Located on the shores of the stunning Kealakekua Bay is the Captain Cook Monument, erected here to pay tribute to Captain Cook on the site where he first set foot on the island of Hawaii, as well as where he died, right near the very same spot.
The story is an interesting one. Captain Cook was the first-ever British explorer to go to Hawaii. His first landing was on Kauai in 1778; his second on the Big Island a short time later. The timing of his arrival to the Big Island coincided with a sacred festival that thousands of Hawaiians were throwing right there on the shores of Kealakekua Bay in honor of one of their gods. The Hawaiians witnessed the pageantry of Cook’s arrival on his large and impressive ships and mistook him for the very god they were honoring.
Historians report that Cook was treated like the god that Hawaiians believed him to be, bestowing upon him gifts and tributes. Cook reciprocated by allowing the Hawaiians to board and tour his ships and even treated them to some fireworks, which amazed everyone.
The trouble for Cook started when his ships got damaged in a February storm and the Hawaiians realized that Cook was not the god he claimed to be. Some altercations broke out and Cook intended to take one of the Hawaiian chieftains hostage, but ended up being killed during one of the confrontations on Valentine’s Day, 1779.
A visit to the Captain Cook Monument is a memorable one. The tall white obelisk is prominent on the Kona Coast and makes for a beautiful kayaking trip or guided boat tour. Hiking to the monument is also possible, but the trail takes between two and four hours round trip and is not recommended for novice hikers.
As a visitor to the Captain Cook Monument, you will enjoy not only the history but also the beauty of Kealakekua Bay State Park. The bay has good snorkeling when the waters are calm and you can sometimes even spot pods of spinner dolphins playing in the bay. If you go ashore, you will also notice there is a nice picnic area to enjoy lunch before making the trek back home.
Photo Credit: Susan Sharpless Smith on Flickr