Managing Kauai’s Weather: Chasing the Sun

May 31st, 2009

Chasing the Sun

Chasing the Sun

If you dial 808-245-6001 for the weather report on Kauai, you will probably hear this ‘forecast': “Mostly fair today, with occasional windward and Mauka (Mountain) showers. Tonight, mostly fair, with showers varying from time to time and place to place.”  Except for storms, Kauai’s normal weather pattern is mostly sunny, with showers passing over the ocean, crossing the coastline and backing up against the island’s mountainous interior.

Like all the Hawaiian islands, Kauai’s sunny side varies with the winds.  Normal trade winds from the north and northeast bring rainfall to these ‘windward’ shores and create the ‘lee’ of the island in the south, at Poipu, and west, at Kekaha and Polihale.  When the clouds back up against the mountains and bring showers to the north shore beaches, Poipu and Salt Pond may have very sunny skies.  However, when the winds blow from the south and west, called “Kona Winds”, the lee is in the north and northeast.  The north shore may be spectacular while the eastern and southern shores have rain.

Planning cam make the most of any weather, since Kauai has ‘micro-climates’ and a 20 minute drive may take you from rain to sun.  Be prepared to drive to the sun – all the way west to Polihale if necessary.  If it’s clear up north, visit the north shore, for these beaches are by far the most spectacular, and if your stay is only for a few days, you may not get another chance.  Rain outside?  Drive south to Poipu or west to Salt Pond or Kekaha, wher it’s usually drier.  With heavy rain, Polihale might be your best option.

Only an island-wide storm should send you indoors to rent a movie, so check the Kauai weather and Kauai surf report before deciding whether to go north to Hanalei, south to Poipu, or west to Kekaha.  Call 245-6001, try our local paper: Kauai World, or call these friendly merchants who have agreed to be your weather tipsters: Nukumoi Beach Center, Poipu (742-8019), Wrangler’s Steak House, Waimea/West (328-1218), Pedal & Paddle, Hanalei (826-9069 or Hanalei Surf Company, Hanalie (826-9000).

Weather patterns vary with the seasons.  Showers are more frequent in the winter and spring, while summer months are warmer adn more humid, fall months are clearer and more dry.  Temperatures range between 60’s at night and mid 80’s most days, and in the summer months can reach the low 90’s.

Kauai beaches also change their moods with the seasons.  In summer, the water hy_hanalei_bay-1may be calm and clear, but winter surf at the same beach can foam and crash like thunder.  Some north shore beaches disappear entirely under winter surf, and may officially close for safety.

Have fun, be safe and soak up the sun weather it be via rays or sometimes in liquid form (aka: rain).

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Author | Shelah Jean Abubo
Shelah Abubo is the owner of Jean & Abbott Properties a Kauai based rental agency specializing in luxury Kauai Vacation Rentals. Born & raised on Kauai, Shelah knows the Island intimately and has found her passion in sharing her knowledge and expertise with island travelers and guests.


  1. I am planning a trip for the week after Christmas 2010 with my family. This will be our first trip to Hawaii and your site is helpful in planning our vacation. I am in love with the beautiful scenery of the north shore of Kauai but am worried we may not have good weather or nice beaches in the area at that time of year. Any helpful tip or advise?

    Comment by Tammy Reeves — August 8, 2009 @ 9:02 am

  2. Aloha Tammy!
    Christmas is an amazing time to visit our island. The thing to keep in mind is during the winter months the north shore (Hanalei, Haena & Princeville areas) does get high surf and is known for wetter weather. The south side (Poipu) get’s their high-surf during the summer months and winter months this side has very calm ocean conditions. The South Shore is also know as the ‘sunny side’ of the island. A few things to take into consideration, the rain does make for lush and gorgeous scenery (waterfalls, rainbows, tropical flowers and greenery)… the north shore is know for it’s natural beauty and in my opinion does top that of the south. The driving distance between the two areas is approx. an hour to an hour and a half, so really not too bad, and this is not freeway driving but rather gorgeous landscapes, mountain and ocean views.
    Another neat thing about the north shore during the winter months, is this is when the Humpback whales migrate past the coast… so you can see them jump, splash and play from any scenic overlook, pretty amazing!
    I hope this information helps! Have a wonderful day and good luck with the planning!
    Shelah Abubo

    Comment by Shelah Jean Abubo — September 4, 2009 @ 12:50 pm

  3. Thinking about a beach wedding in Nov…are we crazy? What is the weather and surf like at Anahole Bay and Aliomanu? We prefer the beaches on the North Shore, more secluded, etc. but worry about a rainy wedding.

    Comment by Joan Thodas — January 22, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

  4. Aloha Joan! NO, not crazy…. even if there is some small rain showers, they consider this a blessing in Hawaii, you can’t beat a beach wedding in my opinion!! In November on the East Shore (Aliomanu Bay) you can expect small surf… now weather, that one is hard to predict! The normal days, we have the trade winds during the day hours that blow the clouds by… in the early morning and evenings, when the trade winds slow down is when you can expect the rain showers… the clouds get a chance to build up on the mountains and do what they do:o)
    Let us know what you decide!! How exciting… a huge congratulations to you and yours!

    Comment by Shelah Jean Abubo — February 15, 2011 @ 11:14 am

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