Ke'e Beach at Haena State Park
Upon reaching the "end of the road" at Ke'e Beach, nature takes center stage. Jagged stone cliffs tower overhead, with lush jungle vines wrapping the trees, and layer upon layer of greenery carpet the landscape. The famed Na Pali Coast wilderness stretches expansively into the view with endless cliffs rising above the ocean like cathedral spires. Though the beach is small, it is worth a visit to experience the view and perhaps take in a breathtaking sunset.
AT A GLANCE:
HIGHLIGHTS: The proverbial "end of the road" is a State Park with protected wilderness. The scenic Na Pali Coastline visible from the beach is scenery of epic proportions. During calmer ocean conditions easy snorkeling awaits close to shore.
ACTIVITIES: Swimming, snorkeling, beach lounging, hiking and picnics
LIFEGUARD: YES 7 Daily 9a.m. to 5 p.m.
WARNINGS! It is best to check in with the lifeguards at Ke'e before going snorkeling. There is a coral reef dividing shallow near-shore and deeper water, the currents will often drag the unsuspecting visitor in to harms way.
AMENITIES: Parking in the lot, restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and pay phones.
The end of the North Shore roadway yields many options for exploring in the Ha'ena State Park home to Ke'e Beach, the last outpost of the North Shore's lifeguarded beaches. The coastline is a sight to behold both above and below water. When calm ocean conditions prevail, snorkeling the shallows close to shore can make for an epic Kauai day.
The beach here begins just of the parking area, in front of the lifeguard tower and stretches for miles along the coast wrapping around to connect with the County beach known as "Ha'ena". Don't be intimidated if the sands in front of the parking area look crowded. The further right you walk down the beach, the more your view increases and crowds decrease. A small but dense forest runs the length of the beach with many trees standing up on exposed roots seemingly poised as to walk off. The roots can make for useful shade depot, towel rack, picnic shelter or a sunset waiting room.
Come prepared for a several hour stay, there are amenities on site, but you will need to bring drinking water and food for your needs. If swimming and snorkeling are closed here due to hazards, try Anini County Beach Park.
Na Pali Coast Trail:
The State maintains a trail that begins from the parking area just behind the lifeguards. It is NOT for the timid, especially those with heart or knee injury conditions. The next valley over called Hanakapiai is 2 miles hiking with a gain of 1000 feet of elevation! A shorter hike of about half mile will get you an incredible view of the coast with less energy spent, and more left to explore. The trail can be extremely muddy and slippery after rains, and the stream crossing in Hanakapiai should be avoided when flooding. Visit this website for more trail info: http://www.kalalautrail.com/information.html
An extreme wonder of nature is roadside just before the parking area. The "Wet Cave" is remnant of the lava-made history of this once volcanically active island. Over time water has collected in this large cave making for an emerald green pool that contrasts stark volcanic stonewalls. Unfortunately swimming is not recommended here, as this water is very stagnant. The photo opportunities make up for the lack of swimming, however.
Closet town: Hanalei
Drive Kuhio Highway/ HI-route 56 West out of Hanalei town for 8 miles until you past the neighborhood with many "Tunnels" related hand painted signs. Go slowly until you come to a stream crossing that has you driving through the water. Just past the crossing there is small parking area on the right, continue past this section. The road will wind along the coast then inland again, as you cross a small stream bridge you will see "Ha'ena State Park" sign on the right. Parking over flow starts on the right, proceed mile further to the primary parking area, and patiently look for parking.
If end of the road parking is full, just relax for a few moments and wait for turn over. People do leave and arrive at a steady pace through out the day. Early mornings, and sunset times are least crowded times of the day.