The best time to visit Hawaii really depends on your interests, budget, and individual goals for the trip. The North Shore in the winter months is best for serious surfers, and from winter to early spring is also the best time to go whale watching, particularly in January, February, and March. If your goal is to enjoy swimming and snorkeling, the summer months are ideal for a less intense surf combined with the warmest and driest weather. For hiking enthusiasts, shoot for late spring or early fall, when the weather is relatively dry but temperatures are a little cooler than in the summer months.
Many would say that any time is a good time for visiting Hawaii, and it’s hard to argue with that. The rich culture, amazing food, beautiful scenery, and outdoor activities like swimming and hiking make Hawaii one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Ultimately, deciding on the best time to visit the Hawaiian Islands depends on your budget, whether you want to avoid the crowds of a peak season (like spring break time or high summer), and what you want to do when you get there. Let’s take a look at what you can expect any time you visit Hawaii to help you make the best decisions for your trip to these Central Pacific islands.
When to enjoy the best weather in Hawaii
Generally speaking, the tropical climate of all the islands of Hawaii means warm weather year-round. But if you’re hoping for an outdoor paradise, you may want to avoid the rainiest months, which occur in winter. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, average winter temperatures at the beach are around 78ºF and about 85ºF in the summer months, with lower temperatures occurring at higher elevations.
Overall, the best weather is between April and September, when the islands see the least amount of rain and the highest temperatures. Early to mid-June can be a particularly lovely time, with great weather that’s dry and hot as well as comfortable sea temperatures. Plus, the full summer crowds haven’t quite descended yet, so it’s a bit more affordable and peaceful than during the peak tourist season of July and August.
Officially, hurricane season lasts from June 1 through November 30, but the Hawaii Office of Public Preparedness points out that tropical cyclones — hurricanes and tropical storms — can happen at any time. But don’t let hurricane season and the potential for inclement weather affect your plans — just be aware of weather reports, know your hotel’s emergency plan, and enjoy your visit!
The best time to visit Hawaii on a budget
Luckily, because good weather abounds and there is so much to do year-round, you can still plan your visit to the Hawaiian Islands for times when the flight and hotel prices are at their lowest. This is also a good time to visit Hawaii because there are fewer visitors, so crowds are at their lowest levels of the year.
Generally speaking, you’re going to find the best deals on flights and hotel accommodations during the shoulder seasons. In spring, this would be mainly early to mid-April (depending on certain holidays, like Easter and Golden Week) and mid- to late May. The fall shoulder season of September and October is also an excellent time to visit. These months should give you the best weather combined with the lowest rates and fewer visitors. Perfect!
Best times for deals and discounts when visiting Hawaii
To further stretch your budget when booking your dream vacation to the Hawaiian Islands, start checking airfare and accommodation prices well in advance of your trip. In most cases, you can find the best deals if you are willing to book your arrival and departure dates on weekdays (although flying home on a Saturday can often be advantageous as well).
Most travelers fly on weekends, so mid-week prices are almost always going to be more competitive. Similarly, hotel accommodations typically have higher rates on weekend days, so maximize your budget by planning for more of your vacation time to fall on weekdays instead.
Best time to visit Hawaii for whale watching
While whales can be spotted year-round in Hawaii, the best whale watching can be done mostly during the winter months stretching from December to May, with peak whale season happening during the months of January, February, and March.
This is the time when humpback whales (kohola) make their way home from Alaska to breed, calve, and nurse their young. During this time, they can often be seen frolicking near the shore and are a delight to watch, especially on one of the many Hawaii tours that specialize in whale watching. A few places even offer kayak boat tours, which are an especially amazing experience — although perhaps not for the faint of heart!
Although humpback whales can be seen from all of the Hawaiian Islands, the shallow Auau Channel between Maui, Molokai, and Lanai is said to be one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world. You might also spot koholafrom the southern shores of Oahu. Poipu Beach on Kauai, the shores of the Kohala Coast, and Hilo Bay on Hawaii Island (also known as the Big Island) are other popular whale-watching destinations.
Best time to visit Hawaii for surfing
As for many other activities, any Hawaiian island is good for surfing year-round. But the biggest waves come in the winter months, most of which are off the northern shores of the islands during this time of year. For a beginner, this isn’t the best time to learn, but professionals and more experienced surfers will flock to areas like the famed Oahu’s North Shore, making for an exciting spectator sport.
For amateur surfers or those just starting to learn, it’s best to stick to the southern shores of the islands during the winter months or to visit Hawaii from early June throughout the summer for good weather and calmer, warmer seas.
Best time for fishing while visiting Hawaii
If fishing is your passion, then you’re in luck: Hawaii has plenty of fish! When you’ll have the best odds of catching different types of fish depends on the time of year you visit. Most experts agree that the ideal time for sport fishing is during the summer months, when you’re most likely to catch some of the bigger fish, like blue marlins that can weigh more than 500 pounds or yellowfin tuna that weigh in at a hundred-plus pounds.
Be sure to book your charter boat early, though, because weddings and family groups mean boats are in high demand this time of year. You can also talk to your guides and other locals about where and when to catch different types of fish during other months of the year.
Best time to visit Hawaii for swimming and snorkeling
If your dream of a vacation on the Hawaiian Islands is to enjoy the beaches and do some swimming, diving, and snorkeling, you’ll want to visit Hawaii during the hot and dry summer months, when the seas are at their calmest.
Some of the best snorkeling spots are said to be located on the leeward sides of both Maui and the Big Island. There are a lot of sheltered areas on these shores that are more protected from the surf and trade winds, making for the clearest waters and best opportunities for viewing sea life.
