When is the best time to visit Hawaii? Well any time of course, but depending upon your budget and what you would like to experience during your visit, it’s a good idea to be familiar with what each season offers in terms of weather, cost, activities, and water conditions.
Visiting Hawaii During Winter (Ka Hooilo)
Mid-December is typically high season in Hawaii, which means rates for travel and accommodations tend to be higher, as well. The best reason to visit Hawaii in the winter is for whale watching. Humpback Whales travel from Alaska and make their appearance every winter to birth their young. The peak whale season usually falls around Valentine’s Day. Whale watching is best off Maui and the Big Island and still thrills the locals just as much as the tourists!
Holiday traditions include annual Christmas Light parades, Honolulu City Lights adorned in breathtaking holiday decor and A-Lister performers from across the globe frolic to the islands each year for New Years performances and celebrations.
The average daily high temperature is a perfect 78 degrees, so it’s the perfect time of year for hiking and exploring the terrain. Winter surf can be rough and make swimming and other water activities more challenging, but if you enjoy watching surf competitions, this is the time of year to visit.
Visiting Hawaii During Spring (Waipuna)
Spring is one of the best times to visit Hawaii. It’s the start of the ‘dry’ season, and the weather couldn’t be nicer. This is also typically when airfare and lodging prices start to drop. Spring is also a wonderful time to enjoy the fantastic produce and fragrant flowers the islands have to offer. And if you appreciate the art of hula, the Big Island of Hawaii hosts the annual Merrie Monarch Festival, which starts on Easter Sunday.
Music is also in the air during spring, as we welcome May Day Lei Day as huge celebration of dance, flowers and song. Throughout the months artists are featured as part of Merrie Monarch in Hilo and Mele Mei (statewide) recognized with live entertainment, competitions, concerts and the annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, which is similar to the Grammys in Hawaii. Look for hula festivals, Lantern Floating, the Spam Jam and King Kamehameha Day to liven up your camera roll.
Generally speaking, most water activities are better in the spring, summer and fall. The surf begins to calm down, making water activities more accessible and safer. In the winter, waves are bigger, currents are stronger and storms are often unpredictable. So if you’re a water lover, late spring would be the perfect time to visit.
Visiting Hawaii During Summer (Kauwela)
Summer is the most popular time for families to visit Hawaii, because the kids are out of school for summer vacation. July is the busiest month for visitor arrivals, with December being the second busiest. The summer months are also the warmest on the islands, with temperatures sometimes climbing into the 90’s. It can get pretty humid as well, especially on Oahu. And if one of your goals is to hike the black lava fields of the Big Island, prepare yourself for a toasty stroll.
The Kapalua Wine & Food Festival draws lovers of fine grapes and delicious cuisine from around the globe. Meanwhile, Duke’s OceanFest celebrates all water and beach sports while perpetuating Hawaii’s famous Olympian in Waikiki. The Made in Hawaii Festival in Honolulu draws thousands to taste, touch and tinker with the latest in locally made items. And the Aloha Festivals showcases the culture, flora & fauna and history of Hawaiian legacy and iconic pa’u riding.
Surf is at its lowest during the summer, which is nice for families with small children, and the water averages a balmy 80 degrees. And while hurricanes are rare, the hurricane season is from June to November, so it’s good to be aware that large storm systems can occasionally occur.
Visiting Hawaii During Fall (Akuma Ka)
Fall is neck and neck with spring as one of the best times to visit the islands. The weather is perfect, the water is still calm, and the kids have gone back to school, which means fewer crowds at the most popular attractions. One exception is October on the Big Island, when the Ironman World Championships roll into town. Unless you’re a triathlon enthusiast, you may want to avoid all the excitement and head to one of the other islands.
The Kona Coffee Festival showcases the island’s finest coffee growers and farmers, along with coffee treats and eats, and the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival travels statewide showcasing the best of the best in culinary from around the globe utilizing local ingredients and engaging with local chefs.
If you’re a football fan, consider jumping into a tailgate party at Aloha Stadium in Halawa during a University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors home game. If not, then grab a surfboard and catch a few waves, because fall is the perfect time to learn to surf!
In conclusion, there’s no ‘bad’ time to visit Hawaii. Anytime is perfect – you just need to find the perfect time for YOU.
Olena Heu contributed to this story.