There’s more than meets the eye at Kauai’s Ke’e Beach. Not only is Ke’e one of the island’s most popular beaches, the area is also an important ancient Hawaiian cultural area.
On the far side of Ke’e Beach that is rarely visited, to the left of the main lagoon and around a corner, is one of the island’s most sacred spots. Above the beach in the vegetation are the locations of two ancient heiau (sacred sites). The two heiau, named Ka Ulu a Paoa and Ke Ahu a Laka, are associated with the ancient art of Hula and the goddesses Laka and Pele (see map below).
On the beach edge there is an ancient large basalt stone known as Kilioe. This stone is also a sacred site, a place where parents would put their newborn’s umbilical cord in the stone’s holes so that the child would have a prosperous life. Even today, it is said that some parents still practice the rite.
This section of Ke’e Beach has strong and powerful waves and there is likely a strong undertow, especially at the very far end next to the rock wall. Crashing waves pound this area, and the big waves are often seen in photographs of Ke’e Beach and the Na Pali Coast. It’s best to stay out of the water on this section of Ke’e Beach. On our last visit to the beach we saw a Honda engine (photo below) that had washed ashore, a testament to the beach’s powerful waves.
Though the beach has public access, the area behind the beach is off limits. Visitors should show respect and honor at this sensitive Hawaiian cultural area.
Powerful waves at the end of Ke’e Beach.
The far end of Ke’e Beach.
A Honda engine washed ashore at Ke’e Beach.
Three photos above: The sacred Kilioe Stone.
The Na Pali Coast as seen from the far end of Ke’e Beach.
A no swimming sign for this part of Ke’e Beach. “If in doubt, don’t go out!”
The beach sits under Mt. Makana (Bali Hai).
This part of the beach sits around the corner from the main lagoon at Ke’e Beach.
The path to the far side of Ke’e starts to the left of the lifeguard station.
Above: The trail is just above the rocky coastline.
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