North Shore Kauai Beaches
Where the NaPali Coast Begins
Kauai's glorious Na Pali Coast begins with Ke'e Beach and the Kalalau Trail. At Ke'e Beach, you'll find calm waters, great snorkeling, and some of the best swimming on the island. With perfect white sand, lovely swimming conditions, and an ideal location near the iconic NaPali Coast, tons of visitors flock to Ke'e Beach every year.
Often, Na Pali Coast places as one of the top 25 destinations in the world. This rugged stretch of coast offers beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and hidden waterfalls sprawl across the shores of North Kauai. We recommend savoring this destination's views by land, boat, or air.
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Overview of Ke'e Beach, North Shore Kauai
Ke'e Beach is a half-moon-shaped beach with a vast shoreline of sand. It is also one of the best swimming and snorkeling beaches on Kauai. Visitors often come to swim with sea turtles, commonly seen just offshore or under the shade of palm trees on the beach.
The water at Ke'e Beach generally remains calm with few waves, so it is an excellent place for families to play. Several rocky areas are filled with tide pools, and kids will love exploring these areas at low tide. The water can get more profound quickly, just beyond the tide pools, so parents should watch their kids when they venture into this area.
Ke'e Beach also has some of the best sunsets on Kauai. So make sure to bring your camera!
The turquoise blue water, white sand, and lush mountains make this a prevalent Kauai wedding beach. Ke'e beach has a large grassy area behind it, making for a nice gathering spot after your wedding ceremony and a place for your photographer to take some great photos with you and your guests!
Ke'e Beach, The Start of Na Pali Coast
Grab your ticket to the Na Pali Coast if you want to experience some of the most thrill-packed, adventurous sightseeing on Kauai. Behold Kauai's North Shore for its majestic cliffs and lush valleys along this rugged stretch of coastline. As you make your way along the coast, you will be treated to more incredible scenery on the island. Plenty of people are taking a dip on this beautiful beach dotted with palm trees.
If you want to experience all the Na Pali Coast offers, one of the best ways to do it is by kayaking or boating along the coast. You can even see dolphins and whales while out there. Many outfitters will take you out, so shop around before booking your trip.
Another great way to explore this area is by taking a helicopter tour. These tours will exceed your expectations.
Directions to Ke'e Beach
For beach access, visitors should drive west on Highway 560 from Hanalei. Continue on the road until it ends at mile marker 10.
Essential Tips for a Ke'e Beach, North Shore Kauai Visit
If you're going to swim at Ke'e Beach, avoid the reef channel at the west end of the beach. This is where the lagoon flows into the ocean, and the current here is strong enough to suck you in like a blowhole.
Swim at your peril: In winter, the surf can come in over the reef and into the lagoon, making the water both murkier and more dangerous. Additionally, surfers use caution as powerful shore breaks and rip currents. Heed the warning signs posted and lifeguards' warnings.
Ke'e Beach, North Shore Kauai Amenities
There are facilities at Kee Beach, including restrooms, showers, water fountains, and picnic tables. There is also a lifeguard tower here staffed during regular daytime hours.
Having Fun at Ke'e Beach
Family Activities at Ke'e Beach
Ke'e Beach is a great family beach where you can relax in the sand. A coral reef over 200 yards offshore protects Ke'e Beach by creating a shallow lagoon, making this a popular place for snorkeling and scuba diving. The reefs keep the waves here relatively calm. The water is relatively shallow here, making it an excellent place for kids to play. The lagoon has a sandy bottom perfect for wading and swimming in calm waters. The reef also serves as a nesting ground for green sea turtles, making it a popular place for snorkeling.
Lifeguards are on duty daily from 9:30-4:30 pm during the summer (roughly May-September).
Ke'e Beach Activities
Prepare for some fun at Ke'e Beach.
Kalalau Trail: This beach is the start of the 11-mile Kalalau Trail that leads to Kalalau Valley. The trail takes hikers through lush valleys, past waterfalls, and beaches only accessible by foot or boat. As one treks, savor the cliffs rising straight up from the ocean that goes on for miles.
NaPali Coast kayak tours: Many view the Na Pali Coast as one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii. The tall sea cliffs, waterfalls, and spectacular beaches make it a must-see for most visitors to the island. Jump onto a kayak ride along the coast. Starting at Kee Beach, you'll paddle your kayak along the base of the towering Na Pali cliffs, into an old Hawaiian fishing village, and through a narrow lava tunnel where you can make a shore landing for a picnic lunch. After your picnic lunch, you can continue your paddle along the coast, passing sea caves and arches and through arches formed by lava flows. Soon you will encounter some of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii, including Polihale Beach - the island's largest white sand beach.
Bodyboarding and surfing: Face the waves at Ke'e Beach, Kauai. Suitable for beginners, Ke'e Beach is protected from large waves by a reef system, so it's perfect for all the family to enjoy! It's a top spot for beginner bodyboarding and bodysurfing.
Snorkeling or diving in Ke'e Lagoon: Snorkeling and diving at Ke'e Beach, Kauai, is a fantastic experience. The snorkeling and diving conditions are very calm. The shores host much tropical fish in the shallow waters around the extensive coral heads at Ke'e Beach. You can find the best snorkeling on the right side of the beach (when facing the ocean) near some rocks jutting out from the shore. Keep an eye out for sea turtles! You can find a small coral reef inside the lagoon; some people like to snorkel through the channel.
Swimming: The water sports a shallow lagoon, making it ideal for kids and beginner swimmers. More experienced people can venture past the lagoon to nearby reefs where they can snorkel and scuba dive. But be careful of strong currents!
Sunset: With a view that stretches from the verdant cliffs of the Kalalau Valley to the craggy peaks of Bali Hai and Hanalei Bay, it's easy to see why this is one of the island's most popular beaches for watching the sinking sun.
Nearby Attractions and Sights of Ke'e Beach, North Shore Kauai
Stop at Limahuli Garden: Limahuli Garden's beauty is from being wild and overgrown, more like a natural jungle. The garden is a valley surrounded by cliffs with waterfalls cascading down the sides in multiple places. You can see many of these waterfalls from the main trail. You enter the garden via an ancient taro terrace that the Hawaiians once used. The main course goes up along the stream and passes by plants once used by early Hawaiians, such as Alula (Hawaiian Cabbage), Kukui, and banana trees. You can also see some of the plants introduced by Captain Cook when he arrived in Hawaii, such as guava trees, ti plants, and Lantana Camara. Limahuli Gardens is a short drive from Ke'e Beach on Route 560, just north of Hanalei Bay.
Nāpali Coast State Park: The park is one of Hawaii's most popular destinations, so be prepared for crowds, especially during the busy season between May and September. Before you begin your hike, you'll need to register at the trailhead parking lot, and permits are required for overnight camping.
Ke'e Beach to Hanakapi'ai Beach: The first part of the Kalalau Trail takes you from Ke'e Beach to Hanakapi'ai Beach along the northern shoreline of Kaua'i. This section of the trail is 2 miles each way — 4 miles total — making it a good option for hikers who don't want to do the whole 22-mile trek but still want to see some incredible scenery.