The island of Kauai is the oldest geologically and least developed of Hawaii’s five major islands. Those are a couple reasons why it’s known by many as the garden island –that no building can be taller than the tallest coconut tree is another. Few destinations combine Kauai’s world-class golf, beaches, pristine natural terrain, exceptional resorts and lodging options. If considering a Kauai golf getaway, below is a sample itinerary showing what a trip may include.
Avid golf travelers often desire to hit the course ASAP upon arrival at their chosen destination. Built-up anticipation has them champing at the bit to begin playing. Fortunately for travelers to Kauai, they can be at two outstanding golf courses within minutes of arriving at Lihue Airport (LIH). Ocean Course at Hokuala Resort (Jack Nicklaus design) and Puakea Golf Course (Robin Nelson) are close enough to the airport that playing on arrival day is easily accomplished. Not only is it convenient to play these courses, but both are superb, each regarded among golf-rich Hawaii’s best.
After a round of golf at Ocean Course, which includes tackling the memorable par-3 fifth hole requiring a carry over a tropical Mango forest to an island-like green, you’ll soon be able to check into a boutique resort hotel currently under development. Meanwhile there are ample other lodging choices. Learn more at the destination’s custom stay-and-play booking website, www.GoGolfKauai.com.
After a refreshing night’s sleep, head to Puakea for your first Kauai meal at Puakea’s Ho’okipa Café (open 7 am to sunset), where fresh ingredients, local favorite dishes and daily drink specials await. Then experience Nelson’s wonderful layout that includes lush, jungle-mountain foliage abutting the course’s back nine. It’s so impressive that Steven Spielberg filmed “Jurassic Park” scenes there. Be ready for the par-3, sixth hole – it drops nearly 150 feet from tee to green, with a lagoon protecting the front.
Afternoon activity? Kaua‘i is a popular spot for both freshwater and saltwater anglers. Large and smallmouth bass are taken in Kauai’s inland reservoirs. There also are special charters available that can carry you near the private island of Niihau for giant tuna and marlin. Afterward, enjoy oceanfront, al fresco Italian fine dining at Café Portofino, or Duke’s Kauai featuring Hawaiian-influenced dishes and renowned Kimo’s Original Hula Pie.
Kaua‘i’s golf-and-resort options are nothing if not diverse and enticing. So pack up and move to the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort & Spa and Poipu Bay Golf Course, former longtime home to the PGA Grand Slam of Golf (1994-2006). After a morning round on the acclaimed Robert Trent Jones Jr. design – described as one of the world’s most scenic, with a home stretch of holes perching atop 150-foot-high cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean – enjoy a relaxing lunch at one of the acclaimed resort’s many restaurant options.
After golf and lunch take an afternoon scuba diving lesson in the resort’s salt water lagoon and book a beginner’s dive in the ocean, or take surfing lessons at Poipu Beach.
For dinner consider a unique Hawaiian setting at Tidepool’s, one of Grand Hyatt Kauai’s restaurants. Open air hale pili (thatched huts) with waterfalls and koi-filled lagoons create a serene setting. Cap off a perfect day at Stevenson’s Library, the resort’s gathering spot, where playing billiards and enjoying a refreshment while listening to live music are options.
After breakfast play Wailua Golf Course, a municipally-owned course so good that it has hosted three United States Golf Association championship tournaments. There you’ll find oceanside and ocean-facing holes, coconut trees and a layout stretching to nearly 7,000 glorious yards.
Once your final putt drops, take a relaxing Lomilomi massage back at Grand Hyatt’s Anara Spa. You’ll be hard-pressed to move after leaving the spa, so pick out a resort hammock and settle in with a good book, some binoculars and be prepared to flit in and out of a lazy haze of mellow bliss.
Before dinner spend time shopping for loved ones and finding unique gifts from Kauai Made – products made on Kauai, by Kauai people, using Kauai materials. You’ll find Kauai food and agricultural products, distinctive art and jewelry, Hawai‘ian heritage products, local crafts, music, apparel, gifts and more.
Don’t visit Kaua‘i and see just part of the island. Taking in the North Shore and Hanalei are a must. You’ll discover The St. Regis Princeville Resort (www.stregisprinceville.com), a luxurious place nestled in one of the world’s most beautiful settings.
Play Princeville Makai Golf Club, where 18 championship holes by Trent Jones Jr. unveil astounding ocean views and Mount Makana, the mythical “Bali Hai” featured in the movie “South Pacific.” The par-3 seventh hole at Princeville Makai requires a shot over Turtle Cove to the green. Make sure not to get distracted by the scenery, whether an Albatross nest with newly hatched seabirds or the turquoise-colored Pacific crashing ashore below.
After your game, venture down to Old Town Hanalei and have a beer and bite to eat at Tahiti Nui, shown in “The Descendants” starring George Clooney. Or enjoy a sensual experience at St. Regis’ Halele’a Spa followed by time on the resort’s beach.
Whatever itinerary you choose, take your time on Kauai, where things slow down and the gorgeous island invites you to linger in lavish beauty.