Overview of Ke'ei


The Big Island
Hawaiian Islands


We never tire of visiting Ke'ei. The quiet village, the wonderful ocean views, and the excellent diving make for a pleasant afternoon. On this dive, you may be greeted by garden eels, and a rare daylight sighting of a manta ray. The people of Ke'ei have always been nice to us, so be respectful of their property and privacy so we may continue to be welcomed.

Directions: Less than a quarter mile South from Kahauloa Bay, take your first right just before refuse transfer station to your left.


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05/20/2019 Shea (Avg: 3.59 Review) - One of my favorite spots. We always camp to get at least two days of freediving in. We have a couple of rocks we jump in from. Probably about 20-30 feet right where we jump in and then we swim out. Expansive coral, tons of different fish, sometimes we see dolphins and whales swim by...I have seen a couple of eels, heard about sharks from other friends (I am still waiting!), beautiful rock formations and caverns, and great visibility. On a calm and sunny day it's really the perfect spot. On all other days it's just a notch down from perfect. We often stop at 2 Step before setting up at Ke'ei. We are usually the only people in the water and only have to navigate around fishermen and where they are. Quiet and a respectful attitude are a must. Don't leave your trash. There are no facilities so please be prepared. I recommend entering from the rocky areas before the beach. It's very shallow with a strong surf right on the beach. Be careful and remember that you have to be able to climb out. Watch the conditions carefully.

09/07/2016 Grant Wiscour (Avg: 4.38 Review) - We went to Ke'ei (Pronounced like K.A.) with Garry from Sugar Cottage. Not far from Two Step but with a lot less people. The road has been improved and will take you right to the spot. Park next to the picnic tables. Walk in a the boat ramp/beach and surface swim around the bend to the north. We dropped down and worked our way up the reef...along our way we found moray and yellow eels, a spotted eagle ray, a white tip reef shark, puffer fish and many other great finds. This is a fairly shallow dive so we ended up with a total dive time of 1 1/2 hours...very nice. Our favorite dive of our summer trip. Highly recommended!

06/08/2016 Sarina (Avg: 3.25 Review) - We had done some other diving around the island and landed here one day, thinking it was a good place to access the beauty of the bay. Unfortunately, it wasn't clear to me that the reef is about 6 ft deep for about 1/3 of a mile. We swam and swam and swam, finally dropped down to see if we could do something other than float on our backs and kick. We finally got out to a drop off of 30 ft after burning through quite a bit of air with the swimming. By the time we reached the second drop off to 60 ft it was time to turn around. Next time I would kick out farther and head in a direction toward the Cook monument. The snorkeling was amazing, I'd highly recommend this place for a beach lunch and snorkel day. you'll pretty much have it to yourself except for the neighborhood roaming dog. Watch out for the a**hole who owns the dog. The dog was super sweet and then he showed up to take her home, he grabbed her roughly and kicked her several times. It was heartbreaking to hear the poor thing yelping all of the way back. We left somewhat traumatized.

04/18/2016 Mike Byrne (Avg: 4.46 Review) - 4/17/2016 Dove with my wife Katie. This is second dive of the day. First dive was at Place of Refuge. Ke'ei is one of my favorite spots very easy enter and exit. Great visibility and lots of tropical fish and turtles. At 85 feet you will find sand flats with a large amount of garden eels. On the way back to shore you can swim through the large coral formations and trenches.

03/27/2016 Mike Byrne (Avg: 4.46 Review) - 3/27/16 Dove with wife Katie and friend Capt Alan Borowski. Water was flat calm with great visibility. Lots of garden eels at 85 ft. Lots of tropical fish and beautiful sand flats and pinnacles. Great dive spot with easy enter and exit.

03/20/2014 Ann Geiger (Avg: 2.57 Review) - Loved the remoteness of this site. No one there at all at beginning of first dive. People came and went after that, but it often felt like we had the place to ourselves. Never saw other divers. Boat ramp entry/exit area makes it easy to get in and out with minimal surf issues. Had no issues carrying camera in. Unfortunately our underwater experience left a lot to be desired. The reef to the south is reasonably healthy but to the north is quite damaged, possibly from the tsunami of 2011. The fish are quite scarce, small, and shy. If you go, swim in a direct line out from the entrance, underwater when you can, and you'll hit the top of a wall that goes down to 90ish feet (we stayed around 50). The last bit of road is heavily rutted and quite rough. While 4 wheel drive is not necessary, it is imperative that you have a vehicle with some clearance. Overall, we would only go back if there was some indication that the reef and fish had recovered.

