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Captain Cook's Monument

Toronto, Ontario
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224 posts
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Captain Cook's Monument

A couple of questions regarding Cook's Monument.

Have any of you been there before?... Is it worth a visit?

I hear great things about snorkelling there - I have not snorkelled much, but I may buy/bring the snorkelling gear with me. For those who snorkel there - would you rent a kayak - and kayak across from Napo'opo'o Beach Park?... or do the hike in the back way (from Napoopoo Road), right up to Cook's Monument?

Apparently there are dolphins in Kealakekua Bay - so when you kayak across you may have some beside you. That would be amazing! Not sure though if this a 1 in a million sighting - or a regular occurence.

Is anyone familiar with this area?

Thanks in advance for any info.

Keno, OR
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1. Re: Captain Cook's Monument

Thank you for asking--this is one of our most favorite places on earth! Yes, this is a do not miss kind of place! It is possible to snorkel there even if you haven't done much before--the shore is smooth lava flow (not a lot of sand), but it is a gradual drop to the deeper water (which eventually drops off to about 150'). The water clarity, especially on a sunny day, is incredible. This is a marine preserve, and the variety of fish and eels is amazing. On our first trip we rented a kayak from an "independent businessman" in the parking lot--we did not know that these guys just pop in, set up shop, and don't have a license, so it is illegal to rent from them. However, we read about it later, so on our second trip we made sure to rent from a business up on the highway. Adventures in Paradise was the company, and the man there helped us put the kayak on our car (complete with padding and tie downs)--the whole process is easier than it seems, and it was $45 for a double kayak for the whole day. The kayak across the bay is about a mile--takes between 20 and 30 minutes on pretty calm water--and when you're out there on that beautiful turquoise water you realize you're in paradise. On our first trip (March, '04) we did not see the spinner dolphins. There was, however, a whale out near the reef. We did not paddle that far out, but when we started snorkeling at the Monument we could hear the whale when we were underwater! What a treat! On our second trip (Dec. '04) we were surrounded by about 20 spinner dolphins while paddling back to the parking lot after our snorkeling was done. They stuck around for about 20 minutes, and put on quite a jumping, spinning show--sometimes it was hard to know where to look because there were so many dolphins in the air at once. Several of them came up for air within 3 feet of our kayak. I run out of adjectives when I think about those experiences. (The man at the kayak place said the dolphin sighting is about a 1 in 3 chance--I'm not sure how scientific that is, but he has lived there a long time, so maybe he's right--if so, we beat the odds a bit).

We rented snorkel equipment from Snorkel Bob's in Kona, and they were very helpful in getting masks to fit us right. My husband has a moustache, and it never did allow his mask to seal up right, so he ended up using swimming goggles with a rubber clip to hold the snorkel on with. I recommend getting a "dry" snorkel--it's less bother to use (we bought one for ourselves before going over and it was much better than the non-dry one from the rental set).

We read somewhere (probably in The Big Island Revealed--The Ultimate Guidebook by Andrew Doughty and Harriett Friedman--a book we highly recommend above others) that the hike in is long and hot, and really steep on the way back up--not something we wanted to do if we were hot and tired after snorkeling awhile. Be sure to take water and snacks in with you, and a disposable underwater camera or two or three, and a couple of beach towels. There are no faciliities at the Monument...

Beware of the sun there--we got a nasty burn the first time we went, even though we'd tanned ahead of time (Oregonians in March are pretty pale otherwise) and we'd used sunscreen--although we didn't use the maximum SPF--I would recommend 50 SPF now--and probably didn't apply it liberally enough or often enough. The second time we went we wore rash guard clothing and were fine--it was a bit cloudier too, and that all helped.

All that said, this will be a highlight of your trip--going out early in the morning is usually recommended vs. an afternoon trip--we were usually out about 4-4/12 hours total, and felt fully satisfied with the wonderful experience of it all. Enjoy it and we hope the whales and the dolphins show up for you!

