The Ka’awaloa Trail
If you are looking for an adventure on your next trip to the Big Island, you should hike the Ka’awaloa Trail to the Captain Cook Monument. This trail is about 3.6 miles and takes about 45 mins to hike down. The Ka’awaloa trail leads you down sheer sea cliffs to a beautiful crystal-clear bay filled with a plethora of marine life. If you’re lucky enough, you may catch a glimpse of or even get to swim with Hawaiian spinner dolphins. We started our hike around 7:00. The start of the trail was overgrown with cane grass and shaded by mature tamarind trees (you will appreciate the shade on the way out ). The trail was very rocky, so be sure to wear some hiking boots or some sneakers. Along the way, we noticed numbered signs that didn’t really correspond to distance measurement, but once you reach number 8, you have made it to your destination.
Captain Cook Monument
The Monument was put up in 1874 to commemorate Captain Cook. He was the first European explorer to land on the Hawaiian Islands. Captain Cook landed on the Big Island in 1779 during the Makahiki festival, a harvest dedicated to the Hawaiian god Lono. After two weeks of celebration, Cook left Hawaii. He ran into some bad weather and damage to his ships, so he returned back to Kealakekua Bay. Some petty theft resulted in Cook taking Chief Kalaniopuu hostage for ransom. Unfortunately for Cook and his men, their attempt failed and their lives were taken on February 14, 1779.
What to Bring & Wear
Make sure to bring LOTS of water, sneakers/ hiking boots, reef-safe sunscreen or rashguard, snorkel mask, towel, & your swimsuit. I brought my tabis (popular in Hawaii) neoprene felt-soled shoes; this made it easy for me to enter and exit out of the water, not to mention avoiding getting poked by a sea urchin (wana). Be careful not to step or touch the reef when exiting the water. Also, please be sure to pack out what you bring down to this beautiful place (no trash cans or restrooms).
After our epic snorkeling adventure and playing around in the tidepools, we started our ascent around 11:00. What was once a charming hike turned ugly real fast. The hike instantly ascended uphill, and the sun was blazing down with full force. There were a few trees along the way with very few leaves that provided little shade. I appreciated every little shrub and took 5-10 mins to breathe and cool down under each tree. The hike back to the car took us about an hour. If you are not into hiking, you can rent a kayak or book a snorkeling tour. All in all, this was an amazing hike and a must-see for visitors and locals alike…enjoy aloha.