So, you’ve finally made up your mind to visit the island paradise of Kauai, Hawaii. But, will the weather cooperate? The last thing you want to do is spend money on a vacation where it rains all the time. Here are a few things to know about Kauai and its weather.
How Will the Rain Affect You?
Kauai is known as the ‘Garden Isle’, and it’s rich, dense vegetation is a result of abundant precipitation. Simply put, it rains a lot. But, not to worry! Most of the rain occurs at night, and where you will probably be staying, on the coast, gets a lot less rain than the mountainous rainforest regions of the island. Know that Kauai will never be a washout. And who can’t benefit from a rain shower now and then?
Rain showers on Kauai usually only last a few minutes. Unlike where you live where you can go days with rain and cloudy weather, that doesn’t happen on Kauai. It rains, then it passes, and the sun comes out. There are very few days on Kauai where you won’t enjoy tropical warmth and sunshine for most of the daylight hours. Nice.
When you plan your vacation to Kauai, keep in mind what the weather is like from month to month.
- From late November through March, Kauai is rainiest.
- The North Shore gets the most rain, up to 45 inches per year.
- The East Shore is less rainy, getting about 30 inches per year.
- Heading to the South Shore you see less rain, perhaps 20 inches.
- Storms or kona do occur in the south.
- The West Shore is the least rainy.
- The mountain regions are the rainiest, where Mount Waialeale receives about 440 inches of rain per year.
Quite a contrast for one small island.
Kauai’s weather is very diverse, and all because of its landscape. Another thing to keep in mind is that average daytime high temperatures are around 85 degrees in Summer and 78 degrees in Winter. Which means the best times to visit Kauai is from September to November or from April to June, where summertime will be a little warmer, and wintertime a little cooler. In winter, average low temps on the coast are around 60 degrees to 68 degrees.
Who doesn’t like a temperature that hovers right around 80 degrees all day every day? Kauai’s humidity averages in the 50% – 70% range, which is far from oppressive, just warm and comfortable.
And don’t forget the water temperatures. In October the water is a lovely 80 degrees; and in February it is a balmy 73 degrees. Perfect for swimming, snorkeling and everything else, and without needing a wetsuit!
You’ve heard about the trade winds and when you’re on Kauai, you’ll experience them for yourself. Normally, trade winds blow across the island from the northeast. The trade winds, combined with Kauai’s tropical spot in the Pacific, contribute to its year-round moderate temperatures and humidity.
When sailing ships came through the Hawaiian Islands centuries ago, trade routes were determined by the trade winds. Still today, that’s what they are called. Kauai’s north side or windward side gets the most rain because that’s the side that faces the winds. The winds move over the mountains where they leave the most rain, and by the time they appear over the coasts or the leeward side, there isn’t much rain left to fall.
Usually, if it’s raining on the North Shore, it’s warm and sunny somewhere on the South Shore. For such a small island, such dynamic weather is truly a unique experience.
The winds that blow from the south and the east are known as the Kona winds. Kona storms usually occur in the Winter, and when these winds blow the south and east sides of Kauai are wet, while the north and west regions stay dry. Some years there may be no Kona storms, while other years Kauai may experience one every week or so.
Hurricanes are a rarity on Kauai. Tropical systems in the Pacific usually roll north or south, missing the Hawaiian Islands completely.
Kauai is a beautiful place to see any month of the year. Don’t let a little rain or a Kona wind break your stride.
(Napali Coast, Kauai cropped image courtesy paul bica / CC2.0)