Best time to visit Hawaii for festivals and events
There’s always an interesting event happening in the Hawaiian Islands, whether it’s local wine and food festivals or major events like the Honolulu Marathon in December or the Hawaii International Film Festival, which lasts for most of November and has events on all four of the main Hawaiian Islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.
Among Hawaii’s most popular events is a cultural showcase known as the Aloha Festivals. The major events take place in Oahu, but the festivals are held on the other islands as well. Celebrated in September, the mission of Aloha Festivals is “to foster the Aloha Spirit through the perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture and the celebration of the diverse customs and traditions of Hawai’i.” The committee picks different themes every year to highlight various aspects of Hawaiian culture.
King Kamehameha Day, which falls on June 11, is a big state holiday for Hawaii that spawned the Kamehameha Festival in its name. Kamehameha Day honors the memory of Kamehameha, who united the Hawaiian Islands in 1810 to become Hawaii’s first king, and aims to protect, preserve, and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture. The Festival, located in Hilo on the Big Island, features traditional Hawaiian dance, music, cultural practices arts, and crafts, and is attended by thousands of island residents and visitors from all over the world.
Other not-to-be-missed events are the Prince Lot Hula Festival in November (Hawaii’s largest non-competitive hula event), the Merrie Monarch Festival on the Big Island starting Easter Sunday, and the Kauai Chocolate and Coffee Festival held in October, just to name a few.
Best food to enjoy in Hawaii
Whenever you’re planning to visit Hawaii, food is another pleasure you can enjoy at any time of the year. Local food delicacies are available year-round, after all, although you may want to time your trip so you can partake in a popular food festival. The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival is held every October in Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii and its most populated city, located on the island of Oahu. This region also encompasses the world-famous areas of Waikiki and Pearl Harbor.
Whether you attend the wine and food festival, dine in some of Hawaii’s world-class restaurants, or simply visit the local establishments, you can enjoy Hawaiian specialties such as kalua pork, poke, lomi-lomi salmon, poi, huli-huli chicken, laulau, loco moco, or pipikaula.
During your trip, be sure to try saimin, a traditional noodle soup (kind of like a Pacific Island cousin of ramen) and a popular dish in Hawaii. There are many variations of this dish, but it’s usually made with wheat and egg noodles in a clear, dashi-based broth and topped with items such as fish cakes, pork, or green onions. Hawaiians eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner in all its delicious variations.
What is Golden Week?
Golden Week is the time between late April and early May when many Japanese tourists flock to the Hawaiian Islands. This is because a lot of Japanese workers are given time off from the tail end of April into the first week of May as four of their national holidays coincide.
The holiday week kicks off on April 29 with Showa Day, the birthday of former Emperor Showa. Showa Day is followed by Constitution Day on May 3, Greenery Day on May 4, and Children’s Day on May 5. Many businesses in Japan shut down for the entirety of this week, making it easier for workers to get away for those holidays. And, well, who wouldn’t want to spend a week off in Hawaii?
What is the busiest month to go to Hawaii?
Summer is the busiest time to visit Hawaii, with July seeing the most tourists arriving from the mainland. The holiday season from mid-December through the first week of January is considered the next busiest time of the year. If you’re looking to go when there are fewer visitors, you may also want to avoid visiting Hawaii during spring break or Golden Week.
What is the least crowded month in Hawaii?
November, excluding the week of Thanksgiving, is thought to be one of the least busy months to visit Hawaii. It’s also one of the wettest months of the year along with March, so if you plan a trip around that time, be sure to pack accordingly. It’s not likely you’ll get rained on the entire time you’re there, but if possible, try to make it a longer trip so you’ll have the best chance of enjoying some sunny days during your vacation.
How many days do you need in Hawaii?
While there is no set number of days you need to visit anywhere, there are a few reasons you might want to consider staying a little longer in Hawaii. For starters, Hawaii is in the Hawaii-Aleutian time zone, putting it six hours behind Eastern Time. Much like visiting Europe from the United States, adjusting to a new time zone can take a few days.
In addition, there is so much to do and so many places to see in Hawaii that you may kick yourself if you don’t give yourself enough time to fully explore. Add to that the possibility of visiting more than one island while you’re there and you’ll see why you might want more than a standard five- to seven-day summer vacation. Aim for at least a ten-day trip and you certainly won’t regret it.
What’s the cheapest island to visit in Hawaii?
Oahu is thought to be the least expensive Hawaiian island to visit. It’s also the most populous island and boasts the most visitors per year, making flight, hotel, and activity prices more competitive for island guests. Be sure to shop around for the best deals; you might be tempted to stay in one of the luxury hotels right on the beach, but there are plenty of other options for much better prices that are quite nice and only a block or two away.
To stretch your vacation dollars even further, plan to visit Oahu during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall to get the best deals and still enjoy the lovely Hawaii weather. As a couple of added bonuses, these times will have fewer crowds than you would find on a summer trip to Oahu and there are many nonstop flights that fly directly into Honolulu from all over the globe.
- There is no bad time to visit Hawaii, whether you’re there for surfing or whale-watching season during the winter months or enjoying the hot weather on idyllic beaches during your summer vacation.
- The busiest times to visit Hawaii are during the summer months of July and August, from mid-December through early January, and during the last week of April and the first week of May for Golden Week.
- Generally speaking, the cheapest times for visiting Hawaii are during the shoulder seasons of early spring and late fall, plus early December and late winter.
- You can find some of the better deals and discounts on Hawaiian travel, accommodations, and activities by planning your trip for weekdays and outside of every peak tourist season.
- Be sure to attend a local food and wine festival and other events to fully experience the food, culture, and customs of Hawaiian life.
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