Journey to Captain Cook

One of the best snorkel spots on the island of Hawaii is undoubtedly in Kealakekua Bay at the Captain Cook monument. This spot is only accessible by rugged foot trail or by water, but it is well worth the trek.  The water is clear and calm and the snorkeling makes for an unforgettable experience.

Kealakekua Bay encompasses 315 acres and measures 1.5 miles in length and one mile in width. It is the largest sheltered natural bay on the island of Hawaii. The spectacular marine sanctuary at Kealakekua Bay offers an abundance of colorful tropical fish, a variety of beautiful coral reefs and visibility often to 100 feet. The calm, protected waters and sunny skies of Kealakekua Bay provide superior snorkeling and diving year round, with the water temperature averaging 76 degrees.

A pod of Hawaiian Spinner dolphins frequents Kealakekua Bay. The bay serves are a place for them to rest, feed, and a nursery for mothers and their calves. Due to the calm water conditions, extensive coral reef, and thriving underwater life, Kealakekua Bay offers some of the best snorkeling and diving in Hawaii. From the wharf across Kealakekua Bay, you can see the Captain Cook Monument. In the shallow waters adjacent to the Monument is where the best snorkeling and SCUBA diving is located. Additionally, there are spectacular views of the bay and the sheer cliffs on the eastern edge. You must not miss this!

Unfortunately you cannot simply drive to Captain Cook - this remote location is only accessible by water. Most visitors opt to rent a Kayak and paddle across the scenic bay to the Captain Cook Monument. If you're interested in Kayak rentals, we highly recommend doing so through Kona Boys, which is conveniently located a few miles from the launch spot.

If you are launching your kayak or just want a scenic drive to Kealakekua Bay, take the Hawaii Belt Road south out of Kailua Kona for about 15 miles. You will see signs for Kealakekua Bay to your right and then the road winds down to the wharf and Napoopoo beach. There is parking right at the wharf, but no kayak or gear rentals here. View map.

If you make it out to the bay early enough, you may be lucky and see a pod of Spinner dolphins. Also, you can be sure to see Hawaiian Sea Turtles in the shallow waters near the Monument. Expect to take a lot of pictures and prepare yourself by bringing anunderwater camera if possible. The water could not be clearer and the visibility is often reported beyond 100 feet. View satellite photo of Captain Cook and Kealakekua Bay. You should consider purchasing anunderwater camera to capture the magnificent coral and underwater sea life. Read on to learn about our tips and secrets for kayaking and snorkeling at Captain Cook.

Captain James Cook and his ships, the Resolution and Discovery, entered the sheltered waters of Kealakekua Bay (Pathway of the God) on the morning of Jan 17, 1779, during the height of a local religious festival. Thinking Cook was a returning God, the Hawaiians welcomed and honored him. Strife followed, and the Hawaiians realized that Cook and his crew were not immortal. In the end, Cook was surrounded and killed at this very spot. This monument is only approachable by rugged foot trail or by water. The best way to reach this austere and beautiful spot is by kayak.


  1. Fascinating how the unusually high spirits generated by what amounted to idolatry can degenerate so quickly into mayhem, and, in this instance, murder.

    1. I know nothing of Cook's demise, but there's often a fury unleashed when a purported "god" is revealed to be mortal after all. Even if there was no intention to deceive, the recipient of undeserved worship better watch his ass!