Palm Springs...
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2. Re: Captain Cook's Monument

Aloha DSausage

I dive and this is the best place except Fiji that I have snorkeled. Get a snorkel tour out of Keahou and they will take a small group/ Snorkel bob is good but you might do better buying stuff. I suggest wearing a T shirt in the water to avoid burns. I also suggest a pair of thin divers gloves to avoid harming you or the coral. Touching it kills it... and cuts you in the process/

There is limited anchor space and you must use a mooring bouy instead. A kayak can pose problems and entry and exit is over boulders and surge. Not the best... let someone else drive you will see all the stuff and not be stressed .

The water is the clearest and warmest you will find in all of Hawaii...all islands. This is the best snorkel place period in Hawaii.

DO it

Keno, OR
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3. Re: Captain Cook's Monument

The diving goves are a great idea. We bought some of our own equipment before we went, then ended up renting another mask because the one we bought leaked big time--Snorkel Bob's was very helpful, even though we changed masks twice!

There are snorkeling tours/boats that will give you a nice view of the coast, even some sea caves, and do take groups snorkeling to the Captain Cook Monument--if you are by yourself, this might be advisable. We never had trouble getting the kayak out of the water--the old canoe launch area is pretty smooth and gradual, so it wasn't hard to drag the kayak up out of the water there--but that was with two of us. The snorkel tours seem to just be in the bay for an hour or so--we liked the area so well we usually spent several hours, but you do have to be prepared for sunburn if you stay awhile. My husband bought a rash guard shirt at Costco for about $20, and only got sunburned where the shirt stopped (neck, lower arms, etc.). A t-shirt would definitely be better than bare skin--especially if you are kayaking across the bay, because that adds an additional length of time to the amount you are out in the sun. The other poster is right--this is an amazing place to be in the water--enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!!

Toronto, Ontario
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4. Re: Captain Cook's Monument

Thanks OregonSnorkelers and HawaiiDan.

We will likely buy our own snorkelling equipment before we go -and will also look into your idea of divers gloves too.

It sounds awesome.

I am leaning towards renting a kayak and venturing across the bay for half a day. There will be two of us (possibly 4) - and we can all swim - and have some kayak experience ("some"). I am hoping that on a clear day it will not be too high risk to do this ourselves - it will give us more time than the typical 30 minutes to an hour that the snorkelling tours give you.

Thanks for the tips - on ideas on pulling the kayak to shore, etc. Any little bit helps.

I am also assuming that you can just rent a kayak once you get to this area - first thing in the morning. With a rental car - I am not sure how we can rent the kayak ahead of time - and throw it on the roof of the car (?) without damage. Any idea on a price for renting a kayak in this area - without getting ripped off.

Thanks again for all of your comments - I will be prepared by the time I get there in July!

Keno, OR
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5. Re: Captain Cook's Monument

We rented from Adventures in Paradise, which is located on the highway near the turn-off for the Bay. We reserved our kayak the night before, and picked it up at 8 a.m. The man who worked there had foam pads and straps and attached it to the roof of our rental car for us. We unloaded it and dropped it in the water at the parking lot at the Bay--not too hard to do if the tide is reasonable, which it usually is--if you are in a group of people you should be able to handle it with no trouble. The trip across the bay is pretty easy--only caught slightly bigger waves on one trip back from the Monument, and even then we only got a bit wet--no danger of getting swamped or anything. Getting out of the water probably will go well for your group, but generally there are college or high school kids hanging out there to make some extra cash--one guy pulled the kayak out for us and put it on the car single-handed--we just tipped him $5. The snorkel shops tell you who to look for, but he found us as we paddled in. We recommend you take good anti-fog goop for your masks--we originally bought some spray from a dive shop in Oregon but it didn't work well. Snorkel Bob's came to the rescue--their $3 bottle of goop worked great! The price for the kayak was about $45 for a double for all day, but our B&B referred us and they gave people from the Cedar House a discount...check with where you're staying in case you can get something like that. Have a great time--it is an out-of-this-world experience!

Toronto, Ontario
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6. Re: Captain Cook's Monument

Again OregonS - you are too helpful (seriously) - and quick with the replies/posts. I wish I was leaving for Hawaii this weekend. My fiance thinks I am obsessed.

