ALOHA!

 

The Captain Cook hike is located on the Kona coast.

This can make for a perfect day in Kona with a DIY hike and snorkel day! (This could even be a morning activity or an afternoon activity if you want to do more in Kona!)

 

best kona snorkeling spot: captain cook monument trail hike to kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Best Big Island hikes. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog

 

Aside from the convenience of the location when you’re staying in Kona with a car, what’s a good reason to make the Captain Cook Monument Trail a part of your short time on the Big Island?!

The views!

 

captain cook monument trail hike to kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Best Big Island hikes. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog

 

And also…

This trail leads to Kealakekua Bay!

 

 kealakekua bay snorkeling spot by doing captain cook monument trail hiking. Best Big Island hikes. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog

 

 

 

And what’s noteworthy about this bay?!

 

Kealakekua Bay is a state historical park.

According to the State of Hawaii, it’s said to be:

Site of the first extensive contact between Hawaiians and Westerners with the arrival of Captain Cook in 1779.

You can read more about the history of the bay here (pdf from the State of Hawaii).

 

 

And, as far as Big Island activities go…

Kealakekua Bay is also a marine life conservation district in Hawaii.

And one of four such districts on the Big Island that currently exist. (There used to be 5, but one got destroyed in the 2018 volcano eruption.)

The Kaawaloa Cove area of Kealakekua Bay is also considered one of the best snorkeling spots on the Big Island.

There’s no road access to the snorkeling part of the bay. (You can drive down to the bay on the other side if you just want to go for the views, though!)

 

The 3 main ways to get to the snorkeling spot at Kealakekua Bay are:

  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Boat tour

🐠


 

 

And if you can’t remember the name Kealakekua Bay, more easily remembered names can be the captain cook hike or the captain cook snorkeling spot!

 

 

So…

Why hike to Kealakekua Bay if you can kayak or take a boat?!

Because again…

The views!

But you know, if you don’t want to work so hard to go snorkeling 😉 a kayaking and snorkeling tour is sure to be fun, and so is a boat tour that can take you to a few different top snorkeling spots along the Kona coast in one day.

But, if the idea of a hike and snorkel DIY day sounds good to you, that is sure to turn out to be a GREAT Big Island day too!

Or even half a day, actually.

If you want to do the Captain Cook Monument trail hike and Kealakekua Bay snorkeling in the morning, that can leave you to do another great Big Island activity in the afternoon. (Maybe some more snorkeling along with a trip to a national historical park! Two Step Beach is another one of the top snorkeling spots on the Big Island, and this is located just down the road on the Kona coast to the south, about a 20 minute drive from the Captain Cook trailhead.)

And even if you want to skip the snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay, this trail can be worth it as one of the best Big Island hikes because it comes with those ocean views!

 

 

How long does this hike take?

The official recommendation is to give yourself 2-4 hours in total to go down and come back up. (Not including the snorkeling time.)

It seems that many people can get down in around 45 minutes, and then taking longer on the way back up since it’s basically all uphill.

I took over an hour to get down though! I generally walk at a leisurely pace and I also stop a lot to take pictures.

 

 

🌴

 

 

 

Now…

Hiking the Captain Cook Monument Trail aka Kaawaloa Trail

best kona snorkeling spot: captain cook monument trail hike to kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Best Big Island hikes. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog

 

So this trail is more commonly called the Captain Cook Monument Trail.

But it’s also called (officially called?) the Kaawaloa Trail, likely because it takes you down to the Kaawaloa Cove.

 

So first…

How to get started with this hike!

 

 

Parking at Captain Cook Monument Trail + map

There’s no official parking lot, but there is some limited designated parking near the start of the trail on the shoulder of the road, on gravel.

 

 parking at captain cook monument trailhead. Big Island driving. Hawaii travel blog

 

This shoulder parking is on the side of the road opposite to the trailhead.

Google Maps lists the Captain Cook Monument Trail and it is accurate.

 

Map location of Captain Cook monument trail in Kona to get to Kealakekua Bay. Best Big Island hikes. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog

Map location of Captain Cook monument trail in Kona to get to Kealakekua Bay. Best Big Island hikes. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog
Explore the map.

 

If you stay at the Pineapple Park Hostel (shared dorm rooms and private rooms available with common areas that come with views of a Kona sunset!), you can walk to the trailhead without having to deal with parking. It’s about a 10 minute walk.

If you haven’t decided on where you’re staying in Kona yet, staying at the Sheraton or hotels near the Sheraton can be a good base to explore some south Kona coast activities, including this Captain Cook hike and snorkeling! The trailhead is a 10 minute drive from the Sheraton.

 

 

So once you’ve parked…

Start the hike!!

Coming from the parking area, you’ll see a trail that leads down right in front of the bamboo trees.

 

captain cook monument trail. start of hike to kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

 

You’ll see a sign here for the Kaawaloa Trail warning you to be ready for this hike before you start!

