Kauai Weather – How It Will Affect Your Vacation

The weather in Kauai is rainy – and that is a good thing! Yeah that’s right, I say the rain is good. Many people hear that the weather in Kauai is rainy, so they fear the rain may spoil their vacation. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Will Rain Spoil Your Kauai Vacation?
Probably Not.

Here are the 2 most important things you’ll want to know about the effect Kauai’s rainy weather will have on your vacation

  1. The coast (where you’ll probably spend most of your time) gets much less rain than the mountainous central part of the island.
  2. The majority of rain showers hit at night.

Now that doesn’t mean you won’t see any rain at all – you most likely will see rain while you’re on Kauai. It just means rain is unlikely to ruin your vacation.

Here’s another reassuring fact you’ll like…

When daytime showers do hit, they usually last for only a few minutes. So if it starts raining where you’re at, just wait a few minutes and it will usually pass.

But like most places on Earth, there are some very rainy days on Kauai. Fortunately when it’s raining in one part of Kauai it’s usually dry in another part.

Quick Facts About Kauai’s Rainy Weather

  • Kauai is rainiest from November through March and especially from December to March.
  • The north shore is quite rainy, receiving up to 45 inches of rain per year.
  • The east shore is less rainy, receiving up to 30 inches of rain per year.
  • The south shore is even less rainy, with Poipu receiving up to 20 inches per year. However, the most severe storms (known as kona) come from the south.
  • The west side is the least rainy, with Polihale receiving as little as 5 inches per year.
  • Kauai’s mountains are the rainiest. Mount Waialeale is the rainiest spot on Earth, averaging 440.22 inches per year.

3 Tips For Avoiding the Rain

  1. Look into the wind to know what kind of weather is coming towards you. If you see dark clouds, then you know rain is coming. The darker the clouds, the more rain you can expect.
  2. Be prepared to go where it’s dry. If it’s rainy on the north shore, it will probably be dry on the south and west shores. The west is the driest and sunniest part of the island.
  3. If you’re in the central part of the island, sometimes you can actually hear the rain coming. It will sound like a rushing river. If you can, just take cover until it passes.

Why the Rainy Weather Can Be a Good Thing

If it weren’t for Kauai’s heavy amounts of rain, it wouldn’t be known as the “Garden Isle.” These frequent rain showers create the beautiful, lush, green, tropical rainforests that are such a pleasure to hike through and explore. It’s also because of the showers that Kauai has so many fantastic waterfalls.

Kauai’s Temperatures

Kauai’s temperatures are awesome! To call them temperate is an understatement. On the coast, the average high temperatures range from 79° to 84° in the summer time. In the wintertime the average low temperatures range from 60° to 68°. Plus, Kauai’s humidity is usually is in the 50-70% range, making it very comfortable.

Water Temperatures

Kauai’s surface water temperatures are also awesome! They range from a low of 73° in February to a high of 80° in October – excellent for swimming and snorkeling.

How Trade Winds Effect Kauai Weather

Normal trade winds blow across Kauai from the northeast. These trade winds combined with Kauai’s tropical location result in the island’s moderate temperature and humidity. FYI – they’re called trade winds because in the past ships used them when sailing their trade routes.

The side of the island that faces the trade winds is called the windward side. It’s because of these winds that Kauai’s north side (windward) gets the most rain. As clouds hit the mountains, they cool – causing condensation and rain. After losing most of their moisture in the mountains, the clouds typically don’t have much rain left for the south side or leeward side.

That’s why if you’re somewhere on the north shore (such as Hanalei) and it’s raining, all you usually have to do is travel to somewhere on the south shore (such as Poipu) to get to dry sunny weather.

Kona Winds

There is an exception to the normal northeast trade winds. Sometimes winds, known as Kona winds, come in from the south and west. When this happens it makes the north and east the dry sides while the south and west get pummeled with rain. These Kona storms usually occur in the winter – if they occur at all.

Some years there may not be any Kona storms and other years may have Kona storms every few weeks – there’s no real pattern. They rarely come in the summer, though. And it’s a good thing too, because Kona winds carry hot sticky air, which can make very uncomfortable summertime conditions.

Do Hurricanes Hit Kauai?

Hurricanes are extremely rare in Kauai, so don’t bother worrying about them. There was a category 4 hurricane in 1992 (Hurricane Iniki) that did some pretty serious damage, but there have been only two other recorded hurricanes – Iwa in 1982 and Dot in 1959.

Kauai Weather Resources

  • Kauai Weather Forecast – call 245-6001
  • Kauai Waters Forecast – call 245-3564
  • See my current Kauai weather page for current weather conditions at Kauai’s Lihue Airport and Kekaha.
  • Visit AccuWeather.com for 15-day Kauai weather forecast.

