The Best Time to Visit Kauai, Hawaii

SD › Best Time to Visit Kauai
Updated: June 1, 2021
By Santorini Dave

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When is the Best Time to Visit Kauai?

The best time to visit Kauai is April to September when the sun is out and rain is minimal. Temperatures range between 69°F and 85°F. Hurricane season is June to November, but not really disruptive. Airfares and hotels are most expensive during the summer break: June to August.

Aerial view of a golden sand beach backed by lush green mountains and mist

View of Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park from a helicopter. The best time to go to Kauai is from late spring to early fall.

  • Best Time for a Sun-break Vacation: Rainy season on Kauai generally runs from November to March: North American winter. April to September tends to be drier, so that’s when to book your beachy sun-break. You’ll see the most sunshine in summer, June through August, but keep in mind that even though it’s rarely cold on Kauai, the rain can come any time.
  • Best Time for Birding: Kauai is a prime bird-watching territory, with 2 locations being the big draw: the Wailua River Valley and the Kilauea Lighthouse. November sees the return of the Laysan Albatross and their hatchlings start making their way into the world in December. A number of migratory birds winter over on Kauai (they don’t care about the rain one bit), making the island a popular destination for list keepers from around the world.
  • Best Time to Hike the Kalalau Trail: The rugged trail on the Na Pali coast has gorgeous views out across the Pacific. It’s a tough 11-mile slog, up and down the steep, rocky cliffs, but it’s worth every step, even if you quit at the first viewpoint. You need good shoes and water – there are no services – and you’ll want to set out early in the day before the heat rises. The trail is easier to navigate in the drier summer months, but the temperatures are also higher. The full trail is for experienced, strong hikers only, and confirming conditions locally before you set out is a safety essential.
  • Best Time for Kauai’s Art Scene: Funky little Hanapepe town has a cool swinging bridge and great places to eat, but it’s also got a regular and lively art scene. Hanapepe Art Night happens every Friday, year-round. You’ll find live music, pop-up galleries, and food stands, and an inviting, inclusive scene for tourists and locals alike.
  • Best Time to Hike Waimea Canyon: The “Grand Canyon of Hawaii” is a gorgeous natural wonder with its red rock and stellar views. Like anywhere else on the island, hikers will do well to start early in the day to avoid the heat. Plenty of visitors come all day, year-round, regardless of the weather to admire the spectacular views down the Na Pali Coast. The forecast is your best indicator of when to go. If it’s cloudy and the forecast shows no sign of clearing, save it for another day, if you can. The clouds press up against the island’s green cliffs, obscuring the view. Blue skies at the canyon rim are no guarantee of blue skies below; you can stand at the rail and look down into nothing but clouds. The forecast is your friend.
  • Best Time for Snorkeling on Kauai: Responsible operators won’t rent you snorkel gear on days when the swell is up. Kauai’s surf is no joke. It’s the most dangerous in the Hawaiian archipelago, and if the gear rental shop won’t hand you a snorkel, say thank you and visit them again the following day; they know what’s what. Typically, the swell hits the north shore in the winter and the south shore in the summer, so there’s always an option. The island has lovely snorkel spots on both sides: Ha’ena Beach Park, Ke’e Beach, and Anini Beach on the north end have wonderful clear waters, while Prince Kuhio, Salt Pond, and Poipu on the south are great snorkel beaches. Lydgate is especially kid-friendly. The best way to find out the best time to snorkel on Kauai? Ask a lifeguard. Really.
