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Kauai Weather
A micro-continent of outdoor experiences

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Kauai's Unique Micro-Climates

It is important to the visitor and potential property buyer to understand that along the coastline, where almost 98% of people live, the rainfall is only 5-10% of the center of the island. The closer to the ocean, the lower the rainfall.

Kauai may be regarded as a micro-continent - you can travel to different areas of the island and experience the changing weather patterns, from rain forest to high desert. The island of Kauai is regarded by many as the most beautiful island of all Hawaiian Islands, and among the most beautiful in the world. Kauai's 550 square miles offer a variety of microclimates and life styles.

In the center of Kauai is a mile-high extinct volcano, Mt. Wai'ale'ale, one of the rainiest spots on earth at over 400 inches each year. This creates spectacular waterfalls and rivers which cascade down the steep sides of this and many other extinct volcanoes, visible mostly from Princeville, Hanalei, and the North Shore. This high rainfall is exclusive to the center of Kauai, several miles from the coastal areas, because of the mountaintop micro-climate.

Weather and Lifestyle

North Shore Kauai

Each geographic area of Kauai is unique in climate and life style. People will have different opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of an area, and attractiveness to live or visit, but a general summary follows.

Kauai's North Shore is the greenest part of the island, with the most beautiful views, sunrises, sunsets, beaches, rivers, and waterfalls. Always cooled by tradewinds, year-round temperature varies from high 60's (a cool day) to the low 80's (a warm day).

It is where world famous Princeville Resort is, with beautiful homes and condos, and charming Hanalei, a bustling village of art galleries, surf shops, restaurants, and retail stores. In most lists of 'World's Ten Best Beaches,' the North Shore beaches usually place from 3 to 5 of our many beaches. The golf courses in Princeville are the most beautiful and challenging in Hawaii.

Since 'North Shore' in the Atlas of Hawaii includes much of the Na Pali, Wainiha and Haena areas, where it rains much more than in Princeville, monthly rainfall is 6-7", mostly at night. But, in Princeville, it is about half that.

Monthly rainfall Princeville/Kilauea - 3-4";
Hanalei, Haena, Wainiha - 5-7"

East Side Kauai

The East side is a major population area (if such a thing exists when the entire population of Kauai is 64,000!) centered in Kapa'a, a commercial center. There are good beaches and plenty of restaurants, hotels, condos, and vacation rentals. Kapa'a is less well known for scenic beauty. The surf is often dangerous since the East side faces the Pacific Ocean tradewinds and powerful ocean currents.

Monthly rainfall 2-6"

Downtown Kauai

The 'downtown' area is the major population and commercial center, where our civic buildings, hospital, medical group, with most services and major stores (Wilcox Memorial Hospital, Kauai Medical Clinic, Sears, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Longs drug store, Marriott Resort, and car dealers), and the Lihue airport. The most popular beach is Nawiliwili, next to the Marriott. Downtown is also on the eastern edge of Kauai.

Monthly rainfall 2-6"

South Shore Kauai

Poipu is the second major tourism center after the North Shore, and home to the beautiful Grand Hyatt Resort. There are many fine homes and condos there, plus art galleries, restaurants, and shops. The Poipu Bay Golf Club is a popular course. In general it is much windier here with choppy surf, but there are many fine beaches also. It is much drier here, with cactus plants, and much less green.

Monthly rainfall 3-4"

West side Kauai

This area is sparsely populated and very dry, and can be very windy. There are some retail shops, galleries, and attractions. It is most noted as the entrance to the Waimea Canyon and interior parks, and home to the Pacific Missile Range Facility, where the US Navy does research and development on high tech sensory systems.

Monthly rainfall 1-3"

Na Pali Coast Kauai

This area, including the many parks contiguous in the interior, is very popular and worth at least a day sightseeing. Ironically, the actual Na Pali cliffs are not accessible except by boat or on foot, and boat tours are now conducted out of Port Allen. The mile high top of Mt. Wai'ale'ale can be cold, windy and rainy, so dress accordingly. There are virtually no residential properties in this area.

Monthly rainfall 1-3"

Kilauea, HI Weather


Observed @ Lihue, Lihue Airport, HI

Partly Cloudy


79 %
Wind Speed:
18  mph
Wind Direction:
East (90°)
30.12 in.
10 miles

Something for Everyone

Kauai is the island where people who live in the state of Hawaii go to vacation, and most think it is the best island to live on. And remember, as a resident of Hawaii, you are a kama'aina, a local. As such, you get big discounts on hotels and airfare (For instance, round trip air fares to other islands start as low as $98, and most hotels are half the regular price).

Kauai Monthly Rainfall
Main Geographic Areas

  • North Shore
    Kilauea, Princeville - 3-4"
    Hanalei, Haena, Wainiha - 5-7"
  • Eastside - 2-6"
    Anahola, Kealia, Kapaa, Wailua
  • Downtown - 2-6"
    Hanamaulu, Puhi, and Lihue, our county seat
  • South Shore - 3-4"
    Koloa, Poipu, Lawai, Kalaheo
  • Westside - 1-3"
    Port Allen, Hanapepe, Ele'ele, Waimea, Kekaha, Mana
  • Na Pali - 6-7"
    Na Pali (literally, 'The Cliffs,' in Hawaiian), the State Parks around Na Pali and Waimea Canyon, most of the inaccessible-by-road island interior
Kauai Micro-climates weather map

Rainfall Comparison to other Island Resort Areas

  • Oahu - Honolulu 1-4" monthly
  • Big Island - Kona Coast 3-5" monthly
  • Big Island - Kohala Coast 1-2" monthly
  • Big Island - Hilo 5-12" monthly
  • Maui - Wailea 3-4" monthly
  • Maui - Ka'anapali 1-4" monthly

Kauai Weather statistics courtesy of the University of Hawaii, gathered over many decades (Univ. of Hawaii Press, Atlas of Hawaii, 3rd Ed., pages 56-57).