Rain, Rain

I usually publish sunny-weather pictures on this blog, so I thought I’d show you what the rain looks like on Kaua’i. Both of these are from our lanai (covered porch), you’ll recognize the street light from the sunrise photos.

A view of the neighborhood, all gray and wet with rain, and a lone pigeon sitting on a utility wire above the streetlamp

The dark and lush vegetation in the neighbor

In the neighbor’s yard above, you can see the pink flower-stalks of several mango trees in bloom, the wind-tattered leaves of banana trees, and two branches of our papaya tree in the foreground. The mangos started blooming after the last big rain at the end of January, so we should have another good year for mangos if the rain keeps up another month.

After the rain stopped, I walked up the street to look at Nounou mountain (the Sleeping Giant). A few wispy clouds were still caught up there:

Nounou mountain all wet and dark green catches a few clouds around the peak

Notice to hikers: all trails on the east side, north shore, and in Kokee will be seriously wet and muddy for the next two weeks. With the winter rains, count on mud puddles until the end of April. During rainy periods, avoid crossing any rivers on hikes, most notably the Waimea river, Hanakapiai stream, and the Wailua river at the start of the infamous Tunnel hike.

The end of last year was very dry and January still had below average rainfall, but February is looking better with 3.3 inches (8.5 cm) at our house yesterday alone. Drought is a serious issue on a small island where surface water runs off quickly and aquifers aren’t that big. Having to water the garden to keep it green takes time and makes the water bill more expensive, so we welcome the regular rains.

The newspaper often reports on big storms, today showing a photo of Wailua falls at high volume. I always forget the waterfalls have spectacular volume for about half a day after storms, though the flood waters are all brown. However, the newspaper did get some of their numbers wrong, claiming less than two inches (5cm) of rain fell on Waialeale last year. In fact, only the month of December saw 1.67 inches (4cm) on Waialeale, its driest month on record, but its 2005 total was still 343.82 inches (8.73 meters), which is 81 percent of normal.

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© 2020.


  1. Mark says:

    It’s surprising given all the deep green in your picture of Nounou mountain that you’d need to water your lawn at all. From the photos all the plants appear naturally lush, though maybe there is more brown than what I see, comparing your neighbor’s backyard jungle with my moribund backyard lawn.

  2. Andy says:

    While the mountains never turn brown like they do in the San Francisco Bay area, Nounou vegetation and the field in the foreground were very dry and wilted up through December’s low rain. Most of the lower slopes of Nounou are haole koa (mesquite), an acacia scrub which is fairly drought-resistant. We had some rain in January, so they had revived a bit, and I took the photo on the third day of wet weather, when it really started to pour.

    The neighbor’s yard has a lot of mature trees, and they handle the drought better. We have Zoysia grass which doesn’t need much watering, it’s the herb garden, flower garden and all the newly planted trees that need to be watered when we don’t get any rain. I’m sure the fact that we installed drip lines and bought a faucet timer helped to make it rain so much.

  3. Peggy says:

    Andy, I really enjoy your blog, even though I only live a couple of miles away from you (and don’t see you or Sonja or Leilani nearly enough).

    For those of you who live Elswhere, I think this article well addresses the reality of living on Kauai. Before I moved here 7 years ago, I lived in Seattle, which is a pretty pricey place to live, but at least has reasonable employment opportunities. AND opera, which I enjoy.

    I heard 2 consistent comments when I said I was moving:
    1. You’re following your bliss! I admire you for that.
    2. It’s so expensive there, how will you make a living?

    And the answers are:

    1. I love it here, I never want to live anywhere else, no matter how many problems attend our life here. This island is magical and beautiful even when it’s been slogging down rain for weeks in a row and I have cabin fever so bad I can taste it in the back of my mouth.

    2. We call it the “price of Paradise”. Everything Andy said is true – rentals are very expensive and hard to come by, good-paying professional jobs are scarce, the average person cannot afford to buy a house and pay $3K a month for a mortgage. When people ask us what they should bring when they move here, we say “MONEY” and it’s not a joke. There is a real disparity between the rich who are buying up all the available land and houses and the rest of us. Kauai’s average home price is now $750,000+. That’s a cheap house on Kauai now.

    I came with savings which are long gone. I work a lot and my husband is now working 2 jobs. Money is tight for us, it’s always an issue. We’ll never buy a house, because we can’t afford it.

    We’re not “locals” and never will be, but we’ve made friends. It’s probably similar to being an expatriate anywhere, except that English and the American dollar are official currencies here. It has been my experience that the local culture respects people who are what they are and are proud of it. I’m an American from so far back that I can’t really say I’m Scotch-Irish-English-Danish anymore. I’m a haole from the mainland, I don’t pretend to be anything else, I have a lively appreciation for Hawaiian culture and join in hula and other activities that I enjoy. People seem to accept me for who I am, even though I may not have entered their inner circle of friends.

    What do we get in exchange? Kauai. My friend Fern put it so well – “Kauai is for people who need beauty right in their face every day.” This island called me here, and has never stopped talking to me since. I may not get to the beach that often, or out on the trails, but when I do, it’s so glorious that it makes up for the days I don’t. I could be living with 2 million other people in Seattle where it’s darned cold 10 months out of the year – and barely warm the other 2 – and NEVER get to swim in Hawaii or walk the Kuilau Ridge trail, or dash up Nonou Mountain to the picnic overlook.

    I feel “lucky I live Kauai.”

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