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Guide to the Best Captain Cook Snorkeling Tours

The Ultimate Captain Cook Snorkel Tour Guide

Imagine arriving in a bay that is so stunningly beautiful with tropical beauty and massive cliffs plunging into the ocean that you are surprised when you dip your head below the surface you find that you are even more amazed by the marine life the surrounds you. This is Kealakekua Bay located just south of Kona, Hawaii. It’s easily one of the best snorkeling spots in all of Hawaii and has history and stunning views to top things off.

a woman snorkeling at the surface of the ocean with reef close underneath and schools of fish all around


In This Guide

  1. Monument Location
  2. Tour Types
    1. Boat Tours
    2. Self-Propelled Tours
  3. FAQ’s


Know Before You Go

Captain Cook Monument is a spot on the north end of beautiful Kealakekua Bay in the City of captain Cook on the Big Island. There are multiple ways to access the bay and reach the monument. Most people go by boat because let’s be honest, it’s the easiest and most fun way to get there in style. There are a few other options however including a steep hike and Kayaks, paddle boards, or even a double hull old school Hawaiian style canoe.

an aerial google maps view of Kealakekua Bay


There are 2 Captain Cook Snorkel Tour Types

Boat Tours

From Shore (Self Propelled)

view of the captain cook monument on the far side of kealakekua bay looking from manini beach on the opposite side. Kayaks and boats are in between in the sea

View of the Captain Cook Monument surrounded by boats and Kayaks paddling out across Kealakekua Bay


Captain Cook Snorkel Tours by Boat

Intimate Boat Tours

Party Boat Tours


There are 2 kinds or styles of boats that visit Captain Cook monument for snorkeling.

Intimate boat tours emphasize service and cater more to each individual with a smaller number of guests per guide. This is going to be more like a private boat tour. They typically offer more assistance and attention to each individual. They are better for people into the snorkeling experience or with less experience snorkeling that like being closer to their guide. Intimate boat tours will have less than 20 snorkelers on board.

Party boat tours are on larger boats with slides, barbecues, and other activities in addition to snorkeling. There might be one staff to 20 or more individuals on these tours. They are more about the topside activities and food. Party boat tour will have 40 or more guests on board.

people sit on a small boat in the ocean talking. There are kayaks in the water behind and a whilte obelisk of the captain cook monument on shore

Kona Snorkel Trips is our pick for best intimate boat tour provider


Intimate Boat Tours

Of the more personalized offerings we’ve selected the provider with both the most flexibility (they offer 2 departure times) and the highest rating/most reviews.

Kona Snorkel Trips offers daily morning snorkel tours to some of the best Kona’s snorkeling spots available. This includes Pawai Bay snorkeling and Captain Cook snorkeling tours.



Party Boat Tours

We’ve visited Kealakekua bay many different times in different ways. The party boat is good if you’re visiting with friends and you want to drink and hang out on the boat. In that case our favorite party boat tour provider is Sea Paradise. Their boat is a fantastic sailing catamaran that offers excellent views and is a good option for pople that get easily seasick. it accommodates a maximum of 40 guests

Morning Captain Cook Snorkel Tour




Afternoon Captain Cook Snorkel Tour

Captain Cook Snorkel Tours From Shore

There are several different ways to get from the shore on the other side of Kealakekua Bay to the Captain Cook Monument without a guide. If you’re looking for a tour the boat options above will be a better option.

Captain Cook Paddling Tours

There’s three ways to get to the Captain Cook monument from the other side of Kealakekua Bay.

Double Hulled Canoe


Paddle Board




Double-Hulled Canoe

Probably one of the most ‘Authentic’ ways to get to the monument is via a Hawaiian-style double-hulled canoe. This is how the Hawaiians used to travel around the island and is probably the most fun self-propelled way to get there with a group of up to 8 friends or family.



people sitting in a double hulled canoe in the ocean in front of a steep cliff



The most conventional way to get across the bay is by Kayak. Park near the bay and paddle across 1 mile (1.6 km) to reach the other side where you can beach the kayak and snorkel around. You can rent snorkel gear for an additional fee if you’d like to see the beautiful underwater sights here (recommended).


a man and woman sitting in an open top kayak in the ocean with a large pointy rock behind



The most challenging method and best workout is via paddle board. Staying atop in rough water can be a challenge and is a great way to get a workout while you transit from one side of the bay to the other. It’s more difficult to beach on shore and snorkel on a board board than a Kayak. This would be for people that really want a good workout and are less concerned about the snorkeling.



a man stands on a paddleboard on the ocean while paddling with a rock behind


Round up

There are many different ways to get to Hawaii’s best snorkeling spot at the Captain Cook Monument. Weather it’s by tour boat, kayak or canoe there’s something for everyone. No matter how you get there, do try to visit because it really is worthwhile not just for the snorkeling but the scenery and History truly make this a special place in Hawaii to visit.

Looking to learn more about the Captain Cook Monument? Check out our guide



Frequently Asked Questions

Is Captain Cook good for snorkeling?

The best snorkeling in Hawaii is in front of the Captain Cook Monument located on the north end of Kealakekua Bay, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

an aerial view of the captain cook monument with a boat floating in the ocean just offshore and some snorkelers in the water nearby

What makes Captain Cook snorkeling so good? It’s a combination of the pristine reef, schools of colorful reef fish, as well as stunning topside scenery and history of the site itself. While it’s not straighforward to get there you can Paddle there yourself or take a boat tour.


Is Kealakekua Bay worth it?

Kealakekua Bay is stunning above and below the water. To see the best part, take a Captain Cook snorkel tour where the reef is teeming with colorful reef fish.

two people snorkeling in the ocean with reef and colorful fish below


Are snorkeling tours worth it?

It depends. In general, a tour is going to provide equipment, ease of access, and a guide to help you along as well as point out creatures underwater as well as highlight historical points of interest. You may also have a fun boat ride with food and drink as well as an opportunity to come across marine life on the way to the site. During some months there is a high likelihood of spotting whales.


Can you snorkel on your own at Captain Cook in Hawaii?

3 ways to snorkel a Captain Cook Monument

  1. Rent a Kayak or Paddleboard and paddle over to the monument and snorkel there to your heart’s content.
  2. Join one of the large boats that take guests to the monument and you can hop in and snorkel around yourself.
  3. Hike Down with your snorkel gear.
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