Snorkeling at Captain Cook

Snorkeling Captain Cook



Kayak at the Wharf, Kealakekua Bay

Kealakekua Bay, Captain Cook Monument

clear waters at Captain Cook


Permits Required to Beach Kayaks on Shore or at Captain Cook
As of 2/23/2010, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is requiring permits for anyone seeking to land vessels (kayaks) along the Ka‘awaloa shoreline or moor at the wharf adjacent to the Captain Cook Monument in Kealakekua bay.  Find out details on how to apply for the permit in our Captain Cook Kayak Permit blog post.  Download the Permit Application online here.  For more information, contact the State Parks office in Hilo at (808) 974-6200.

Snorkel at Captain Cook
If you are arriving by kayak, try to beach your kayak on shore.  Then leave it there as you snorkel in the shallow waters.  If this is not possible, you can simply hold the towline of the kayak in your hand as you snorkel.  The kayak should provide very little resistance.  There is a small inlet just south of the monument that is a perfect place to beach the kayak.  Make sure you pull your kayak far enough out of the water so that it does not drift away with the tide.  For more information on how to kayak, check out our detailed Big Island Kayak Tips.

Captain Cook Snorkel Map
courtesy of google maps

Vibrant reef at Kealakekua Bay View of the colorful coral reef underwater Trumpet Fish at Kealakekua Bay Yellow Trumpet Fish hovering above the coral reef
Snorkeling at Captain Cook Crystal-clear waters at Capt Cook offer 80-100′ of visibility Snorkeling Captain Cook People snorkeling in the shallow waters near the monument

You can see from the map above that the areas north of the monument are the shallowest.  Just south of the monument is a shallow snorkeling area and continuing south beyond that, towards the mouth of the bay, is a steeper drop off and much deeper water.

Once in the water, turn north towards the monument.  The best snorkeling is in the shallow waters in front of and east of the monument.  These Hawaiian waters are crystal clear with 100 ft. visibility.  You will see lots of colorful fish.  Keep an eye out for sea turtles as well.   Immediately in front of the monument the coral reef forms a large shelf, extending out in no more than 15 feet of water.  As you continue snorkeling to the north, the water continues to get more shallow.  If you are new to snorkeling, check out our Snorkel Tips page with special information about snorkeling on the Big Island.

If you are SCUBA diving, you can do a deep dive following the reef to a drop off of more than 100 feet, or you can follow the coral reef and return over the top of it.  You will see an abundance of thriving coral and beautiful tropical fish.  There is usually more sea life and large schools of fish on top of the reef than down below the drop-off.  Normal sightings include, turtles, crowns-of-thorn, large parrot fish, and moray eels.  Check out our Kealakekua SCUBA Diving page for map and more information.

Next page: SCUBA Diving Captain Cook.

More Captain Cook Articles

Kayak to Captain Cook The best way to access the Captain Cook Monument and the sea life of the marine sanctuary is by kayak.

Snorkeling at Captain Cook Read our Capt. Cook snorkel guide with maps and photos

SCUBA Diving Captain Cook Read our Capt. Cook SCUBA diving guide with maps and photos

Kayak Tips and Advice Hot-to-kayak information, safety tips, gear guide

Hawaii Kayak Guide Guide to kayaking on the Big Island, kayak snorkeling, sea caves

Snorkeling Tours of the Big Island
We offer a variety of guided snorkel tours for all ages and abilities.  Designed for beginners and adventurers alike, you’ll paddle along the scenic Kohala Coast and enjoy excellent snorkeling in warm, clear Hawaiian waters.  Discover the Big Islands most remote snorkeling spots along the pristine Kohala Coast, Pawai Bay, Kealakekua Bay, and more.  Check out our large sail and snorkel tours and our exciting zodiac tours for smaller groups.

Fair Winds Snorkel Cruise to Kealakekua
The award-winning Fair Wind Cruises has been providing exclusive Hawaii snorkeling excursions to Kealakekua Bay for 31 years.  Everything you’ll need for snorkeling is provided: masks, snorkels, fins, etc. The friendly crew of the Fair Wind II will cater to your every need. The spacious boat offers plenty of room for relaxing in the sun or shade, and the water slide is sure to please the kids and kids at heart!

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  5. SCUBA Diving at Captain Cook

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