Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,300.00 ft (396.24 m)
Trail type
3.80 mi (6.12 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Captain Cook Monument marks the area where Captain James Cook made the first European land contact with the Hawaiian islands, as well as the area where Cook was ultimately killed by Hawaiians after attempting to kidnap the island's king for ransom. The monument site is a part of Kealakekua Historical Park, and the bay itself is a Marine Life Convservation District.

The monument sits at the northern edge of Kealakekua Bay, an area that is as scenic as it is historic. And while cars can easily access Kealakekua Bay State Park on the bay's southern edge, reaching the monument site can only be done by water for via a strenuous hike dropping 1300' in elevation from the trailhead.

The hike itself is unremarkable, and remains almost entirely exposed to the elements which can make it hazardous on sunny or rainy days. Over the course of the path, hikers will follow a mostly steep dirt trail down the hill's edge, emerging from tall grasses to wide views of the bay and surrounding sea. Much of the course is along rocky volcanic landscape, and several caves and collapsed lava tubes are visible. 

Nearing the bottom, the path flattens out and passes through a dense site of old historic structures. Ending at the water and the site of a plaque marking the point 'near' where Cook made landfall, visitors can head to the right and emerge from the brush at areas of small sandy beaches and tide pools with abundant life, or head left and pass by several more structures before coming to the obelisk monument.

Kealakekua Bay itself is a Marine Life Conservation District, which forbids fishing, so the abundance and variety of sea life visible beneath the water's surface is breathtaking. It is well worth bringing snorkeling gear with you on this hike - though there is no easy entrance into the water and emerging back onto the rocky coastline can be hazardous during choppy conditions.

The site is also popular with kayakers paddle over from Manini Beach across the bay. 

Spinner dolphins can often be seen swimming in the bay here.

There is no water or amenities of any kind at the trailhead or at the bottom of the hike. Come prepared, as the hardest part of the hike - the exposed 1300' elevation gain - comes on the way out.

Parking is off the side of the road immediately south of the intersection of Hawaii Belt Road and Napoopoo Road. Street parking is very limited. Make sure you're not blocking any driveways along the road. Dogs are not allowed.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Street Parking

Open Year-round



Beautiful views. Scenic destination. Spinner dolphins frequently in Kealakekua Bay.


Very limited parking. Trail can get crowded.

Trailhead Elevation

1,300.00 ft (396.24 m)

Highest point

1,300.00 ft (396.24 m)


Historically significant
Big vistas
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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