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Captain Cook's Monument Trail
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mini location map2022-04-08
45 by photographer avatartibber
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Captain Cook's Monument TrailHawaii, HI
Hawaii, HI
Hiking4.00 Miles 1,275 AEG
Hiking4.00 Miles   3 Hrs   35 Mns   2.22 mph
1,275 ft AEG   1 Hour   47 Mns Break
1st trip
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Trip report combines two days. The Captain Cook's hike wasn't on the agenda until cousin Jaelyn added it; we really had no idea, ha! But before I tell you about this hike; after a fabulous nite with the Manta Rays, our first full day in Hawaii would start with an awesome breakfast down on Ali'i Drive (Ali'i means royalty) at Kalikala Cuisine. We had a fabulous view of the bay while we enjoyed great food and booze next to this old and gigantic Moreton Fig Tree. We walked around a little bit in pursuit of pearls and coffee, but it was a little early for a lot of the stores to be open.

Next our cousins got us some snorkeling gear and we took off for Two Step Beach at Honaunau Bay/Captain Cook Sadly the day turned overcast and the weather was ominous but you're going to be wet anyway. We found parking for $5 and headed to the lava rock beach. Getting in was a bit tricky from the rock side but we prevailed. I hadn't been snorkeling since 2001 when I hung out with some nurse sharks off of Pompano Beach in FL. The Pacific water was warmer and much more shallow.

You immediately start to see all sorts of pretty little fish :) , mostly Yellow Tangs. I didn't know my fish before we did this but I know them now. Mia did her best to film our excursion. Next time we'll be better prepared. As we started to come back I got caught between and on some rocks so Mia went around which I should have done. The problem was is it got too shallow and the water had gotten rougher so I couldn't float as easily. We did have float noodles so that really helped us and let us stay out longer as we didn't have to work too hard to keep afloat. It took both of us time to get used to the masks and tubes.

The weather was still threatening but we still walked over to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. We learned about this combo from that video we used to create our "to do" list [ youtube video ] . I was able to use my America the Beautiful Pass to get in. This park was the ‘place of refuge’, a safe haven for those that broke the Kapu laws, which in old Hawaii were punishable by death. If you reached the Puʻuhonua, you would be pardoned by Kahuna and given a second chance at life. They have great displays and there is a large and long rock wall interspersed throughout along with areas of water. The weather, was once again, a bit ominous so we didn't do the longer walk which was recommended; plus we were pretty hungry. (we ended up walking 1.5 miles)

We did take the back roads to one more stop on our agenda: Located at Napo'opo'o Beach (Kealakekua Bay), the Hikiau Heiau is an ancient Hawaiian temple site that was built by King Kalani'opu'u. It is a luakini (human sacrifice) heiau.

We finished off that day with supper on the lanai at my cousins house. Keeping with my Mai Tai theme, we stopped at the liquor store to pick up ingredients for making Mai Tais and had homemade lasagna and salad. While at the liquor store, a lady told us to go to Don's Mai Tai bar at the Royal Kona Resort if we wanted the best Mai Tai.

Next morning it was an early rise for our hike to the other side of the Bay we had snorkeled the day before. We were lucky to tuck my cousin's truck in a parking spot as there isn't much room for parking. We (four cousins and two dogs) started down the Ka'awaloa Trail (Hawaiian name for this trail) to KEALAKEKUA BAY. I knew it was a big drop and it was; I whined going down dreading having to come back up this in full sun. Fortunately, there is shade on the top and bottom for a little bit and the trail had recently been cut back, as the grass on either side can be quite tall.

The first thing we saw was some feral pigs and then lots of feral goats. We would see that feral goats are all over the island. These goats are descended from the goats released by Captain Cook in the 1770s. They are, however, amusing to watch. As you make your way down the scene finally clears to show you the giant view of the Pacific Ocean and this is also where you walk around and on the volcanic rock. While the trail is pretty nice, it does have those rolly poley rocks and you are going down at quite an angle so you have to pay attention.

Needless to say, it is relief when you finally reach the bottom and there are also trees. The trail has old rock walls on both sides as you make your way toward the beach. The first beach is what I call a "false" beach as it's really just a landing area for canoes/kayaks so you have to backtrack a bit to get over to the Captain Cook Monument area where there is a cement landing stuck in between all the lava rock. It was great to be here and reflect back on the pictures my parents took of it when they traveled by it via a boat tour they took in March 1966. I'm 66 and their trip was 56 years ago. In fact, we had already traveled in some of their footsteps when we were at Volcanos National Park and would continue for the rest of our trip.

We geared up and jumped in the water as this has a coral bottom so they don't want you touching the coral which is certainly understandable. Since we had a sunny sky the water seemed much clearer so we saw a lot more coral and sea urchins and pretty color fish. When I got home I watched a lot of video to learn the name of the fish; kind of like learning the names of wildflowers. Mia wasn't able to get really clear pictures so I couldn't depend on google lens. In about 15 minutes, it went from a few people being in the area to hordes; guess we didn't get down early enough so if you do this, GO early to avoid some of the crowd.

Poor Puja got stung by an urchin so she was not a happy camper and would have to 3-leg it up and the other pup, much older, had to be carried for a bit. The one advantage in all of this is we got to stop a lot. It was hot and humid with barely a breeze. They have these little signs with numbers that are about every 1/4 mile as you get to the last mile on the top. Because of our speed, I didn't think it was nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Puja eventually rallied as well and was back to four legs for the last 1/2 mile. We did pass by the remnants of a dead goat that we didn't notice on the way down.

By this time there was lots of people coming down. We started around 7:30 AM and it was now around 11. Would I do this again, yep, but start earlier. I think the snorkeling was also better here but it might have been because of the sun being out too. The snorkel gear was pretty rough on my gums so I think I would try to find something better in that regard. You can take tour boats/kayaks/canoes over to this bay as well to snorkel. However, it's hard to get in and out of kayaks, especially getting back in.

Now it was time to eat so we went back and picked up cousin Connie and changed. We ate and drank at The View in the Kona Country Club. Our view was down toward the bay where we had nite snorkeled with the Manta Rays. I had the Poke Nachos which was also recommended in the video. However, these poke and wonton chips, was a little disappointing. The Mai Tai was tall and good plus I had a local brew; yep, I was thirsty.

After a break we headed back out again and drank our way around a little bit of Kona downtown starting with Don's Mai Tai Bar in the Royal Kona Resort where I had a classic Mai Tai and we shared a flight of Mai Tais including a Mai Tai Rita with tequila. All of them were good. Next we went to Lava Java and finished the evening at Foster's Chicken. All of these stops had wonderful views to the water.

WATCH: Going down - 1.94 miles. Interesting that for lowest elevation it show --ft, highest 1212 ft. 113 avg bpm, 135 max (46% Zone 2, 54% Zone 1) burning 338 calories. Starting temp 63.8, sunny and 12% humidity finishing at 8:41AM
Coming up - 1.93 miles. Low point --ft, highest 1218 ft. 138 bpm (ya, that went up a little), 161 max (29% Zone 4, 43% Zone 3, 13% Zone 2, 15% Zone 1) burning 634 calories finishing at 11:10AM.

Two Step Beach including morning in Kona [ youtube video ]
Two Step Beach snorkeling [ youtube video ]
Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park [ youtube video ]
Captain Cook Trail and Monument [ youtube video ]
Captain Cook Bay snorkel and hike and downtown Kona [ youtube video ]
Fauna [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Common myna
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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