New Rules for the Big Island’s Kealakekua Bay State Park

Captain Cook Monument at Kealakekua Bay

In order to protect one of Hawaii’s most historically and culturally significant shorelines and coral reef ecosystems, Hawaii’s Department. of Land and Natural Resources now requires a permit to land kayaks, canoes and other vessels near the Captain Cook Monument, located within the bay park.

What does this new permit process mean for visitors? If you want to paddle over to explore the monument and land your vessel on shore, you’ll have to arrange for a permit well in advance Download Permit or opt for a guided kayak excursion with the two permitted outfitters, Hawaii Pack and Paddle or Adventures in Paradise. Alternatively, you can just stay afloat on your kayak or canoe. Those without permits can still snorkel and kayak within Kealakekua Bay on their own. They just aren’t permitted to land their vessels on the shoreline.

Another option is to book a catamaran snorkel tour with Fair Wind Cruises, which ties up to an eco-friendly permanent mooring in the bay in order to share the history and natural beauty of Kealakekua with their passengers. I have taken the Fair Wind II morning cruise to Kealakekua Bay and very much enjoyed the experience. 

Rafting tours to Kealakekua Bay are also offered. Some of your options are Sea Hawaii Rafting, Captain Zodiac, and Sea Quest.

Kealakekua is where the first extensive contact between Hawaiians and Westerners occurred, with the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1779, and it’s also one of the most treasured marine life conservation districts in Hawaii, where sea turtles, spinner dolphins, coral and colorful Hawaiian fish can be observed. For more information, visit Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park and see my post, Planning to Explore Kealakekua Bay.

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