Kealakekua Bay is located about 20 kilometres south of Kailua Village and is a Marine Life Conservation District. It is also a very important historical location as it marks the site where Captain James Cook landed on the Hawaiian islands, earning him the title of the first Westerner to discover the archipelago.
Cook was the first British explorer to establish contact with the Hawaiian islands, in 1778. Upon his arrival, the locals were fascinated by the European ships and their use of Iron. It is believed that the native people welcomed Captain Cook and his crew as Gods, as the bay in which they landed was considered to be the sacred harbour of Lono, the Hawaiian fertility God. At the time when they first anchored in the bay, the Hawaiian people were celebrating makahiki season, a period of months dedicated to the collection of taxes in the form of produce, crafts and other goods, while war was suspended and ceremonies and games were the order of the day. The sailors took advantage of the natives’ beliefs, having sex with the Hawaiian women and trading iron for canoes laden with food. Ten months later the ships returned, again in makahiki season further confirming the local’s beliefs that the sailors must be supreme beings.
It was following the death of one of the crewmen that the Europeans were discovered to be mere mortals and the Hawaiians were angered. The ships set off but were caught in rough seas and forced to turn back after only a week. This time the locals welcomes the ships by hurling rocks at them. The captain responded by opening fire and he then went ashore to try to bring King Kalaniopu’u back as a hostage. A shot was fired by one of the British boats and the Chief Kalimu was killed. A skirmish ensued and Cook is thought to have been struck by a club and then stabbed repeatedly with an iron dagger.
The Captan Cook Monument on the shore memorialises the captain and, on the eastern side of the bay, there is a small temple that is dedicated to the Hawaiian god, Lono.
The waters in the bay are crystal clear and filled with coral and schools of tropical fish. This area supposedly offers some of the best snorkelling on the island The marine life is thriving and longnose butterfly fish, raccoon butterfly fish, brassy chubs, barred filefish, yellow tangs, sea urchins and starfish all frequent the waters.