Review: Manele Golf Course

Manele Golf Course is located on the beautifully quaint Hawaiian island of Lanai, just west of Maui. The Jack Nicklaus designed golf course is perched along lava outcroppings well above the crashing surf, which provides amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and Lanai’s rugged terrain.

We enjoyed Manele Golf Course on a day-trip from Maui. It’s a fun 45-minute ferry ride from the Lahaina harbour, and the $60 round-trip cost is well worth it, especially during whale season. As of February 2016, you now have to stay at the Four Seasons Resort in order to play Manele Golf Course, so if you want to make the trip from Maui, you’ll have to plan to spend the night.

The 7,039 yard, par-72 layout is a firm, fun, and fair test of golf. One of the biggest challenges is not to get distracted by the views. On the other hand, being distracted by them is worth it, because they’re that good.

The view overlooking the driving range:

Manele Golf Course review

We were thoroughly impressed with Manele right from the moment we arrived.  They welcomed us with open arms as if we were part of their family. The aloha spirit is strong at Manele, which adds to the aura. When there is organic sunscreen in the washrooms and a staff member cleaning your clubs after you use them on the driving range, you know they take customer experience seriously. It is a true 5-star facility.

To make things even better, Hawaiian resident and fellow blogger, Wayne Halm, came over from Kauai to join us for a round. It had been a while since he played Manele, so when he heard we were going to be there, he could not pass up the opportunity to play it again. If you haven’t yet, check out his blog for some great photos and stories about golf on Kauai.

Wayne and yours truly on the first tee:


As you set sail on the golf course and manage to peel your eyes away from the views, what you’ll see is a spectacular, challenging layout in impeccable condition.

The approach to the par-4 2nd green:

Manele Golf Course Review

The contours, elevation changes, several blind tee shots, and inviting looking bunkers require you to think your way around the golf course, and to continuously overcome visual intimidation.

The par-3 3rd hole:

Manele Golf Course Review

Another thing you’ll notice about the golf course is that it’s hard to hide from the ocean. Jack did a tremendous job of utilizing the terrain to not only build great golf holes, but optimize the view on each shot.

Beth on the par-4 5th tee:

Manele Golf Course Review

The approach shot into the par-4 10th green:

Manele Golf Course Review

A downhill approach shot into the par-4 11th hole:

Manele Golf Course Review
Photo by: Wayne Halm

The Pacific Ocean isn’t just a beautiful backdrop during your round, it’s also used as a water hazard that is very much in play.

The famous par-3 12th hole, where Bill Gates got married:

Manele Golf Course Review

There is something special about Manele Golf Course, which makes you feel like you’re on the edge of the world. The routing of the course is spread out, and each hole feels independent of one another, providing a feeling of solitude as if you’re the only one on the island.

Beth on the 16th tee:

Manele Golf Course Review

The course appears unforgiving from many tee boxes, however, many holes provide more room to drive the ball than you might think. This creates a continuous mental challenge to the golfer.

The intimidating tee shot of the par-4 17th hole, where the Pacific Ocean is utilized as a hazard once again:

Manele Golf Course Review

From the tee boxes to the greens, there was hardly a blade of grass out of place at Manele. The large, contoured greens challenge the short game, and it can be tough to read the subtle breaks. You might think the natural tendency would be for your ball to break towards the ocean, but that wasn’t always the case, which had us scratching our heads and sharing some laughs at our own expense.

Although the golf course alone provides a bucket-list experience, they go the extra mile at Manele to make sure you have a golf experience of a lifetime. There is a full lunch menu on each cart which you can order from at any time, and they will deliver your food to you on the course. I ordered the Mahi-Mahi fish tacos, and they were some of the best I had our entire trip.

I hate to ruin the surprise, but the complimentary fruit kabobs they served us during the round, and the mango lemonade on ice at the turn were both pleasant and refreshing treats on a hot and humid Hawaiian day.

The experience was a highlight of our Hawaiian trip, and the best overall golf experience. It’ll cost a bit of money to scratch Manele off your bucket-list, but they do everything they can to make sure you get what you pay for, and Jack’s design is a big part of that. Manele Golf Course is truly a must-play in Hawaii.


20 thoughts on “Review: Manele Golf Course

  1. Beautiful and great views. Sounds like a pricey golf round due to the hotel stay but it looks so tantalizing. I’m a sucker for a golf course near the ocean.

    1. Hi Linley,

      It is a bit more expensive of an experience now due to the hotel stay. We were lucky to play before that was the case. However, if you can afford it, staying and playing there would be some incredible experience!


  2. Aloha Josh,

    Good post – I think you portrayed the essence of the experience to a “T”. I can’t think of another course where players face such beauty and challenge on every shot – of course I faced it more than most on that day.

    A Hui Hou,

    1. Aloha Wayne,

      Thanks buddy. It was a challenging day, but most importantly, it was a fun day with great company. I hope I can play there again someday.

      In my original publishing of the article I forgot to give you credit for the great photo you took of me which I used in the post. That is fixed now.


  3. Josh,

    What a great adventure. And to play with Wayne was the icing on the cake. I guess I need to start saving my money if I want to go play there! The pictures are excellent.


  4. Nailed the review Josh. This course sets, what should be, the standard in customer service, then goes above and beyond. Their fruit kabobs and mango lemonade have spoiled me for every other course ever. Couple that with a beautiful layout in a beautiful setting and it’s tough to beat

    1. Thanks, Matt! Great point. This course does set what should be the standard, and then takes it a bit further. Other courses could learn a lot from Manele. The only shame is how far away it is from us!


Let Us Know What You Think