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Captain Cook's Monument Trail

MODERATE 204 reviews

Captain Cook's Monument Trail is a 5.8 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Captain Cook, Hawaii, Hawaii and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and trail running. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
5.8 km
ELEVATION GAIN
383 m
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

trail running

no shade

A short hike down (and back up) to Captain Cook Monument, in beautiful Kealakekua Bay. At the north end of Kealakekua Bay, British explorer Captain Cook was killed in 1779. A monument commemorating the event was erected in 1874 close to the spot Cook is believed to have fallen. Accessing this monument is not very easy. You either have to take a boat, a kayak, or hike to it. It's a short distance (about 1.8 miles one way), but the 1300 feet of elevation loss on the way in makes it a healthy climb on the way out. Another incentive is the snorkeling. Guides seem to agree that the water near the monument is one of the best snorkeling spot on the island. The hike down is easy enough. The slope is not too steep but watch your step because of roots and big rocks at first, and then smaller rolling rocks. You will have beautiful views of the ocean and of the south end of the Bay (where the Place of Refuge - Pu'uhonua o Honaunau is located). The trail is partly shaded, which is a big relief on a hot sunny day. The portion near the bend doesn't have many trees though. After reaching the water, check out the monument, which is on British territory (the land around the monument was given to the Crown). We were surprised to see so many snorkelers in the water. Snorkeling "cruises" take people straight to the monument. The water was so clear that you can clearly see and admire many sorts of fish from the shore. The coral is beautiful, the fish are abundant and colorful. Awesome snorkeling. All refreshed, you will be ready to hike back up. The hike back is a bit challenging, especially in the sun, but it is really not that bad, the grade was relatively constant.

hiking
14 days ago

Kealakekua Bay is one of the most stunning places on Big Island with great snorkelling and lots of history. It is well worth hiking down there and you can easily spend the whole day at the bay.
The views underway are stunning, at least during the second half of the trail.
That being said it is important to remember that it is only uphill on the way back. Bring lots of water and avoid the heat mid-day. It is more strenuous than it appears.

hiking
no shade
17 days ago

hiking
22 days ago

Beautiful views and can’t beat the jackpot at the end if you bring your snorkel and fins. Make sure to wear proper footwear and pack a lot of water. If you can’t hike out early enough the sun can be grueling.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

This was our third time on this trail and, honestly, it gets easier with each trip. That doesn’t mean that your calves won’t be taut as a guitar string the next day or that you won’t be nursing a scrape or two after slipping on loose gravel. But, you will finish this steep hike with a smile especially if you snorkel in the bay and see a turtle, reef shark and a dazzling array of colorful fish like we did. Also, look to the skies and don’t just rely on the weatherman’s prediction. Had we listened to him, we would have been caught in a torrential downpour which would have made the hike quite dangerous given the exposed rock, loose gravel and steep grade. As it was we benefited from the overcast skies but believed their darker color meant rain so we finished right before the skies opened up. And, of course, bring water. Just remember, though, between the snorkeling that will cause your body to absorb water and the drinking to quench your thirst, you will need to plan on ducking into bushes -unless that’s just because we are in our sixties.

hiking
no shade
rocky
1 month ago

beautiful hike! we did this in the rain, both ways, so honestly the heat and sun were not a problem. the uphill return hike is definitely a pause and rest type of hike. bring water and snacks and a sense of adventure and at the bottom notice that Capn Cook died on St Valentine's Day. lol.

hiking
1 month ago

Highly recommended hike, we really enjoyed it. Watching the goats climb the cliffs along the trail was a treat. The water views at the end of the trail was a wonderful moment of Zen.

no shade
rocky
1 month ago

nothing to see during the hike it's so rocky u HAVE to watch every step or ull trip only good part is the absolutely beautiful swimming hole at the monument I feel like it is a waste of time unless u plan on swimming o just fyi getting done was a breeze but getting back up was a good work out bring a walking stick lots of loose rocks u can easily slip on

hiking
1 month ago

Got to the trailhead about 4pm and decided we might as well take the quick hike down to the monument. After about 10 minutes, it started pouring rain down and we were soaked. Rain let up after about 15 minutes and we made our way to the bottom. Didn't know which way the monument was, so that took a couple minutes to get straightened out. The monument is to the left once you get to the water. Headed back uphill with dry clothes. The sky opened up one more time as we were about a half mile from the road and soaked us again. Somehow did the uphill trip from the bay in about 40 minutes, faster than we did the downhill.

hiking
1 month ago

This was a decent/ascent out/back trail.

