Set inside a beautiful botanical garden on Kaua’i north shore, inside the Anaina Hou Community Park, is the challenging but fun 18-hole Kaua’i Mini-Golf Course. Playing a round there can also be a learning experience because as you play you move through not only different types of garden areas, but also different eras of Hawaiian and Kaua’i history.
On the last Sunday of each month the course is free for kamaaina (locals), so in late July Brett, WenYu, YaYu and headed headed north to Kilauea to check it out. I was a bit skeptical about the whole thing, but ended up having a very fun time. Because the course is inside a botanical park, it was a cool way to spend an other wise HOT afternoon. This free day was the long-time policy of the course’s creator as a way of giving back to the community, and the current owners have honored the founder’s wishes that Kamaaina Day continue each month (he passed away a few years ago). Visitors to the island are also allowed to play on the last Sunday, but are asked to wait until spots open up between kamaaina groups.
The course looks deceptively simple at first, but it’s actually quite challenging. There are no spinning windmills or dinosaurs to drive your ball through, but besides the lush landscaping there are loads of sand traps and water features. Nets are provided at many holes so that you can retrieve your ball from the water traps (the balls float). We gave up counting after a while how many times our balls went into the water, but took our extra strokes and played on.
One of the best features in the park are the signs informing guests about the different plants found throughout the course, and there are also signs at several holes about different parts of Hawaiian history, beginning with the earliest arrivals to the islands. We’re those people who stop to read the signs, so we learned a lot!
There is a terrific snack bar at the end of the course, and food is cooked to order. The girls proclaimed the loco moco they ordered and shared to be the best on the island.
Brett and YaYu turned out to be skilled mini-golf players; Wen Yu and I, not so much. But we all agreed it was worth the trip north, and a fun activity we would recommend to any visitor to the island. The Anaina Hou Park, where the course is located, is also home to the Wai’koa Loop Trail, Banana Joe’s market (and those very tasty banana frosties), and the Kaua’i chocolate tour.
Cost for playing the course is $18.50 for adults, $15 for 11-17 year olds, $11 for 5-10 year old. Under four years is free. Seniors, military and Hawaii residents receive a discount with ID, and Kaua’i residents can play for free on the last Sunday of the month.