How Wet Do You Like It?
Kauai is less than 30 miles across, yet we are blessed with thousands of waterfalls from jaw-dropping mammoths like Waipo'o & Hanakapiai to the myriads of minor cascades that tumble down almost every stream making its way from the 5,000 ft highlands to the sea. This is some of the purest water on earth, harvested from the clouds by our unique mountain scape after they formed over thousands of miles of open ocean.
And our mountains are truly unique! Wai’ale’ale, the sacred center of the island features a sheer cliff thousands of feet high on its east side. Innocent clouds that have cruised thousands of miles across the ocean on tradewinds encounter this massive escarpment (appropriately dubbed “the weeping wall”) and get squeezed over the top like the perfect cloud-juicing machine, creating almost 400 inches a year of rainfall in the center of the island! The clouds, now squeezed dry, typically continue westward where they have little water remaining for the rest of the island, leaving the west side of Kaua’i a parched desert that receives only about 20 inches of rainfall a year.
So how much rain (& rainbows) you get on this tiny island greatly depends on where you live! People who like it dry and sunny are generally happiest on the South Side, in relatively dry zones like Poipu, Koloa, Kalaheo, and Waimea. People who love a good rainbow (or a good North Swell) are generally delighted with the North Shore, where the average annual rainfall ranges from 60 inches a year (in Kilauea) to 80”/year in Princeville, 90 in Hanalei & 100 in Wainiha.
For those more moderately inclined, Kapaa and Lihue receive around 40” a year at the coast, and a bit more in inland areas like Kapahi and Wailua. I also highly recommend the East Side for its spectacular sunrises and being able to easily access the rest of the island! From Kapaa, it’s as easy to get to Poipu as Hanalei…
Here is a map of the annual rainfall around Kaua’i. Feel free to call me at (808) 635-0688 if you have any questions or want personal recommendations. I spend a lot of time all over Kaua’i, hiking, boogie boarding, and enjoying her spectacular hidden beauties, so I know the weather well!