9/8/16 – Hawaii

Course: Kauai Mini Golf and Botanical Gardens
Location: 5-2723 Kuhio Hwy #101, Kilauea, HI 96754
Price: $18.50 for 18 holes


Kauai Mini Golf and Botanical Gardens

Review: You jerks. You’ve been holding out on me for the last two and a half months – no one ever told me how convenient airplanes were! I’ve been driving to every state in America like a schmuck when I could have been zipping by 36,000 feet in the air as a “valued member of the Delta airlines family.”* I mean, it took me and Luke two weeks to drive to Alaska and back. But my plane made it to Hawaii in, like, six hours. Why did no one tell me about airplanes??  I would have made it to Hawaii months ago!!! And who wouldn’t want that? The place is, quite literally, an unrealistically beautiful island paradise where palm trees sway frenetically while wild chickens waddle through the streets like tiny, feathered, slightly-more-sexually-appealing Danny DeVito impersonators. Immediately, right from the moment I got off the plane, there was nothing I wanted to do more than spend my entire four day vacation flopping helplessly swimming in the Pacific and drinking my weight in “Key Lime Martinis” (which are about as toxic as you’d imagine).

But before I could do any of those things, I still had one final piece of unfinished business I needed to take care of…

Located on the north side of sunny Kauai, Hawaii (the chain’s fourth largest island) the truly passionate mini golf enthusiast will find Hawaii’s premier mini golf establishment: Kauai Mini Golf and Botanical Gardens. A course which has been described as “the most beautiful mini golf course in the world.” My last hurrah. And, while I’m not entirely sure that this was the most beautiful course I’d ever seen, it was still pretty pretty. I mean, it’s Hawaii. There isn’t a square inch that isn’t green, lush, and/or leafy (it looked like the place parents describe when their child’s dog doesn’t come back from the vet). Set in the middle of a beautiful, fantastically well-maintained botanical garden, Kauai Mini Golf was split into several different floral sections, each depicting/celebrating different elements of Hawaii’s culture and history. Featuring informational signage, rock gardens, koi ponds, and a wide variety of verdant local plants, this venue was more well-designed and educational than many of the museums I’ve visited on this trip.** In addition, its pristine water features/hazards and its fantastically friendly staff made this course an exceptional way to end the longest road trip of my life.

Now, I would love to end this review on that happy, sappy note… but, unfortunately, at the end of the day I’m a mini golf reviewer. Meaning I’ve got to take in the good and the bad. And despite this venue’s surrounding beauty, the actual mini golf really wasn’t that spectacular. The course itself was pretty scuffed up, worn down, covered in leaves, and mostly simplistic straightaways. I wasn’t blown away – golfing there was just like eating a traditional Hawaiian bento box without a finding huge piece of spam in the center. It was missing something inherently crucial. But more pressingly, (and this is also a problem of Hawaii in general) the course was super expensive. Eighteen bucks and fifty cents! That’s more expensive than Disney! And sure, you’re trapped on a small hunk of volcanic rock an ocean away from another quality mini golf course, why wouldn’t they raise the premium? But, as I was reviewing this, my final course, thousands of miles and hours away from where I started… it still left an unexpectedly bitter taste in my mouth.

In summation: decent course. Fantastic location.

But afterwards, as I was getting belligerently drunk by the side of the ocean, I couldn’t help but ask myself the same, damning question which prompted this entire ill-advised trip in the first place:

Was it the mini golf best course in America?

Finally, for the first time in two and a half months, I think I have enough information to answer that question once and for all.

Next time – The best mini golf course in America.

* Which is kind of like being a valued member of the Manson family (but without the corrupt, dehumanizing, murder-happy, cult-mentality that is Delta airline’s apparent lifeblood. They charged me ten bucks for a burrito! That’s nonsense!)
** In Idaho, I saw the “Potato Museum;” in Kentucky I visited the first KFC ever; in Vermont I passed the birthplace of Joseph Smith. America has a lot of history, but do we really need to remember all of it?

Course Score: 47; par – 47
Pros: Hawaii is beautiful – this is in the middle of an expansive, pristine botanical garden on Hawaii, I don’t think I can say anything to make it sound more appealing; informative signage; celebrated Hawaiian culture/history; fun water features; several complex holes; friendly staff.
Cons: Pretty expensive; isolated even by Hawaiian standards; the course itself wasn’t in the best of condition – scuffed, dirty, worn down, unoriginal, water damaged, and mostly simplistic; graffiti/scuffs on signs.

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