Travel

When Is the Best Time to Go to Hawaii, According to 9 Travel Experts

Hawaii is a beautiful year-round destination, but certain factors need to be considered, such as budget, crowds, weather, and a lot more.

So, when is the best time to visit Hawaii? We asked travel experts to provide useful tips.

Janet Semenova

Janet Semenova

Co-Founder, Boutique Travel Advisors | Mentor, Transformational Travel Council

The best time to visit Hawaii depends on the specific place where you want to stay

I think that it is important to remember that Hawaii is comprised of 8 major islands and a series of smaller islets, most of which are uninhabited. Each island in Hawaii has it’s own unique ecosystem, microclimates, and biodiversity. While they are all considered tropical islands, the climates vary dramatically from island to island as well as within an island itself.

In every season, there are areas of Hawaii that can provide immense natural beauty and a plethora of activities.

The time of the year travelers chose to visit the islands should be based on the types of activities they would like to participate in and they style of vacation they would like to have.

  • Summer months are more expensive and crowded but also have longer hours of daylight.
  • Winter season prices peak over Christmas vacation and extend into Spring break.
  • The months of September – November, and April – June tends to be less expensive and quieter on all the islands.

The big island of Hawaii

The big island has some of the most extreme weather variations of all the islands. The west side of the island, which is where Kona airport is located is blessed with sunny and warm weather throughout most of the year.

Temperatures vary between approximately 75-85 degrees. The east side of the island which is where the Hilo airport is located on the west side. Rainfall varies dramatically between them with parts of the Hilo side averaging 300”+ of rainfall per year compared to 60-100” on the Kona side.

While rain is common throughout the year, the winter months are significantly wetter. The volcanoes that comprise much of the island dictate the climate and the temperature on top of the Mauna Kea volcano can drop below freezing.

The best time to visit the island, therefore, depends on the activities travelers wish to participate in.

  • Summer is a wonderful time for beaches, snorkeling, kayaking and scuba diving on the Kona side.
  • The rainforest on the other hand, which is wet year-round offers incredible bio-diversity no matter the season.
  • For the best combination of warm dry weather on the west side, fewer crowds and lower prices the months of May/June and September/October are perfect.
  • Whale watching season, on the other hand, runs from mid-December through April, and those wishing to spot the majestic humpback whales should plan their travel from January to March.

Maui

The island of Maui is fairly small and is blessed with a generally mild year-round climate. Temperatures vary from 75-90 degrees with December and January being the coldest and August and September being the hottest.

Like all Hawaiian islands, the high and low seasons are dictated more by school vacation schedules than weather patterns.

The months of December- March, and June-August are the busiest and most expensive.

For travelers who have a flexible schedule, visiting during shoulder season can prove to be a much more enjoyable experience.

May and October provide excellent weather, warm water temperatures, and lower prices.

Similar to the big island the temperature on Haleakala volcano can vary dramatically with low temperatures and rain. Microclimates exist throughout the Maui with elevation and trade winds playing a big part in weather conditions. Higher elevation areas are colder.

Kauai

The island of Kauai is quite small but has significant variations in climate. While the temperature is pleasant and mild year-round, averaging 75-85 degrees, average rainfall and precipitation are variable.

An interesting and unique fact is that rain is more common overnight than during the day. Showers tend to be strong and brief, occurring with greater frequency in the winter months than during summer.

Flowers and waterfalls come alive in the winter and spring and tend to dry up after a long summer so hiking trails are more scenic and beautiful from December-May than during warmer summer months.

The resort area of Poipu, which is the most popular with tourists, is located in the south part of the island. This is the driest region, followed by Kapaa and Lihue on the east side of the island.

The North Shore area of Kaui is arguably the most spectacularly scenic, lush and green. It is also the wettest part of the island and heavy rains are common in the winter months, while the afternoon and nighttime showers can occur year-round.

Similarly to the other island of Hawaii, Kauai is more popular from December – March, and July-August.

May, September, and October offer beautiful weather, mild temperatures and lower rates throughout the island.

