Captain Cook Monument Hike, Captain Cook, HI

This is an amazingly beautiful, historical, and somewhat strenuous hike to the Captain Cook monument in Captain Cook, Hawaii. I highly recommend this hike for everyone! The trailhead starts a little less than a mile down Napoopoo Rd after turning off Hawaii Belt Rd (between 81 and 82 mm).

The trailhead can be a bit hard to find if there are not many people parked around it. The start is across from three large palm trees on the right side of the road. There is spray paint on the road that points in the direction of the path. Good luck finding it!


Look for the spray paint entrance and cars parked on the side of the road.

The trail is pretty monotone for most of the way down with the terrain being a mixture of dirt and smooth(ish) lava. I did this hike in flip-flops ( forgot my shoes!) but I would not recommend it. It is a very easy 2.5 mile hike down starting at an elevation of about 1400 ft and ending at 0 ft.  The best part about going down this trail is the beautiful views of the bay which you are facing most of the way down.


Beautiful views!

The trail curves slightly to the left going down and you begin hiking on more of a gravel type floor. once you get to the end of this part of the trail where it flattens out there is a small cove where kayaks pull in. If you go to the waters edge and look to the left you will see the plaque in the place Captain Cook died! very cool!


captain cook’s death spot!

Continuing along the original trail you will end shortly at the monument. This monument is actually on British soil! This bay is also home to the best snorkeling on the Big Island. I was in the water for about 5 minutes and when I searched for a way out I got cut on the rocks (thank goodness for my first-aid kit). I HIGHLY recommend foot protection when in the water. Needless to say I did not get to enjoy the water that much but I did see hundreds of yellow tang and a huge eel just from the surface!


The hike back up is much less fun (especially with a cut toe in flip-flops!) while the hike down took about 45 minutes down the hike back up took about an hour and 15 minutes. The elevation climb is pretty steady the whole way up and you don’t get to see the views of the ocean this way.  Your only motivation is to get to your car!


don’t forget to catch your breath!

Here is some history about this area and Captain Cook:

British explorer Captain James Cook changed the course of Hawaiian history when he sailed into Waimea Harbor on Kauai in January 1778. His two ships, the Resolution and the Discovery, were the first European vessels ever to moor in Hawaiian waters, and Cook was reportedly the first Westerner to set foot in the territory.

Shortly after his initial arrival, Captain Cook set out to explore the other Hawaiian Islands. He voyaged to the Big Island of Hawaii in early 1779. According to local legend, the locals initially saw him as an incarnation of the god Lono, but later came to revile him when a storm damaged his ship and forced him to delay the departure of his sailors. The “guests” had overstayed their welcome.

History has it that Cook fell into a dispute over the theft of a longboat. When he and his crew went to retrieve it, a battle with guns, daggers and spears ensued. Cook was mortally wounded, and he died as a result on February 14, 1779.

Cook’s body was sacrificed to Ku, the war god, at Puhina O Lono (burning of Lono) Heiau, his flesh baked, bones flensed and body parts distributed to various Ali’i. It is said that, as a mark of honor, Kamehameha received Cook’s hair. Ever the astute politician, Kamehameha returned this grisly trophy to the British sailors soon afterward. It is neither polite nor wise to raise this subject with modern Hawai’ians, but noting that the ancient Hawai’ians were habitual cannibals used to ritually consuming the flesh of their vanquished foes, it is reasonable to assume that Cook’s mortal coil received this treatment. In fact, this cannibalistic honoring of Cook as a worthy foe comes down to us in a Hawai’ian wives’ tale of village children stealing and eating Cook’s baked entrails because they mistook them for those of a dog.

2 thoughts on “Captain Cook Monument Hike, Captain Cook, HI

  1. Pingback: Pololu Hike #1 | Nature.

  2. Got pointed here from Reddit. Just a small correction. Captain Cook was not the first Westerner to visit the islands. There are several accounts of other foreigners both in Hawaiian history and Western history. Captain Cook was the one to essentially mainstream the Hawaiian islands to the world.

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