Archive » July 12, 2012
Golf & Travel
By Ray Navis, Contributing Writer
The best collection of resorts and golf in the Hawaiian Islands is found on a 20-mile stretch of The Big Island called the Kohala Coast. The spectacular scenery is enhanced by luxury accommodations and great golf options. This is also a place where the non-golfer will have no problem spending five hours while you hit the links.
HualalaiThe Four Seasons Hualalai is the first property that you come to and it is one of the best, just minutes from Kona Airport. The resort spreads out along the Pacific in a series of bungalows designed to remind of Hawaii’s Golden Age. Native artwork can be found throughout the nature-inspired décor that flows indoors and out. This natural setting is a favorite among Sea Turtles that come from thousands of miles to mate right on the beach.
The Hualalai Golf Course is a Jack Nicklaus layout with an interesting routing. The front nine is carved out of lava rock outcroppings and ringed with mansions that blend beautifully into the landscape. The back nine finishes right on the water with the 17th hole fronting the Pacific. This is the course’s signature hole and should offer a chance at birdie if the wind is reasonable. Visit FourSeasons.com/Hualalai for more details.
Fairmont OrchidA bit farther to the north, we find the Fairmont Orchid Hotel nestled between the Mauna Lani Golf Club and sacred Hawaiian burial grounds. The resort sits right on the ocean and has a French country feel to its accommodations, most of which are just steps from the ocean. Mauna Lani was created by famous Hawaiian statesman and athlete Francis Brown, whose descendants were members of King Kamehameha’s army. There are footpaths leading from the property to the lava covered burial grounds fronting the ocean. Mauna Lani sport two championship 18-hole layouts and has been home to the Senior Skins game on several occasions.
Mauna KeaThe granddaddy of all Hawaiian Golf resorts is Mauna Kea and it is the farthest north along the coast. This Robert Trent Jones creation has long captured golfer’s imagination and sports one of the game’s most famous holes. The 3rd hole tips out at 270 yards, but most will choose to play from 160 yards or so. The shot plays across a lava rock inlet with the blue waters of the Pacific crashing below. Maui is in view to your left, as is the rest of the Big Islands Northwest shore. You will not be in a hurry to leave this spot.
The Mauna Kea Course features a lot of elevation changes and can play tough in the wind. Serious golfers should opt for an early-morning tee time here and all along the Kohala Coast. The less experienced players tend to go after 10 a.m. and slow down play.
The accommodations at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel are 5-star all the way and have recently been renovated. The rooms in the high rise offer some of the best views on the island, stretching for miles in either direction. The semi-circle beach here is famous for its layout and water sports offerings. Go to PrinceResortsHawaii.com/Mauna-Kea for more information.
Hapuna BeachThe sister property to Mauna Kea is the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel and it is also worth a visit. Set right on the ocean, the rooms spread out along the coast never too far from the waves. Hapuna Beach Golf Course is an Arnold Palmer creation and rises into the foothills above the property giving the player dramatic coastline views. The Golf Clubhouse is also home to one of the best fitness centers along the Kohala Coast for those so inclined. Go to PrinceResortsHawaii.com/HapunaBeach.
Getting thereLAX offers several non-stops to Kona and I would strongly recommend this routing. SFO would also have that option. You might get a better deal going to Honolulu first, but it is probably not worth the hassle. Kona is an easy airport to navigate and a rental car will most likely be needed. This kind of a trip might be an ideal time to try out Priceline.com especially during the fall months. I have used the service many times and have been mostly happy with the results.