If you’ve ever planned a golf trip, you know golf is but one aspect of your vacation. Where are we going to play? Where are we going to stay? and What else are we going to do? are just some of the questions your friends will ask. Thankfully, there are enough exceptional golf villas in Hawaii to help you find the answers to those questions. We’ve curated the top homes and the top courses for you right here—happy planning!
Hualalai Resort’s Pakui Residence, Big Island
Hualalai Resort is a consistent award-winner: Travel & Leisure’s World’s Best Hotel 2013 and 2014; a Robb Report Top 100 Resort in 2014; and a Golf Magazine Premium Resorts Platinum Medal Award Winner for 2014-15. The latter is a shout out to the resort’s two world-class tracks, but the lodging, dining, and service here are top-notch too. The Pakui Residence, one of the top golf villas in Hawaii, is a custom home with a welcoming koi pond and calming waterfall. Enjoy access to the resort’s sports club and cultural center, or lay back beside your private swimming pool and hot tub with a view of the golf course and the ocean. Pakui is stationed beside the Ke’Olu course’s 9th hole, a birdie-able 351-yard par four.
Ke’olu Golf Course
Hualalai Resort has two elite golf courses to choose from. The Hualalai Golf Course was Jack Nicklaus’ first design on Big Island and hosts the PGA Tour Champions Mitsubishi Electric Championship every January. The newer Ke’Olu Golf Course is members-only, but guests at Hualalai Resort get to tee it up there. Regulars love it for its privacy and exclusivity—they say you often feel you’re the only golfer on the course—and if you get the chance to take on the Tom Weiskopf design, you’ll understand what it’s all about. Lava spires and palm trees act as target lines throughout the 18, creating a beautiful aesthetic and some challenging holes.
Avalon by the Sea, Maui
Avalon by the Sea enjoys an elevated view of The Plantation Course’s signature 18th hole. The most avid golfers will appreciate being close enough to the course to retreat home for lunch between rounds on those 36-hole days. You can diversify your activities too with a beach, tennis court, and fitness center all within walking distance. The home’s large, stone-walled swimming pool is the perfect place to regroup after your round. If your group likes to cook for itself, you’ll love having your own kitchen with deluxe appliances and spacious dining areas that look out to the ocean. Each of the four bedrooms has an ocean view and you won’t want to wake up any other way. But the real draw for golfers at this Maui villa is 36 holes worthy of the world’s top players.
Kapalua Golf is as good as it gets across the Hawaiian Islands, plain and simple. The Plantation Course has been ranked Golfweek’s best golf course in Hawaii for ten consecutive years. It’s challenging enough for the pros and it’s home to the PGA Tour’s annual Tournament of Champions. (The course record is 62—good luck!) But elevated tees, sloped fairways, and ocean views from most holes make this par 73 fun for anyone. The golf doesn’t end there: The Bay Course is right next door, and it’s hosted more than 20 major professional tournaments, more than any other club in the state. Its par 3 fifth is the only golf hole on Maui to play over the ocean. Guests of Avalon by the Sea can play both courses at a 15% discount.
High Bluffs, Big Island
This elevated luxury home on Mauna Kea Resort has all the views and amenities you could ever ask for. Your stay at High Bluffs includes access to the beach, oceanfront tennis courts, spa and fitness facilities, and restaurants and shops. Meanwhile, the villa itself has WiFi, a gourmet kitchen, a game room, and its own bar. But that’s just the inside. Outdoors there’s another bar for poolside cocktails, a koi pond, and a lagoon pool. At night, light up the fire pit and tiki torches, and enjoy the last moments of 180° views of the ocean and Mauna Kea Golf Course below.
Mauna Kea Golf Course
Built on old black lava fields on the Kohala Coast, Mauna Kea is one of the top-ranked courses in Hawaii no matter whom you ask. The epic third hole is one of the world’s most photographed golf holes in the world—it’s a picturesque par three that requires a nerve-racking shot over water. Finish your round at the tributary Number 3 restaurant with local beers on tap, and take your turn at a game of bocce. Opened in 1964 by Robert Trent Jones Sr., Mauna Kea was Big Island’s first golf course. With a 2008 Rees Jones update to his father’s original design, the club has been modernized. Discover some of golf’s newest tech during your round: Mauna Kea’s carts are equipped with GPS offering precise shot distances, or you can take it one step further with a Golfboard, a stand-up electric golf cart shaped like a skateboard.
Honu Awa, Kauai
Honu Awa is a sanctuary surrounded by lush Hawaiian flora. It sleeps eight—or two foursomes as we’d prefer to put it—and each of its bedrooms has a comfortable king size bed and an ensuite bathroom. Away from the golf course, spend as much time as possible taking in the villa’s breathtaking ocean views. Outdoor living makes it easy to live breezily, and dinner should always be cooked outside on the barbecue then served outside at the alfresco dining table. If your group happens to feature a musician, the den has a piano that would make for a lively singsong in the evening.
Just a mile from Honu Awa in Princeville is Makai Golf Club, one of America’s finest public golf clubs, known equally for its play and its beautiful setting. Even the non-golfers in your group can take advantage of Makai, ranked Top 5 Most Scenic Golf Course Settings in The World by National Geographic Traveler Magazine. For just $30 you can take the Sunset Golf Cart Tour, where you hop on a golf cart and follow a guided tour of the golf course in the late afternoon while the sun is going down and the wildlife is emerging. For players, carpet-like greens and scenic views make for an unforgettable experience.
Ke Lailani Estate, Big Island
There are few better ways to wind down after a long, fun-filled day of golf than lounging in your very own sparkling swimming pool. The fact that Ke Lailani overlooks the South Course’s sixth fairway makes it even sweeter. Within an oceanfront gated community, this lush luxury property is one of the top golf villas in Hawaii for its location on Mauna Lani Golf Club. And there’s so much more to look forward to: bright, open plan living; spacious bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms; and backyard features like a barbecue, a fire pit, sun loungers, and day beds.
Mauna Lani Golf Club
After you manage to avoid the herd of goats that casually stroll from hole to hole on Mauna Lani, you’ll be privileged to a challenging and charming round of golf. Both the North and South courses are worth the walk for tough shots and epic views. Number 15 on the South Course is an over-the-water hole that golfers love to photograph, and the North Course’s 17th is its signature and also often photographed. The WikiWiki Course is a shortened 9-hole that is walkable in approximately one hour. The only one of its kind in Hawaii, it encourages beginners and is perfect for the whole family to play together.