Big Island Hawaii's - BEST SNORKELING
Kealakekua Bay and adjacent Captain Cook Monument offers visitors some of the best a snorkeling found on the Big Island of Hawaii. Other renowned snorkeling areas in the Hawaiian Island chain like Hanauma Bay on Oahu, or Molokini Crater on Maui, while beautiful, do not always have the same quality of coral gardens or abundance of tropical fish found at Capt. Cook Monument.
The snorkeling area is located adjacent to historic Capt. Cook Monument, on the north end of Kealakekua Bay. Here visitors experience clear, warm water and 30+ varieties of colorful tropical fish and healthy coral gardens. The snorkeling here is rated highly by experts and frequently compared with other world-class snorkeling destinations. Snorkeling in Kealakekua, like visiting the volcano, is truly a “Big Island only” experience.
How to Get to Captain Cook Monument
You can’t drive to the Captain Cook Monument and hiking in is not easy. Most visitors wishing to visit will book a guided kayak tour or charter boat, discovering that getting to the monument is half the fun. You can join a relaxing ride on a 149 passenger charter boat, travel on a high-speed inflatable raft, or sign up for a surprisingly easy paddle across the cobalt blue water in a small group-guided snorkeling tour by kayak.
Traveling by kayak is ecofriendly, and while it does require some effort, most everyone can enjoy the excursion. Families with children are commonly seen paddling in the bay, along with frequent groups of dolphins.
Regardless of how you arrive, visitors and locals agree that the snorkeling is great! Small group-guided kayak tours offer more time snorkeling, allowing guests to snorkel from the shore, visit the Capt. Cook Monument and get out of the hot sun and find shade under a palm tree.
If this is not your style, try taking a fast, motorized raft and you benefit by visiting two snorkeling locations and the thrill of the high-speed ride. The larger charter boats move at a slower and relaxed pace and offer a unique way to enter the water – by plunging down a 10 foot slide off the back of the boat! You will also be served not only snacks on the larger boats, but could also enjoy a grilled hamburger.
Each method of travel has its own style, so pick the one that best suits you! While snorkeling companies offer various amenities and methods of getting to the Monument, the State of Hawaii is seeking to ensure a world class snorkeling experience at Capt. Cook Monument.
New Regulations - Guided Tours Protect the Bay
Recent regulations by the State of Hawaii have made visiting Capt. Cook Monument better by reducing the number of visitors at the snorkeling area - at least unsupervised ones.
With the increased popularity also comes increased human impact to the bay like the possibility of stepping on living coral, bothering wild dolphins frolicking in the bay and generally making life tougher for the local marine residents. This prompted the State of Hawaii to take precautionary action to protect the bay.
These State regulations prevent landing rented kayaks at the snorkeling area - except by permit. Guided kayak tours are available daily and have the required permits. These guided tours also offer additional historical information about the area, personal assistance during kayaking and snorkeling, as well as minimizing impact on the environment.
This regulation is modeled after the Galapagos Island’s Reserve where visitation of the area is on guided activities only. With the restricted landing for kayak rentals, visitors are opting for guided tours where they can still land their kayaks and snorkel from shore, but now with the help of lifeguard-certified guides. Kayak renters who land without permits are fined and rental equipment confiscated. The new State rules are making a difference at the Bay and will make your next visit to the Bay even better than the last!