The Best Times to Visit Hawaii
Ask a local about the best time to visit Hawaii. You’ll usually hear, “Anytime!” But if you can getaway any time you want, here are a few things to consider.
Since Hawaii’s temperatures vary slightly throughout the year, it often comes down to which island appeals to you the most, and which Hawaiian Island activities and attractions are on your bucket list. If you have a flexible schedule, you’ll find promotions and special deals that add more value to your Hawaii vacation.
Hawaii’s Beautiful Year-Round Weather
Typically, Hawaii’s islands see only two seasons
- Hooilo (the Hawaiian word for winter that is pronounced ho oh-ee-lo) from November through April, when the average daytime temperature is 78 degrees Fahrenheit or 25.5 degrees Celsius.
- Kau (the Hawaiian word for summer that is pronounced kow) from May through October, when the average daytime temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit or 30 degrees Celsius.
Each island has a windward side (north and east) that finds cooling trade winds, and a leeward side (south and west) that’s sheltered from those trades. Windward areas are slightly wetter and cooler, while leeward areas are slightly drier and hotter.
White the wettest months are from November-March, these “winter” rains don’t always disrupt vacation plans since the weather is so localized. In fact, many locals and visitors just move around a bit since there’s likely a sunny spot just down or up the coast.
Hawaii’s volcanic mountains present a shielding effect that results in a complex collection of diverse microclimates. On the 4,028-square-mile Island of Hawaii, for example, you’ll find 10 of Earth’s 14 climate zones. These zones flow from sunny beaches to misty valleys and tropical rainforests.
Always remember that if you’re planning to leave the coast and go to “upcountry” locations like Waimea Canyon Lookout on Kauai, Haleakala Crater on Maui or Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii Island, you should pack at least a light jacket since these locations are always much cooler than down at the beach.
Traveling to Hawaii for Holidays & Seasons
Hawaii is a year-round travel destination. However, visitor counts spike during spring break and the last few weeks of December during Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
These high/peak travel times mean that prices are higher for flights and accommodations due to the simple rule supply and demand. So if these times are on your radar, be sure to book your airline flights, accommodations and rental cars early. And if your bucket list includes a seasonal whale watching cruise or helicopter tour, you need to reserve these popular activities well prior to your arrival to guarantee that you’ll score space.
The Hawaiian Islands also see heavy visitor counts during special events that include:
Generally, you’ll find the best Hawaii travel deals, fewer crowds and less traffic during late April, before Memorial Day Weekend in May, and right after Labor Day Weekend into mid-November. More people visit for these top Hawaii annual events:
May, July & November: Oahu’s Memorial Day, July 4th and Veterans Day ceremonies at World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor and Punchbowl;
- December: Oahu’s Honolulu Marathon
- December-April: Whale watching season on all islands, with the best action off West Maui
- June: Maui Film at Wailea Festival at Wailea Resort, Kapalua Wine & Food Festival at Kapalua Resort
- November, December & January: North Shore surfing, with Oahu’s Van’s Triple Crown of Surf (vanstriplecrownofsurfing.com) serving as the “Big Kahuna” with three pro events on Oahu’s North Shore from Nov. 12-Dec. 20.
- July, September & October: Hawaii Island’s International Billfish Tournament, Queen Liliuokalani Outrigger Canoe Races and Ironman World Championships in Kona
- April: Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo on Hawaii Island
Hawaii’s Special Festivals & Events
During the soft “shoulder” season between summer and December’s holidays, Hawaii is a hotbed of festivals and events geared to culture, cuisine and competition.
The most enduring of these is. Debuting in 1946, Aloha Festivals (alohafestivals.com) is the largest Hawaiian cultural celebration in the U.S. that wows with hoolaulea (pronounced ho-o-lau-lay-ah, which means street parties), colorful floral parades and pageantry showcasing Hawaii’s rich heritage. Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island add their own events to the mix.
You’ll also find foodie and sports events running the gamut, from Waikiki’s SPAM Jam in April to the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival on Hawaii Island in November. For a full calendar, visit gohawaii.com.
- Hyundai Tournament of Champions PGA Tour Golf Event at Kapalua Resort, Maui
- Sony Open PGA Tour Golf Tournament at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Oahu
- Great Maui Whale Festival in Kihei, Maui
- Waimea Town Festival with Fun Run and Ukulele Contest in Waimea, Kauai
- Kona Brewers Festival celebrating Hawaii’s brewing industry in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Island
- East Maui Taro Festival in Hana, Maui
- Waikiki SPAM Jam in Waikiki, Oahu
- Big Island Film Festival in Waikoloa Resort, Hawaii Island
- Merrie Monarch Festival of hula in Hilo, Hawaii Island
- Banana Poke Round Up at Kokee Museum, Kauai
- Maui Film at Wailea Festival at Wailea Resort, Maui
- Kapalua Wine & Food Festival at Kapalua Resort, Maui
- King Kamehameha Floral Parade in Honolulu and Waikiki, Oahu
- King Kamehameha Day Festivities, Multiple Islands
- Taste of Hawaii Food Festival at Smith’s Tropical Paradise in Wailua, Kauai
- Haleiwa Arts Festival Summer Event on the North Shore, Oahu
- Ukulele Festival at Kapiolani Park in Waikiki, Oahu
- Koloa Plantation Days with rodeos, block parties & crafts in Koloa, Kauai
- Made In Hawaii Festival at Neal S. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall in Honolulu, Oahu
- Duke’s OceanFest of water sports, Waikiki Beach, Oahu
- Hawaii International Billfish Tournament in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Island
- Aloha Festivals & Festivals of Aloha, Multiple Islands
- Maui Marathon & Half Marathon from Kahului to Kaanapali, Maui
- Hawaiian Food & Wine Festival, Multiple Islands
- Kauai Marathon in Poipu, Kauai
- Kauai Mokihana Festival celebrating Hawaiian culture across the island, Kauai
- Molokai Hoe Outrigger Paddling Festival from the island of Molokai to Waikiki Beach, Oahu
- Hawaii International Film Festival, Multiple Islands
- IRONMAN World Championships Triathlon on the island’s west coast, Hawaii Island
- Coconut Festival celebrating all things coconut in Kapaa, Kauai
- Vans Triple Crown of Surfing on the North Shore, Oahu
- Kona Coffee Cultural Festival in Kona, Hawaii Island
- Honolulu Marathon in Honolulu and Waikiki, Oahu
- NCAA Collegiate Sheraton Hawaii Bowl at Aloha Stadium, Oahu
Watch For Airfare Wars
Southwest Airlines has recently launched service from the U.S. Mainland to Oahu and its neighboring islands. So watch for airfare wars between SWA and other island carriers. And jump on booking ASAP!
We hope you enjoyed our little taste of Aloha! If you ever have any questions or story ideas, please e-mail us at [email protected]!
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