British CAPTAIN JAMES COOK, thought to be the fi rst Westerner to set sight on the Hawaiian Islands, spotted the islands of O‘ahu and Kaua‘i on Jan. 18, 1778. Almost a year later, on Jan. 17, 1779, the explorer found his way to Hawai‘i Island. He anchored his ships in KEALAKEKUA BAY , where the annual MAKAHIKI FESTIVAL was in progress. Thinking Cook might be the god LONO , Hawaiians welcomed him with a great feast.
On Feb. 4, 1779, Cook left the island, only to return about a week later after a severe storm damaged one of his ships. This time, the Hawaiians, who had discovered Cook was not a god, were quite hostile. Cook and four of his sailors died in the battle that ensued.
A small, BRONZE PLAQUE at the northern end of Kealakekua Bay marks the spot of his death. Near the plaque is a 27-FOOT OBELISK erected by Cook’s countrymen.
KAYAKING Kealakekua Bay is a great way to see the monument and explore the surrounding reef. As Kealakekua Bay is a MARINE LIFE CONSERVATION DISTRICT (MLCD), it presents a unique aquatic experience. Landing a kayak is only permissible with a permit, of which there are only 10 available per day. There are three kayak tour companies authorized to lead guided tours: ADVENTURES IN PARADISE, ALOHA KAYAK CO. and KONA BOYS INC. All three companies provide kayaks and snorkel gear (as well as instruction) for your trip.