Hawaii December 12, 2016
The Wettest Place On Planet Earth Is Right Here In Hawaii And You Need To Visit
The beautiful Hawaiian Islands are known for tropical weather, awe-inspiring beaches, and sunny skies – but the islands receive a great deal of rain, depending on where you go. For an almost-guaranteed rainy experience, head inland on Kauai, where the lush, emerald Mount Waialeale, one of the wettest places on the planet, rises more than 5,000 feet into the sky and is covered by an ever-present blanket of clouds.
Located at the southeastern edge of an extinct caldera, Mount Waialeale is the second highest peak on the island of Kauai at approximately 5,148 feet above sea level. The highest is the neighboring Kawaikini, which measures in at 5,243 feet above sea level.
It is also the second wettest spot on earth, receiving a staggering 450 inches of rain each year since 1912, and is almost always covered in a thick blanket of clouds. As a matter of fact, the summit only peeks through the clouds approximately 20 days each year.
An official record was established in 1982 when an astounding 683 inches of rain was recorded at the summit. Yet, just miles away, the rainfall drops dramatically - with an average only 10 inches of rain annually.
But how does the mountain receive so much rain? Well, as the northernmost of the main island chain, Kauai is exposed to much more rain and front winds during the winter. Because the summit is round in shape, it is open on all sides to dampening winds, and it is located just below the “trade wind inversion layer” of 6,000 feet, above which trade wind generated clouds cannot rise. The mountain’s steep cliffs allow humid air to rise rapidly, translating to a high density of rain in just one spot. Cool, huh?
The only wetter spot in the world is Mawsynram, Meghalaya, India, which receives an average of 467 inches of rain each year. However, unlike Mawsynram, whose rain is concentrated in the Monsoon season, Mount Waialeale has a much more evenly distribution of rain throughout the year.
Waialeale supplies water to some of the area’s greatest waterfalls - including the famous weeping wall and the 800-foot Waipo’o falls, which send rushing streams into the island’s navigable rivers - the Hanapepe, Waimea, Wailua, and Makaweli.
Mount Waialeale translates to "rippling water" or "overflowing water" in Hawaiian, a quite fitting name for one of the wettest spots on the planet - and a mountain littered with waterfalls.
The incredibly lush mountain, stark white lines of the cascading waterfall, and looming clouds all work together to create an awe-inspiring oasis unlike anywhere in the world.
The best way to experience the beauty that is Mount Waialeale is by helicopter tour, or hiking the nearby Alakai Swamp Trail. For other trails and information, check out Waialeale.org.