Kealakekua Bay, meaning Pathway of the God, is on the western coast of the
Big Island, the Kona
Coast where so much of the famous Kona
coffee is grown and produced. It is about 12 miles, or about a 30-minute
drive, south of Kailua Kona, and about 22 miles, or approximately a 50-minute
drive, north of Puuhonua
(Place of Refuge) Honaunau National Historic Park. While there is a small town
named Kealakekua Hawaii the bay is most often associated with the nearby larger
town of Captain Cook. You can discover some of the history of both Kona coffee
and the island's Japanese immigrants during your Kealakekua vacation by touring
the Uchida Coffee Farm in the town of Captain Cook. This is a six-acre living
history museum set on the grounds of a former Japanese family coffee farm, and
it showcases Japanese immigrant life in the early part of the twentieth century.
In January of 1779, Captain James Cook, with his ships Resolution
and Discovery, entered Kealakekua Bay during a religious festival.
The native Hawaiians mistook him for a god and welcomed him. This friendliness
did not last, and less than a month later Captain Cook was killed on the beautiful
in the sheltered bay of Kealakekua Hawaii that he had claimed for England. Today,
a monument to the captain marks the spot of his death. By land, you can only
reach the monument via a fairly rugged hiking trail. It is accessible by boat,
and the waters off the monument provide some of the best snorkeling
on the island. After the 2006 earthquake, certain parts of the bay were closed,
and boats had to maintain a distance of 100 feet from the cliffs. These areas
have since been reopened, and boats can now approach quite close to shore.
The main attractions in Kealakekua are, in fact, the waters because Kealakekua
Bay is a marine life conservation district. As such, there is no fishing allowed,
and rigorous steps are taken to protect the fragile ecosystem. There are numerous
outfitters that specialize in the snorkeling and diving
trips that make the bay so popular. Dramatic cliffs ring the calm and sheltered
crystal-clear waters, which have visibility of up to 100 feet and are full of
beautiful coral and colorful tropical fish. If your Kealakekua vacation includes
snorkeling or diving, you will get sure value by booking one of the cruises
or dive trips that are available. You can also rent one or two-person canoes
and kayaks for a more personal snorkeling adventure. While most of the outfitters
are located in Kailua Kona, the majority of the dive trips and cruises depart
from Keauhou Bay near the town of Holualoa.
The Kealakekua Hawaii Bay Marine Sanctuary encompasses 315 acres and is the largest sheltered bay on the Big Island. A pod of acrobatic spinner dolphins often visits the bay, and if you get out early enough in the morning, you can indulge in dolphin swims. Other diverse marine life includes green sea turtles, endangered hawksbill turtles, rare and endangered monk seals, and rays. This is also a great whale watching site from November through April. If you are launching yourself on the waters, you will find parking at Napoopoo Beach, farthest south in the bay. There are no boat rental outlets here, so you will need to bring your own.
Your Kealakekua vacation doesn't all have to be in or on the water. Other attractions
in Kealakekua include the Greenwell Store in nearby Kalukalu. This is another
of the island's living history museums, and it is based in what was once the
general mercantile store run by Henry Greenwell, who arrived on the Kona Coast
in the 1850s. The store was built in 1870 and is one of the oldest structures
on the island. He passed his cattle ranch and other holdings down through generations,
and today there is a Greenwell Coffee Company and the Amy Greenwell Botanical
Gardens. If you really want to learn about Kona coffee (just about the most
expensive coffee on the market), you can take tours of the Koa Coffee Plantation
located in Captain Cook.