Doesn’t it rain all the time on the North Shore? I can’t tell you how many times people who have not been to Kauai have said that to me over the last 19 years…. at least 100, not kidding. Nooooooo! I live on the North Shore and having grown up in cold, rainy UK, I wouldn’t live in a place where it rained all the time. So let’s talk The Truth about Kauai Weather, because it’s a great subject!
There’s one thing you can always count on with respect to Kauai Weather; it changes all the time. Oh and don’t place too much emphasis on the weather report… because it’s often not right.
One of the things I love about Kauai is how you can be in Princeville and it might be raining, but 5 minutes later the rain stops, the sun comes out and then there’s often a rainbow! Hawaii is after all the land of the rainbows. And there’s lots. You can’t have those without rain!
Or you can be in Kilauea and it’s raining and you drive 10 minutes, sometimes in 5 and .. no rain. The climate can change within 5 miles and it does. It’s rather magical actually. Also, because Kauai is an island, you can see the weather coming. More reliable than the weather forecast! Yep, The truth about Kauai Weather is that it’s amazing!
North Shore Weather
Yes, it rains more on the North Shore of Kauai than the rest of the island. However, most of that rain happens overnight, early morning, late at night and then the sun comes out. Yes, there are times when it rains most of the day on the North Shore, but it’s rare that it rains all day for more than one day. It does happen, but not that often. January and February are historically the months when there’s more rain, but that is not always the case! The flood of April 2018 was caused by rain for 2/3 days straight and it was April. Also, when it rains all day or for more than one day, it’s often a front which is affecting the entire island.
December and Xmas tend to be sunny and dry. Often the residents are wishing that it would be more rainy and Christmassy! For more about the North Shore, take a peak at my post about Kauai’s North Shore
Weather on the East side is pretty much the same as the north shore, except a little less rain by the beach and shoreline. Up in the mountains.. close up to Makahela and up high in Wailua, there’s more rain again. Anywhere up close to the mountains, there’s more rainfall.
There’s definitely more wind on the East side; the beach along Kapa’a is exposed to the wind. More about the East Side of Kauai here.
It’s also true that when it’s been raining the East Side will probably clear up before the North Shore. Anahola, being in between North and South if you like, tends to get more rain with Kalalea (“King Kong”) so close.
Poipu and Koloa tend to get more sun consistently. It does rain of course, but not as much as the North Shore. However, the area is not as lush as the north shore. There are plumerias and palm trees, but not so much tropical green jungle. Read more about Kauai’s South Shore here.
If you come from somewhere that doesn’t get a lot of sun and you want to be absolutely sure of sun, then South or West side is a safer bet. Having said that, sometimes storms come through and there’s a deluge on the South shore too. It just depends!
West Side is definitely the driest part of the island. It doesn’t rain much here and the landscape reflects that. Polihale is usually a safe bet to be able to sleep on the beach when you camp and there will be no rain, though having said that, last time we went to Polihale it rained all day! So you can never be absolutely sure.
Lots of wonderful mangoes on the West Side because it’s the best climate for them to thrive.. as well as Plumerias. Kauai Weather on the West side is mostly dry and sunny. More about Kauai’s West side here.
Hanalei Bridge Closure
A word about when the Hanalei bridge closes and why.
The Hanalei bridge is the bridge that goes from the Princeville (South) side of Hanalei to Hanalei on the road to Hanalei after the hill down into the valley from Princeville.
The bridge does not close because the water comes anywhere near the bridge. It closes because the water comes over the road near the bridge on the North Side. You will notice when you cross over the bridge there are Taro fields on the left side going into Hanalei and the river on the right. The water comes up there and floods. The bridge closes anytime the river gauge rises to 8 feet. There used to be a great local site that had information very clearly, but it doesn’t appear to come up now so this is the National Weather Forecast page which gives the river gauge height. They list 7ft 6 inches as the flood level, but the Police close the bridge at 8 feet.
The 2017 Flood
Reports in the media on this were way over the top. Yes, Hanalei flooded, but it does that fairly regularly actually, every so years or so people seem to be able to paddle about the streets in Hanalei. So did parts of Anahola and Koloa. Yes, this time it was worse, particularly down in Haena and Wainiha where a couple of the Wainiha homes were washed away… built very close to the powerful Wainiha River which used to power the entire island.
No one was even injured and because we are in the tropics, there are many safeguards in place for when it does rain alot. Remember you are coming to an island which boasts “the wettest spot on Earth” – the Sacred Mountain in the center of the island, Mount Waialeale really does have more rainfall than even parts of the Amazon. But there are also lots of rivers that carry that water out to the ocean. Just know that Kauai is always prepared for a lot of rain and I certainly wouldn’t allow concerns about rain or flooding to stop me from visiting the wonderful “Garden Island”.
So there you have it; the truth about Kauai Weather; always changing, always magnificent!