Hawaii Island’s First Resort

It was while swimming in the turquoise waters of Kauna‘oa Bay, surrounded by a wide landscape of lava rock and ranchland with clear views of the Mauna Kea summit, that American conservationist and venture capitalist Laurance S. Rockefeller decided to build Hawaii Island’s first resort. His inspiration to capture the spirit of this special place and ensure the hotel conformed to, rather than intruded upon, these beautiful natural surroundings, became today’s Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.

1960: Experimenting on the beach

Rockefeller’s original concept was a cluster of individual cottages along the beach, with no televisions or air-conditioning to interfere with the natural environment of the Kohala Coast. Architects Skidmore Owings Merrill produced a dome-shaped model that was almost washed out by a tropical storm, so a single-building design was next refined by lead architect Charles Bassett. Air-conditioning proved to be crucial in the warm, nearly always sunny South Kohala climate. But from 1965 to 1995, the hotel operated contentedly without guestroom televisions as Rockefeller had always intended.

1964Golf First

In 1964, a year before the hotel was ready to receive guests, Mauna Kea Golf Course opened and became Hawaii Island’s first course. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, who had pioneered a technique to create soil from lava rock, the course debuted with a televised “Big 3” match between Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.

1965: Great beginnings

When it opened in July 1965 with 154 guestrooms after a $15 million build-out, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel was the most expensive hotel ever built. Praised by travel writers and critics worldwide, it was named one of the “three greatest hotels in the world” by Esquire magazine, one of the “10 best buildings of 1966” by Fortune, and presented with an honors award by the American Institute of Architects in 1967. What were viewed as exorbitant room rates started at $43 per night, including breakfast and dinner in the Pavilion, which featured international cuisine.

1968: The New Wing

A new Beachfront Wing was added in 1968, designed by Honolulu architects Wimberly, Whisenand, Allison, Tong and Goo, with interior design by Phyllis Brownlee. Original paintings by John Young were commissioned for the guestrooms, and the Batik restaurant and Lounge was also added.

1994-95: A Sister Property

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel closed for renovation in 1994, a few months before the opening of adjacent Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel that August. Designed by Beachfront Wing architects Wimberly Allison Tong and Goo, Hapuna delivered a contemporary resort experience at the other end of the Mauna Kea Resort property, featuring all ocean-facing rooms, meeting and business facilities, and an exclusive villa. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel reopened in December 1995 and the two hotels in tandem comprised a world-class resort and residential experience on the beautiful Kohala Coast.

2008: Next Generation

Following a damaging earthquake in October 2006 and an unprecedented two year, $150 million renovation, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel reopened in December 2008. In classic Mauna Kea style, the hotel continues to welcome generations of guests to reconnect with life’s most authentic pleasures.

2015: Marriott’s Autograph Collection

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel became Hawaii’s first Autograph Collection Hotel through a marketing partnership. The Autograph Collection is an ensemble of strikingly independent hotels across the country. Each destination has been selected for its quality, bold originality, rich character and uncommon details.

2016: Historic Hotel

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel was inducted as a member of Historic Hotels of America. HHA is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which recognizes and celebrates the finest historic hotels across America.


Modern improvements to Mauna Kea Golf Course by the original designer’s son, Rees Jones, have kept the original character intact while opening up challenging, memorable play on the Big Island of Hawai’i to all player levels.

2021 Aeration Dates: September 14 & 15

Grass: High-efficiency ultra-dwarf Tifeagle Bermuda Grass on the greens. Tifway 419 hybrid Bermuda Grass on the tees, fairways and roughs.

Play: On-board GPS in all golf carts helps determine yardages and distance to hole.

Pro Shop: Top of the line golf equipment, designer attire and accessories, and logo gifts. Drop off golf shoes for cleaning, sign up for lessons or simply relax and talk golf with our attentive staff.

Dining: On the course, our signature beverage cart serves a diverse menu including Spam musubi, chili and blended cocktails. Mid- or post-round, Copper Bar is the perfect spot to celebrate your hole-in-one with a local brew on tap, island-style pupu (appetizer) or a leisurely lunch.
Note: Number 3 restaurant is temporarily closed. 

Course Statistics Yards Par Rating Slope
Championship 7,370 72 76.6 144
Tournament 6,806 72 73.6 140
Resort 6,358 72 71.4 138
Composite 5,798 72 69.2 133
Forward 5,096 72 66.0 122

Take a virtual tour of Mauna Kea Golf Course.


All Mauna Kea Golf Course players are required to wear proper golf attire.

Men: Shirts with collars and sleeves, and slacks or Bermuda shorts of mid-thigh length. Mock polo shirts are the only permitted non-collared shirts. Not permitted are tank tops, tee shirts, mesh shirts, sweatpants, warm-up suits, blue jeans, swimwear, short-shorts, cut-offs, gym shorts, tennis outfits or other athletic shorts.

Women: Dresses, skirts, slacks, mid-length shorts and blouses. Not permitted are halter-tops, tee shirts, cut-offs, sweatpants, warm-up suits, blue jeans, swimwear, tennis dresses, short-shorts, or other athletic shorts.

Golf Shoes: Appropriate golf shoes are required.

If in doubt about attire, please check with the pro shop before starting play. Improperly dressed golfers will be asked to change before playing.


  • Driving Range
  • Practice Putting Greens
  • Full-service Pro Shop
  • Locker Room
  • Shower Facilities (Temporarily Closed)
  • Number 3 clubhouse Restaurant (Temporarily Closed)


  • Private / group lessons and clinics by on-staff PGA professionals
  • On-course beverage/food cart
  • Tournament arrangements
  • Shoes and TaylorMade rental clubs available
  • Complimentary bottled water and practice balls with golf round
  • Glow Golf night putting for groups


– Golf Week Magazine, Best Courses You Can Play, #4 in Hawaii, 2017
– Golf Digest, America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses, 2009-2016
– Golf Magazine, Top 100 Courses You Can Play, (#32) 2016
– Golf Magazine, Top 100 Courses; Best Courses in Hawaii, 2009, 2010, 2012-2016 (#2 in the State)
– Andrew Harper Reader’s Choice—#11 World’s Top 20 Golf Resorts, 2015
– Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, 2014, 2015
– Golf Week Magazine, Best Courses You Can Play, 2014-15
– Golf Magazine, Silver Award, People’s Choice Vote 2012, 2014-2015
– Golf Events Magazine – Most Scenic Hole – Number 11, 2014
– AGM Platinum Award “best of the best” Mauna Kea Golf Shop, 2013-2015
– Golf Week Magazine Top 100 Best Resort Courses, 2009-2015
– Hawai’i Magazine, Best Golf Course, Readers Choice Awards, 2013
– Rolex, World’s Top 1000 Courses; Hawaii, 2012
– Conde Nast Traveler, Top 121 Golf Resorts in the World, Reader Poll, 2012
– Conde Nast Traveler, Top 15 Hawaii Golf Resorts, Reader Poll, 2012
– Celebrated Living, Platinum List, Top 20 Golf Courses, 2011, 2012
– Visa Black Card Mag, Top 10 Resort Courses in America, 2012
– Links Magazine, The Best of Golf, Best Surf & Turf: The Top 10 Golf & Beach Combos, 2012
– Celebrated Living, Platinum Golf List, Top 20 U.S. Golf Courses, 2012
– Fairways & Greens, Best of Everything Issue, Favorite Places to Stay, 2009, 2010, 2012

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