White sand, picturesque sunsets and emerald lagoons. That’s the image that comes to most people’s minds when they think of the Pacific. However, these tropical destinations have their fair share of golf enthusiasts, and I am one of them. In this article, I want to talk about the best golf courses in the Pacific. Full disclosure, I am from Tahiti, so my preferences may be slightly biased in favor of Polynesian courses. With that being said, there are plenty of other great golf courses in other islands.
Below my personal top 3 of best golf courses in the Pacific. They do not necessarily have to be the same top 3 courses on Leadingcourses.com.
1Moorea Green Pearl – French Polynesia
The Moorea Green Pearl is a golf course located on the island of Moorea, in French Polynesia. Moorea is the sister island of Tahiti. Jump on a ferry from Tahiti and you are there within 1 hour. Fun fact, I was one of the first people to play there when this golf club opened in 2007.
This course was designed by famous golf architect Jack Nicklaus. It is definitely not an easy course in my experience. It has the nasty bunkers so typical of Nicklaus’ golf courses. It gets even more difficult on some holes where the green is placed right between large bunkers and the ocean. On the flip side, this is definitely a rewarding course if you are looking for a challenge.
The course is located right next to white sandy beaches and crystal blue water. Unlike many popular courses in America or in Europe, the Moorea Green Pearl is not crowded. You can take your time as you enjoy the picturesque views of the island and the ocean.
If you are going to go to French Polynesia specifically for golfing, I would recommend you to come during the “cold” season (between May and July). Avoid coming between November and February, because the weather is extremely hot and humid, making it very hard to play a full round. More in-depth info about the course can be read on my personal blog Golf Authority.
2 Tara Iti – New Zealand
New Zealand is without a doubt the most popular travel destination for Tahitians like me. I am not a huge fan of New Zealand, mostly due to the morose weather. Nevertheless, the Tara Iti golf course is one of my favorite courses in the Pacific.
The Tara Iti golf club was opened in 2015. It is known as one of the best (if not the best) golf course among kiwis. I think the reason for its popularity is the wealth of landscapes and variations between holes.
While the Moorea Green Pearl I previously reviewed is a course I would not recommend for high handicappers, the Tara Iti golf course can be a lot of fun for beginners.
You may be surprised that the Tara Iti golf club is supposed to be reserved for members. The good thing is that you can actually play as a one-time visitor (you can also play for a few days in a row). But regular players should get a subscription.
Tara Iti has a mysterious New Zealand feel to it. New Zealand is usually cloudy, so it may be a much better choice than French Polynesia if you are worried about sunburns.
3Poipu Bay – Hawaii
There is something about golf courses surrounded by mountains and the ocean. The Poipu Bay golf course is located on the island of Kauai, in Hawaii. Not only is the course beautiful, you can also observe traditional Hawaiian places of worship around it. These places were like temples to Hawaiians. Hawaiians call these places “Heiau” whereas Tahitians have their “Marae”.
If you choose to rent a cart at the club, you will benefit from an integrated GPS telling you the distance between you and the hole. I personally prefer laser rangefinders for their accuracy, but having a GPS is always nice when playing on a new course.
The golf course is well-maintained, but it is challenging in my opinion (it is a championship course). Part of the challenge involves somewhat strong winds. I am not able to play there all year round, but I have heard that winds are considered normal.
Planning a (golf) trip to play the best golf courses in the Pacific
If you are trying to choose a destination for your golf holidays in the Pacific, then read carefully.
Although I placed the Moorea Green Pearl at 1st place, coming to French Polynesia specifically for golf might not be a great idea. This is because there are only 2 golf courses in the whole country. In addition, lending golf clubs can be a bit of a mess here. I would really recommend to bring your own golf clubs.
Personally, I would choose either Hawaii (more than 70 golf courses) or New Zealand (more than 320 golf courses) for a golf trip. Playing in Hawaii may be a little more hassle, mostly because some of the best courses are located on separate islands. So you will have to go the extra mile (quite literally) if you want to try all the new courses there.
New Zealand can be a great alternative. If you are fine with the cloudy weather, this country offers some fantastic golf courses.