During our September 2017 Hawaii golf tour, Ria and I scouted out a new location for future golf trips: the island of Kauai. This island, the oldest of the Hawaiian islands, is known for its lush beauty, and being the wettest place on earth. To our minds, The Garden Isle seems to be what Oahu might have been in the early 20th century – only a few areas developed with resorts and tourist attractions. The island has a somewhat sleepy, small town, old-fashioned feel. The majority of the island is pristine rainforest or farmland with simple towns scattered throughout. Much of Kauai is only accessible by sea or air. The main town, Lihue, is on the southeast coast. There are a few resorts in Lihue, including Marriott, where we spent a few lovely days. There are 3 golf courses in the area, including Hokuala next to the Marriott, and Wailua and Puakea. These latter two are great value, stunning courses. Hokuala has the longest stretch of oceanfront holes in Hawaii and is considered one of the most beautiful courses in the world.
A medium sized shopping mall is located in Lihue, and all services are available. There are a number of restaurants, ranging from high quality hotel dining experiences, the iconic Duke’s, and of course plenty of original family-owned beach shacks selling simple but excellent food. We had huge, delicious breakfast plates for US$5. No Hawaiian town is complete without a few shave ice and ice cream outlets.
About 30 minutes’ drive to the south is the town of Poipu, where there are more resort hotels, and golf courses. Poipu Beach is consistently named as one of America’s 10 best beaches, and is a perfect place to snorkel, swim and surf. We played a round at Poipu Bay Golf Course which was gorgeous, and didn’t gobble up too many balls for a Hawaiian course.
On the windward north coast of Kauai is the town of Princeville, home to the island’s best known championship golf courses: Makai and The Prince. The Prince course has been closed since 2014, but is due to reopen in 2018 after a major renovation. Again, there are a few resorts in this area, including spectacular St Regis Princeville.
The must-do attraction on the island is to take a boat trip from near Poipu up the Na’Pali coast, on the western side of the island. Much of this coastline is not accessible from the road, and the views from the water are amazing. We were privileged to witness the antics of the show-off spinner dolphins – not at all unusual in this part of the world. Another highlight was seeing up close a distinctive valley recognisable from films such as Jurassic Park and TV shows like Lost.
There are plenty of hikes that can be taken to gain access to viewpoints that showcase this lovely island. Waimea Canyon is known as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific” – red rock cliffs and valleys juxtaposed with lush green vegetation – and rainbows if you are lucky.
Kauai is definitely on our Hawaiian itinerary in 2018 – we can’t wait to go back!