Set right underneath the first Napali Coast cliffs, Ke’e Beach is the last place you can reach by car along Kauai island’s north shore. If the stunning landscape itself justifies a visit, snorkeling lovers will also want to enjoy the waterscape. The spot is fine for beginners, especially in summer, and a wide variety of fish can be observed here. If you’re lucky, you will also spot green see turtles.

Scribbled filefish at Ke'e Beach

How to get there?

Located on Kauai island’s north shore, Ke’e Beach literally is the end of the road. Located in the Ha’ena State Park, it is also the gateway to the spectacular Napali Coast. Going further means hiking the Kalalau Trail which starts here. To access this little beach from Lihu’e, take Kuhio Highway and head north (hwy 56 and 560). You will need about one hour to drive all the way to the north shore (40 miles/65 kilometers). At the very end of the road, you will reach a big parking lot with showers and toilets. Park here and walk to the beach, which is located less than 100 m from here.

During summer and winter holiday, the parking lot fills up quickly: arrive early in the morning or you will have to turn away and park way further, in another parking lot 300m from the shore.

Ke'e Beach Kauai snorkeling map

Water entrance

You will explore the small lagoon closed by a reef visible on your left when facing the ocean. Enter the water from the beach, remaining in the area closed by the visible reef.

Exploration

From the beach, swim through the small lagoon. Stay away from the area located close to the sea cliff, the reef stops here and you will be exposed to open sea hazards such as big waves and strong currents, especially during winter months.

Saddle wrasse at Ke'e Beach

The reef (↕1-2m) and on the reef crest (↕0.5-1m) to access the most interesting areas. Coral is rare on the seabed, but a wide diversity of fish can be seen in the whole area. Triggerfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish and surgeonfish come and go on the reef crest. Look for schools of big scrawled filefish that usually come here. Kauai is not the best Hawaiian island to spot green sea turtles but they can sometimes be seen in Ke’e lagoon: try your luck on the furthest areas from the shore.

View on Ke'e beach lagoon - Kauai Snorkeling

In the summer months, beginners will love this well sheltered spot. The beach is popular and can be pretty crowded: be careful when sharing the water with other swimmers. During winter months, currents are very strong along the whole Kauai north shore. Don’t get in the water is sea conditions are bad or if lifeguards tell you so.

Restaurants and accommodation

The beach is set in a wild area. there are no restaurants or hotels in the vicinity, but you can find a few snacks. Camping is forbidden in the Ha’ena State Park but some still settle in the lawn beyond the beach. A wide range of restaurants and accommodation can be found in the nearest town of Hanalei, about 4mi/7km from the beach.

Species you may spot while snorkeling Ke’e Beach
COMMON NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME ABUNDANCE FISHBASE WIKIPEDIA
Reef triggerfish Rhinecanthus rectangulus  
Saddle wrasse Thalassoma duperrey  
Convict surgeonfish Acanthurus triostegus  
Whitebar surgeonfish Acanthurus leucopareius  
Raccoon butterflyfish Chaetodon lunula  
Scrawled filefish Aluterus scriptus  
  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaHaena State Park
  • Maximum depth8ft/2.5m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential DangersCurrents on the left side of the spot
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersYes

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.