Any time is a wonderful time to visit Kauai. Identifying that elusive “best” time can be tricky because it is dependent on so many factors: What are you hoping to get out of your trip? Are you planning a wedding? A relaxing romantic getaway for two? Or are you just ready for some serious family adventure? If your main goal is to find the biggest, most dramatic gushing waterfall, then the rainier winter is best for you! If you’re eager for loads of picture-perfect, white sandy beach days, then the summer months may be best as they tend to drier — especially on the South Shore.
One vacationer’s “best” time to visit Kauai is not necessarily yours. This may require a mai tai as you ponder.
Let’s talk about the high seasons:
It’s helpful to note that there are two seasons that bring the most visitors. The first runs from mid December to Easter. The second starts in June and runs until back-to-school time. These seasons are considered “high” not because Kauai is necessarily better to visit then, but because these are often the easiest times for folks to get away. And what you might gain in better Kauai weather (higher temperatures, less rainfall) you may give up in a more crowded island, and of course, higher prices for lodging, adventures and rentals. It’s just good ol’ supply and demand.
Consider the crowds. For some, stealing away to Kauai means getting off the grid to enjoy a slower pace. Maybe you’re eager to see fewer people and bask in some genuine tranquility. Visiting at the height of the tourist season will naturally make this a bit more of a challenge — but hardly impossible. Plenty of the island’s ‘hoods remain quieter year round and less prone to vacationers. You will enjoy a vastly different experience staying at a cottage-style inn in the Lawai valley on the West side versus at a chain hotel in Princeville on the North Shore. Both possess that singular Kauai magic, but a little research will help fulfill your particular desires.
High season is a great time to book a travel package — especially before prices spike. Better rates can be found through a service that bundles airfare and resorts, letting you lock in a lower rate than you would purchasing your elements a la carte. Our recent blog about package deals offers some helpful tips.
Let’s look at the low seasons:
Kauai is a natural wonderland. Most mere mortals cannot possibly get to even a fraction of its offerings on any given visit, but it just stands to reason that with fewer crowds you may be able to cover more ground during the low season. Smaller crowds can equal more options, too:
More hotel rooms to choose from, easier access to camping sites, sparser beaches, short waits for activities. Hey, there’s enough room on that Na Pali Coast catamaran tour for all of us on the exact day and time we want! Hey, there are enough lounge chairs left for us all to hang out poolside together! Hey, those life-altering, freshly picked white Sugarloaf pineapples at the farmers market haven’t sold out yet this afternoon! Little things can add up to big pleasures.
Another benefit is that you and your loved ones will have even more opportunity to bond over those rare shared moments when it seems like the island is all yours.
Hiking with just your family at sunset along a remote, tropical trail with just the birdsong and the fragrant breezes is more memorable than jockeying for space on the same trail with a crowd. That holiday card selfie in front of the Wailua Falls? Much cooler if it features just your family and not a slew of other tourists photo bombing in the background.
Low season can also mean better value as costs dip after the tourist crunch wanes. Hotel, activity and rental prices are often lower, and you can find tasty deals in restaurants and shops.
What about the weather?
Kauai weather in general is pretty close to perfect year round, with the average temperature hovering at 78°. Sunshine abounds and rainfall is a daily occurrence on the island. Rain is what gives the Garden Isle those velvety green mountains and dazzling dense foliage, why the waterfalls are so spectacular and why Kauai boasts the only navigable river in Hawaii. And whoever heard of too many rainbows? Sure it’s a little warmer and drier in the summer and a little rainier in the winter but no matter the time of year, this combination of abundant sunshine and regular rains creates a magnificent tropical paradise that you just feel blessed to lay witness to.
Kauai weather can also be dictated by which coast you’re on — no matter what time you visit. The town of Poipu is on the sunny South Shore which gets about 35 inches of rain annually versus the 85 inches the more tropical North Shore gets. The North (including Princeville and Hanalai) is wetter due to the tradewinds and the mountains.
Summer weather in particular: Because temperatures are warm year round, the most perceptible difference in the seasons is the dryness. If you’re all about warm beach days with plenty of glorious sunshine, the summer months in high season are your best bet. Rainfall will still occur daily but it will usually be lighter — especially on the South Shore.
Winter weather: Kauai is the rainiest of the Hawaiian islands and is home to the wettest place in the US, Mt Waialeale. From December to March it can really pour on Kauai – especially on the North Shore. Even persistent rains, however, shouldn’t keep you from enjoying every moment of your vacation. The island’s charms are vast and the activities bountiful, so there are plenty of things to do in Kauai when it rains.
Of course nowhere on earth is without potential weather disasters and Kauai is no exception. In April of 2018 a thunderstorm dumped so much rain it flooded the Kuhio Highway on the North Shore, washed away homes and displaced many people. This is a highly rare occurrence, but it’s good to be aware for safety. A newer resort like Koloa Landing on the drier South Shore has modern construction built to withstand most anything Mother Nature may bestow upon her beautiful island creation. And if you must ride out a torrential downpour somewhere, you might as well do it in style. Preferably with a mai tai in hand.
— Erica Karlin, Koloa Landing Resort
Ready for your unforgettable stay on Kauai? Book now at Koloa Landing Resort. We’d love to help you enjoy everything the Garden Isle has to offer — at any time of year!