 

captain cook monument trail. start of kaawaloa hike to kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail. start of kaawaloa hike to kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

 

What the County of Hawaii wants you to know:

The Kaawaloa Trail is physically demanding.

Many hikers have suffered injuries and required rescue here.

A 3.8 mile hike, the return is uphill, nearly 1,400 feet in elevation, during the hottest part of the day.

There is no shade along the trail.

Strenuous terrain ahead.

 

So yes.

Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks… just in case!

Walking uphill in the sun with no water and no snacks when you’re lacking energy is NOT GOOD!

So make sure to do what you can to avoid that kind of situation!

 

Now…

Once you’re good to go with everything you need in your Hawaii daypack, or more specifically what you need to pack for hiking in Hawaii

 

 

Start hiking!!

captain cook monument trail. start of kaawaloa hike to kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

 

 

Then…

Enjoy the hike down to Kealakekua Bay!

So there’s a good chance you’ll start off walking through a bunch of tall grass. This is how it was for me anyway.

Apparently though sometimes there are volunteers that come through with a weed whacker to clear the path.

But just assume that you’ll be walking through grass!

 

captain cook monument trail hiking trail. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail hiking trail. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail hiking trail. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail hiking trail. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail hiking trail. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

 

Then soon you’ll come to an opening where you’ll get those grand views of the ocean!

 

captain cook monument trail hiking trail with ocean views. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail hiking trail with ocean views. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail hiking trail with ocean views. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail hiking trail with ocean views. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail hiking trail with ocean views. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail hiking trail with ocean views. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail hiking trail with ocean views. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail hiking trail with ocean views. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail hiking trail with ocean views. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

 

And then at some point, the trail will head off to the left, and then you’ll continue to make your way down towards Kealakekua Bay.

You’ll start to better see the “bay” formation too.

 

captain cook monument trail hiking trail to kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Best Big Island hikes. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail hiking trail to kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Best Big Island hikes. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail hiking trail to kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Best Big Island hikes. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument trail hiking trail to kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Best Big Island hikes. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog

 

And then finally…

You’re really almost there!

 

captain cook hike to kealakekua bay near snorkeling spot. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

 

You’ll start to see Kealakekua Bay from sea level!

 

hiking trail to near kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook hike to kealakekua bay near snorkeling spot. kayak launch. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook hike to kealakekua bay near snorkeling spot. kayak launch. Best Big Island hikes. Hawaii travel blog

 

So this will be your first real glimpse of the bay from up close.

But this isn’t the main snorkeling entry point.

When I was there, there were some kayaks being launched into the water.

 

on captain cook monument trail - kayaking tour near kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Hawaii travel blog

on captain cook monument trail - kayaking tour near kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Hawaii travel blog

 

So instead of setting up here to go snorkeling, you’ll keep on walking to the left, continuing to follow the path.

 

hiking trail to captain cook monument at kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Hawaii travel blog

 

And then you’ll start to see the Captain Cook Monument Trail (for which the hiking trail is named after!) and the Kealakekua Bay again!

 

 

Arrival to the Captain Cook Monument and Kealakekua snorkeling spot!

captain cook monument at kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument at kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook monument at kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Hawaii travel blog

 

And when you get here, there’s a good chance you’ll find some people there!

 

captain cook snorkeling at kealakekua bay - captain cook hike or kayak tour. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook snorkeling at kealakekua bay - captain cook hike or boat tour. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog

 

There is no real proper beach entry here.

 

captain cook hike to kealakekua bay snorkeling. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook hike to kealakekua bay snorkeling. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog

captain cook hike to kealakekua bay snorkeling. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog

 

And that’s a bit about the Captain Cook hike and snorkeling spot!

 

For another great Big Island snorkeling spot, be sure to consider snorkeling at Two Step too. Also see some more hikes on the Big Island with amazing ocean views!

 

Headed to other islands in Hawaii? Also see:

 

HAPPY HIKING THE CAPTAIN COOK TRAIL AND SNORKELING AT KEALAKEKUA BAY!

 

captain cook monument trail hike to kealakekua bay snorkeling spot. Best Big Island hikes. Best Big Island snorkeling spots. Hawaii travel blog

 

 

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Top things to pack for your Hawaii vacation!

The ultimate beach towel for travel?!
Turkish towels are considered to be more absorbent and lightweight than your average beach towel. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
Possibly among the best Big Island maps for tourists!
The Franko maps of Hawaii have a high level of detail for activities and it's beachproof aka waterproof. There's an "adventure" guide map and a "snorkel/dive" guide map. Plus a wall map for home to get you excited for your upcoming trip to Kona!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phone
You can take underwater pictures with a simple waterproof phone case like this. Touch screen may not work well underwater - try the volume button to snap the pic instead!
Get your suitcase more organized!
Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!
Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're snorkeling.

PLUS...
Be sure to take a look at the reviews of these amazing tours on the Big Island:


ALOHA!