Current Forecasts & Climate Patterns in Hawaii
While it's always going to be close to impossible to predict the weather months or even weeks ahead of your vacation, it’s helpful to look at Hawaiian weather trends to get an idea of what to expect before you travel to Hawaii. 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.
In this article, we'll go over some of the most common visitor concerns about Hawaii's weather so you'll get a general idea of what to expect. As always, be sure to check local weather reports for the area you’ll be visiting for daily and hourly updates. We want to caution you, however, that some weather reports often say it’s going to rain every day- this is usually not the case, so don’t be alarmed. There may be intermittent brief showers, but don’t assume your vacation will be a total washout!
Details on Hawaii Weather, Climate, Forecasts, and much more...
- General Weather Patterns in Hawaii
- Hawaii Climate & Long-Term Weather Trends
- Year-Round Temperatures you can expect in Hawaii
- Learn about how El Nino and La Nina affect Hawaii
- Kauai Weather - including Garden Isle weekly forecast, rainfall and temperature graphs, and precipitation map.
- Oahu Weather - including Honolulu weekly forecast, rainfall and temperature graphs, and precipitation map.
- Maui Weather - including Valley Isle weekly forecast, rainfall and temperature graphs, and precipitation map.
- Big Island Weather - including Kona & Hilo weekly forecast, rainfall and temperature graphs, and precipitation map.
- Additional Weather Graphics for the Hawaiian Islands
Hopefully, the Hawaii weather graphics found throughout this article and our brief introduction to the weather here in the Hawaiian Islands will help you plan an enjoyable visit.
Hawaii Annual Rainfall & Average Temperatures
General Weather Patterns
The best thing about Hawaii's weather is that it is very localized. You may be driving along the island and be in a rainstorm one minute and in bright sun the next. This variety of weather allows you to fully experience Hawaii and its sun-drenched beaches, misty rainbow-filled valleys, pristine waterfalls, cool highlands, and lush mountains.
Here are a few additional 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!
The islands of Hawaii are affected by the trade winds. These winds blow NE to ENE and are typically more prevalent in the winter months. These trade winds bring cool air to the islands from the north, often resulting in precipitation along inland/mountain and windward areas. At times, these winds can die down and practically reverse so that a south wind blows over the islands, resulting in very hot and muggy conditions. These winds are called Kona winds.
One mistake a lot of people make when they visit Hawaii is to assume there is a wet and/or dry season, but it's not quite that simple. Granted, there are two distinct times of the year, and weather patterns due vary to the trade winds, but there is no defined "rainy season." The general point to be made is, you can't just say it's rainy in the winter and dry in the summer. We've seen it bone dry in the winter, and had flooding in the summer; each enough time to derail most short-term trends. Still, we can look at the long-term trends and get a general idea of what to expect.
Ultimately, remember this above all else - don't fret about the weather, it's Hawaii! Showers are typically short-lived and sporadic most any time of year, and the temperature is almost always just right.
Hawaii Climate Patterns
Long-Term Weather Trends
On average, the summer months are the driest and sunniest, but they are also the warmest and most humid. The winter months usually bring more rain to the windward side of the islands- along the north and east- but prolonged rainstorms are uncommon.
The southern coasts of each island are the driest parts year-round. Also, consider that Hawaii is geographically and topographically one of the most diverse places you'll ever find. The weather from one side of an island to the other varies greatly over distance and topography. Since the weather can be so unpredictable in Hawaii, keeping a small poncho with you during hikes or other outdoor activities is a good idea. Unless you hike into any valleys, where clouds can build up and stick around a while, you're likely only to experience rain in short spells.
Hawaii Year-Round Temperatures
Hawaii is fortunate in that it has a mild and pleasant temperature throughout the year, although those not used to humidity may be a bit uncomfortable. There is hardly any difference between night and day temperatures year-round. The occasional storm or the trade winds may produce an exception to this rule, but even then temperatures don't vary by much. The average high and low in the summer are around 85°F (29°C) and 71°F (22°C), respectively; while the average high and low in the winter are 78°F (25°C) and 62°F (16°C), respectively. We included a graphic depicting the annual precipitation in the state, it may help visualize which months receive the most and least precipitation.
The land temperature estimates only apply near sea level, so please keep in mind that elevation changes will alter the temperatures. With every 1,000 ft. (305m) climb in elevation, the temperature, on average, drops another 3.5°F (-9.8C/1000m). We strongly urge visitors to take note that certain islands' topography changes often, as does elevation. If you plan to visit the summits of Haleakala on Maui or Mauna Kea on the Big Island, you'll also need to prepare accordingly as temperatures at 10,000-14,000 ft. (3,048-4,067m) can be downright cold even in the summer months.
We advise against winter travel to the summits on the Big Island, as blizzards are not uncommon there. Ultimately, our message is simple: Keep the topography and elevation of where you are traveling in mind and prepare accordingly. Even if you do not plan to visit the summit areas on Maui or the Big Island (or visit either of these islands at all), a light jacket might be useful in other areas around the island you're visiting where elevations are above 3,000-4,000 ft (914-1,219m). Jackets or light sweaters are also useful for any dawn/dusk hiking at higher elevations, like Kokee on Kauai or Hawaii Volcanoes Park on the Big Island.
If it's the ocean temperatures you're wondering about, rest assured you'll find warm temperatures year-round. Ocean temperatures remain pretty comfortable throughout the year ranging from 80°F (27°C) in the summer to a milder 74°F (23°C) in the winter.
El Niño and La Niña affects on Hawaii
These two weather systems/events have an impact on the islands. During El Niño winters, the islands are typically drier. Whereas in La Niña years, rainfall in Hawaii has tended to be near to above normal during the winter months. The rainy season has also lasted longer into the spring during La Niña years. Hawaii may receive above-normal rainfall not only during the normally wet period of January through March but during a strong La Niña period, the excess wetness may continue through May in many locations.
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, Forecast, & 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.
Oahu Weather, Forecast, & 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.
Maui Weather, Forecast, & 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, Forecast, & 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.