Keei Beach: Kona’s Best-Kept Secret

By Karen Rose

Most visitors to Big Island have heard of Kealakekua Bay, the beautiful marine sanctuary located in South Kona where Captain James Cook first stepped foot on the Island of Hawaiʻi. However just south of Kealakekua Bay is a lesser known beach visited primarily by local fisherman and surfers. Keʻei Beach is a small, secluded cove unfamiliar to most visitors. Many locals refer to it as one of the best-kept secrets on the Kona coastline.

Black and White Speckled Sand

A bit too rocky and shallow for swimming, Keʻei Beach is a lovely place to spread your beach blanket over the white and black speckled sand and relax with a book and a picnic lunch. If you can’t resist a dip in the ocean, there is a small sandy spot at the north end of the beach that’s agreeable for a quick swim. Keʻei is also a decent spot for snorkeling, as the reef reaches about 300 yards offshore.

Longest Surf Riding Wave in Kona

It’s common to see local fisherman and surfers at Keʻei Beach. Surfers enjoy the long reef break on days when conditions are favorable. Keʻei is known for some of the longest wave rides in Kona. If you have a kayak or canoe, Keʻei offers a small boat launch, as well as a few fishing shacks. It’s important to note, however, there are no public restrooms.

King Kamehameha the Great’s First Battle

In addition to being a secluded slice of paradise with views of Kealakekua Bay, Keʻei is also an area of historical significance. It was on this site where King Kamehameha the Great’s first battle took place and where he fought for rule over the Big Island. When he gained control of the island, Kamehameha felt he was destined to rule all of the Hawaiian Islands—a goal he eventually achieved in 1810, establishing the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi.

How to Get to Keei Beach

keei beach

“Lost.” Photo: Paula Marina Castro.

To reach Keʻei Beach from Mamalahoa Highway, turn on Napoʻopoʻo Road and follow the road toward Kealakekua Bay. At the bottom of the hill turn left onto the bumpy paved road to Honaunau. Turn right on the ragged four-wheel drive road about 0.3 miles passed Manini Beach Road. If you reach the Keʻei Transfer Station, you’ve gone too far.

Respect the Locals

Be respectful and aware of local residents. Once you park your vehicle, you’re more or less walking through their yards to reach the beach. Enjoy your hidden treasure of a beach!

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