Overview of Kealakekua Bay (Old Wharf)

Kealakekua Bay (Old Wharf)

The Big Island
Hawaiian Islands


Kealakedua Bay is a wonderful diving area also shared by kayakers. The bay has been designated a State Park, and you'll easily see why. The view is spectacular, the water is clear, and wildlife abundant. Don't miss diving this site.

Directions: From Kailua, drive south on Highway 11 for about 13 miles to get to Captain Cook. Take a right on Highway 160 (mile mark 110.5) to Kealakekua Bay, and wind your way about 4 miles down to the ocean.


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09/03/2015 Terry L. (Avg: 3.55 Review) - Dive this site frequently. Last time January 2015 from Manini Beach side. Surfers out & heavy waves so vis not good that day. Have even put in at Napoopoo (You should smile & wave as you walk in past the kayak rental house) dive bearing right all the time then exit at the Manini slot beach. (Scout your exit first!) For snorkeling the wharf entry is best but politics have blocked the public. The huge parking lot is empty except for fortunate few with key to gate. Parking on road is limited. You must have both wheels off pavement so only about 1-2 spaces & the local on the corner comes out and harasses you every time. He even moves around rocks & coils of wire, digs holes and generally is a dog with a bone trying to keep you from enjoying his private ocean.

04/18/2013 Anonymous (Avg: 3.00 Review) - FYI -- As of January 2013, there is a moratorium on most watercraft in Kealakekua Bay, apart from a few licensed, guided kayak tours.

12/16/2012 Stephen Smith (Avg: 4.28 Review) - Dove the wharf and Captain Cook side. Captain Cook side better with nice reefs and lots of fish. Need a kayak for sure. We got a double set up for scuba with gear tie downs in bow and stern from Lani, he lives on south side of bay 808 313-0506 Hawaiian Kayaks, nice guy. Can launch there if surf is not up.

10/27/2012 Radine (Avg: 3.44 Review) - I have lived on island, on and off, for years. Getting in, there are steps off the wharf, so entry and exit are easy. Best coral is heading west, over the sand patch area. This is a great night dive because of the entry/exit and the coral forms a maze with lots of life. The dive is on the shallow side, about 45 ft average. The wall across the bay is only accessible by kayak or boat… enjoy!

01/17/2012 mathewson (Avg: 3.35 Review) - I dove this site with my wife and 3 sons early January, 2012. Unless you have lots of time on your hands, forget kicking across the bay to the monument to do this dive. It is 1/2 mile! We rented kayaks from 'Rocky' at the wharf (he was great to deal with, $50/kayak/day) and schlepped our gear across the bay. The best stuff was up high in 20' or less (we didn't bother to go to the bottom of the reef). Tons of color and fish, eels, stars, and even a triton's trumpet. We stayed in the shelter of the bay, so I can't speak for conditions around the point. Entry from the rocks was relatively easy. Tons of snorkelers overhead, but they did little to dampen our spirits. Rocky said not to ground the boats, so we didn't, but it seemed like everybody else did ground their boat so we were never sure what the final verdict on stashing the kayaks was.

01/29/2011 Honu Diver (Avg: 3.76 Review) - Rented kayaks from Kona Boys up in town, one equipped for dive gear stow. Took off from the old wharf and paddled to Capt. Cook; the snorkeling here is the best. After snorkeling I dawned my gear and dropped down and around the point. Great dive and interesting to see the deep water reef slope of corral from about 50'-100' where the sand started is all dead. Great structure, caves and tubes as I rounded the point to the north. Many large White Tip sleeping.

01/22/2008 Anonymous (Avg: 3.91 Review) - This is a great snorkeling location. We went back a second time it was so good. As we paddled out we were met by a large (30-40) pod of Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins. Lots of reef life once you reach the monument. You can now beach your kayak on shore. If you swim out past the area where the kayak rental shops tell you to beach, there is a cool undersea arch that is fun to swim through (watch out for the black wana though).

