Hawaii weather is about as sporadic as it gets. Forecasting the weather on Hawaii can be both daunting and confusing to visitors - this isn't the mainland, and the climate takes some getting used to.
One minute it's raining and the next the sun's out - welcome to the tropics! Keep in mind that the weather is diverse here because the topography is also diverse. The Big Island alone has nearly all of the world's climate zones. Kauai is home to what is arguably the wettest spot on earth at Wai'ale'ale (around 470" [1094 cm] annually), while Hilo, on the Big Island, is the wettest city in the United States (approximately 140" [356 cm] annually).
Sounds pretty wet right? But lest we forget that just a few southwest of the wettest spot on earth, the area of Kekaha on Kauai receives only 15-25" (40-60 cm) of rain a year; quite the contrast! Don't let the wet locations and/or cities fool you, it can be plenty dry in Hawaii on the Leeward side of the islands.
Here are a few things to keep in mind, summarized, about Hawaii's weather:
- Read up on the forecasts at the University of Hawaii Weather before you visit and during your stay, as they have the best and most accurate forecast in the islands.
- Don't listen to the Weather Channel or watch the NOAA forecast graphs, of course, they'll predict rain - it rains almost every day in Hawaii... for about 10 minutes at a time. The only time it's really wet in Hawaii for a prolonged time is during the winter months, usually from November until March.
- As far as temperature goes, plan accordingly for the island you're visiting. At sea level, it's usually about 76-85°F (24-29°C) all year-round. Temperatures at night are typically 12-18°F (7-8°C) cooler, but this can change dramatically depending on your altitude. Volcano, on the Big Island, or Kokee on Kauai, can get quite chilly at night for example. If you're planning to go up to higher elevations on either Maui or the Big Island, bring a small coat and long convertible pants. It can get very cold at the summit of the larger volcanoes - trust us on that!
- For more information, be sure to check our companion article - Hawaii Weather & Climate Patterns.
Ultimately, don't fret about the weather, it's Hawaii! Showers are typically short-lived and sporadic, and the temperature is almost always just right.
Hawaiian Islands Weather Charts
Below we've pulled together our weather graphics for all of the islands showing their annual precipitation and temperatures. Please keep in mind that a lot of this precipitation occurs at night and during the winter months we noted above. Most of the summer months from mid-April until mid-October are pretty dry as the typical summer pattern persists through the islands.
Kauai Weather & Charts
Kauai is known as the Garden Isle, for a good reason, the lush landscape is something to see. The center of the island is home to one of the wettest locations on the planet, Mt. Waialeale. Its annual precipitation is over 400 inches. Don’t be fooled by the amount of rain this island gets though, the combination of sunshine and dry weather more than balance it out. We find that rain is random and only lasts a few minutes usually. As far as where the accommodations are throughout the island, you can find them either on the North Shore, East Coast, or the South Shore. The south shore and east coast tend to be drier as the north shore is wetter. The temperatures on the Garden Isle range from 78-85°F for the high and 65-74°F for the low. For more information, visit our Kauai Weather article.
Maui Weather & Charts
The Valley Isle will not disappoint when it comes to the weather. The temperatures usually range from 80-88°F for the high and 63-71°F for the low throughout the year. If you are looking for drier weather during your trip, we suggest staying on the South Shore, Kihei, Wailea, Kahului, and Makena. These areas are where you can find a majority of the accommodations, which isn’t a surprise as sunshine is in abundance. As far as the wet or more lush sections of Maui, the Hana Highway, especially during the winter months, with its many waterfalls along its curved roads, will leave you with beautiful memories. For more information, visit our Maui Weather article.
Big Island Weather & Charts
The Big Island of Hawaii is diverse in both the terrain and its weather. It is home to 11 out of the 13 different climate zones. The coastal areas, where you can find most of the resorts and accommodations, are usually warm and sunny year-round. If you head to the Volcano or Waimea areas, which are at higher elevations, the temperatures are usually cooler, especially when the sun goes down. Snow can be found at times on the summit of Mauna Kea, as well as the flanks of Mauna Loa or Hualalai. Make sure you pack accordingly if you plan to be in those areas during your trip. The Hilo side of the island tends to be where the rainfall mostly happens while the Kailua/Kona side is the drier area of the island. Annual temperatures in Hilo range from 79-83°F for the high and 64-69°F for the low. Head over to the Kailua-Kona area; the temperatures range from 81-87°F for the high and 66-73°F for the low. For more information, visit our Big Island Weather article.
Oahu Weather & Charts
Oahu is the driest out of the main Hawaiian islands when it comes to the weather. With the shining sun year-long most of the time, usually along the coast, you can’t have a bad weather day. The Gathering Places’ temperatures range from 80-89°F for the high and 65-75°F for the low. The annual precipitation only gets to about 3 inches, in the Honolulu area. You will find some accommodations throughout the Leeward Waianae (Including Makaha & Ko Olina) region, the North Shore (Haleiwa to Turtle Bay) region, the Windward East (Kaneohe / Kailua) region, but the Honolulu and Waikiki areas are where you’ll find the majority. Like the other main Hawaiian islands, when it does rain, it is very short-lived during the winter months (November-March). For more information, visit our Oahu Weather article.
Hopefully, the Hawaii weather graphics above and our brief introduction to the weather here in the islands will help you plan an enjoyable visit. For more information about each island, be sure to visit our "When to visit" articles located within each island's homepage.