Snorkeling Captain Cook Monument

The Captain Cook monument is located on the north shore of Kealakekua Bay, the same location where Captain Cook was killed by local Hawaiians. Unlike many of the other snorkeling destination in Hawaii, this spot is somewhat inaccessible. This doesn't mean you can't go there, in fact, we highly recommend that you do. You just can't get there by car. So instead, people often take tours of the area, but you can also hike to the location, or some have even used kayaks as their method of transportation.

What's the area like?

Awesome. The entire bay is actually a protected marine life conservation district, which really ensures that it remains a healthy, vibrant, and beautiful environment. The water is usually very calm and clear, and the area is known for its exceptional underwater visibility. There is a wealth of marine life to explore, including many different types of coral, plants, and fish.

Getting there by hiking or kayaking

As previously mentioned, the three most common ways to access the Captain Cook Monument are by boat tour, hiking, or kayaking.


Many people plan on hiking because of the exercise, scenery, and the ability to include many activities into one day. We agree, this can be a great approach; however, there are almost as many pros as there are cons.

Hiking Pros

  • Great exercise
  • More exploration
  • Multiple activities on one trip
  • Nice view from the top of the cliffs

Hiking Cons

  • 2 miles each way
  • 1500 foot elevation change, so after hiking there and spending the day snorkeling, you will still have to traverse back UP the cliffs
  • You will need to carry all of your supplies. Not just snorkeling gear, but water, snacks, spare clothes, etc.
  • Although the hike itself isn't overly crazy, the combination of all the activities in one day lends itself to more athletic individuals.  

In general, if you plan on hiking we suggest inquiring to local shops about those who may have done it before. It can be totally fine to do if you plan appropriately and are up for a challenge, just practice caution.


Although it sounds like a fun time, we lean towards not recommending kayaks for your journey. Simply put, it's just a little too much hassle to know the proper procedures. In the past, kayaks that have pulled up near the shore have damaged the reef, which is a massive no-no.

At this point, you can take kayak tours of the area, but information is lacking so it can be tough to organize. Additionally, there are a few rental companies that have acquired permits to operate in the area, but since you are unsupervised on your journey, you will be required to get in and out of the kayak in the water, and maybe even tie it to your body while you dive down and snorkel.

Kayaking Pros

  • Fun
  • Appropriate form of travel for the area
  • Moderate exercise, but not too demanding

Kayaking Cons

  • Lack of information about tours and proper etiquette
  • If going unsupervised, you will be burdened with your kayak while you snorkel
  • Permits required

Getting there by boat

This is our most highly recommended form of transportation for accessing the great snorkeling that Captain Cook Monument has to offer. You can have fun at any skill level, you can focus on snorkeling, and it's a safe environment as you will be in a group with trained staff. Here are some listings of available boats:


Departs from Keauhou Bay

2 trips to choose from: 9am-1:30pm or 2pm-5:30pm

Morning cruise: $129+tax for adults, $79+tax for children ages 4-12,  $29+tax for toddlers 3 and under.

Morning cruise includes snorkel equipment and instruction, breakfast and BBQ lunch, underwater view boxes, slide, diving platform, and floatation devices.

Afternoon cruise: $79+tax for adults, $49+tax for children ages 4-12, and FREE for toddlers 3 and under

Includes snorkel equipment and instruction, fruit and snacks, underwater view boxes, slide, diving platform, and floatation devices.

* Other options available including no-host bar.

Phone (Line 1): 1-800-677-9461

Phone (Line 2): 1-808-322-2788

Website and online inquiries:


82-6020 Mamalahoa Highway, Captain Cook, Hawaii 96704

Captain Cook/Kealakekua Bay Snorkeling – $109.95

Save $2 per person by booking online

Ages 3-83 welcome

Snorkel gear, instruction, snacks, and drinks included

Phone (Line 1): 1-808-447-0080

Phone (Line 2): 1-888-210-5365



Keauhou Bay, Kailua-Kona, click here for directions

Morning Tour = 7:30am check-in and 12pm return.

Morning Prices (including tax): $106.09/adult, $95.37/child, $650/private boat (6), $1250/private boat (12)

Afternoon Tour = 12pm check-in and 3:15pm return

Afternoon prices (including tax): $95.37/adult, $95.37/child, $500/private boat (6)

* Check website for online booking deals

Phone: 1-808-322-8000

Email: [email protected]


What type of marine life can you expect to see

Of course, we can never guarantee that you definitely will see a particular animal or plant, but the Captain Cook Monument has such an abundance of life that, at the very least, you will not be disappointed.

There is a wide variety of marine life here including, but not limited to, butterfly fish, needle fish, surgeon fish, and trigger fish. One of the most underrated aspects are the different types of coral, which range from cauliflower to lobe and mound type coral. If you're lucky, you may also see larger creatures like dolphins and turtles!


We highly recommend the Captain Cook Monument to anyone who is looking for a really cool and unique experience. The area is remote enough that you truly feel in the wild, but it's still close enough to civilization that you can make it a day trip. Just make sure that you don't overestimate your abilities if you plan on hiking or kayaking, and also plan for a little more time than you think you'll need.