12/21/2007 Brian Xavier (Avg: 4.67 Review) - Great dive on the north side of the wharf, with vis to 100 feet! Sand flats mixed with reefs. Really liked this place, but watch out for the urchins. Wear gloves and good booties.

01/08/2007 Chris Walker (Avg: 3.60 Review) - We wanted to dive this site, but it is a one mile kick from the pier (or any road) to the reef. The reef is located by the Cook Monument. We took our snorkel gear and rented a kayak. We paddled to the monument but due to new restrictions after the quake, you can not beach your kayak or go on land by the monument. Therefore we snorkeled and towed the kayak behind us. It is a bowl shaped reef that drops down to over 100 feet. The reef is in great shape and there were a ton of reef fish. We were there when a swell hit and the conditions were still good. If it was practical, we would have dived it. If you can, dive here but with the new restrictions the most practical activity is snorkeling. It is a wonderful spot, one of our favorite sites. If you are interested in Cook & Hawaiian history (like I am) plan to make a stop here.

10/17/2006 Todd Callan (Avg: 4.00 Review) - A great dive! I saw tons of fish with wonderful visibility. I also saw one of the resident reef sharks lying between two coral heads. There are supposedly two of them. The one I saw was about 7'+ and fairly unimpressed with me. There should be no fear of them, because an old local woman I met has been swimming with them every morning for 20 years. Neat place to scuba and meet with the locals.

08/04/2005 Greg Bondy (Avg: 3.77 Review) - This was quite a great experience as I am relatively new to these waters. Taking entry where the kayaks launch, I snorkeled across to the monument and back - a long swim. I saw turtles and a big eel and loads of great corral and colorful reef fish. On the way back I swam straight out from the monument. I was surprised at how quickly the bottom disappeared, even with an amazing visibility. While in deeper water I came head to head with a large Barracuda which gave me a yawn and showed a very impressive set of teeth. He remained very curious for awhile and certainly did not seem shy or intimidated by our encounter. Heading for the shallows, the reef was a welcome site and there was much to see in 10-20 foot depths.

06/10/2004 Lynlee (Avg: 3.15 Review) - Lots and lots of tangs. There were few people early in the day. We must have exited at low tide, because the exit was not easy. Steep slippery rock stairs covered with urchins (I guess if you have shoes/gloves on you would be fine). The fish were gorgeous and visibility great even in January. You can rent Kayaks if you go through Captain Cook and enter the water and paddle to the right to get to the monument (it would be quite a long swim). We also saw a lot of spinner dolphins. All in all a great spot. We had no problem snorkeling for hours and never seeing the same area twice.

03/19/2004 Rick Inman (Avg: 3.59 Review) - In the bay itself, made a long surface swim straight out (west) to the reef, worked my way slowly south, then around with the contour of the bay, which brought me right up at the wall/launch. Nice reef, lots of marine life, and the best vis. I had in 16 dives, about 120'. Also, I found a nice snorkel, which kinda made up for the knife I lost a Mile Marker 4 (too bad I don't use a snorkel!). On my second dive I headed north, which was a mistake, because the reef just petered out and turned to sand. From what everyone said, I should have rented a kayak and went to Capt. Cook's monument.

09/25/2003 Eric Crawford (Avg: 4.42 Review) - My ratings are so high because I am actually referring to the shore dive from the Captain Cook Monument. This is a little more tricky because you have to haul your gear from the wharf but it is well worth it! You can rent a 2-person kayak from Kona Boys (808-328-1234) that can haul all scuba gear with no problem. On the dive we saw a Moray bigger than I have ever seen in my life (at least 6"-7" diameter at the head) plus a stingray, great fish, and some old artifacts. There was basically no current and you can do it as a deep or shallow dive. We had a max depth of about 100' and had a great time. By the way, I would recommend an entry time after 1pm to allow some of the snorkelers and boat traffic to clear out, however it can be done in the morning too for a great am dive. Logistics: Do a giant stride entry from the monument pier (careful, its shallow) and surface swim out about 20 feet (yes, only 20'). Drop down and you'll be right on top of the wall. Pick your depth and proceed toward the cove (following the wall). If you're lucky you'll also hear the dolphins. Feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions.

