Since we were on the Big Island, we decided to visit one of the historical sites, the Captain Cook Monument. Captain Cook was a British explorer who made the first contact with Hawaiian Islands and people. Unfortunately, he was killed by the islanders after they discovered that he was not a god as they had thought. (That’s the short version of the story!) There is a plaque and monument to commemorate the places where he died.
You can see the monument from either the waters of Kealakekua Bay, via kayak with permit or charter boat or you can hike down the hill to explore the area on land. We chose to hike down to the monument via the trail shown on the map below. The hike is 3.8 miles round trip and has 1400 foot of elevation gain on the way back.
The parking area is just the side of the road in a residential area, with a sign near telephone pole #4. The trail is mostly an old jeep road, so it was reasonably wide and the footing was nice, with the exception of a few spots of lava gravel.
It was an unusual experience to start a hike by descending, but we weren’t complaining about that. As we descending the views toward the ocean started to open up. We descended through farmland, then lava fields. As we got closer, we made a sharp left turn and headed straight for the water.
At the water’s edge we found the plaque and then off to the left down short section of trail was the monument itself. The square of land that the monument sits on is actually owned by the British. It was gifted to them by a Hawaiian princess well after Cook’s death. The Australians have built a rock jetty here as well.
We explored the area, took a nice break and then headed back up the hill. The hike back was very hot, plus it was uphill. We had to hike slowly, drink plenty of water and take breaks to make sure we did not overheat. We were very fortunate to have a nice ocean breeze on the way back or else it would have been extremely hot!
On a snorkel cruise the following day, here is a picture of the lower part of the trail from the water. It comes down heading toward the left in the center of the photo and then takes a sharp turn toward the right of the photo, like a switch back.
It was a nice little excursion to see a piece of Hawaii history, even if the hike back was a bit hotter than we’d like it to have been. Of course, we could be at home clearing more snow!