At the end of Kuhio Highway (Hwy 560) on Kauai’s north shore lays an absolutely beautiful beach called Kee Beach. The views here are spectacular. Behind the beach’s golden sands sit the magnificent, green cliffs of Na Pali Coast. All around the beach are palm trees and lush vegetation.
Kee is tucked within a lagoon and protected by an expansive coral reef, which sometimes makes it a safer area for swimming and snorkeling than some of the other beaches. But the size of the surf varies depending on the season. In the winter, the surf can rage with waves that reach up to 20 feet. In the summer, the clear, turquoise water can become very calm and peaceful.
Snorkeling at Kee Beach
During calm days Kee Beach is an excellent place to snorkel. If you’re a novice snorkeler, then you should probably stay within the bay where you’ll be treated to bright reef fish.
For the more experienced snorkeler, you may want to swim over the reef as long as the tide isn’t too low. But use caution when doing this. Sometimes the reef appears shallow enough to walk on, but don’t do it – the coral is sharp. Unless you have protection, you will probably cut your feet. High tide is the best time to snorkel over the reef. If you come during low tide, there are some places where you’ll only have about one-foot clearance to skim over the coral.
On really calm days you can even swim on the outside of the reef where you’ll find gobs of fish and sea turtles.
Kee Beach Swimming and Snorkeling Safety Tips
The reef at Kee Beach has only one opening – a deep channel located on the left side of the bay. This is where water exits the bay as the waves come in. The bigger the waves, the stronger the currents. So it’s best to completely avoid the channel on the left side of the bay or you risk getting swept out into the open ocean toward the Na Pali Coast. It’s especially dangerous during the winter months.
Some Great Views at Kee Beach
While you’re at Kee Beach, take advantage of the opportunity to see some amazing sights. If you walk to west, across rocks and around the point, you’ll be treated to an incredible view of the Na Pali cliffs as they rise straight out of the ocean. From here you can watch as the surf pounds the cliffs, sending up plumes of mist and foam. As with snorkeling at Kee, you must pay attention to the surf and exercise extreme caution. This walk should only be done when the sea is very calm.
Another great sight is of Kee’s lagoon, but instead of viewing it from the beach view it from above on the Kalalau Trail hike. The trail can be accessed from Kee Beach. You only need to go as far as Hanakapiai Beach to get an awesome bird’s eye view of Kee Beach and Lagoon.
Directions to Kee Beach
Kee Beach is easy to get to. Just take Highway 56 north until it becomes 560. Kee is all the way at the end of the road. Just get as close to the beach as you can and park on the side of the road. If the area already seems pretty packed with cars, then turn right at the dirt road. You can usually find a place to park there, maybe even in the shade under a tree.