James Cook's third and final voyage (12 July 1776 – 4 October 1780) took the route from Plymouth via Cape Town and Tenerife to New Zealand and the Hawaiian Islands, and along the North American coast to the Bering Strait.
Its ostensible purpose was to return Omai, a young man from Raiatea, to his homeland, but the Admiralty used this as a cover for their plan to send Cook on a voyage to discover the Northwest Passage. HMS Resolution, to be commanded by Cook, and HMS Discovery, commanded by Charles Clerke, were prepared for the voyage which started from Plymouth in 1776.
Omai was returned to his homeland and the ships sailed onwards, encountering the Hawaiian Archipelago, before reaching the Pacific coast of North America. The two charted the west coast of the continent and passed through the Bering Strait when they were stopped by ice from sailing either east or west. The vessels returned to the Pacific and called briefly at the Aleutians before retiring towards Hawaii for the winter.
At Kealakekua Bay, a number of quarrels broke out between the Europeans and Hawaiians culminating in Cook's death in a violent exchange on 14 February 1779. The command of the expedition was assumed by Charles Clerke who tried in vain to find the passage before his own death. Under the command of John Gore the crews returned to a subdued welcome in London in October 1780.