Wailea Resort features three golf courses including the Wailea Emerald, a course fronted by a lake. // © 2014 Matthew Thayer
It’s sometimes hard to keep your eyes on the ball when playing golf in Maui. Surrounded by alluring landscapes and crafted by the world’s top designers, its courses are so scenic they could double as tropical parks.
Duffers and pros alike can find a Valley Isle course that suits their level of play. Many of the greens earn high rankings in annual surveys by golf publications, and all of them offer exceptional experiences no matter what the scorecard reads.
More than one dozen courses await vacationers in Maui. Following are five fine facilities to keep you in the swing.
Dunes at Maui Lani
Located just outside the island’s main city of Kahului, this 18-hole gem features a Scottish links design in a balmy 50th-state setting. Built atop sand dunes, the course integrates itself into the landscape with hilly topography and prevailing trade winds. From water features to fairway pot bunkers, it’s a challenging yet compelling course. Look for the popular Cafe O’Lei restaurant in its plantation-style clubhouse.
Kaanapali has two golf options. The Kaanapali Kai course sports a variety of tees for all talents, and it is prized for its panoramas of the ocean and neighboring islands. The tougher Royal Kaanapali course, with wide fairways and rolling greens, has tested the skills of golf greats during high-profile tournaments over the decades. Before or after your game, check out Kaanapali’s clubhouse, home of the acclaimed Roy’s restaurant.
Of Kapalua’s two courses, the Plantation often makes headlines as host of PGA’s annual Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Draping the West Maui Mountains, it boasts stimulating design features and dramatic views. But don’t overlook Kapalua’s classic Bay Course, with gently sloping terrain and a hole where you can hit right over the ocean. The 23-acre Kapalua Golf Academy has everything it takes to hone your game.
Pukalani Country Club
For rousing rounds in the cool upcountry, head to this course on the slopes of Haleakala, Maui’s dormant volcano. Pukalani means Entrance to Heaven, and its ocean views from the 1,100-foot elevation live up to the hype. The hilly track runs across ravines and down palm-lined greens. Players regroup over burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads at Pukalani Clubhouse. Note: It’s called a club, but visitors are welcome.
All three of Wailea’s courses tout ocean views. Wailea Old Blue winds past high-end homes, tropical flowers and water features. Wailea Gold, host of televised tournaments, is distinguished by its carefully-preserved ancient lava rock walls. Wailea Emerald presents noteworthy touches such as a double green fronted by a brackish lake. With courses like these, Maui more than earns its reputation as a great golf destination.