Very very amazing snorkeling at the bottom.

Definitely bring good hiking shoes, the terrain is rough in parts.

Bring tons of water as the ascent is open, sunny, and hot.

Just be prepared for the return portion which is tough ascent of 1200+ ft in about 2mi.

hiking
over grown
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

hiking
no shade
1 month ago

So glad we found this trail! It gets hot so bring plenty of water, sunscreen and wear proper shoes as several areas are very rocky. The water was deep so bring floats if possible, in additional to your swimwear/snorkeling gear. The water at the end is so beautiful! Definitely worth the hike!

hiking
2 months ago

My first hike on our visit. The terrain was quite mellow. The beginning of the train is shady with trees, but as you go on the trail is quite exposed. Recommend starting early to beat the mid day heat and sun.

hiking
2 months ago

This trail is about 1.9 miles each way. Much of it is exposed with lava rock on either side, so bring plenty of water, especially for the hike back out. The snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay was fantastic. Lots of fish, and we saw three five-foot reef sharks. It can be tricky getting into and out of the water — remember not to stand on the coral reefs.
In addition to the snorkeling, we saw what I think was a mongoose, some goats, and a wild pig.
It took us about 40 minutes to go down and about and hour to come back up with frequent rest stops. Highly recommend this as a way to combine snorkeling with hiking.

2 months ago

Hiked this trail today with my son and friends. I consider myself an experienced hiker but today was something different. Bring three times the water you would expect. Make sure everyone in your group has plenty. The descent was good. Watch your step in areas as the rocks can slide. It took 1:15 to get down stopping frequently to wait for the group.

The snorkeling is a must but be careful with water entry and exit. Two of our party, myself include, came in contact with a Sea Urchin. I recommend entering the water at the rope ladder near the monument.

The ascent was hot! I consumed more water then I ever had before. It took 3:30 minutes to complete the ascend as the slower person was not an experienced hiker.

hiking
2 months ago

I was lucky to see the monument on the anniversary that the islands were found, so it was extra special for me and my boyfriend. The way down was difficult at times because the terrain can be tricky. The way back up was a breeze for me, but can see that the incline can be difficult for others. Shade is minimal so pack enough water and sunblock. We didn’t stay to go snorkeling, but it seemed everyone who was there was enjoying it. Definitely worth spending two hours of your vacation doing this.

hiking
2 months ago

SNORKEL DREAM

Fast hike down ( 45 min ) and well worth the snorkeling. This was our families favorite snorkel spot on our trip! THE WAY BACK UP WAS VERY HOT and STRENUOUS, the incline is no joke! Bring a few waters, full sun almost all the way ☀️. WEAR TENNIS SHOES.. don’t be an idiot. We are in shape and the incline was difficult. I would rate this trail differently just so people know what they’re getting into... Leave early so you can spend most of your day there. Plan on at least an hour getting back up or longer if your older or out of shape.

hiking
2 months ago

Trail is strenuous with little shade for the second half (going down). Definitely recommend snorkeling gear or swim suits to enjoy the water at the end of the trail. Highly recommend for a lower altitude but challenging hike on the Big Island. There were a couple families who appeared to have been there for a large part of the day..

