What’s the weather going to be like seems to be the top vacation question!

In Episode 6 of our podcast, Kaua’i Talk, we thought we would talk about the weather on the Garden Island. What started out as an episode aimed to educate and inform listeners on Kaua’i’s climate, turned into a talk about what the weather was going to be like when “you” are coming to Hawaii on vacation.

Why? In doing some basic research, the obvious things were found: the average temperatures, monthly rainfall amounts, seasonal details, etc. Surprisingly, I found literally thousands of questions and responses in online travel forums asking what the weather was going to be like on their vacations.

That was eye-catching because the question that kept re-surfacing over and over was this one:

We are visiting Kaua’i next spring (and they would detail the actual week such as the second week in May) and want to know if it will be raining?

Showering at the beach .... sunny skies returned about 45 minutes later.
Showering at the beach …. sunny skies returned about 45 minutes later.

Really? Yes. As in this was hard to believe someone was expecting an answer they could bank on. My favorite answer was from those somewhat sarcastic, tough-in-cheek writers who took the Socratic method of reasoning and asked them if they could tell them if it would be raining where they live during that week in [insert month].

Understandably, nobody wants inclement weather on their vacation and yet, we must book our vacations knowing we cannot know if it will rain or not. At least in Hawai’i. I suppose if you were planning a ski vacation, you have no way of knowing if there will be snow.

Yet, what are the facts. What are the chances of rain on your visit and how negatively it will effect your visit? There are only two seasons in Hawai’i – summer and winter. The difference between the daily high and low temperatures from summer to winter is about 10 degrees. Compare that to mid-west states where that difference can swing to over 100 degree differences. The summer months are from May to October; winter months are from November to April. And understand this – the average mean temperature change between the high and low of each day is typically just 7-9 degrees, year round. As of this writing (mid November) the projected high is 78 with the low at 71.

Yes, this is nice. The major difference here is that with the winter months comes increased rainfall.

Hawaii’s weather is primarily moderated by the circulation of air known as the Trades. The results? Cloudless skies are rare but most often the dense cloud cover is in and over the mountains. Showers are common, particularly in the winter months. Most are light and brief, passing over quickly. Rain storms lasting for days is not common either. As for heavier rain showers, you will find it odd that most develop and move through the area without thunder and lightening. Those who have lived their lives on the islands have no idea how violent Mainland thunderstorms can be. (1)

Bottom line, the weather is unusually great year round. Now as to if it will rain when you are here on vacation, no one knows! Except to say it probably will, yet is would be rare that it would ruin it.

In talking with numerous people who have made Hawaii and specifically Kauai their vacation choice over many years, all have said the weather (rain) did not significantly damper their visit. Jim, who wrote that he and his family had come to Kaua’i over 30 times, staying on both the North and South shores at all times of the year, could remember just 3 visits where they were “rained” out. Even so, he said they still enjoyed the beauty of the island. (You should see the waterfalls coming off the mountains during these showers.)

Here’s our best suggestions for the weather minded (worried):

  • Stay on the South shore if you really want the lowest chances of rain while here, particularly during the winter months. Plan your day trips to the North shore beaches and activities while here. You can’t come to Kaua’i and not see the North shore areas.
  • Get the most timely and accurate weather information possible and be flexible. This means do not watch the Weather Channel. I love the Weather Channel but not for Kaua’i weather forecasts. Don’t freak out at 10 day forecasts either. If you think the weather in your area changes quickly, wait till you spend a week here. I recommend checking the local television station weather reports online. KHON2, KITV, and Hawaii News Now. Hawaii News Now also has my favorite weather app for your phone. Plug in your local city that you will be staying and see the best guess weather projections … I think they are the closest thing to accurate you will find.
  • Start watching the weather projections a few days out! And then, be flexible. Yes, I know that was advised in the previous point, but concerning the weather, it bears repeating.
  • TOP Tip: Want to see what the weather looks like in real time? Read on. Typically, people will jump on an online travel forum and post the question as to what the weather will be like at your destination the next week. And typically you will see the majority of answers come from people who don’t even live there. They’ll likely jump on the Weather Channel and give you a less than accurate report :-). Instead, use a Twitter or Instagram search for not just Kaua’i, but the actual resort or town you will be staying. Many of the pictures and comments are posted in real time. And those that are not, are same day. This is a great way to use social media to see accurate and timely information.
  • Remember, it is not common that the whole island is cloudy or raining at the same time. Just as true, it is not necessarily going to be that way all day. A 20-50% chance of rain that you will see predicted is NORMAL for Hawai’i/Kaua’i. Count on some clouds throughout the day and a shower or two, or nothing at all! It’s the weather. Once you see forecasts for 70%  plus chance of rain, you probably will see more clouds and possibly heavier showers. It’s on those days that you may want to check out another side of the island, or plan activities more conducive to a rainy day. (We’ll talk about that on a coming post and podcast.)
  • Don’t chase the sun! The morning we were doing Episode 6 of Kaua’i Talk, it was cloudy and raining! We thought the topic for that session to be quite appropriate. Had we been on vacation and awoke to that weather, we would have been tempted to cancel plans for that day based on that weather … and looked for options on the island for sunnier forecasts. Bad idea. Within an hour, the rain had stopped. Another 30 minutes, the sun was out with partly cloudy skies! The rest of the day there were no more showers with a forecast calling for 60% showers. What started out looking like a day to spend inside, turned out to be literally one of the best days of the week.

Will it rain on your Kaua’i vacation?

Possibly. Kaua’i is the Garden Island. It is thought to be one of the most stunning. With every shower there is a rainbow!

There's a rainbow with every shower on Kauai! Photo: Hanalei Bay
There’s a rainbow with every shower on Kauai! Photo: Hanalei Bay

By keeping a positive attitude, staying flexible, and accepting the rain as a good thing (Hawaiians consider it a blessing), you will still have a vacation you will talk about and love for years and years.

And MOST will return to Kaua’i, their now favorite Hawaiian island.


Have you read this whole thing? Mahalo, friend!

As crazy as this may sound, just for you, if you are a week out from your visit to Kauai, and want to know what the weather is doing here NOW, drop us an email at alohakauaivacation AT gmail dot com … we’ll email back the LATEST eyewitness report. If you are reading this — our offer to email you back this report is still good!

Or, see our daily pictures here: Aloha Kauai Instagram

I also tweet real time stuff  (like the weather) on Twitter here: @philladden