Kayak to Captain Cook

Kayak to Captain Cook, Kealakekua Bay

Kayak at the Wharf, Kealakekua Bay

Kayak at the Wharf, Kealakekua Bay

Kealakekua Bay, Captain Cook Monument

Captain Cook Monument

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.

Kayak to Captain Cook

view of Kealakekua BayWe recommend two people rent a two-person (tandem) kayak rather than two individual kayaks.  With your rental, you get a soft rack that fits any vehicle, paddles, a dry bag (for cameras, wallets, etc.), a soft cooler (for lunch), and tie down straps for your gear.  If you have not used a kayak before, make sure you ask for instructions.  Feel free to ask the shopkeeper for directions to the best kayaking and snorkeling locations as well - or even join their guided kayak tours.  You can also rent snorkeling Steep cliffs surround Kealakekua Bayequipment from one of these stores.  However, if you are planning to SCUBA dive at Captain Cook, you must get your tanks from one of the dive shops in Kailua beforehand - there are no SCUBA rentals near Kealakekua Bay.  Check out our detailed how-to-kayak section for more details and tips on kayaking.

Read about our adventure Kayaking to Captain Cook with Kids on our Big Island Blog.

Kayaking across Kealakekua Bay

When you get to Kealakekua (view online map), offload all of your equipment from your vehicle.  Be courteous and mindful of others and do not leave your car on the wharf.  Park it in the adjacent parking lot.  Pack up the kayak with your equipment before lowering it into the water on the left side of the Kealakekua wharf.  Make sure you hang on to a strap when you place the kayak in the water so it does not float away.  Have one person hold the kayak steady while the second person gets in.  Kayak across the bay towards the white obelisk monument.  Enjoy the scenery!  If you are early enough, you may see the Spinner Dolphins swimming in the waters.

Captain Cook Snorkel Map
courtesy of google maps

clear waters at Captain CookBeach the kayak underneath the trees in the small cove to the south of the monument.  Enter the cove on the right side to avoid the lava rocks.  Be careful when you get out of the kayak, you can easily lose your footing.  Be sure to put on sandals, booties, or water shoes before stepping out onto the sharp lava rocks.  Make sure you pull your kayak far enough out of the water so that it does not drift away with the tide.  Leave your equipment in the shade of a tree.  When you have your snorkeling gear on, walk down the lava ramp into the warm clear water.  You can also walk down the trail from the cove, which leads to Captain Cook Monument.  You can enter the water by dropping down off of the wall, but be sure you jump out so you do not hit the rocks immediately below.

Kayak Kealakekua Bay Beached kayak near the Capt Cook monument Lizard Fish, Kealakekua Bay Lizard Fish underwater in Kealakekua Bay
Kealakekua Bay View of Kealakekua Bay from the descending winding road Kealakekua Bay, Captain Cook Monument View across the bay while paddling across
Captain Cook Monument The edge of the Captain Cook monument Goat Fish at Capt. Cook School of Goat Fish underwater while SCUBA Diving
Crown O' Thorns The Crown ‘o’ Thorns “eating” the coral reef Abundant reef life in the clear waters Beautiful, vibrant coral reef at Kealakeku


Make sure you bring everything you think you will need, there are is no food or water or any facilities at Captain Cook.  We recommend you bring: sunscreen, hat, enough water for the day, food/snacks, shirt or rash guard to avoid the hot sun, and your snorkeling or SCUBA diving gear.  We highly recommend buying or renting an underwater camera — even a disposable one — to capture the vast array of fish and coral.

Next page: Snorkeling at Captain Cook

Snorkeling at Captain Cook, Kealakekua Bay

Rich Coral Reef at Captain Cook, Kealakekua Bay

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!

Sea Quest Ocean Rafting Adventure
Sea Quest Ocean Rafting AdventureJoin Sea Quest for a rafting adventure along the Kona Coast! Explore lava tubes and sea caves, and enjoy snorkeling at the Place of Refuge and Captain Cooks Landing!  After snorkeling, you’ll enjoy a breathtaking cruise along the Kona Coast taking in the spectacular coastline and exploring ancient lava tubes and sea caves.


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Related Posts:

  1. Question - Renting Kayaks at Captain Cook
  2. Big Island Adventures with Kids (Part 3 - Captain Cook)
  3. Permits Now Required for Captain Cook Kayakers
  4. Captain Cook, Kealakekua Bay
  5. SCUBA Diving at Captain Cook

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