Learn About Winter Ocean Swells on Kauai

When you think of Kauai, chances are you picture the cascading mountains crashing into the pristine beaches with palm trees swaying over turquoise blue ocean waves. That’s exactly what Kauai is known for, and those pictures are posted all over travel magazines and postcards.

While that is how our island paradise looks most of the year, there are seasonal differences during the Winter months. When the northern continental U.S. states experience fall foliage colors and snow storms, Kauai’s average temperature only slightly drops.

The biggest difference during the winter season is the ocean.

ocean waves kauai

Winter Ocean Swells

Kauai’s waves are usually appropriate for beginning surf lessons, but during the Hawaiian Winter, winds from higher north change the ocean conditions. The currents that reach the northern and western Kauai coast can cause 30 – 40 ft. swells. That means that some waves can be as tall as 60+ ft!

And it isn’t just Kauai. All the Hawaiian Islands experience the same phenomena, which is how it became such a popular surfing destination.

The surf conditions can shift quickly, and many visitors are surprised by the sudden, unexpected changes. While we want everyone to feel welcome and safe to visit Kauai, please don’t let your guard down when on vacation.

Help us keep this a tragedy-free Winter for everyone! Please take a few minutes to read and educate yourself and your family before your Kauai winter vacation.

Safety Tips

To ensure that you and your loved ones have a wonderful vacation without incident, we ask that you follow a few winter safety tips.

  • Check the Kauai Ocean Report or Hawai’i Beach Safety Report before heading to the coast
  • Always read and obey warning signs and flags signaling beach conditions
  • Stop and watch the ocean swells from afar for several minutes then approach cautiously
  • DO NOT walk on wet rocks
  • Never turn your back to the waves
  • When in doubt, ask a local – or don’t go out
  • Consider using flotation devices for both children and adults (no matter how calm the water)
  • Surf forecasts are always on the local news, and with plenty of beaches on Kauai, you can always change plans and head to a safer part of the island.

    kauai winter weather

    What Places Not To Go

    During these especially turbulent months, locals will steer you away from beaches and coastal trails along the West and North Shores.

    Queens Bath is a popular natural attraction, but is also the most common place where lives are lost. This is DEFINITELY NOT a place that visitors should be from November – March with large ocean swells, and the rest of the year can STILL BE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. It is common for travelers to venture too close and be swept out to sea by a monster wave.

    When that happens, it is rare that a person can be rescued. Cell service is spotty all over the island but isn’t accessible at all on the remote areas near Queens Bath and Napali Coast.

    Anini, Hanalei, and Tunnels are all areas where caution and common sense should be used before venturing too close to the water.

    Where You Can Go

    South Shore is the most popular place for locals and travelers to spend their time in the Winter. We offer many Kauai condo rentals in South Shore and just short drives away at the Waipouli Beach Resort.

    The following beaches are usually safest and offer lifeguards on duty:

  • Poipu Beach Park
  • Salt Pond Beach Park
  • No matter what time of the year you visit Kauai, always keep in safety in mind. Many unfortunate drowning accidents happen when visitors do not recognize rip currents or understand the beach conditions. We want you to enjoy Kauai’s water activities safely.

    If you’re in the water and feel a strong current pulling you away from shore, don’t panic and don’t fight it. People most commonly drown in rip currents from tiring themselves out, so conserve energy and swim parallel to shore to get out of the underwater current before heading back to shore.

    Visiting Kauai in the Winter

    We want you to know that Kauai is still a great place to experience in the Winter season – many people do. It is a wonderful opportunity to see the power of nature, and many locals will make the journey to the North Shore just to see the incredible waves. We just ask you to stay safe and to be aware of possible hazards when you are here.

    The weather and ocean conditions change daily and drastically, so stay updated and check each morning before heading out the door to explore the island. Keep in mind that a beach just 30 minutes away from the North Shore could be peaceful and safe. Winter travelers who embrace the flexible, relaxed lifestyle of the locals will have the best time.

    We hope to see you soon, and if you have any questions, we are more than happy to answer them. Contact us today to learn more about Kauai or book a resort rental for your trip.

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