Are you looking for a guide to Kealakekua Bay? You’ve come to the right place! This blog post will provide you with all the information you need to plan your visit to this beautiful spot on Hawaii’s Big Island. We’ll cover everything from how to get there to what you can see and do while you’re there. Whether you’re already planning a trip or just dreaming about it, read on for all the details!

Kealakekua Bay – Directions

To reach the bay, take the Nāpō’opo’o turn-off for Nāpō’opo’o Road. It cuts through Highway 11 near mile marker 111, only about 13 miles south of Kona. The monument hike trailhead is only a few hundred feet from this intersection; however, if you want to go to the eastern shoreline of the bay on Nāpō’opo’o Road, continue driving for 4.5 more miles until you reach its end.

Ka‘awaloa Cove, North of the Captain Cook monument, is a great snorkeling location. It can only be accessed via hiking or through the bay.

Kealakekua Bay Summary

Kealakekua Bay, located 12 miles south of Kailua-Kona, is a famous destination for kayaking, snorkeling, and other recreational water activities. Kealakekua Bay is Kona’s largest natural bay, with a total of 315 beautiful acres to explore and snorkel in.

Kealakekua Bay is not only incredibly beautiful and perfect for water activities, but also steeped in history. It was the first place the Europeans landed in Hawaii in 1779, as well as the site of many meetings between Europeans and Hawaiians. It was also the death place of English Explorer Captain James Cook.

In 1969, it was registered as a Marine Life Conservation District because of how diverse and full of life the local ecosystem is.

Overview Of Kealakekua Bay’s History

This beautiful part of the Big Island was inhabited around 1000 years ago and acted as a cultural/social hub for Hawaiians at the time. The rocky coastal trails acted as perfect connections to nearby outposts.

The name ‘Kealakekua’ means ‘pathway of the gods’, and it is one of Hawaii’s most sacred cultural sites. It has played an extremely important role throughout the evolution of Hawaiian tradition and became a cornerstone of Hawaii’s historical significance.

Read more about the fascinating Kealakekua Bay!

Visiting Kealakekua Bay

The primary snorkeling areas cannot be reached by car. You can take a variety of tours though. Your options range from guided tours to hiking down the steep cliffsides.

Snorkeling Kealakekua Bay

The reefs and coral shelves are beautiful and begin close to shore, so be careful not to touch or stand on the coral.

The further you swim from shore, the deeper the water becomes. This is where you’ll find coral and an abundance of marine life in all directions. However, once you pass the rocky point, the water gets much deeper very quickly! Be aware of conditions in the bay before swimming out too deep because rough tides and currents are common farther away from shore.

Ka’awaloa Flats

There are two ways to access the land at Ka’awaloa Flats, where the Captain Cook Monument is located:

  1. Hiking down from the uplands via the historic Ka’awaloa Trail. Remember to bring out all trash and go to the bathroom before. There are no facilities or garbage on the trail.
  2. A guided kayak tour through a permitted company.

Learn more about snorkeling at the Captain Cook monument.

Hikiau Heiau

Looking out over the water at Nāpōʻopoʻo, you can see the remains of various ceremonial structures built on top of a large rock platform.

The heiau, a sacred Hawaiian site, has been restored many times after being destroyed by heavy waves and tsunamis. To respect the heritage of the Hawaiian people, please do not go onto the heiau.

Kealakekua Bay Facilities & Information

  • Picnic Pavilions
  • Garbages
  • Water Fountains
  • Restrooms
  • Scenic Viewpoints
  • Boat Tours
  • Snorkeling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Historical & Cultural Sites

Kealakekua Bay Hazards & Rules

  • Motorized Vehicles or ATVs Are NOT Allowed
  • No Camping
  • No Smoking
  • No Alcohol
  • Boat Landing/Launching Is NOT Allowed
  • Watch out for falling rocks, strong currents, and shorebreak

Visit Kona Style To Experience Kealakekua Bay!

Kona Style offers some of the best ways to experience the beauty of Kealakekua Bay. Our snorkeling tours will take you to some great spots for swimming and exploring the underwater world. You’ll be able to see a variety of tropical fish, corals, and other marine life up close. And, our knowledgeable guides will be there to answer any questions you have about the bay and its inhabitants. Come on down and give us a visit – you won’t be disappointed!