Holes 15-18 At Poipu Bay. Turn the corner between the 14th green and 15th tee, and you’ll understand why you maxed out your Visa to play here. Off to your left is the world’s largest water hazard, the Pacific Ocean. Don’t get distracted by the kite surfers hanging hundreds of feet underneath you. It’s all part of the show. For more info, visit www.poipubaygolf.com.
The World’s Largest Water Hazard. The Pacific waters in Hawaii are clear, warm and can produce some killer waves (hardly living up to its Latin name, Mare Pacificum, or “peaceful sea”). Of course, what would a Hawaiian golf course be like without a hole or two that incorporates this giant “drink” into its routing? Some standout holes that feature the Mare include Mauna Kea’s signature 3rd hole and the Prince Course’s 7th hole at Princeville.
The Aloha Swing. With its lush, balmy atmosphere, Hawaii enjoys the perfect year-round setting for golf. That’s why, when the rest of the country is hibernating, Hawaii is playing host to the three major tours. The Aloha Swing comes to the Islands during January and February each year. Highlights include the PGA Tour’s Mercedes Championship at Kapalua and the LPGA’s SBS Open at Turtle Bay. For more info, visit www.pgatour.com, www.lpga.com.
The Aerial Advantage. Time was, only Magnum P.I. flew around Hawaii in helicopters. Not anymore. With the abundance of spectacular sights inaccessible from terra firma (waterfalls, volcanoes, sea cliffs and fish ponds), the only way to enjoy them is from the air. Do you like bragging to your buddies about your aerial sightseeing? Check out Sunshine Helicopters. They offer pilot-narrated DVDs of your tour.
Get Pampered. Golf and spas are practically inseparable in the Aloha State. Some of the more interesting offerings include ANARA Spa’s (Grand Hyatt, Poipu Bay) 20,000-square foot garden spa and private lava-rock showers, Outrigger Reef on the Beach’s (Honolulu) poolside “Golden Touch” massage and the Luana Spa Retreat’s (Maui) 16-foot yurt that doubles as a spa treatment room. For more info, visit www.spaindex.com.
Volcanoes National Park. At 333,000 acres, there’s a lot to see in the country’s westernmost national park. Whether you get your kicks from watching lava ooze into the ocean or navigating a rainforest, the park’s size and significant elevation changes (a 13,677-foot rise to the summit of Mauna Loa) make Volcanoes an ecological and topographical tour de force. For more info, visit www.nps.gov/havo.
Underwater Sightseeing. Bathwater-clear oceans and plentiful reefs make spying on tropical fish a breeze. Be your own Cousteau with Holo Holo Charters, a Kauai company that claims to have “the fastest, largest touring vessel to Na Pali and the Forbidden Island of Niihau.” If you prefer to stay closer to shore, consider Waikiki Beach in Oahu. The water is so shallow, you can walk out nearly 150 yards and enjoy your own personal aquarium. For more info, visit www.holoholocharters.com.
Sand Traps. The first nonsmoking beach in the U.S. is also one of Hawaii’s finest. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in Oahu only permits 2,000 visitors per day, which might sound like a lot, but when you consider it’s in the crater of a volcano, it’s easy to understand why so many people flock to it. On Maui, try Palauea Beach for a more isolated experience. It’s a great place to get away from it all. Swim wisely—no lifeguards are on duty.
Men And The Sea. Want to get in touch with your inner Hemingway? Marlins might be at the top of the food chain in these parts, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be reeled in. Of course, it won’t hurt to have a seasoned crew to help you with the heavy lifting. The spear-nosed fish routinely tip the scales at over 1,000 pounds. Try Kuuloakai in Oahu or Kaanapali Sportfishing in Maui. For more info, visit www.kuuloakai.com or www.kaanapalisportfishing.com.
You Do? Getting married in Hawaii is so popular, the Tourist Board features it prominently on its Website. Traveling to Hawaii to exchange vows has become so popular, in fact, that a bevy of wedding planners are waiting to make your walk down the aisle that much less hectic. Of course, the islands are a great way to test your love. Will she mind if, the next morning, you try to sneak in a quick nine? For more info, visit www.gohawaii.com.
For more information on all things Hawaii, check out www.gohawaii.com. There’s an endless amount of information on hotels, golf and spas. Plus, the site is in seven languages.
5 Resorts Where You Should Stay
1. Kona Village Resort, Big Island
Stay in a “hale” (or bungalow) at this “Gilligan’s Island meets Five-Star resort.” Although it’s first class, feel free to leave the coat and tie at home. It’s the islands.
2. Grand Hyatt Poipu, Kauai
A great retreat for the entire family. Just across the street from Poipu Bay, home of the Grand Slam of Golf.
3. Princeville, Kauai
The beach may be pint-sized, but there’s great snorkeling just a few feet from shore. It’s the views of Hanalei Bay that stick with guests after they leave.
4. Four Seasons Resort, Maui
First-class service is par for the course at the Four Seasons. Plus, snorkeling equipment is gratis for one hour.
5. Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu
With plenty of solitude (it’s 40 minutes from the airport), Turtle Bay is a far cry from the jam-packed city of Waikiki. Stay in a beach cottage. Every one has ocean views._Ê
5 Packages That’ll Save You $$$
1. Prince Resorts Unlimited Package
Play unlimited golf at Hawaii Prince GC, Makena, Hapuna and Mauna Kea, plus have breakfast for two. $349-$515
2. Tease For Two At Princeville
18-hole round of golf on the Prince or Makai Course, plus a 50-min massage. $199-$249
3. Grand Slam Package
Three rounds of golf at Poipu Bay, cart and use of driving range for guests of the Grand Hyatt Kauai. $300-$360
4. 2006 Golf Packages
Room and one round of golf on either Kauai Lagoons course. $360-$510
5. Unlimited Golf Challenge
Three days of unlimited golf on the Arnold Palmer and George Fazio courses at Turtle Bay. Includes oceanfront accommodations.
Signature Holes Worth Playing
1. Mauna Kea Golf Course, 3rd Hole
It’s just your typical 261-yard, par-3 over water to a green as deep as the local baby pool. Arguably the most photographed hole in Hawaii, this one-shot features three other tee boxes, shrinking it to more playable and scorable distances.
2. Turtle Bay, Palmer Course #17
Nine mammoth and craggy bunkers extend from your tee shot’s landing area to the green, just 90 feet from the Pacific Ocean. Don’t get distracted by the views.
3. Poipu Bay Golf Course, 16th Hole
Dubbed the “Pebble Beach of the Pacific” by architect Robert Trent Jones, this 501-yard, par-4 plays downwind toward the Poipu clubhouse. It’s not the hole for a snap hook, as the only thing left of the fairway is the ocean, some 300 feet below.
4. Mauna Lani Golf Course, 17th Hole
Signature holes don’t have to be long or on oceanfront property. The 17th at Mauna Lani’s North Course is only 132 yards and is tucked inside a natural lava amphitheater. Still, it’s a remarkable hole and a great opportunity to score._Ê
5. Kapalua Bay Course, 5th Hole
Like Mauna Kea’s 3rd hole, but without as many teeth, this par-3 requires a forced carry of 100 yards over the Pacific Ocean. It’s downwind, which helps, but also produces shots that can easily carry the green.