If you are interested in the Captain Cook Memorial, you must turn left at trail marker 8. There aren’t any signs to turn here, so it wasn’t initially obvious to us.

hiking
2 months ago

The hike is nice with beautiful ocean views. About 5.5 km each way for you Canadians. Some say it is all about the destination but hike is good. Wear runners and expect to sweat on the return trip. The snorkling is very nice but lots of tour boats. Get there early or plan to be there around 1130 to 1 when they are head out to pick up the afternoon swimmers. I do recommend this hike as the snorkling is a nice reward.

hiking
2 months ago

Missed a step on this one

hiking
2 months ago

Good hike with an even better destination. We do quite a bit of hiking, it took us 45 minutes down and 60 minutes up. Steady climb but nothing too steep. Wear proper walking/hiking shoes. Snorkelling was great, definitely recommend water shoes or flippers getting into the water as well.

2 months ago

it's all about the end game for this trail. The snorkeling in the bay at the bottom is spectacular. the trail itself is moderate plus. Expect a decently steep descent with loose footings throughout the trail. Be prepared for the ascent as it will challenge even people in good overall shape. the way up has little shade and a moderate grade all the way up. Bring plenty of water and some snacks. It's a short but physically demanding hike.

3 months ago

A short hike with a beautiful destination. Bring your bathing suit and snorkel gear as it's the thing to do. Don't forget to be fit as the hike up is strenuous.

3 months ago

I would rate this moderate plus. It is very steep in some places and there is a lot of loose lava rock toward the bottom. But.. well worth it! Wear good hiking or walking shoes and, yes, take a lot of water! Enjoy!

hiking
3 months ago

This trail is all about the destination. Snorkeling here is just fabulous. The hike down is pretty basic but mongoose will take your lunch and water while you snorkel. This makes the hike back brutal in the heat. We hike a great deal in Colorado at very high altitude and figured this would be easy but the heat and lava made this more than we bargained for. Perhaps it was the lack of food and water after the hike down and two hours of snorkeling but in any case we recommend taking the boat tour. Saw many in their twenties saying the hike back was miserable. If you decide to take it on, go early , hogs and goats own the trail and take lots of water that you hide from mongoose.

hiking
3 months ago

Well after reading some of the reviews I set off on this trusty journey with my 5 gallons of water, a machete and my experience of hiking Everest 5 times without supplemental oxygen and fully nude. My mother was a mountain lion and father was an alpaca so hiking has been in my blood since birth. After 7 days I emerged victorious over the trail though missing my machete because what I can only assume was the king of the wild hogs took it but spared my life.

Nah but for real it was a nice little hike, 40 down, 45 minutes back up. The snorkeling at the bottom was absolutely as good as everyone says.

3 months ago

At a good pace, it took us 1 hour to get to the Monument. You will be in over grown jungle type trails and many types of lava rock with no shade. We encountered wild goats. The hike back is the hard part. We had a time limit and has to push hard up the trail. 3 bottles of water and soaked in sweat it took us 1.5 hours to get up. We are in fairly good shape aa we walk 3-5 miles 3 times a week. Well worth it but allow more time then we did. Can't wait to return better prepared!

hiking
3 months ago

Nice solid hike. Sweeping views in some places

4 months ago

Was very nice to swim once down. Coming back up was hard for me but worth it

hiking
4 months ago

The bay and snorkeling are worth the hike down. Today the heat on the way back up was brutal, we had plenty of water and it was a hard climb out after snorkeling and enjoying the water, we hike regularly in Oregon at higher elevations with no issues. Be prepared and if you’re questioning your abilities I would recommend a boat tour over the hike.

hiking
4 months ago

Mountain goats were a huge surprise—saw maybe two dozen of them. Once at the water, I set my pack down to go for a swim and had to come back because a Mongoose was going inside my backpack. About a dozen Mongoose showed up, so I had to hang my pack from a branch. Saw some amazing yellow fish playing in the water around Captain Cooks death memorial stone. Beautiful small finch like bird with a red head was super curious about my trail food. A little strenuous going back up, but we got hit with a monsoon like downpour which was a morale boost. Loved the trail—one of
My favorite hikes of all time. Watch out for boars too. We definitely heard them around near the upper portion of the trail in the thick grass.

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