Big Island, Big Fairways

April, 15, 2021

Where most people might think of California, Florida or even Scotland as the world’s mecca of golf, true believers keep coming back to hit the links right here on the Big Island.

Some of the world’s top course designers have made their mark on the Big Island. And why not? It’s a unique opportunity to do so on one of the world’s greatest natural settings. Carving out both championship-level fairways and humble municipal sites from the local lava rock has inspired fantastic runs. And being that there are all sorts of terrain and climates here, it could be teeing off a volcano one day and being sprayed by ocean winds the next. If you’re serious about golf, you’re seriously going to love your golfing options here. Ready to get into the swing of things? Here are a few of the best golf courses you will find on the Big Island.

Oceanic Adventure 

Image Courtesy of Mauna Kea Resort

If you think that teeing up next to the Pacific Ocean and enjoying a full day of waterfront views as you make your way down the green sounds like a day well spent, you may want to check out the Mauna Kea Golf Course. Here you will enjoy stunning vistas of nearby coves and resort beaches while you try to beat the par. Recent modernizing efforts mean that the championship course isn’t quite as hard as it was back when it debuted in 1964, but it’s still quite challenging. And if it all looks familiar, don’t be too surprised. This is one of the most widely photographed courses in the world thanks to its unbelievably picturesque setting.

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Lavas to Love 

Image Courtesy of Mauna Lani Golf

The whole mystique of Hawai`i is the world’s largest mountain, bubbling up from the seafloor as a massive mound of volcanic rock gets its own evocation here in golf form. The Mauna Lani Resort South Course has loads of stunning views like many courses around it — but expect a little something more special. Some of the holes actually end up against black lava rocks sticking out of the sea. You don’t see that every day on a back nine! Regardless of the sometimes surreal landscape, it’s a relatively easygoing course to enjoy. You’ll see plenty of ocean blue coming up against the deep green, quite an eyeful you won’t soon forget.

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Classic Pedigree 

Image Courtesy of Four Seasons Hualalai

One of the more storied golf courses here on the Big Island would be Hualalai. This is the very first one that legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus ever designed, and it has truly stood the test of time. Expect some of the more dramatic terrains you will find while swinging clubs on Hawai`i, as jagged black lava flows cut through the green. We won’t blame you if you feel like you’re teeing up in a Lord of the Rings movie!

It’s over 7,100 yards of impeccable play with a nice mix of challenging holes and free and open fairways. It’s a truly unique experience for even the most seasoned of players to enjoy. Another nice perk: exclusivity. If you want to play here, you need to be a local resident or guest of the hotel on the grounds. Once you make it, you’ll have some serious bragging rights!

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Getting Away from it All

If you’re the sort of person who wants to avoid crowds and proximity to more populated areas, then hit up the Makani Golf Club. High up at 2,000 feet of elevation, this is the only place here in Hawai`i that features bentgrass greens thanks to the cooler air. Expect to share your excursion with loads of wild birds and beautiful water features. Created by legendary course designer Perry Dye, it’s one of the loveliest settings to accompany your strokes with amazing views of the neighboring Mauna Kea Volcano, as well as the coastline far down below. Exhilarating and inspiring, this is one of the best golfing experiences you will have on the island, as sublime as it gets!

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For a full list of golf courses on the Big Island visit: