The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the most fascinatingly surreal places on Earth. At twice the size of the other islands combined, and with only 120,000 residents, the Big Island also offers big time excitement whether golf or any number of other activities is your passion.
At its southeast shore, the impressive Kilauea Volcano continues to append an eerie display of additional coastline. At the island’s center, two majestic volcanic mountains, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, dominate the landscape. Both summits are over 13,680 feet above sea level. Mauna Loa, the world’s largest volcano, is more than 32,000 feet above the ocean floor, making it taller than Mt. Everest! Mauna Kea is the largest island-based mountain in the world. And throughout the Big Island, there are scores of interesting and unusual things to see and do, not the least of which is the sensational Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
On an island where Heaven and Earth appear to have survived an epic battle with the forces of nature, master craftsmen of golf design like Robert Trent Jones Sr. & Jr., Perry Dye, Dick Nugent, William Francis Bell, Robin Nelson, Jack Nicklaus and teams like Arnold Palmer & Ed Seay and Tom Weiskopf & Jay Morrish, have been inspired to new and greater heights of accomplishment.
“The Golf Capital of Hawaii” is how the Big Island is often described. And a look at our HawaiiGolfDeals GOLFHAWAIICARD program certainly bolsters the claim. You’d be hard-pressed to find better golf deals anywhere on the planet. HawaiiGolfDeals delivers outstanding layouts on the Big Island, from world-class resorts to Hawaii’s three best independent courses, all of which suit vacationing golfers to a tee.
Located along and above the Kohala Coast are two of Hawaii’s premier resorts — The Mauna Kea Beach Resort, with its two unique golf courses (Mauna Kea and Hapuna) and The Waikoloa Beach Resort, with two distinct courses of its own (Beach and Kings’). Mauna Kea Golf Course and Hapuna Golf Course compliment each other as well as any two siblings can. At Mauna Kea, the approach shot is key, while the tee shot rules at Hapuna. Waikoloa’s Beach & Kings’ Courses also offer radically different layouts, with traditional Bermuda turfs on Beach and more contemporary Bermuda tiff-turfs on Kings’.
For golfers, the Kohala Coast is also the absolute best place to lodge. The still burgeoning string of resorts is situated about 17-22 miles north of Kona’s Keohole Airport. Sitting on the two dynamos — Mauna Kea Resort and Waikoloa Beach Resort — there are four golf courses, four hotels, a dozen condo/villa communities, two-dozen restaurants and eateries, as well as shopping, in idyllic lava-rich settings. The two beaches that reside off the doorsteps of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel may well be the two best in the Aloha State, while Waikoloa’s two shopping enclaves have cornered the market, so to speak.
Two of the best independent golf courses in the state are all within minutes of Waikoloa and Mauna Kea/Hapuna. Waikoloa Village Golf Club sits about six miles above the Waikoloa Resort in the burgeoning burb of the same name. Its Robert Trent Jones Jr. layout is one of the best place to start your Big Island golf-around. On the high road well above Kona Keohole Airport (KOA), and about five miles short of Kona, is Makalei Golf Club, with its charming display of game birds and stiff test of golf. These two courses, often overlooked in favor of the more famous resorts, are all memorable and a great value to boot.
With the closure of the Waimea Country Club in 2012 and the shuttering of Kona Country Club’s two courses in 2013, there was a loss of 54 holes of Big Island golf. It remains to be seen if the Ocean Course at Kona CC reopens in the future, but the others will not.
With the shuttering of Kona CC, there is no reason for golfers to lodge in and around Kailua-Kona, which is also a hotter and far more congested locale. The only logical place to stay is on the Kohala Coast, where the options are far greater, newer and quite appealing.
Over the other side of the island, about 40 minutes above Hilo (Hawaii’s second largest city), is Volcano Village and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Visiting Volcano is really not a recommended day trip unless you get an early start and have two drivers. If you want to try to experience the lava flow, it must be done at night and would require an overnight stay.
Put succinctly, a Hawaii golf vacation is neither complete, nor fulfilled, without a visit to the Big Island. That being said, the totality of the Big Island golf experience is best comprehended by playing as many of our HawaiiGolfDeals GolfHawaiiCard courses as possible. So, consider a visit of 10 nights or more and prepare to be stunned by the sights, sounds and golf.
Many years ago, I had the pleasure of taking my ailing mother to The Big Island. As we drove through the stark lava flows from Kona to the Kohala Coast resorts, my mom kept starring in amazement at the landscape. Suddenly she blurted out, “We are staying HERE for 10 nights?” Ten days later as our plane was barely off the runaway at Hilo Airport, she exclaimed: “When are we coming back!”