Windward Oahu is popular among visitors for many reasons, and it’s a regular destination for residents from all over the island. With its beaches in Lanikai and shopping in Kailua, Kaneohe’s Windward Mall and the waters of Kaneohe Bay, Windward Oahu is full of daytime activity options.
Among those options is golf. There are a handful of courses in Windward Oahu, all within just a couple of miles of each other. They’re convenient, located just off of the Likelike and Pali Highways, and each offers its own unique challenges and, of course, spectacular views.
Olomana Golf Course is closest to Waimanalo, on Kalanianaole Highway beneath the soaring summits of Mount Olomana. It’s also probably the friendliest, with wide, links style fairways and receptive greens. The biggest challenge at Olomana is negotiating the prevailing trade winds and water hazards that come in to play on a number of holes. Call for a tee time, because there are several large groups that play regularly at Olomana, and warm up on the driving range and putting green.
Olomana is also a favorite course of President Obama and of LPGA U.S. Women’s Open and Hawaii’s own Michelle Wie.
About a five minute drive north on Kalanianaole Highway to the Pali, you’ll find Royal Hawaiian Golf Club. It’s currently undergoing renovations only the back nine is open, but that should be plenty for any weekend duffer. This course is a beast. Set against the back side of Mount Olomana and into an almost impossibly lush jungle, there are sinking and climbing elevation changes, and diabolical greens. But the magical views and tropical bird song make Royal Hawaiian worth the balls lost to the rainforest.
The Pali Golf Course is nearby, and it’s a municipal course maintained and operated by the City & County of Honolulu. Just out of the. Just out of the Pali Tunnels from town, the Pali Golf Course is popular among resident golfers. But even longtime residents are struck by the dramatic views from the base of dizzying cliffs.
The nearby Koolau Golf Club, like the Royal Hawaiian, is also set deep into the forest at the base of the Koolau Mountains. It is routinely ranked among the most difficult courses in the United States. Its difficulty is tempered by the views and sounds of the jungle, because it’s hard to get angry over lost balls when raw nature buzzes with life all around you.
One thing to consider when planning a round of golf at one or more of these courses is that it often rains in Windward Oahu, particularly in the morning hours. You’ll want to bring or rent rain gear in the event of a usually passing cloudburst.