Duration: 4 - 4.5 hours
8:30am - 12:30pm
11:00am - 3:30pm
Ages 3+
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Kealakekua Bay Snorkeling

Hop on board the Orca, for a quick ride along Kona’s magical coast. Keep your eyes peeled for the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins as they head into protected coves and bays to rest after a long night of hunting. We will cruise along the coast in search of other pelagic animals like Bottlenose dolphins, Pilot Whales, Spotted dolphins, and humpback whales – you just never know what the ocean will deliver – maybe even a Whale Shark!

The Big Island has many great snorkeling spots but few are as magical as Kealakekua Bay. Kealakekua Bay snorkeling is great because of the combination of dramatic scenery, wild nature, historical significance, and great snorkeling! So join us on this lovely 4-hour adventure that will create memories lasting a lifetime.


  • Snorkel equipment
  • Floatation belts
  • Snacks & drinks

What to Bring:

  • Swimsuit (please arrive in it)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat and sun protective cover-up
  • Reef-safe sunscreen
  • Camera (A dry bag is recommended)


  • Transportation to/from the harbor
  • Gratuity/Tips

Please Note: 

  • Only reef safe sunscreen is allowed
  • The Captain Cook snorkeling tour is not a suitable activity for expectant mothers or those with back or neck issues

Who is this for?

Bring your friends and family on this amazing opportunity to see one of Hawaii’s most significant sites. Captain Cook Monument is unique among the Big Island’s most historically significant sites. Hawaii has few encounters like this one! All ages will enjoy this experience. Our guides will do their best to accommodate everyone. We provide the gear and the supervision to make for a safe and fun experience you will remember for a lifetime. So come join our Captain Cook snorkeling tour while you still have the chance!

What makes the Captain Cook Snorkeling Tour so Unique?

Kealakekua Bay snorkeling is different from other snorkel spots on the Big Island for a number of reasons. Without going into the history or the nature, simply seeing the dramatic beauty of the cliffs and the shoreline with the iconic white pinnacle monument is enough to make this trip worthwhile. The Captain Cook Monument’s relative remoteness combined with the beauty of the coastline makes for a pleasant spot to relax and take a dip. Once you get into the water you will see why people love to snorkel this spot.

Captain Cook Snorkeling Described

You may be wondering what it’s like at the Captain Cook monument. Captain Cook snorkeling is nice because the water is relatively shallow near the shore. The boat will drop you off in 20 to 30 feet of water and from there you can easily swim within feet of the monument itself. The reef there abounds with life. You can see interesting critters like yellow tang, a golden-colored reef fish, that is common in abundance there. Often, it is found in large schools cleaning the algae from the coral reef. You may also see sharks, eels, dolphins, turtles, and more! Captain Cook snorkeling is a feast for your eyes🤩.

Kealakekua Bay snorkeling is special because it’s such a nice reef with loads of reef fish swimming near shore in shallow water. You can get out of the water at the monument itself as there are stairs allowing you to take a break and read about the final end of the illustrious Captain Cook. Sometimes there will be dolphins jumping and playing in the area. The geography of Kealakekua Bay provides for a protected spot where snorkeling is so nice. Kealakekua Bay Snorkeling is known as the best on the island! This has to do with the abundance of coral and the variety of reef critters you are likely to see there. The snorkeling area is quite large meaning you can spend a long time in the water exploring. You may see pencil urchins with their red rounded spines, pillow stars clinging to rocks, eels swimming from rock to rock, parrotfish munching on reef, and loads of fish cleaning the reef algae. When the sun is shining it makes for a magical underwater experience. A day on this Captain Cook snorkeling tour will make your trip to the Big Island well worth it!

Dolphin Awareness

Our approach to dolphin interaction is dolphin friendly and abides by the marine mammal act. While this Cpatain Cook Snorkeling tour is not designed to see dolphins, sometimes they just show up! When encountering these creatures it is important to take into consideration the animal’s willingness to have humans close by. This is why we offer dolphin viewing only. Since dolphins are often hunting at night and sleeping during the day we make our best effort not to disturb them when they are sleeping.

The Boat

The Orca is a 27.5ft rigid hull inflatable boat. It has shade and will comfortably hold 14 snorkelers with a maximum Coast Guard rated capacity of 19 passengers plus crew. Its cruising speed is 24 knots which allow us to reach Captain Cook monument quickly.

Dolphin Observing in Kona

If you’re looking to observe wild dolphins, it’s no longer permitted. Seeing wild dolphins is different almost every time as their behavior can vary widely based on so many factors. Just hearing the slapping, breathing, and squeaking as they jump, and play. We may come across dolphins on the way to the snorkel spot but as they are wild animals they may or may not come across our path as we head to and from the site. We recommend taking this captain cook snorkeling tour because you may not see dolphins but you will see Hawaii’s best snorkeling spot. If dolphins show up, then that just makes the tour even better!

What Kind of Dolphins will I see?

There are 4 kinds of dolphins found near the Kona Coast. While dolphin tours are banned, it may be possible to come across dolphins or whales en route to Kealakekua Bay, the final destination for this Captain Cook snorkeling tour. Here are the most common dolphin species found in Hawaii.

Spinner Dolphins are the most often seen dolphin species. They are obvious because of their long beak also known as a rostrum. They form large pods and love to jump in the air and spin around multiple times before landing. They are also 2 colors with a dark upper body and lighter colored lower half. For people looking to swim with dolphins Kona spinner dolphins are the ones people will see most often while Captain Cook snorkeling.

Bottlenose Dolphins – are common along the Kona Coast but are not seen as often because there are fewer. They are larger than spinners and often form only small pods. It’s common to see a single individual as well. Bottlenose are found around the world and are a light grey in color.

Spotted dolphins – are a treat to see. They are often found offshore and they are obvious because they love to follow the boat and jump incredibly high in the air sometimes up to 20 feet!

Rough tooth Dolphins – are seen only offshore. They are long and thin with a long rostrum. They love to take fish from fisherman’s hooks. They are usually in pairs or a small group.

Marine Reserve and Conservation

The area around the monument is a marine reserve that is protected from fishing and harvesting wildlife. This means it will be in excellent condition for a long time to come. It is important that when snorkeling we wear reef safe sunscreen. The chemicals in sunscreen can make coral regeneration very difficult even in very low concentrations. The best sunscreen is a covering like a rash guard or hat. Reef-safe sunscreen can be applied on the back of your hands and neck to cover the exposed areas. We’re excited to see you soon on this Captain Cook Snorkeling Tour!

Frequently Asked Questions

There are 3 ways to get to captain cook monument to snorkel:

  1. Take a boat tour
  2. Rent a Kayak
  3. Hike down

To learn more about these thre ways check out this article.

Not only can you swim at the monument site, you can also snorkel at Captain Cook Monument. It’s some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii! Sign up for a snorkeling tour to see it in style.

At the reef slope it drops off quite fast to around 80-110 feet (24-32 meters).

Yes! You can hike or rent a kayak/paddleboard to see the Captain Cool Monument. Here’s how.

There are no snorkel rental facilities or really any facilities at the monument itself. That’s why it’s best to take a tour where everything is provided. Learn more here.

Captain cook sailed all around the Pacific finding islands previously unknown to the rest of the world. When they arrived back in Hawaii the sailors and Cook himself got into a dispute with the natives and the natives killed him before he could escape back to his ship. The monument lies near where he died.

In the middle of the bay it gets over 100 feet deep (30 meters). But if you stick near the Captain Cook Monument you the snorkeling ranges from a few feet deep to around 20 feet.