Exotic locales usually imply a premium price, and the visitors to the Hawaiian island of Kauai can splurge with the best of them. But it doesn't require a Jurassic Park-sized budget to enjoy the golf courses and resorts of the Garden Isle.
Four Kauai golf courses fit among most listings of Hawaii's best. Even the best, though, can be played at a discount if you're savvy and not concerned about what time you play.
Kauai golf and resorts on a high-end budget
The St. Regis Princeville is the only luxury St. Regis brand in Hawaii. It boasts spectacular views of Hanalei Bay and famous Bali Hai, not to mention its own small beach - secluded and as picturesque as exists is in the world. The resort, fresh off an extensive renovation, features upgraded guest rooms and a brand new pool.
Or head to the Grand Hyatt in Poipu Bay, a luxury resort on the South Shore with the island's finest spa at a mostly outdoor setting. It includes airy relaxation huts, also known as hales.
For golf, you'll find some of Hawaii's top-rated courses in Kauai, including Poipu Bay Golf Course, among the world's most scenic oceanfront golf settings. Currently closed for renovation, Poipu Bay is scheduled to reopen Jan. 1, 2011.
The Prince Golf Course at Princeville at Hanelei offers a one-of-a-kind Hawaii challenge, and the new Makai Golf Club at St. Regis Princeville sports better-than-ever conditions and a championship-ready layout.
Though Kauai Lagoons Golf Club remains in a transitional phase with its golf offerings, the current routing features 12 of the Jack Nicklaus-designed Kiele course holes and six Mokihana course holes, also designed by Nicklaus.
Kauai golf and resorts on a moderate budget
The Kauai Marriott Resort starts at $199 a night. And its location as the sole resort on the sandy Kalapaki Beach makes it worth every penny. Part time-share, the resort includes restaurants that range in price. It also sits within walking distance of some off-property shops and restaurants like the Market Street Diner. Take advantage of the free airport shuttle, just a five-minute ride from the resort, to eliminate a rental car.
By staying at the Kauai Marriott, you can play Kauai Lagoons for $125. Or go up the road to a local favorite, Puakea Golf Club, the island's only design by Hawaii native Robin Nelson, for $99 in the morning. Most magazine panels rate it in the top 20 golf courses in Hawaii.
On a mid-level budget, you probably won't want to pay the $200 rack rates at the Prince course and Makai Golf Club. But you can play the Prince for $125 after noon and Makai for $160 after 1 p.m.
If you're on the South Shore and are looking for green fees less expensive than at Poipu Bay, play nearby Kiahuna Golf Club, a championship Robert Trent Jones Jr. design, for $99 anytime or $65 after 2 p.m. It's not as scenic as breathtaking Poipu, but it offers ocean views and some of the best conditions on the island.
Also, to encourage repeat play, many courses on the island offer returning rates, with which you can play the golf course for the remainder of the week at a sharp discount. Makai offers a three-round pass for $399, a savings of $200 off the rack rate.
Kauai golf and lodging on a bargain budget
Kauai's main city of Lihue includes a handful of small beach hotels for around $100. Kauai Discovery, the official tourist office of the island, recommends the Garden Island Inn, which offers rooms as low as $99 across the street from the Kauai Marriott Resort. Or check out Pono Kai up the road in Kapaa for $109 per night.
Generally speaking, Kauai golf courses offer no seasonal rate specials, but discounts are offered in the afternoon. Puakea offers twilight golf after 2 p.m. for $65 and a walking rate after 4 p.m. for $25.
Another option is Wailua Golf Course, a municipal facility. Locals score big discounts here, but tourists can play for $60 to $70 in the morning, not including a cart, or for half-price during twilight.
Traveling with children? Don't miss Poipu Bay's kids program, where adults can walk after 4 p.m. with a junior for $10.