06/06/2013 Jim Olinger (Avg: 3.45 Review) - I did this dive in Oct. 2011 and just never got around to reviewing it. It's a great site and has a more unusual coral type than most other sites I have seen on the Big Island. I don't have any notes on details, but I'm guessing it's some sort of 'Sheet or Scroll' species of coral and I remember diving along a sloping wall of it for quite a distance at about 20 meters depth to the north of the entry point. The day we were there, the surfers were having some real fun which spells 'challenge' for shore divers on entry and exit. I guess what brought me back to review this site was the fact that it lies on the southern part of Kealakuaekua Bay where the Captain Cook Monument is. I know for a fact that humpback whales hang out near the Captain Cook Monument in January. Good luck and enjoy!

01/29/2011 Honu Diver (Avg: 4.03 Review) - Another Great site! Road is a little rough for most. Snorkeling is good to the left in the shallows and diving is good in both directions. Large fish can be seen patrolling the edge of the deep. Structure to the north holds a lot of life to see. This is also great night dive. One will need several tanks to see it all. If your feeling really good, dawn your gear and hike around the beach at the end of the road and enter out on the point and swim back north, you won't be disappointed!! I had a Monk Seal swim in and check me out here, later I saw him soaking up rays on the lava. Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day hear relaxing in the real Hawaii.

02/02/2010 freedivehi@gmail.com (Avg: 3.37 Review) - This is an excellent dive. There is a shallow reef with interesting relief.

07/22/2009 Anonymous (Avg: 3.84 Review) - Went to Ke'ei this past weekend. The road there is a bit bumpy but go slow and pretty much and car can make it. It is private land so be nice and friendly to all the locals there. The coves offer fantastic snorkeling with decent drop-offs if you enjoy deep freediving. Plentiful aquatic life with lots of eels visible. Actually saw a Yellow margin there that was 6+ ft in length and about a foot in diameter. Definitely the largest eel I have ever seen in Hawaii and it was not far off shore.

07/17/2009 E Booze (Avg: 3.86 Review) - Pristine dive. Found an easy entry exit site (tiny slot of the beach) behind a rock wall that the local use a kayak launch. The underwater conditions are lovely & untouched with great visibility. It is now one of our favorite spots. The nasty road keeps out all but the determined divers. We were the only divers each day we visited. The area is rustic with a few picnic tables but no facilities. Please show respect for the area as people are living along here. So mind your manners. When the surf is high in North Kona this place is perfect. When you first get in head down to 80 90 feet to check out the Garden Eels. The work your way up to the reef. There is a lot to see in the 30-20 ft range.

01/06/2007 Brian Xavier (Avg: 3.55 Review) - Ke'ei is a cool place to dive. The road to Ke'ei turns right before the dump, and it is rough, so go slow. Once there, there are not many people. Me and my buddy dive off of the right set of rocks and used the step, much like Honaunau. Bail off and start diving. Lots of reef formations with big holes. Some other people I talked to after diving said it gets deep here- up to 120, but I only went to 50 feet. Great bottom with lots of fish life. Would not advise diving on a large swell day, as the entry/exit could be very challenging.

08/28/2006 Jim M (Avg: 3.12 Review) - We were told about this dive site by one of the dive masters from Kona Honu Divers which is a great operation here in Kona. Made it down the lava road with the Jeep just fine and found the parking by the picnic tables. This is Old Hawaii at its finest. We made our entry through a sandy patch where kids were playing in the water by the tarp-covered outrigger and it was easy to gear-up, kick a short distance then drop down to begin our dive north. We went out about 20 yards then followed the contour of the wall. There are many varieties of coral and, although the surf was up and visibility was down to about 50 feet, we found some great lava tubes, a deep cave/cavern which we did not have time to explore, and even had to avoid the locals as they jumped off the edge of lava and down into the water right next to us. All in all, we enjoyed this dive site and would love to come back on a day with less surf and surge to really explore. We recommend it to all levels of divers and, like earlier reviews, it's a good idea to show that respect to the locals, drive slow and smile.

12/22/2004 Allan Van Ness (Avg: 3.81 Review) - I just wanted to write about this site, because it was one of the best! Good stuff to see. We saw the garden eels, a manta ray, and a small leafy fish (not sure what it was). Very pleasant dive in a quiet village -- this to me is what Hawaii is all about.

08/27/2004 David Zimmerman (Avg: 3.99 Review) - My 14 year daughter and now Master Diver and I love this site. The entry by the picnic table is very easy: Just suit up walk into the water and your off to one of the best dives on the Big Island. Just make certain that you do not run over one of the locals dogs as they own the right of way and will not move.

