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Hawaii's Best Public Golf Courses

Last Updated: July, 10 2024
Hawaii's Best Public Golf Courses

Aloha golf fans, it's Michael Chen here to break down highly anticipated annual rankings of the top public access and private golf courses within the Hawaiian islands. As someone who has had the good fortune of playing countless tracks across these beautiful Pacific paradises, I'm always eager to see which properties have risen to the top of the pack according to Golfweek's veteran course-raters.


Public Access Courses


Leading the way for the 15th consecutive year within the resort and daily-fee access options is Four Seasons Resort Lanai's Manele Golf Course. This signature Jack Nicklaus-designed masterpiece continues to stand out as the architect's crowning achievement in Hawai'i with its spectacular ocean views and steady offshore breezes. Winding along Manele Bay's shoreline, it's easy to see why this track elicits such a strong emotional pull among players.



Kapalua Plantation Course in Maui takes second place, another layout that I consider a "must-play" because to its massive size and pure natural beauty. While it meets great competition from adjacent Kapalua Bay, the Plantation Course's elevated tees and rippling Bermuda fairways captivate golfers of all levels.


Rounding out the coveted top 5 are recent additions Mauna Kea Golf Course, Princeville Makai Golf Course and the elegant Four Seasons Resort Hualalai - each with their own defining characteristics yet universally praised for their sense of relaxed charm. It's also great to see established tracks like Wailea Gold and Emerald on showing tried-and-tested tracks continue delivering top experiences.


Private Courses


Switching over to the highly exclusive private club category, Nanea Golf Club claimed its 5th #1 ranking in 6 years. Nestled along the dramatic Kohala Coast, this Tom Weiskopf creation is a golfer's dream with its seaside links feel and protected isolation from the outside world. Not far behind in the #2 spot was long-standing club Kohanaiki where the views impress as much as the golf itself.



Rounding out the top 5 were Kukui'ula Golf & Beach Club, Hokulia Golf Club and King Kamehameha Golf Club. Each offers their own special brand of seclusion and island allure to members and fortunate guests. So whether you seek out a daily-fee masterpiece or manage to sneak onto a hidden lava links gem, be sure to reference GolfAQ's expertise on the very best Hawaii's renowned golf scene has to offer. A hui hou and happy golfing!


Public Access Courses:


1. Four Seasons Lanai


2. Kapalua (Plantation)


3. Mauna Kea Resort


4. Princeville (Makai)


5. Four Seasons Hualalai


6. Mauna Lani (North)


7. Wailea (Gold)


8. Ocean Course at Hokuala


9. Grand Hyatt Kauai & Spa (ipu Bay)


10. Wailea (Emerald)


11. Turtle Bay Resort (Arn Palmer)


12. Mauna Lani (South)


13. Kapolei Golf Club


14. Wailua Municipal


15. Ko Olina Golf Club


Private Courses: 


1. Nanea


2. Kohanaiki


3. Kukui'ula


4. Hokulia


5.King Kamehameha


Read more: Is Golf Really Scottish? Evidence Points to Origins Across Europe


Which public golf courses in Hawaii offer the best ocean views


Mauna Kea Golf Course (Big Island)


Situated along the Kohala Coast, Mauna Kea features dramatic ocean views from just about every hole.


Reviewers praise the "incredible views" and "very challenging" layout of this renowned public course.


Ocean Course at Hokuala (Kauai)


This course at the Hokuala resort boasts "amazing views" according to golfers, with several holes playing along the Pacific coastline.


Poipu Bay Golf Course (Hawaii)


Poipu Bay is characterized as having "absolutely stunning scenery" with beautiful ocean panoramas throughout the course.


Wailea Golf Club (Maui)


Wailea's Gold and Emerald courses both boast breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the neighboring islands.


Best Times to Play Golf in Hawaii


Peak season (mid-December to March) is the busiest and most popular time to visit Hawaii, with larger crowds and higher prices.


Golf courses may be more congested around this time.


Advance bookings for tee times and lodging are suggested.


Ideal Season (April-October):


The weather is generally mild, with little rainfall, providing ideal golfing conditions.


This is regarded as the best time of year to play golf in Hawaii.


Courses are less crowded, and lodging rates are lower than during peak season.


Shoulder season (April-May and October-November) offers great weather, less crowds, and lower prices.


This is a good time to look for golf and vacation offers.


Best times of day to play


Early morning (before 11 a.m.) is typically the best time because the weather is cooler and the winds are calmer.


Afternoon/evening "twilight" tee times are another an excellent alternative, as fees are frequently reduced.


Avoid playing during the middle of the day, when winds pick up and temperatures rise.






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Michael is an avid golfer himself, having played competitively in college. After graduating, he pursued a career in golf course management and travel writing. He has played and reviewed hundreds of golf courses globally, and is considered an expert on golf course architecture, playing conditions, and the best golf destinations for travelers. His articles provide golfers with valuable insights to plan their next golf vacation.

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