  • Best Time for a Helicopter Flight: Flight-seeing over Kauai just might be the highlight of your tour. The curtain of green cliffs seen from the air, tumbling into the blue waters of the Pacific is an unforgettable sight. While the weather is critical, time of day matters too. Naturally, you want to fly on a clear day, if at all possible. That said, the afternoon flights are spectacular as that’s when the western face of the island is hit by the sun. You’ll get brighter, clearer views than you would in the morning when the cliffs are in shadows because the sun is on the other side of the island.
  • Best Time for Whale-Watching: Humpback whales return to the warm waters around Hawaii starting in November and stay until March, with the peak time being January. Humpbacks breed here, calve, and nurse their young, before migrating to colder waters for the summer. On Kauai, the best way to see the humpbacks is to take a whale-watching cruise and get out in the water, though there are a number of land-based viewpoints for whale-spotting. Shipwreck’s Beach is one, and the Kilauea Lighthouse is a designated whale sanctuary. However, the Auau Channel off Maui is probably the best place to see humpbacks, with the Kohala Coast off the Big Island coming in second place. Getting out on the water really stacks your odds of meeting the humpbacks where they live. Got a land-lovers gut? Take the morning tour to have a better chance of calm waters.
  • Best Time for Fishing off Kauai: Want to make your own sushi? June, July, and August are peak yellowfin tuna months and it’s easy to find a fishing charter out of Nawiliwili Harbor in Lihue or Port Allen Harbor. You can pull in some variety of marlin most of the year, with October, November, and December being the low season. Mahi-mahi peaks in springtime. There’s really no bad time to go fishing; it’s all about what’s in-season when you go. Charters leave from all over the south end of the island, with the bulk of them departing from the Nawiliwili Marina.
  • Best Time to Visit Queen’s Bath: This popular natural pool is so gorgeous, it’s no wonder people can’t stay away. But this is one of those attractions that may be best avoided. Kauai has some of the most rugged and unpredictable surf in all the islands and every year, lives are lost by people who either did not know this was a dangerous place or did not observe the warnings. Skip it. There are dozens of safer places to swim; go there instead.
  • Best Time to Hang Out on Kauai’s North Shore: The best weather on the north shore is in late spring and early fall. The weather is good and the beaches aren’t as crowded.
  • Best Time to Explore the Na Pali Coast by Water: June or July offer the best conditions to explore this rugged landscape from the water, but keep in mind, you’re on the edge of the Hawaiian archipelago and the ocean will do what it does. In shoulder seasons, May or September, the weather tends to be slightly better – drier – but the swell can come up, making it hard work for kayakers and a tough ride for those who get seasick. The winds can come up any time, regardless of season, but in August there’s a slightly higher chance of hurricane weather. Most operators run May-September. When you book your tour, ask about weather cancellations.
  • Best Time to Take a Tubing Adventure: There are a dozen different ways to get wet on Kauai and the rain is only one of them. Doing an inner tube adventure through Lihue’s old irrigation system is a safe and fun way to get in the water and see the island from another perspective. Tours run rain or shine – you’re getting wet anyway, right? But if you get cold, take the afternoon tour as the water’s warmer later in the day.
  • Best Time to Kayak the Wailua River: Since this island is so rainy, there’s no guarantee you’ll have sunshine when you paddle the river up to the famous Wailua Falls. It doesn’t matter so much what season you go, it’s the time of day that’s more important. If you’re up for hard work, take the afternoon trip when you can fight the wind and the river’s gentle current. If that’s not your style, though, or you’re a beginner, head out as early in the day as possible to have an easier trip.