Here are some businesses that will give you weather tips in their area:

  • Poipu – call Nukumoi Beach Center (742-8019)
  • Waimea – call Wrangler’s Steak House (328-1218)
  • Hanalei – call Pedal ‘N Paddle (826-9069)

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15 Responses to “Kauai Weather – How It Will Affect Your Vacation”

  1. John Boos Said,

    My wife and I are planning a trip to Kauai in Oct. 2007 for our 20th anniversary. Your site is going to help us a lot. Still trying to find a video on the subject. Thanks. John

  2. Kathleen Brown Said,

    This is such a wonderfully insightful website. I have been somewhat concerned about the weather since this will be our first trip to Hawaii and we’ll be traveling as a group of two families with our grandchildren. However, being from Seattle has it’s advatages when traveling to climates where rain is likely. We easily adapt and find many other things to do when it does rain and we find the beauty in rain as a true gift from God. We will pack a little umbrella and a light rainjacket……and we know it will be much warmer than Washington State at that time of year. I am so excited about our vacation in February to Kauai!!!!

  3. davy jones Said,

    I belive your site is the best in timely travel information. You have a very understandable format with up to date,cohesive, inteligent, straight to the point comentary. I base all of my critical travel desisions to our wonderful islands on your information without heisitation.

    Sincerly, Davy Jones

  4. Tessa Said,

    I have traveled to kauai this pass Feb 2010- The heart of the rainy season and we stayed in the North ( Princeville). The rain was really no issue at all… Everything they seem to say about the rain patterns were dead on.I will travel back to Kauai this time a year. ( it also was not crowded at all) It was my first time on this island and This garden isle truly left me breathless each and everyday from the raw pure beauty of this amazing organic feeling place… Aloha!

  5. nene Said,

    We are going to Kauai in July 2010 for the first time and we hope to have a trip of a life time. We are staying at the Kapaa Shore Resort so we will make sure we write our comments about both the Resort and the Garden Isle(Kauai). I have been to Maui before. I will be able to compare between both Islands.

  6. Frderick Said,

    We are going with the entire family and have visited all seasons…when it does rain just wait a few minutes and its over..the water temp is always wonderful and we do a lot of snorkeling and the kids bogey board. we choose this island for family friendly ,uncrowded beaches,great photo ops and light tourist impact…

  7. Holly Said,

    Has anyone visited in early November? Hoping to miss the rain!

  8. Elizabeth Said,

    I stayed in Kauai in Late November of 2006. The weather was amazing the entire time. It rained every night which dramatically cooled down the climate making it easier to sleep, and giving us the opportunity to not use air conditioning. During the day it was almost always sunny. A couple of trips up the northern coast threatened rain during the day for a few brief minutes but just as quickly as we entered the storms they seemed to pass. I’ve been to all of the Hawaiian Island and absolutely love Kauai the most. Its smaller feel and less developed land allows you to truly feel the spirit of the tropical islands and enjoy all of its beauty without the hustle and bustle of a gigantic city. I will be return to Kauai this May on my honey moon and cannot wait to see its beautiful beaches and land.

  9. Dana Said,

    The information provided on this website was very helpful and answered all of the weather questions I had about visiting Kauai. Thank you.

  10. Selina Said,

    I was in Kauai March 2011. The weather was so perfect I’m returning March 2012 with my boyfriend. The island is very relaxing and yes, it can rain at any time. I stayed in Princeville before and now we are going to try Poipou. Looking forward to returning in 4 weeks…..can’t beat that beautiful breeze at night.


  11. Dianne Said,

    We were in Princeville last October (2011) for a couple of weeks and the weather was perfect. The water was wonderful for snorkeling. We didn’t get enough of the island, so we’re returning for another couple of weeks in May 2012 and we can’t wait. Thanks for all the helpful information on Kauai!

  12. Sheree Said,

    Thank you so much for all of the detail. I haven’t decided on Maui or Kauai yet but I feel much better about choosing Kauai because of the detail on the weather pattern. Very much appreciated.

  13. Ernie Malachowski Said,

    Your weather details are right on! My wife and I spent our 40th in Princeville in 2008. It rained most every night, great sounds to sleep by! Once in a while, we had a 5 minute rain shower in the afternoon. We simply stayed on the beach, loving the brief rain in our faces. Kuaui is wonderful. My son and his wife are going there this summer on our recommendation. You can’t go wrong in Kauai, no matter what season.

  14. Nancy Said,


    I have been on Maui five times, in Fall,Winter and Spring. The weather pattern is very similar to Kauai’s. The windward side/Hana side is lush and rainy. The west/leeward side is much drier. You are fairly well guaranteed dry sunny weather in the Kihei/Wailea/Makena area on the southwest part of the island. You’ll also find amazing snorkeling and beaches in that area. Don’t miss out though, travel the famous Road To Hana. See the waterfalls, the jungle and Wainapanapa State Park if you go!
    This year I’ll take my first trip to Kauai. I’m SO excited!

  15. Susan Said,

    My mom and I are planning our second trip to Kauai March 2013. Just a little concerned about the weather but from the looks of the comments here might not be an issue. Has anyone else gone in March with no problems?