The marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) industry is at an early stage of development and has the potential to play a significant role in diversifying the U.S. energy portfolio and reducing the U.S. carbon footprint. Wave energy is the largest among all the U.S. MHK energy resources, which include wave energy, ocean current, tidal-instream, ocean thermal energy conversion, and river-instream. Wave resource characterization is an essential step for regional wave energy assessments, Wave Energy Converter (WEC) project development, site selection and WEC design. The present paper provides an overview of a joint modelling effort by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories on high-resolution wave hindcasts to support the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office’s program of wave resource characterization, assessment and classifications in all US coastal regions. Topics covered include the modelling approach, model input requirements, model validation strategies, high performance computing resource requirements, model outputs and data management strategies. Examples of model setup and validation for different regions are provided along with application to development of classification systems, and analysis of regional wave climates. Lessons learned and technical challenges of the long-term, high-resolution regional wave hindcast are discussed.