Kauai Weather by Month

  • Kauai Weather in January: January is one of the coolest months in Kauai, which isn’t saying much. Island temperatures can drop as low as 53°F, while highs are a pleasant 71°F. Rain visits for about 15 days out of the month. Keep in mind that Kauai is the rainiest of the Hawaiian Islands and if it’s your destination, you’ll want to pack a raincoat. You’ll also want an extra layer for outdoor activities that take place early in the morning or after sundown. If you’re on the North Shore, you’ll find slightly warmer temps and more rain – December is the second rainiest month for the island, after January. The ocean is cool too, hitting its lowest winter temperatures at about 75°F. (Average Max Temperature: 78°F, Average Precipitation: 1.27 inches.)
  • Kauai Weather in February: February weather is almost exactly the same as January, with lows of 54°F and highs of 72°F, though the rain drops off a bit, even on Kauai’s North Shore. You’ll still want an extra layer for outdoor activities that take place early in the morning or after sundown. The water remains cool too at about 75°F. February does tend to have the lowest number of rainy days, averaging about 13 days during the month, but that still means you’re going to see some rain on your trip. (Average Max Temperature: 78°F, Average Precipitation: 1.39 inches.)
  • Kauai Weather in March: In March, things start to warm up slightly, but there’s not much change from winter temperatures just yet. You’ll find the evenings are 2 or 3 degrees warmer. March can bring an increase in rain, with about 16 days of rain showers. As always, don’t let the rain keep you from visiting as rain on the island is typically transitory. You might get wet, but you won’t be cold. Pack an umbrella. The water remains a cooler 75°F. (Average Max Temperature: 78°F, Average Precipitation 1.81 inches.)
  • Kauai Weather in April: You’ll find another minor increase in average temperatures on Kauai in April, with lows of 69°F and highs of 79°F. The days start getting quite warm and temps will stay up well into the evening. April can average about 18 days of rain, with more falling on the leeward side of the island. (Average Max Temperature: 79°F, Average Precipitation: 2.24 inches.)
  • Kauai in May: In May, temperatures increase noticeably as the island turns away from spring into summer. Highs can reach 81°F and more, and nighttime lows might not drop below 70°F. This is the season when you want those ocean breezes coming through your windows, and you might run the air conditioner at night. Rainfall will start to drop off now for summer, and if the weather tracks to averages, it won’t really pick up again until October. (Average Max Temperature: 81°F, Average Precipitation: 1.06 inches.)
  • Kauai Weather in June: It’s summer on Kauai now and that means lots of vacation visitors and crowded beaches. Highs reach into the mid-80s and it stays warm all night long, with the lows rarely dropping below 74°F. The ocean continues its warming trend, making those sunset beach visits especially attractive. Keep in mind that hurricane season starts in June and runs through about November. There’s no guarantee you’ll be affected but it is good to keep on top of the forecast during this season. (Average Max Temperature: 83°F, Average Precipitation: 1.02 inches.)
  • Kauai Weather in July: July sees only minor increases in the temperatures, with highs of 84°F and lows rarely dropping below 74°F. The ocean starts to warm up in May and June, though the water won’t reach its warmest until September-October. Rainy days become more frequent in July, bumping up to an average of 18 days out of the month having rain events. It’s still summer vacation, so expect the crowds to be there in the rain with you, looking for rainbows. It’s also hurricane season, so keep yourself informed, especially on travel days. (Average Max Temperature: 84°F, Average Precipitation: 1.10 inches.)
  • Kauai Weather in August: It’s the last month of the summer vacation and the first month of Kauai’s hottest weather. The increase from winter has only been about 10 degrees, with the highs peaking around 85°F and the lows at 74°F. There are still about 17 days of the month with rain, though as with any day on the island, it’s often possible to drive a few miles and find you’ve left the weather behind you. The ocean continues to warm as summer ends. Hurricane season is still on, so be especially mindful if you’re flying or doing backcountry explorations. (Average Max Temperature: 85°F. Average Precipitation: 1.24 inches.)
  • Kauai Weather in September: If you like the heat and want to avoid the crowds, September is a great time to come to Kauai. The rain starts to drop off, as does the number of visitors, as summer vacations end and kids go back to school. The water is warm, as are the evenings, with highs still staying around 85°F and lows around 75°F. Hurricane season continues for another 2 months, so watch the forecasts and plan accordingly. (Average Max Temperature: 85°F, Average Precipitation: 1.18 inches.)
  • Kauai Weather in October: It’s now officially shoulder season, so you’ll find better rates on stays, fewer people on the beaches, and a quieter island. Temperatures start to drop a bit, hitting about 83°F, with nighttime lows dropping to 73°F. Rainfall can pick up again as it seems to do every other month on the Garden Isle. Hurricane season isn’t quite over yet, so continue to watch the weather. As always, odds are good you’ll be fine; it’s just good to be informed. (Average Max Temperature: 85°F, Average Precipitation: 1.51 inches.)
  • Kauai Weather in November: October and November share the same weather conditions with daytime highs averaging 83°F and nighttime lows dropping to 73°F. November averages about 18 days of rain, just like October. It’s the last month of hurricane season and, also, the last month that water temperatures reach a luxurious 81°F. (Average Max Temperature: 85°F, Average Precipitation: 1.51 inches.)
  • Kauai Weather in December: December brings cooler temperatures back to the island with lows around 53°F and highs at about 71°F. As in January, there are about 15 days of rain, and you’ll want to pack an extra layer or two along with your rain gear. The ocean cools too, returning to winter temperatures of about 75°F. (Average Max Temperature: 78°F, Average Precipitation: 2.06 inches.)

