Great snorkeling beach and a Marine Life Conservation area with beautiful coral reefs.
Facilities: Picnic Tables
Parking: Good / Plenty
Good For: Snorkeling
Good For: Sunsets
Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park, located in the Captain Cook area, is a popular place for snorkeling but it's also the place where Captain James Cook first landed on the Big Island.
On the northwest side of the bay is the Captain Cook Monument that marks the death of Captain Cook following a skirmish with the Hawaiians only a year after he first landed in Hawaii. For more on that be sure to read The History of Captain James Cook.
In 1969, Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park was made a Marine Life Conservation District. It's hugely popular with snorkelers and snorkel tours with a lot of the tour boats getting very close to the Captain Cook Monument since the snorkeling over there is very good.
In terms of a beach, don't expect much of anything here because it's very rocky and not sandy. But if you want to snorkel then this is a great place to do it when the ocean is calm. You will also find Hikiau Heiau on the east side of the bay, near the parking lot.
The only problem with Kealakekua Bay is that it's success is also its downfall. It's become so popular with tourists and tour operators that many think the area is being killed off. It's recommended that you wear rash guards, dive skins, or even a shirt rather than sunscreens which could harm the marine life. Never touch any corals or marine life. For more on snorkeling be sure to read How To Snorkel and Should I Bring My Own Snorkel Gear To Hawaii?.
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