A quick, heavy downpour splashed outside my windows this morning as I dressed for work. Although I carry an umbrella in my backpack, I doubted I’d use it. Instead, I reached for my hoodie – the lightweight hooded sweatshirt that protects me both from Hawaii’s frequent mists and overly-enthusiastic air conditioning.

By the time I left the house, the hard rain had passed – as usual. Rather, a light mist was in the air as I walked to the bus stop. The mist continued even though the skies were blue with white, puffy clouds. The mist is the reason I rely on a hoodie rather than an umbrella most of the time. The moisture is not really heavy enough for an umbrella and it often seems to move sideways on the breeze rather than falling directly down.

When I moved to Hawaii, I looked in local stores for a rain jacket. I imagined heavy tropical rains for much of the year, certainly through the winter. I didn’t find any, only racks of sweatshirts. I wondered why – the image of a wet, soggy sweatshirt didn’t seem very appealing. In my great wisdom, I ordered a rain jacket online to prepare for my first fall. About a year later, I finally gave it away relatively unused. It was too hot to wear most of the time so I would put it on for the sprinkles and mist then take it off right away. It also wasn’t very effective at combating the cold air conditioning in my office, classrooms and on the bus.

Since the hard rain is usually a quick shower, I do carry an umbrella in case I can’t just wait it out under a building overhang, which is my favorite technique. But most of the time, the hoodie is plenty of protection from the light sprinkles and mist – keeping me dry and not getting wet clear through. I encounter more frequent showers because I live on the windward side of the island and go to school in a valley. If I stayed near the beach all day, I probably wouldn’t even need that – just enjoy the cool mist on the breeze as it passes.

The sequence this morning is common in Hawaii: rain then mist followed by a rainbow!


  1. Yes, our light rain is always so difficult to explain to everyone. I never want to look as though I’m hiding something, but I don’t want to give them the wrong impression either. Whenever asked I say “Our rain is different than mainland rain, you’ll get sprinkled all throughout the day, but not too much to get soaked just enough to see the steam disappear on the road and then the nice cool breeze takes it from there.” Usually works as a good description. I think I’ll just send them to this blog post, you give a clear perspective on things.

  2. Thanks for this info! We will be visiting Oahu in two weeks and I read that it rains somewhere on the island everyday so I have been looking for rain slickers for my family to pack. Now I will just pack our hoodies and we should be good to go and we won't look to "touristy!" Although our matching hawaiian shirts might give us away! 🙂

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