I will get the infamous "goop" for the masks - and I will look into kayak rentals once we get there. And your comments about us not having to worry too much about getting "swamped" make me feel a little better too.

I think this is the better route (doing it ourselves) vs. going for a half-day tour with a tour company.

I will assume they (e.g. Adventures in Paradise) provide life jackets - hopefully we will not need them - but swimming in a lake in Ontario is a little different than swimming with the dolphins/sharks(?)/whatever in Hawaii. I guess I am being a little too worried about it.

Thanks again.

Any more info from anyone is very helpful.

Keno, OR
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7. Re: Captain Cook's Monument

Hey--thanks for the compliment! We love the Big Island, and hope you and your fiancee do too. Yes, the life jackets were included with our kayak rental (they're high quality ones), and I wore mine the whole time across the Bay and back--it's easy traveling but just smart to wear the vest--although, buoyancy in salt water is a great feeling, and makes swimming much easier, I think. You folks are probably more experienced than we were on our first trip to the Monument--we had never been in a kayak before, and had just snorkeled a few times on Kauai before going to the Big Island--but it was wonderful and easier than I thought it would be. You are smart to do the planning like this, and be sure to ask any questions you have-- there are lots of people with good experiences out there and we love to tell others about all the fun we had (and hope you have!).

Saugatuck, Michigan
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8. Re: Captain Cook's Monument

We just returned from Kona and stayed in a condo directly on Keauhou Bay. We spotted spinner dolphins daily in the bay as well as a pair of whales that were just outside of the bay. I would highly recommend the Four Winds II snorkel cruise which leaves from Keauhou bay daily at 9am for a 3 1/2 hour cruise down to the Captain Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay. They provided the snorkel gear as well as breakfast and a bbq lunch on board. Snuba is also available on this same cruise. This was the absolute best snorkel experience I have ever had. The water is crystal clear and the marine life abundant in this protected area. The Fair Winds II is the only company to have a permanent mouring at the sight. You can swim up to the Captain Cook Memorial during your snorkel swim. You can also rent Kayaks in both Keauhou as well as Kealakekua Bay. Kealakekua Bay and the Captian Cook momument are a bit of a challenge to get to by car as the access road down to the water from highway 11 is a bit challenging to manuver.

Saugatuck, Michigan
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45 posts
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9. Re: Captain Cook's Monument

We just returned from Kona and stayed in a condo directly on Keauhou Bay. We spotted spinner dolphins daily in the bay as well as a pair of whales that were just outside of the bay. I would highly recommend the Four Winds II snorkel cruise which leaves from Keauhou bay daily at 9am for a 3 1/2 hour cruise down to the Captain Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay. They provided the snorkel gear as well as breakfast and a bbq lunch on board. Snuba is also available on this same cruise. This was the absolute best snorkel experience I have ever had. The water is crystal clear and the marine life abundant in this protected area. The Fair Winds II is the only company to have a permanent mouring at the sight. You can swim up to the Captain Cook Memorial during your snorkel swim. You can also rent Kayaks in both Keauhou as well as Kealakekua Bay. Kealakekua Bay and the Captian Cook momument are a bit of a challenge to get to by car as the access road down to the water from highway 11 is a bit challenging to manuver.

Keno, OR
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10. Re: Captain Cook's Monument

The access road from Highway 11 to the parking lot (where the kayak water access/old boat launch is) is a paved, two lane road which winds and turns (you drop a lot of elevation in a few miles) but it never seemed unsafe or difficult to us. Traffic is generally slow moving and there are lots of folks with kayaks driving up and down that road. There is also a coffee farm or two along that drive, and several B&B's, so we drove up and down there several times and didn't find it difficult at all. The snorkeling tours are probably a good idea for many people--we just felt like real adventurers doing it by ourselves, and so many people older (we're in our 40's) and less capable-appearing kayaked too, so it really was a pretty easy experience as well. I am glad so many people are going to this spot--it is amazing and unforgettable!