waikoloa Beach Resort is situated in the heart of the Kohala Coast and boasts not one but three world-class golf courses. Home of “Hawaii’s Premiere 27-Hole Golf Experience,” Waikoloa Beach Resort Golf is comprised of the Beach Nine, Lakes Nine, and Kings’ Nine. It presents a unique opportunity for golfers to design their own golf experience.
The Beach Nine is a must-play, featuring generous landing areas from the tee boxes and large greens surrounded by low-lipped bunkers to reward the social golfer. Skilled and avid players can be aggressive and be rewarded with multiple birdie opportunities. Hole #6 is the highlight of this loop. This par-five plays on an emerald ribbon of fairway between black lava fields down to the ocean then takes a hard dogleg-left to a putting surfaced ringed by swaying palm trees and backed by Pacific waves, creating one of the most beautiful and memorable holes in Hawaii.
The Lakes Nine winds its way through the heart of the resort, taking its name from the bodies of water that come into play on five of the nine holes. This classic resort-style layout, part of the original Beach Course built back in 1980, will not beat you up with length, but does require strategic shots to avoid lava and water trouble. The lava beds in this resort area created some natural elevation changes incorporated into the design. Hole #8 is a fun and scenic par-three hole with water carry to reach the receptive green and a towering wall of lava as a backdrop.
The Kings’ Nine provides an entirely different playing experience. A Scottish links-style layout, the Kings’ Nine features wide fairways and broader views of Mauna Kea in the background. Native grasses and pot bunkers add a degree of drama and strategy to shot-making. The signature hole on this loop is #5, a risk/reward par-four of only 277 yards. Better players might consider going for the green, but trouble lurks left and short in the form of a fairway-long sand bunker and massive lava boulders – a truly memorable hole on a truly great course.
Many of our vacation rental properties are located in Waikoloa Beach Resort, right on the above-mentioned golf courses! Fantastic golf course views, perfect location, special discounts, and quality accommodations will contribute to every golfer’s dream vacation. Browse our vacation rentals for details.
Mauna Kea Golf Course
Located along the rugged coast of Mauna Kea Resort, this historic award-winning, 18-hole championship golf course has set the standard for Hawaii golf for generations. Created in 1964 by Robert Trent Jones Sr. on what was once a barren black lava field, today’s lush fairways tumble across seaside cliffs with unfolding ocean and coastal views. Elevated, undulating greens and prevailing coastal winds demand accuracy, while an epic over-the-ocean 3rd hole guarantees an unforgettable day of play.
Modern improvements to Mauna Kea Golf Course by the original designer’s son, Rees Jones, have kept the original character intact while opening up challenging, memorable play on the Big Island of Hawaii to all player levels.
Learn more about the course and booking tee times here if you are up to the challenge.
Hapuna Golf Course
The Hapuna Golf Course is a stunning 18-hole oceanfront course that is a part of the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort, which also happens to be a part of Mauna Kea Resort. The course was designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay and opened to the public in 1992. It has a total yardage of 6,875, a slope rating of 136, and a USPGA rating of 73.3. The signature holes on this stunning course are the 3rd, 9th, and 18th holes.
The Hapuna Golf Course has a driving range, putting greens, and practice bunkers for you to sharpen your strokes before you start on your first official round. There are also locker rooms and shower facilities for your convenience and a full-service pro shop that supplies everything you need for your first round of golf. The pro shop stocks golf clubs, shoes, and other memorabilia. The Hapuna Course also allows public guests to play on the course. The course hosts several tournaments and is regarded as Hawaii’s best-kept secret.
Mauna Lani Golf Course
Mauna Lani Resort is located in-between Waikoloa Beach and Hapuna resorts and, you guessed it, has two beautiful golf courses with breathtaking ocean views.
The South Course is an iconic championship ocean course that has challenged golf legends including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Lee Trevino. It snakes through the stark, rugged a’a lava of the prehistoric Kaniku lava flow. This challenging 18 hole course offers the golfer a panorama of mountain and ocean views. It is also home to No. 15, one of the world’s most photographed over-the-water golf course holes. In addition, it was the host venue for the annual Senior Skins Game from 1990 – 2000.
The North Course offers a quintessential Hawaiian golf experience characterized by rolling terrain, lava rock, and Kiawe forests. A 230-acre protected archaeological district lies on the northern boundary of the golf course. No.17, a par three tucked into a natural lava amphitheater, is the resort’s signature hole and a favorite “I was here” photo spot. This course has become one of the most popular tournament venues on the Island.
The best thing is that all of these golf courses are located within just a few minutes’ ride from each other, so you can try most of them, if not all, during a single trip! So enjoy time together with family and friends, making fun memories, getting out in the Hawaiian sunshine, and taking in some of the most beautiful scenery nature can offer. Let time escape you as you golf across Big Island’s best golf courses with those you care about.
Save on your Hawaii vacation rental
Remember, you can always save 10% on your vacation rental when you book direct with us and mention “Aloha escape” in your reservation.
We hope to see you soon – a hui hou!