WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT HAWAII?
If you’re like my ex, Vanilla Ice, or my jokes—too cold—and are looking for a family getaway or simply a place to chillax then I believe there can be no place better than the Hawaii Islands! Blessed with natural beauty, the islands provide travelers a great repose from the outside world, and are also one of the top tourists’ destinations due to its exquisite beauty!
When I visited Hawaii, it sadly ended up in disappointment—I made what I call “The Disney Mistake.” I chose a time when it was too crowded and so I spent most of my time either standing in long lines or looking at them from afar. Not to mention the prices were simply astronomical.
However, being there really did teach me a couple of different things such as what’s the best time to go and just which island in Hawaii is the best.
So, what is the best time to go to Hawaii? Well, I believe it primarily depends on your personal preferences. The best months to go to Hawaii have to be the most balanced, clear months of September and May. If you sit tight, then you’ll see why soon enough!
How I Decide the Best Time to Visit Hawaii
To figure out the absolute most ideal time to head off to the land of hula skirts, real-life swivel hips, and phenomenal beach parties, I would say that you need to check out the six following factors:
- Seasonal Weather Conditions
- Best Hawaiian Island to Visit
- Ocean Conditions
- Seasonal Activities
Check out the typical seasonal weather conditions
I remember well how I got stuck in heavy rainfalls as soon as my plane landed in Hawaii. It was as if I was already in the ocean before I even had a chance to get to the beach. This really ruined the mood for the rest of my trip!
Now when I am looking to book a beach-type vacation which demands some sunshine, I always check out the normal weather data for different times of the year before making my plans, buying tickets or booking hotels.
This one simple little step can save you from the type of grief which I experienced.
During the cooler months, most islands in Hawaii experience rather heavy rainfalls, even in the winter. If you’re from a country in the North where it barely reaches 60 degrees and not very fond of hot days, then you might want to avoid visiting the islands during the summers.
This is mainly because it can get excruciatingly hot during this season! I would recommend instead visiting in the colder months when the weather in Hawaii is much more moderate and bearable.
To help you pick out the best time for your vacation, I have compiled a month-by-month weather guide chart:
A list of Hawaii’s notable weather information by the month
- January: Hot during the days but a bit cooler during the nights, with some rainfall to be expected.
- February: The coolest ocean temperatures are generally about 75 degrees.
- March: This month is typically ridden with rather heavy rainfall throughout.
- April: This month isn’t as bad as March but still has good chances for some later winter rainfall. The good thing is that the temperatures start rising by this time.
- May: By this time the rainfall has backed off a lot but there’s still a chance for a bit here and there.
- June: This is the first month of the year which is considered to have, more or less, “perfect hot weather.”
- July: More or less identical to June, with few exceptions.
- August: By the time this month rolls around, the temperature rises significantly and in some drier areas it may feel like a little too much.
- September: Most beach-loving peeps think this is the quintessential time to say “Surf’s up!” The ocean temperatures tend to be warmer at around 81 degrees F.
- October: October is basically like the opposite bookend to May, as early winter rainfalls begin to creep in, although temperatures are still quite warm.
- November: Right around Thanksgiving time the one main, notable feature is that heavy rainfall seems to be the norm.
- December: It seems that the end of the year brings a nice gift from Santa with a break from the hot weather and rainy days. It has enjoyable, cool weather, for the most part.
Which Hawaii Island is best to Visit?
You may not realize this, but different islands experience different temperatures during different periods of the year. It’s not all the same!
From what I’ve gathered, Honolulu actually has a typical average of about 72 degrees Fahrenheit in February and stretches up to around 80 degrees in August. However, the ocean water temperature ranges from 74 degrees in the winter to about 81 degrees in the summer.
Here you can easily see that Honolulu stays rather warm all year long! With this in mind, I would now recommend that you choose the island you’re most interested to visit in Hawaii and then look for its particular seasonal weather information.
My personal advice would be to choose one with lesser rainfall, but perhaps it doesn’t bother you like it does most. I have a friend who spent a month in Thailand during the rainy season and he loved it, but my guess is that most people aren’t down for this type of beach holiday!
I think the better locations could include places like West Maui, Kohala Coast, and Waikiki.
I think that affordability also plays a major role in deciding when to visit. Like I mentioned, I was caught in a time when prices were too high and nothing was too affordable.
Needless to say, you should choose an island that has the cheapest accommodation prices. I found that the more popular islands such as Waikiki and Maui can have exceptionally affordable accommodation. You can easily stay at a hostel that costs $34 only! However, since prices tend to fluctuate a lot, I recommend you do your own research before deciding.
Mostly the prices for accommodation, activities, food etc. fluctuate year-round! During one season they could be highly affordable, while in others you might have to sell a kidney.
This begs the question: What is the cheapest time to visit Hawaii?
Well, first let’s talk about the most expensive times to visit Hawaii. These are during the:
- Summer Season: June, July, and August: Summer season comes with a raging sun overhead. This is why you will fail to find any cheap lodging fares. In fact, I personally found the accommodation costs to be 20% higher in the summer than in other seasons.
- High Season: January, February, And March: Meanwhile, the high season can often attract a lot of western and European tourists who want a tropical experience, but not at the expense of their skin. So, you will often find that these winter months are often jam-packed full of reservations. Although the crowd is nothing like the peak season, it still gets quite expensive.