Rebecca Anderson

Rebecca Anderson

Certified Hawaii Destination Specialist, Wanderland Escapes, LLC

The best time to visit Hawaii depends on what your desires are

As someone who has lived in the islands (Oahu and Maui) for many years, I know the trends pretty well as a Certified Hawaii Destination Specialist. Hawaii can be done on a budget if you know how to do it right.

For those that have a really tight budget, flights and accommodations are going to be the cheapest in late January, February, May, and September, typically. May and September are great times to go because it is a bit of an offseason for Hawaii, so the airfare and the hotels typically drop their prices because there is not a high demand during those months. May is typically the cheapest out of all of those months and is a great time to go because the weather is perfect, and less people are traveling there.

September is also great for the same reasons, except the weather is going to be a bit hotter than May. Even still, the high in Hawaii usually never gets over 90 degrees. It usually stays in the mid-80s most of the time. July and August I would say is the hottest month there.

The first week of December can also be a great time to go, as the airfare seems to drop for that week since it’s in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That offers a budget-friendly winter getaway for a lot of people, especially from the west coast.

Because many people have children, their open travel dates typically fall between June and August while their children are out of school for the summer, during spring break in March, or in December and early January for the Christmas and New Year’s Holiday. The unfortunate thing about that is that these are high demand travel times to most places and Hawaii is no exception. You will also find that it is more crowded during these times as well.

January and early February are months I try to avoid going to Hawaii because the weather can get quite cold for the islands. In January, the weather has been known to dip into the high 50s and can stay below 70 degrees. Which isn’t ideal for someone wanting a warm beach vacation. Granted it might be better than being in Michigan during the winter, but it’s still not going to be the ideal Hawaii vacation.

It also rains a lot during January on the islands. It has been known to flood and the storms can be pretty bad during this time. Flash floods are common and can be quite dangerous especially on hikes. Keep in mind that it’s always best to not do hikes when it’s raining. The rains can also wash out popular sights that tourists might want to see and enjoy, and become inaccessible.

Kauai sees a lot of rain during the winter months. The best time to go to Kauai is May through September to try to avoid having to deal with a lot of rain. Therefore, if a client wants a vacation that isn’t rained out, I’d highly suggest they wait until the rainy season (November to March) ends.

If they insist on going to the islands during January or February, I will suggest Maui as most of the touristy areas with nice resorts stay the driest out of all of the islands. Oahu would be a close second. Kona would also be a good choice as it is the driest area on the Big Island.

As far as events go, there are many events held all year round. If you’re really into surfing and want to watch pro surfing contests, the wintertime is the best time to go for that. Most events and festivals are held from March – October. You’d just have to see which ones interest you the most.

Heidi Siefkas

Heidi Siefkas

Author | TEDx Speaker | Adventurer

Hawaii is a year-round destination

I used to live on Kauai. Also, recently, I traveled to Oahu and Kauai for a summer vacation. My answer to your question would be:

Hawaii is a year-round destination, tropical temperatures during the day and cool breezes at night; however, you may want to plan your Hawaiian getaway depending on your activities.

  • If you want to do sea kayaking or sunset Catamaran rides, the seas will be calm in the summer months (May-September).
  • If you are wanting to surf, the winter months bring the bigger waves, especially on the North Shore. These same winter months and swells bring the humpback whales from their summer feeding grounds of Alaska to warmer waters for giving birth.
  • If you are interested in hiking, you can hike all year; however, pay attention to weather reports as rain is frequent, making many trails muddy and slick.

Matt Gerbers

Matt Gerbers

Marketing Director, Maui Resort Rentals

The best time to visit Hawaii depends on what is important to a guest

As a vacation rental manager, we find that rental rates are often a major consideration.

If a guest is looking for the best combination of value, weather, and low crowds, then either May or late August through mid-December are fantastic times.

The same 2 bedroom condo that we rent for $300 per night during these times, might rent for $600 per night during the busy summer or winter season, and upwards of $1000 per night during the ultra-peak holiday time.

In addition, the May and fall weather is almost always fantastic, and guests will have an easier time booking activities and getting dinner reservations.

