Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park

Phone (808) 961-9540
5 stars from 10 reviews
Address 81-840 Makahiki Ln, Captain Cook, HI 96704
Great snorkeling beach and a Marine Life Conservation area with beautiful coral reefs.

Features
• Facilities: Bathrooms • Facilities: Picnic Tables
• Parking: Good / Plenty • Good For: Snorkeling
• Good For: Sunsets

Matt Anderson's Take
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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Matt Anderson
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Erik G
Joined: Jul 2016
Reviews: 32
Likes Received: 1
Beautiful location and some great snorkeling. We had the pleasure of seeing lots of beautiful fish a few rays and even a couple of turtles. Water is very clear and calm. If you get a chance this is a great adventure.
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Mitchell L
Joined: Jan 2018
Reviews: 11
Likes Received: 2
The best place for snorkeling on the island.
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Lisa F
Joined: Jan 2017
Reviews: 48
Likes Received: 13
Probably one of my most favorite places to snorkel. The clarity of the water is unbelievable. You can see eagle rays and so many different varieties of fish. The coral is beautiful and in the distance are pods of dolphin that come out quite often. We have always take rafts to this area and each time has been awesome. Bring your gopro or underwater camera as you will be underwater more than above. The Captain Cook monument is there, and you are able to go up to it if you hike in. If coming into the area by way of one of the chartered boats, they do not let you climb up to the monument. No worries, you can get amazing pictures from in the water. We just absolutely love it at this spot. Have not been there when it is too busy, but imagine that it can get that way.
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Jacqueline G
Joined: Dec 2016
Reviews: 1
Likes Received: 0
Wonderful snorkeling and easy by boat. You can walk in but it is hard and a very steep hill long climb. They are discussing a road down from Napoopoo Road but not soon! Saw a pod of dolphins here!
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Matt A
Joined: Feb 2013
Reviews: 790
Likes Received: 106
This is a great place to snorkel. Sure, it's probably going to be a little crowded with other people and tour boats but still worth your time to see it if you like to snorkel.
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Reggie
Joined: Jul 2016
Reviews: 29
Likes Received: 8
Quite a rugged shoreline here and tight for parking but worth the visit. Snorkel and enjoy spinner dolphins in the bay. Yes, they do spin. Remains of a traditional Hawaiian temple are close by ,or hike to Cook monument where he made a big mistake with the indigenous people. Sometimes native outriggers are being made close by.
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Jan E
Joined: Jun 2016
Reviews: 10
Likes Received: 2
Great snorkeling! Make sure to wear sunblock and take an underwater camera.
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Gina D
Joined: Apr 2016
Reviews: 18
Likes Received: 2
I have been to Kealakekua Bay twice. Once on a tour boat and once by kayak. I preferred the kayak trip. The bay is a wonderful place to snorkel (get there early before the tour boats arrive as the bay becomes overwhelmed with people). The water is clear and can be chilly (we went in late March). We've seen spinner dolphins, turtles, snowflake eels, trumpet fish, and wrasse to name a few. The tsunami in 2011 doesn't seem to have damaged too much of the reef. This is a beautiful place to snorkel.
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Heather M
Joined: Mar 2016
Reviews: 57
Likes Received: 8
Visited in July 2011. We stopped here at Kealakekua Bay as part of an airboat tour with "Captain Zodiac." It was cool to learn more about the history of Captain Cook and his men being the first Englishmen to discover the islands. The snorkeling here is world renown and it's easy to see why. The water is crystal clear and you can see all the way to the bottom! The marine life is abundant and don't be surprised if a turtle sneaks up next to you!
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Consensus Guy
Joined: Jul 2013
Reviews: 11144
Likes Received: 25
Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park gets an overall rating of 5 stars from dozens of reviews. It's the place to go for snorkeling.
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