- Peak Season: Dec 22 – January 3: Peak Season, on the other hand, is already so overcrowded that it is almost impossible to find any lodging. Even if you do, the prices are normally sky-high! Even if you do book a vacation during the peak season, I would recommend that you book at least a year in advance. Most hotels charge a fortune on last-minute What disappoints me the most about the Peak Season is that there are no discounts or deals available during this time.
So, it should go without saying that the best times to visit Hawaii is during temperate months such as April, May, September, October, and November. These will not only be better for you in terms of the temperate weather but will also cost you quite less.
If you’re anything like me, you would hate crowds. In tropical regions such as Hawaii, things tend to be very sweaty. Add a huge mass of folks all heading in different directions, you’ve got yourself a literal ‘hot mess’!
Crowdedness depends on the type of island you’re visiting. Some islands tend to be much more crowded while others can offer you better in terms of solitude.
Waikiki tends to be the most crowded area in Hawaii! While Oahu, Maui and Big island also tend to be much more crowded, none of them can hold the torch to Waikiki. Normally, you will find about 100,000 tourists on Oahu and 48,000 in Maui.
On average there are roughly 200,000 tourists on the islands on any given day: 100,000 on Oahu, 48,000 on Maui, 29,000 on the Big Island, and 22,000 on Kauai.
Kauai’s population is about 64,000 while 22,000 tourists visit the island each year. This means you will gain much more solitude. And of course, fewer people means less waiting in line. You can make last day reservations easily as well. In such a case, it is best to spend your vacation time at the northern shore of Kauai!
The following stats might help you gain insights on exactly how crowded it gets during the different times of the year:
- July tends to be 29% busier than September.
- The first few dates of December tend to be less crowded. It’s only during the end i.e. on Christmas and New Years that the most crowd is found.
- September is the least crowded month.
- May, Oct, Nov, and April tend to be very sparsely crowded as well.
- Months like March, January and February tend to be 15-20 % more crowded than September.
- December, June, July, and August tend to be the most crowded months.
Since Hawaii is basically a group of different islands, the ocean tends to play a huge role in attracting tourists. During winters when waves are at an all-time high, surfers can be seen heading for the north-facing beaches and trying to work with the rough waves. However, you will find that most swimmers tend to stay away from these since they are too rough.
Even with Kauai, the north shore becomes too dangerous to swim and is often declared off-limits for tourists. On the other hand, Waikiki sees a huge population surge on its beaches during the summer. In contrast, Oahu’s beaches don’t see as many because of how close to os to Waikiki.
Maui’s western shores are home to the more popular beaches. You can even find a large number of tourist during the winters. This is because the western shores are much drier and do not generate waves over 25 foot tall.
The main charm of Hawaii for me is the amazing beaches. Being a surfer myself, I can vouch for how tough these waves can get in the winter.
So, if you’re a surfer like me, you will find the highest and roughest of waves in the winter. However, if you’re looking to go cliff diving, swimming, scuba diving, etc. then you might want to consider visiting in the summer months.
Honestly, in my opinion, seasonal activities should be the first thing you look at when you’re trying to figure out when to go to Hawaii. What would be the point of wasting thousands of dollars and getting a remote spot with nothing to do? You should plan your itinerary according to the activities you want to do.
Some examples of seasonal activities are:
- Whale watching is a magnet for most tourists. You can find these during November through April. February is, however, the peak month during which you can find many humpback
- Snorkeling and swimming activities are increased during the summer.
- Surfing sees a surge in the winter months.
- Boat tours of Kauai’s Napali coast also happen during summers.
- Spring season is best for amateur and beginner surfers.
- The Aloha Festival that takes place during September.
Best Time to Go to Hawaii:
Now that I have discussed some of the top factors you need to look into, let’s find out what conclusion they bring us to! However, remember that these are my own preferences and so you can choose whatever time suits you best. I do hope that discussing these factors will help you make a wiser and more informed decision!
According to me, September is the absolute best time to visit Hawaii. Not only is it less crowded, but it is much cheaper during this time. This is mostly because the school season starts and families start departing. You can easily find lodging and accommodation. You can even make last minute plans as no reservations will be full!
Let’s not forget how perfect the weather is during September! Neither too hot, nor too cold! The warm water also makes it perfect for snorkeling and swimming!
Another perfect month to go visit Hawaii is May. The best part is that the northern shore provides much more opportunities for surfers due to the rougher waves. These waves, although nothing compared to the winter months, are perfect for boogie boarding and for beginner surfers! You can even snorkel and swim on a calm day!
Best Island in Hawaii:
According to me the best islands in Hawaii are:
Kauai is the northernmost island in the Hawaii chain. It is called the Garden Isle and has a lot of natural attractions such as the Kokee State Park and the Waimea Canyon as well as the beautiful Limahuli Garden. It is not overcrowded most time of the year and is perfect for surfing during the winters. It is the most affordable as well.
Oahu is home to the capital city of Honolulu. It is jam-packed with many tourist attractions such as Waikiki beach, Pearl Harbor and Museum, and Nuuanu Pali Lookout. It can get a little pricey and overcrowded. However, if you time it right, it can be the best place to visit! Moreover, the weather remains warm throughout the year!
All in all, September and May are the best time to go to Hawaii while Kuai and Oahu are the best islands to visit. During these months, accommodation tends to be much cheaper and the islands tend to be much less crowded! However, I encourage everyone to go through the article and decide for themselves! Happy vacationing!