We Tried It: The Best Mini-Golf Courses for Families on O‘ahu
We test out the putting greens at three courses on O‘ahu.
Editor’s Note: This story was first published in 2017 and was updated on May 4, 2021. Don’t forget your masks.
Mini-golf can be a pleasant, bonding experience for families. Children and adults play in cohesive groups while observing golf etiquette. And, if paced right, a game can be completed in less than an hour.
OK, maybe for some families. Not mine.
When my clan joins friends for a round of mini-golf, this is what typically happens: Everyone plays nicely at first, then somewhere between the 10th and 13th holes, the kids decide that hacking their balls like the Canadian Hockey League is more fun. The adults fade in and out of the game because the little ones want snacks and potty breaks. Teens stop to take selfies at every hole. As a result, our games exceed two hours.
I’m all for family experiences, so to save you research time, I’ve compiled a roundup of three mini-golf courses worth playing on O‘ahu. Happy bonding!
Bay View Mini-Putt & Zipline (18 or 36 holes)
- Address: 45-285 Kāne‘ohe Bay Drive, Kāne‘ohe
- Hours: Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Open on all federal, state and school holidays.
- Fees: Ages 12 and up, $15 for 18 holes and $20 for 36 holes; children 3 to 11, $10 for 18 holes and $12 for 36 holes; free for kids younger than 3.
- Phone: (808) 247-6464
- Website: bayviewminiputt.com
- Description: The Ko’olau mountain range provides a peaceful backdrop against this mini-golf course, comprising 18 and 36 holes (see pricing for both). Expect short and long putts, challenging slopes and breaks, and a dark, cave-like structure on the course. Zipliners in the distance occasionally scream and holler, but nothing too distracting.
- Tip: The Like Like Course is relatively flat with a descending ramp you can use instead of stairs. The Pali Course, however, does not have ramps and requires you to climb up multiple hills and stairs. Be mindful of the layout when playing with grandparents and older relatives with “bad” knees.
- Special Events: Bay View will celebrate Half-o-ween, the halfway point to Halloween, May 13 through 22, 2021. From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., kids can putt around special effects for younger players. More thrilling effects will move in for kids 10 years and older from 7:30 to 10 p.m.
Glow Putt Mini Golf (18 holes)
- Address: 45-056 Kamehameha Highway, Kāne‘ohe
- Hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Fees: Children 5 and under, $5; regular admission ages 6 and older, $7; military and law enforcement $6; replay per round, $5. $6 per person for groups of 10 or more.
- Phone: (808) 235-6600
- Website: glowputtminigolf.com
- Description: Glow Putt feels like a dance party with neon-lit floors and thumping music. The course is compact, easy to navigate and perfect for rainy days, when beaches or playgrounds aren’t options. Little kids will appreciate the glow-in-the-dark, animal décor on the walls.
- Tip: Players receive glow bracelet as part of pricing. Bring ID for special discounts for military and law-enforcement employees.
Tropics Mini Golf (18 holes)
- Address: 98-1101 Moanalua Road, ‘Aiea
- Hours: Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Monday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Fees: General admission for ages 8 and up, $9.95; military and kama’āina, $8.95; children 3 to 7, $6.75; free for kids 2 and under.
- Phone: (808) 200-5331
- Web: tropicsminigolf.com
- Description: True to its moniker, this course felt like the tropics after we spotted geckos in the bushes and a live bee inside the 15th hole. Lush vegetation and a faux volcano in the middle of the course also camouflaged the fact that we were in a commercial district in ‘Aiea. The course itself is relatively easy and flat, save for a few challenging breaks.
- Tip: Before playing, ask if there is a birthday party ahead of you. Otherwise, you might get stuck behind a big, slow-moving group.