Resting sleepily in the scenic background behind Kukui’ula, is the majestic Mt. Wai’ale’ale. Located almost exactly in the middle of the island, this towering green mountain range is usually tucked behind a shroud of wispy rain clouds. Wai’ale’ale means “rippling water” or “overflowing water” in Hawaiian and is the second wettest spot on earth, receiving about 450 inches of rain each year. The rainiest year on record is 1982 with 683 inches.
“Many sources say that Mt. Wai’ale’ale is the wettest spot on Earth, however, the 38-year average at Mawsynram (India) is higher at 467.4 inches (11,870 mm), according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Located in the center of Kauai, Mt. Waialeale rises 5,148 feet (1,569 m), making it the second highest peak on the island, after Kawaikini at 5,243 feet (1,598 m).” – Wikipedia
How does it stay so wet when the rest of the island is so sunny? Kauai is the northernmost of the main Hawaiian Islands, allowing for much more exposure to front winds and rain in the winter. The summit itself is round in shape, which exposes all sides of its summit to dampening winds. It is also located just below the “trade wind inversion layer” in an area where trade-wind-generated clouds cannot rise. However the mountain’s steep cliffs cause the humid air to rise quickly, allowing for a large portion of rain in one spot.
Best way to see Mt Wai’ale’ale? Hike the surrounding Alakai Wilderness Preserve (also known as Alakai Swamp) or enjoy a helicopter tour overlooking the “Weeping Wall”. Waialeale.org supplies more information including maps, guidebooks and environmental news. Alakai Swamp is known for its wide range of protected animal and plant species. Lush ferns, trees and plants make up this beautiful trail. The “Weeping Wall” consists of the numerous, thin waterfalls running down towards the base of the mountain, a surreal sight to behold.
The summit itself is relatively barren, despite all the water it receives. One reason? In addition to the lack of sunshine, few plants and trees can handle that much rain! For more information regarding hiking Mt. Wai’ale’ale contact Huaka’i Outfitters. The Huaka’i Guides look forward to sharing the island’s incredible treasures with Members at Kukui’ula.