Big Island: Snorkel hike duo

Captain Cook’s Monument Trail

Trail length: 3.6 miles out and back

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation gain on ascent: 1,315′

Traffic: HIGH traffic trail.

What to bring: water, sunscreen, snorkel gear, water-shoes, snacks, plenty of water, towel, bag for wet clothes, rain jacket, hiking boots.

A little history lesson:

The Captain Cook monument was build in memory of Captain James Cook the first documented British explorer who discovered the Hawaiian islands in 1778 AD. The people of Hawaii thought he was a god and showered their arrival with celebration. A few weeks later Cook and his crew left, only to encounter a massive storm damaging their boat. Upon their return, Cook disrupted sacred burial grounds and out came the truth, the Hawaiians killed Captain James Cook. This monument was build by those who sailed alongside the Cook in the expedition to finding the Hawaiian islands (Wikipedia).


This is a well marked trail, located on the West side of Hawaii’s Big Island. What makes this trail so special is that it is located on one of the best snorkeling spots on the Island. 🐠

The start of the trail doesn’t have a parking lot, but there is parking along the shoulder opposite of the trail. There is clear signage for the trail so you shouldn’t miss it.

The way down is a fairly gradual descent, but it is 1315′ down so keep this in mind that you will need to retrace and regain that elevation on the way up. The terrain consists of loose lava rocks. There were people in sandals and flops, but also witnessed the aftermath of a pretty nasty fall from someone wearing sandals. Ankle support is highly recommend.

There are trail markers on your way down numbered 1-8. This will help affirm you’re on the correct path.

Once you pass trail marker 4ish, the trail becomes a bald, if the suns out you’re completely exposed, additionally, if it’s raining, you’re also completely exposed.. so plan your attire accordingly.

On the way down we encountered a herd of wild goats. Here are a couple of babies we saw on the way down! OBSESSED 😍😍😍


When you’re descending the bald you will eventually hook left. This will take you down toward the water. You’re going to see a wide path to the water straight ahead. You may see some kayakers entering the water here. Before the water there will be a path to turn left, follow that trail for about 150 yards and voila. You’ve reached your destination.

Luckily, and unluckily it was raining, lessening the crowds. This hike is extremely popular and the later in the day it gets, the more traffic you run into, both on the trail and in the water. Although, this snorkel bump kiss was on purpose. 😘

Kealakeua Bay is one of the best, and most popular snorkeling spots on this Big Island. There are literally boatloads of people that are chartered over, there are also kayak tours that will take you over to this bay. These tours are highly recommend, but can get expensive. The hike is definitely the way to go in regards to the most bang for your buck.

The earlier you go the more privacy you will have. This is also a popular spot for dolphin spotting and even whales. 🐳

There is a rope ladder to help you in the water USE THIS LADDER. Sea urchins live in this coral and will MESS you up! You’ll see once your face hits the water some of these urchins have easily three inch spikes! OUCH.

These full face snorkel masks are also pretty neat, they allow for greater panoramic views, along with the ability to breathe normally underwater. This was a game changer!

On your way up there will be a fork in the path, stay right. Then you’re smooth sailing the rest of the way

Thanks for reading!


*Disclaimer this website is here to simply express nature’s beauty. Dreambigtravelwide and it’s affiliates are not responsible for any injuries, or fatalities that may occur when performing outdoor activities, or anything covered in blog posts. These activities can be dangerous. Please be responsible and know your limits, if you choose to participate, you are doing so at your own risk.

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