Captain Cook’s Monument Trail

Hilo, Hawaii 96721

Captain Cook’s Monument Trail

Captain Cook’s Monument Trail Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"A white obelisk on the north side of Kealakekua Bay marks the approximate site where Captain James Cook died in 1779 in a skirmish with Hawaiian natives over their theft of one of his auxiliary boats (see the chapter “Geology and History, Natural and Human” in this book). The spot is both beautiful and thought-provoking. It’s inaccessible except to those who hike down to or boat over to this lonely, rocky shore.

Caution: The old 4WD road used as a trail down to the monument can become completely overgrown by very tall grasses. Do not take this hike if it is overgrown. See also under “Permit/permission required,” below. Brochures describing Mookini Heiau are available at a brochure box next to the parking lot. Be sure to pick one up and use it to guide your visit—although the temple walls as seen from here are intimidating enough to make you think twice about entering the temple precincts. Your first view of Mookini Heiau from the parking lot is as an impressive mound of lichen-covered rock rising on the west side of the lot. Tradition says these waterworn basalt boulders came from Pololu Valley, many miles away, and were all transported here by being passed from hand to hand down a living chain of men in a single night. It is clear that you must enter only with the greatest respect."

Captain Cook’s Monument Trail Trip Reports

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Trail was clean and wide. Lots of water will help on the hike back up. Beautiful views of the Kona coast.
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The return up is a workout, but worth the trip. The grass can become quite thick at times on the upper part of the trail. After pushing through that, its lava rocks that can rock your ankles. Towards the bottom it becomes a much easier trail. The bay at the bottom offers some incredible snorkeling. I recommend carrying snorkel gear with you if you can. Just remember lots of water, and that the trip up will seem twice as long.

Captain Cook’s Monument Trail Photos

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Trail Information

Nearby City
1,280 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
2 hours
USGS Honaunau
Local Maps