Long renowned as one of the North Shore’s most glorious beaches, lovely Ke‘e Beach, beside the Kalalau trailhead at the end of Kuhio Hwy, has been given a new lease of life by recent parking restrictions. There’s usually safe swimming in the reef-enclosed area at its western end, hard against the Na Pali cliffs. Always follow lifeguards’ advice, however; Ke‘e’s looks can be deceptive, and vicious currents can suck swimmers through the reef and out to sea.
Walk eastwards along the sands, fringed by trees that seem to perch on spiders’ legs since erosion exposed their roots, and you’ll soon start getting sensational views back along the Na Pali cliffs.
Ke‘e is no longer notorious for overcrowding now that the only access is via a scenic quarter-mile boardwalk from the road’s-end parking lot, for which permits have to be booked well in advance. The North Shore Shuttle stops there, and waits to pick up passengers until 5pm daily.
Ancient lava-rock platforms on the slopes immediately west of Ke‘e are said to be where the art of hula was first developed. They’re not currently accessible to visitors, so these days Ke‘e serves instead as a place for a refreshing dip to hikers fresh from the Kalalau Trail.