The Garden Isle, as Kauai is nicknamed, is
as enchanting a place as there is, in Hawaii or
anywhere in the world. Where land meets sea,
she is ringed by gentle beaches. Her interior is
a heave of bright green mountains with sharp,
knife-like ridges, often capped with clouds.
Tall palm trees, thick vines and red and yellow
blossoms line her roads. When we think of
things “tropical” it is Kauai that comes to mind.
The north Shore of the island is particularly scenic. out here, where hikers embark on the na Pali
Coast’s fabled Kalalau Trail, Hollywood has filmed
dozens of movies requiring that perfect tropical
locale. The most famous might still be South Pacific (1957), which first brought images of lumahai
Beach and Mount Makana (the conical mountain
peak called Bali Hai in the film) to the world. But
moviegoers have also seen Kauai’s charms on the
silver screen in such films as elvis’ Blue Hawaii
(1961), Six Days, Seven Nights (1998) and two of
the three Jurassic Park incarnations (1993, 2001).
Such a landscape also lends itself to unique and dramatic golf courses, and two of Hawaii’s best are found at Princeville. Both the
Prince Course and the Troon-managed Makai
Course are robert Trent Jones Jr. designs, with
the Prince Course annually recognized as one of
the top two in the state.
With a longtime home in nearby Hanalei, Jones
Jr. considers Kauai a perfect landscape for golf.
“although everyone immediately recognizes the
dramatic beauty of the ocean, Kauai also has
spectacular inland views of the rugged mountain
ranges,” he says.
Both of his Princeville designs take full
advantage of those views, with the recently
renovated Makai Course remaining a forgiving,
resort-style layout, while the Prince Course is still
preferred by better golfers, as it has been since
opening in 1991.
In addition to new grass (Seashore Paspallum)
and bunker sand throughout, the renovation
of Makai combined what formerly was known
as the ocean and lakes nines into one 18-hole
layout; while the third nonet, Woods, will be
used as a family-friendly nine-hole loop. a
new clubhouse and driving range is slated for
completion later in 2010.
The Prince Course, meanwhile, commands
respect on every shot. Its resistance to scoring is found in many forms: forced carries from
a number of tees, both grass and sand fairway
bunkering, wind, hillside lies and fast, undulating
greens…not to mention a fair share of rain (which
is, of course, why Kauai is so green).
The Prince’s demand for accuracy is nowhere
more apparent than on the signature, par-four
12th hole, where you are asked to smack a long
and straight tee ball off a cliff with enough
accuracy to land in the middle of a narrow,
jungle-sided fairway 100 feet below; and then
place a wedge shot over a stream and onto a
green surrounded by tangled trouble. one half
expects genetically reinvigorated dinosaurs to
charge from the jungle to complete the challenge of no. 12.
no. 13 asks about the same, but with a narrower landing zone and a longer carry to a
tougher green. a soothing waterfall backs the
green of no. 13, though, so even the worries
of a bad score (or an angry dinosaur) are soon
washed over with beauty.
bath wIth a VIew
While the golf is superb at Princeville, it does not stand alone in its excellence. The 252-
room St. regis Princeville opened last october—
the first St. regis in Hawaii—and immediately
took its place among the very best resorts in the
aloha State. occupying the same footprint as the
former Princeville resort Kauai, the St. regis is
perched on a bluff overlooking Hanalei Bay, with
million dollar views from every vantage point.
entering the expansive lobby, the first thing one
observes is a sweeping view of the bay and green
mountains behind. original Polynesian-themed
Above: Marble bathroom at St. Regis Princeville;
Far right: Hole 5 on the Prince Course