Kauai, the northernmost island in Hawaii’s archipelago, is often called the “Garden Isle” thanks to its lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and secluded beaches. But beyond the island’s idyllic natural beauty lies a paradise for golfers, with world-class courses designed by legendary players like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods’ favorite, Poipu Bay.
With pristine ocean vistas, challenging layouts, and stunning tropical scenery, Kauai offers some of the most scenic rounds in Hawaii. This island escape lets golfers trade busy resort courses for a more secluded and intimate golf experience.
Keep reading for the top 8 must-play golf courses on Kauai that will help you plan an unforgettable golf getaway on the Garden Isle.
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Best Golf Courses on Kauai’s South Shore
Kauai’s sunny southern shores boast dramatic seaside courses, many carved along lava rock cliffs and overlooking the island’s famed Poipu Beach.
Poipu Bay Golf Course
For over 20 years, the Poipu Bay Golf Course hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, with champions like Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, and Tiger Woods competing on its links.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., this championship course extends over 209 rolling acres along Kauai’s southern tip. Jones crafted a challenging layout to test the pros, so you can expect undulating greens, strategic bunkering, and devilish sea breezes.
With 8 holes right along the cliff’s edge, the views steal the show at Poipu Bay. Keep your eyes peeled for breaching whales, native Hawaiian monk seals basking on the rocks below, and sea turtles swimming in the surf.
After your round, recharge on the spacious oceanfront patio at the clubhouse with a locally-crafted mai tai in hand.
Neighboring Poipu Bay on Kauai’s south shore is the historic Kiahuna Golf Club. Originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and later updated by renowned architect Todd Eckenrode, this par 70 course meanders through archaeological sites dating back to 1200 AD.
Kiahuna stands out for its environmental focus. The club maintains sanctuaries for native waterfowl and preserves ancient Hawaiian ruins on the course. More than 200 species of trees and plants thrive across its lush fairways, offering incredible vistas.
Nature lovers will also appreciate spotting native birds like the Koloa duck and even dolphins playing in the surf of Poipu Bay. With a more open layout than Poipu, beginners can thrive on the course’s wider landing areas. The scenic par 3 on hole 7 provides an unforgettable “wow” moment.
Venture just beyond Poipu to Kukuiʻula, an exclusive private club community managed by real estate developer DMB Associates. Their members-only golf course, designed by Tom Weiskopf, unfurls across 650 pristine acres.
Kukuiʻula cascades down to the ocean, with sweeping views of Kauai’s southern coast from every hole. Golf Digest named it “One of the Best in Hawaii,” and it’s easy to see why. With generous landing areas, multiple tee boxes to match your skill, and jaw-dropping vistas, Kukuiʻula delights golfers.
Its par 72 routing navigates ancient lava flows and lush foliage. Look out for native Hawaiian birds and wintering humpback whales breaching offshore. The club’s refined Plantation House restaurant offers locally-sourced fine dining to refuel after your round.
On Kauai’s verdant and rugged north coast, world-class resort golf beckons at two of the island’s premier destinations.
Princeville Makai Golf Club
Overlooking Hanalei Bay’s famous surf breaks at internationally renowned resort community Princeville, the Princeville Makai Golf Club unfolds across a stunning coastline landscape.
Originally opened in 1971, Robert Trent Jones Jr. renovated the course in 2009. His updates added challenges like multi-tiered greens while opening up stunning vistas of Hanalei Bay and Bali Hai beyond.
Accuracy comes at a premium on this par 72 course with winding creeks, ravines, and three lakes. Look out for the short par 4 on hole 6, reachable with one perfect shot, and the cliff-top par 3 on hole 15 for incredible bay views. After your round, celebrate with a handcrafted cocktail and locally sourced poke nachos at the clubhouse.
Along Kauai’s north coast near Princeville, Jack Nicklaus designed his first signature course in Hawaii at the luxury Hokuala resort, part of the Timbers Collection.
The Ocean Course winds along a prime stretch of shoreline with Mt. Namahana as its backdrop. Nicklaus took full advantage of the scenic setting, with ocean vistas on 14 of the 18 holes. Golf Digest named it the “Best Golf Course in Hawaii” upon opening in 2016.
After your round, toast to island golf overlooking the Pacific at the timber and stone clubhouse. With an elevated perch on Kauai’s northern tip, Hokuala offers prime whale watching in winter and starlit nights year-round.
Another fantastic option on Kauai’s north shore is Puakea Golf Course, designed by pioneering architect Robin Nelson. Tucked away near Princeville, this hidden gem meanders through lush jungle with views of the majestic mountains. The par 72 layout navigates tricky elevation changes and dramatic ravines flowing to the ocean.
Robin Nelson was one of the first architects to build courses in Hawaii. He took full advantage of the landscape to craft memorable holes with undulating greens and strategic bunkers. After your round, enjoy panoramic views of Hanalei Bay and fine dining at the clubhouse. With challenging terrain and scenery galore, Puakea stands out as a can’t-miss course on the north shore.
Not every golfer has the budget for a luxury resort, but municipal course gems like the Wailua Golf Course offer an accessible and affordable option for Kauai golf.
Tucked between the Wailua River and towering rainforest, this seaside course hosted three USGA National Amateur Public Links Championships in its history. Coconut groves line its fairways, with ruins from an ancient Hawaiian settlement adding historic charm.
At just over 6,500 yards, Wailua is more forgiving than Kauai’s links-style resort courses. Multiple tee boxes allow you to pick the right yardage based on your skills. With less punishing rough and smaller greens than championship courses, it provides a pleasant change of pace.
The scenery shines through at Wailua, with stunning vistas down to the river mouth and lush mountains beyond. Unwind after your round with a cold Kona beer at the clubhouse pub. With lower rates, Wailua opens the Garden Island’s golf treasures to every budget.
Tucked high above Kalapaki Bay, Kukuiolono Park and Golf Course offers a low-key option loved by Kauai golfers. Surrounding the 9-hole course sits a scenic county park with cultural sites, gardens, and sweeping views from its picnic tables.
Since it sits at an elevation of 952 feet, temperatures stay milder than resort courses at sea level. Lush tropical foliage lines each hole, adding to its laidback charm. It lacks the perfectly manicured turf of luxury links but makes up for it with incredible value.
With tee times starting at just $10 for Kauai residents and never exceeding $60 for visitors, its affordable rates keep the course buzzing with golfers. The challenging downhill par 3 on the 8th tests your iron play with prevailing winds, while undulating putting surfaces demand focus throughout the round.
Grab a famous “Fat Boy” chili dog after playing and explore Hawaiian cultural sites in the park like the historic Wichman shrine. For a low-key Kauai golf getaway, Kukuiolono Park offers plenty of aloha spirit.
Final Thoughts: Book Your Dream Golf Getaway in Paradise
From Jack Nicklaus’ dramatic seaside Ocean Course to hidden gems like Kukuiolono Park, Kauai offers spectacular options for every golf traveler. With lush jungles, roaring Pacific surf, and challenges galore, it’s easy to see why golfers rate Hawaii’s Garden Isle as a bucket-list destination.
Use this guide to choose between must-play resort courses like Princeville and Poipu Bay or find savings at value-packed municipal tracks like Wailua. Whether you crave championship golf or a leisurely escape into nature, Kauai delivers stunning vistas and variety.
So start planning your island golf pilgrimage today. Look for deals on packages that bundle rounds at multiple top courses. Come experience the best of Kauai golf for yourself and create lasting memories amid breathtaking tropical landscapes. Just don’t forget to pack the camera – you’ll want pictures of these incredible oceanfront holes!
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