Kauai Events and Festivals

Kauai Year-Round

  • Hanapepe Friday Night Festival and Art Walk: Every Friday night in Hanapepe. This little town is full of art galleries and every Friday, the streets fill with additional vendors.
  • Farmers Markets: There’s a market nearly every weekday on the island. If you don’t seek them out, you’ll probably find one by accident. They’re excellent places to buy local, seasonal produce.
  • Princeville Night Market: Local art, music, and food at the Princeville Shopping Center. A great time to find souvenirs made by local artists and eat Kauai grown food from stands and food trucks. Every third Sunday.
  • Hanalei Slack Key Guitar and Ukulele Concerts: Every Wednesday at the Hanalei Community Center. This very local experience brings live Hawaiian music to a small stage.

Kauai in January

  • New Year’s Day: It’s a National holiday, so get your basic services like banking and shopping done on the 31st before the shops close.

Kauai in February

  • Valentine’s Day: February 14 is an extremely popular day for getting engaged among Hawaii vacationers. If you want to pop the question in a particularly special venue, make reservations well in advance, though who can argue with a sunset on the beach proposal?

Kauai in April

  • Easter Family Fun: Kapaa Beach Park is home to a giant Easter egg hunt, a visit from the Easter Bunny, and a whole array of activities.

Kauai in May

  • May Day by the Bay: Enjoy Hawaiian music and hula performances, make a lei, and learn more about lauhala, pounding poi, and more.
  • Banana Poka RoundUp: This nature-focused event features vine basket making, guava wood walking stick decorations, children’s games, silent auction, and hands-on exhibits from over 10 environmental and conservation organizations and agencies on the island – and lots of snacks and live music.
  • Oban Dance and Festival: Traditional Japanese folk dancing and live performances of singing and taiko (drums). Dancers dress in traditional kimonos, yukatas, or happi coats. Food, game booths for children, cultural performances, and exhibits are also featured.

Kauai in June

  • Taste of Hawaii: Chefs from around the state gather and give you the opportunity to sample Hawaii’s finest cooking.

Kauai in July

  • Independence Day: Kauai Hospice hosts an annual fundraiser with popular Hawaii music artists. Events include keiki games, food, and entertainment as well as Kauai’s largest 3D fireworks show. Heads up: it’s a national holiday and many businesses are closed.

Kauai in August

  • Heiva I Kauai: Dance, drumming, music competition, and exhibition showcasing crafts, gifts, and food. Cultural practices of lauhala and coconut weaving, Polynesian carving, fireknife dancing, shell craft, and lomilomi massage.
  • Na Pali Challenge: 36-mile paddling race along from Hanalei Bay to Kikiaola Boat Harbor, drawing paddlers from all over the islands.

Kauai in September

  • Kauai Marathon: This run with a view includes live entertainment by hula dancers and taiko drummers on the route. Full or half marathon.

Kauai in October

  • Halloween: Trick or treating is very much an option on the island, but in October, Kukui Grove Shopping Center hosts Freaky Fridays and Spooktacular Saturdays with a haunted house, pumpkin carving, entertainment, and everything you need to get your Halloween fix while visiting.
  • Kauai Chocolate & Coffee Festival: Delicious things are grown here. While the festival is free, you might want to buy a tasting ticket so you can try everything that’s on offer.

Kauai in November

  • Kauai Old Time Gathering: Celebrate traditional music from North America and the Hawaiian Islands. Workshops and acoustic performances from award-winning musicians (including Cajun and Bluegrass) as well as workshops on Old Timey instruments and skills all day long.

Kauai in December

  • New Year’s Eve: December 31st. The biggest fireworks show on the island is hosted by the Poipu Beach Association and yes, it’s free. There’s a family-friendly movie, then fireworks start around 8 pm.

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