05/21/2004 Janna Nichols (Avg: 3.96 Review) - The road leading to Ke'ei leaves something to be desired, but our little rental car managed to make its way over the bumps to the end of the village. Park near the picnic tables, and SMILE at the residents. We were extremely careful to keep our voices down, not use compressed air to blow off our dust caps, etc. Please act as a gracious guest in this little village! Lazy dogs came to lie in the shade our car made. The easiest entry is through an old canoe ramp, behind a little rock wall. Just walk down the ramp and swim out a ways, drop down and enjoy and incredible dive. We went down to 100 feet or so to see the garden eels. They were right on the crest of the drop-off. Not a lot of them, but also some other unusual fish found at that depth. Spent most of our time up in the 50 foot depth though after the brief garden eel visit.

03/19/2004 Rick Inman (Avg: 3.48 Review) - Great site! Made 2 dives here. Lots of fun structures, lava tubes, caverns, pukas. Clear, clean water with 100'+ vis. Started the dive straight out to 100' to lay on the bottom until the Garden Eels came back up. Very cool. Best stuff seemed to me to be out and south around the surf break. One turtle sited in 2 dives. One of the best things about this site was the quite village, the lazy dogs, the local families. This is the real Hawaii, not tourist-ville. Only saw one other set of divers here all day. No facilities so come prepared. Be quite, clean and respectful, and take it slow on the road.

06/27/2003 Bill Stohler (Avg: 3.11 Review) - Ke`ei is an old Hawaiian village located about half-way between Kealakakua Bay (where Captain Cook landed in Hawaii) and Honaunau (Place of Refuge). Life is slow here. The houses are old and run-down; the dogs lie around and hardly notice you. Everything has a feeling of peace about it. Remnants of old outrigger canoes sit amidst ruins of houses long gone. Just offshore, the sea is filled with amazing coral reefs, large numbers of tropical fish, and even a healthy forest of garden eels. Finding the village might be a little tricky, but it's well worth it!

08/06/2002 Kim (Avg: 3.71 Review) - Wonderful dive site - the garden eels are always fun to watch and then you can head back up to go thru swim throughs and explore caves. After entering at the boat ramp - go to the right (where your car is parked). We did two tanks here a couple of different days and then ate our lunch at the picnic tables. It's a must dive site on our list for next year ...

09/10/2001 Jim Goodenough (Avg: 3.78 Review) - A beautiful and remote site with no other people around. Makes dealing with emergencies something to think about. I have not seen the boat launch mentioned in another review, but the lava tubes and garden eels were nice.

08/23/2001 Jon Knight (Avg: 3.65 Review) - I just got certified a few months ago, and have done a few other shore dives since, and I love this site. Easy entry and exit. Lots of animals and great bottom conditions. We've dived this location twice now and plan on going back for more.

07/16/2001 Nydia White (Avg: 3.46 Review) - Probably my favorite site on the Big Island. Don't let the road scare you. We made it with our rental. A jeep or SUV will make it easily, but any compact will do okay. Just go slowly. Please respect the residents in this area. You are basically diving in their backyard. Keep the noise down and clean up after yourself. Use the primitive boat launch next to the stone wall as your entry/exit. It's easy to find coming back. This is a large site and will take several dives to even begin to see the whole thing. A good place for a two tank day. Good channels to explore and some neat lava tubes and chimneys. Keep an eye out for pelagics.

05/14/2001 Allyn Burgmann & Cass Brady (Avg: 3.89 Review) - Pristine finger coral forest, untouched by multitudes of careless divers or snorkelers. Garden Eels easy to find at 100 feet. Our entry was farther down the beach according to the beach diving book. Best cheap dive on the Big Island.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: TB1401


Entrance at Ke'ei 
(click photo for details)

The road is quite bumpy, but you should be able to traverse it in a passenger vehicle. Go toward the beach and bear left, following the water until you come to some picnic tables.


 Map     Sat
GPS: TB1402


Parking at Ke'ei 

Park next to the tables. The dive entry is to your left.


 Map     Sat
GPS: TB1403


Entry at Ke'ei 

Parking is the right, and the dive entry is from the small boat ramp on the left. Kick out until you're in about 20 feet of water, drop down, and continue out until you see the sandy bottom, home to the garden eels.




Aerial at Ke'ei 
(click photo for details)

There is plenty to explore here. Take your time and enjoy!

Last Verification: September, 2000  


Diver Averages for  Ke'ei  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  3.91
Bottom Conditions:  4.26
Reef Conditions:  4.35
Animal Life:  4.00
Plant Life:  2.96
Facilities:  1.61
Solitude 4.39
Roads:  2.04
*Site Average:  3.69

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  3.83
Beginner Scuba:  3.74
Intermediate Scuba:  4.17
Advanced Scuba:  4.22
Night diving Scuba:  3.13

Number of reviews for this site: 23


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