09/07/2002 Bill Stohler (Avg: 3.51 Review) - Alternate entry on left side of bay at Minini Bay. Easy protected entry. Really impressive large coral heads, tako (octopus), eels, yellow tang, raccoon butterfly fish... I did the dive out to sea and around the corner to the left (south). Great beginner-intermediate dive, or just a mellow, shallow dive. Small parking lot under the trees, with a porta-potti.

08/04/2002 Bill Stohler (Avg: 3.57 Review) - I've done this site as two dives-one off the old wharf to the left (it's a fun giant stride entry-just watch out for the bottom) and the second in the bay to the right (reef on the right side). They're both great dives, but the center of the bay is mostly sand flats. Lots of interesting reef and marine life. Spinner dolphin schools can often be seen in the bay.

01/16/2002 Sharon Chappell (Avg: 4.12 Review) - Ditto on the kayak trip to Capt Cook monument. What a great time we had paddling & diving! I've never seen so many yellow tangs in one spot! There's plenty of shallows and deep diving to suit everyone's taste and an arch & some pinnacles and of course, tons of fish. What more could you ask for? There was a guy at the wharf who was happy to help us get the kayaks in the water - what a great place. I managed to get myself and my gear and the kayak out of the water all by myself!

09/10/2001 Jim Goodenough (Avg: 3.82 Review) - You can park your car right next to the giant stride entry. Exiting is a little tough. Remove your gear and climb ashore, then have your buddy hand up both sets of gear. Most of the dive is shallow. I think my bottom time here has been 70+ minutes because of the minimal depth. Once saw anemones spawning in the shallows.

07/20/2001 C Hepburn (Avg: 3.83 Review) - We actually used this site to drop the kayaks (with our scuba equipment) in to dive at the Capt Cook monument. The kayak trip is only about 1/2 hour and makes for a nice morning. So this is actually a Capt Cook memorial dive site report. We dropped down to 120' feet and still saw coral life. I found an anchor in about 155' of water but didn't spend much time as the nitrogen was beginning to take it's affect. As in most of our shore dives, the most interesting part is in relatively shallow water. We dove this site twice once to the left (looking out from the monument) and once to the right. Right was better at about 20'.

05/25/2001 Glenn (Avg: 3.70 Review) - Found this site by talking to locals. Site is easy entry at High Tide. Snorkeled this at dusk in Nov. of 98. The critters were great. I met Fred and Ginger the 2 Black Tips that swim every day with the lady who lived in house by the entry point. This is a great site to dive in the surge and stay in control. I suggest to follow the pier to the shore and follow the shore never over 15' deep. Have fun and tell the turtles and the black tips "HI" for me.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: TB1201


Parking at Kealakekua Bay (Old Wharf) 

Parking is easy, with the dive entry to the left.




Entry at Kealakekua Bay (Old Wharf) 

Here is the edge of the Old Wharf, with the dive entry at the end of the concrete pier.


 Map     Sat
GPS: TB1203


Overview at Kealakekua Bay (Old Wharf) 

This is where you'll be diving, to the right of the entry point.




Aerial at Kealakekua Bay (Old Wharf) 
(click photo for details)

You can tell the diving will be spectacular!

Last Verification: September, 2000  


Diver Averages for  Kealakekua Bay (Old Wharf)  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  3.75
Bottom Conditions:  3.85
Reef Conditions:  4.15
Animal Life:  4.35
Plant Life:  3.20
Facilities:  2.70
Solitude 3.10
Roads:  3.75
*Site Average:  3.75

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  4.20
Beginner Scuba:  4.20
Intermediate Scuba:  4.00
Advanced Scuba:  3.60
Night diving Scuba:  3.65

Number of reviews for this site: 20


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