Emily Hines

Emily Hines

Travel Blogger, Em’s on the Road

I lived in Maui for several years working as an art consultant in the Grand Wailea Resort.

The best time to visit Hawaii in terms of crowds are May and September

This is because families are busy with events like the end of the school year and graduation. Then on the flip side in September, summer is over and schools are getting started again. I always saw the resorts extremely quiet during these months.

The best time to visit Hawaii for families are January and February

This is because it is after the holidays and it is the height of whale watching season. Whale sightings are common throughout Hawaii but the shallow Auau Channel between Maui, Molokai, and Lanai is one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world. Taking a boat cruise out into the channel to see these creatures up close is an unforgettable experience.

Amy Martin

Amy Martin

Travel Blogger, Two Little Pandas

The best time to visit Hawaii is in April

There are a ton of considerations that go into planning a trip: weather, prices, crowding, and even just what you’ll be in the mood to do during a particular time of year. We always think of Hawaii being hot and sunny year-round, but that’s not quite true.

During the rainy season (approximately Oct-March), you can expect a bit of rain nearly every day. Temperatures drop as low as the mid-60s  – not exactly frigid, but not ideal beach weather either.

By April, rainfall drops significantly and temperatures continue to climb, giving you a much greater chance of perfect beach weather you are looking for.

Our family loves going to Hawaii, or somewhere tropical, for spring break, which is typically in March. However, we prefer to avoid spring break crowds and high prices. April is considered ‘off-season’ for Hawaii, so if you can delay a couple of weeks until April, the spring break crowd will be gone and prices will be much lower.

Tatiana Sorokina

Tatiana Sorokina

Travel Blogger, Family Road Trip Guru

The best time to visit Hawaii depends heavily on what a traveler is looking to achieve

Get the best waves for surfing? Have minimal waves appropriate for small kids? See the whales? Complete road to Hana trip without road closures due to rain?

  • For surfing, winter swells are the best.
  • For travel with young kids, summer mornings would have the calmest seas.
  • For the best whale watching opportunities, you need to be in Hawaii between January and March.
  • Summer is the best time for an uninterrupted road trip to Hana on Maui when the chance of heavy rain is less than in winter.
  • Otherwise, if you don’t have any specific travel goals, any time in Hawaii is great.

Note, that Hurricane season in Hawaii is officially from June 1 to November 30 but it is not as bad as in, say Florida. Since 1950, only 3 major hurricanes hit Hawaiian islands.

Sam Williamson

Sam Williamson

Writer, WeSwap Travel

The best time to visit Hawaii is on Christmas season

Most people think of beaches and sunshine when they think of Hawaii, but did you know that it’s also a great place to head for Christmas?

Throughout the whole of December, there are a number of Christmas events that are well worth a visit – The Kauai Festival of Lights is a free festival that takes place around Christmas which features stunning light displays and caroling, and most churches will hold special hula events that are fun and a different way to celebrate Christmas.

Plus, December is usually pretty warm in Hawaii which is a nice change!

Tyler Connaghan

Tyler Connaghan

Surfer | Traveler | Writer, Finbin

The best time to visit Hawaii is during Winter

This may come to a surprise to most so let’s dig into why that is. Hawaii only has two seasons, summer and winter, which you can hardly notice because the average temperatures during these two seasons differ only 7 degrees (85° vs 78°)!

You can do all activities year-around in Hawaii including hiking, snorkeling, surfing, zip-lining, helicopter tours and much more.

First, flights and hotels are a fraction of the price during the winter because the tourist season in Hawaii is in the summer.

If you are vacationing with your family that can add up to a lot of saved coconuts!

Next, the off-season is less crowded.

Beaches, tourist destinations and everything else on the island is much more mellow and relaxing to visit this time of year.

Lastly, the surf is bigger and better during the winter.

If you want to surf Hawaii’s best waves, it will have to be in the winter because that is the surf season and most surf spots in the summertime are very small or flat.

If you want to go snorkeling, swimming or learn how to surf, there are plenty of safe beaches for these activities as well during the winter too so don’t let the winter discourage you if you are not an experienced surfer.

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