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Manoa Falls

On a very rainy day, the Manoa Valley waterfall--usually dry--appears in the landscape.


Kaua‘i as a whole is known for its abundant rain, and for having one of the wettest spots on Earth atop its summit. Ha‘ena's location on the Northwest corner of Kaua‘i is closer to being windward than leeward. But because of the island's topography, it is located in a wetter area than some of the more truly windward locales.

"We're not truly windward," Chipper explains, "in that we're not getting the brunt of the trade winds directly on to us, but the trades come from the Northeast and we're out here where the corner turns on the island, but because it's round, we get quite a bit of that Northeast trade wind that comes right around to us, so we do get a substantial amount of rain."



Kaua'i Rain Map

The rains of Wai‘ale‘ale, one of the world's wettest spots, reach down towards Ha‘ena.
Image from the Atlas of Hawai‘i, Third Edition.


"We average about 80 to 100 inches of rain per year, because the majority of our rainfall is orographic rainfall. Here, because our cliffs are so close to the ocean, we're catching those clouds and condensing them and causing rain to fall. You look at Kapa‘a, which is directly windward, and yet it's very dry. And the difference is, you go to someplace like Maui on the wet windward side of Haleakala, because the mountain goes up so rapidly, you get Hana, Kipahulu, all those areas are very very wet areas."





The localized landscape also plays a role in catching the rain. A Hawaiian kupuna visiting Limahuli Gardens pointed this out one day. She was told that the name of the high peak to the back of the valley is Mauna-pulu-o. At Limahuli Gardens this name had always been understood to refer to the pointed shape of the mountain (mauna), comparing it to a scraper ('o) for pulu, a soft yellow wool derived from stalks of the hapu‘u tree-fern.

But this elderly Hawaiian lady shook her head. No, she said, that's where you get your moisture--from that mountain, scraping the winds that come by. That mountain is the source of your moisture.


Pulu has several meanings, and while one of them is the wool of the tree fern, another is "wet, moist, soaked, saturated." Multiple meanings are common for Hawaiian language and place names. It is very possible that both meanings were applied to this mountain.

Hapu'u (tree fern).




The variations in rainfall within Ha‘ena itself makes for different vegetation and forest zones.



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