Best Time of Year to Visit Hawaii: Uncover the Secret Season

Ah, Hawaii – the ultimate dream vacation spot! With its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and friendly locals, it’s no wonder many of us are dying to experience it for ourselves. But when’s the best time to visit this tropical paradise? I know firsthand how overwhelming planning a trip can be; in fact, my boyfriend and I have visited every Hawaiian island over the last five years. Luckily for you, our collective wisdom is here to help.

We’ve stumbled upon some amazing deals and off-season gems while mastering the art of timing our travels just right. Armed with our knowledge and experiences, you’ll be well on your way to crafting your perfect getaway!

Now listen up:

I’ve spent countless hours researching options: evaluating weather patterns, and analyzing tourism trends and costs – all so that I could bring you the very best advice on when to visit Hawaii. Trust me; this is information worth bookmarking.

Warning: You might become an expert in Hawaiian travel planning after reading this guide – don’t say we didn’t warn ya!

Now let’s dive into those sun-soaked details and start crafting an unforgettable vacation!

What is the Best time for swimming and snorkeling in Hawaii?

The tropical nature of the Hawaiian Islands will allow you to get great swimming and snorkeling done all year. However, the air temperatures, wind rain, and water temperatures do change slightly throughout the year. The average water temperatures usually stay within the range of 76°F to 83°F. But the warmest times are during the summer months May through September. Some great spots to visit at this time include Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in Oahu, Fringing Reef at Molokai, and Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park on the Big Island. 

Summers are the warmest time of year. And air temperatures are known to go up to 90°F. If you are like me, you will love this, however, some people are uncomfortable with such high air temperatures (even with a cocktail in hand!) Those with health conditions and not wanting to swim and snorkel at high temperatures will prefer visiting in cooler months during the Spring and Fall. This is also a great time for snorkeling throughout Hawaii. 

Because of the large waves between November and February, this is not a good time for snorkeling and swimming in general (although there are protected beaches and coves that are still calm. This is however a great time for professional surfing and watching competitions. This is also the rainy season in Hawaii. So a less favorable time for swimming and sunbathing. 

Best Times to Go Whale Watching in Hawaii

Whale watching is a majestic experience, as pods of humpback whales migrate to the waters of Hawaii in the winter months. The season officially lasts from December 15 to May 15, but whales can be spotted as early as late October. These protected creatures migrate to Hawaii from Alaska and can be found in large numbers up to 15 thousand whales. 

Popular islands for whale watching includes Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island. While the shallow area of Auʻau Channel between Maui, Molokaʻi, and Lānaʻi is regarded as one of the best spots because of the large populations found here.

Whales can be spotted at any time of day (or night), but they are most active at dusk and dawn. So early birds should pick a good lookout point in the morning and enjoy tail slapping, breaching, and pectoral fin slapping for a park such as Lahaina Harbor (Maui), Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve (Oahu) and Kapa’a Beach Park (on the Big Island). If you just can’t make it in the mornings, they are also very active before sunset. 

Time to go Surfing in Hawaii

The North shore of Oahu and the Haleiwa area are known as some of the best surfing spots in Hawaii. In fact, many famous world competitions are held in the area known as the Seven-Mile Miracle. One of the top beaches for surfing includes Haleiwa Beach Park, Oahu. Other great options are Diamond Head, Honolulu, Banzai Pipeline, Oahu, and if you are on Kauai – Shipwreck Beach. 

The best time of year to go surfing in Hawaii is in winter. Specifically, if you are looking for the largest (and perfect) waves, you will have them between November and February. The north shore and west have the best and biggest swells. For surfing lovers, the best island is Oahu. 

For those who are not surfers, this is still a great opportunity to enjoy watching the pros do their thing. The competitions can be quite exciting with great competitors from all around the world. Otherwise, you can take a lesson at one of the surf schools near the beach. The best time to take a lesson is in the morning, before the crowds. Also, the water is calmer at this time, making it easier to learn. 

Best Time to Go to Hawaii to Avoid the Crowds

Ever have a great vacation turn into hell because of overcrowding and long lines? Choosing the right time to visit Hawaii will make sure you get all the pleasures of the islands and luxury accommodations without the large groups of tourists and endless lines. 

The top season in Hawaii is Winter (from Thanks Giving until after New Year). This is generally a time of school vacations, do families are able to travel. It’s also a great escape from the cold and continental U.S. At this time the crowds are the largest starting from air travel, resort booking, and so on. 

The second busiest and most crowded season in Hawaii is during the Summer months. Also, a time of vacations and school breaks assures large groups and families to come and enjoy the sand and the water. Because of the temperatures, the summertime is less crowded than the winter months but is still in a full season.

That’s why the best time to visit Hawaii to avoid crowds is the Spring and Fall months. Think mid-April to mid-June and October. These times have the least number of visitors. Yet the temperatures are still great for swimming, snorkeling, and all other activities. Fall visitors can even catch the very early part of the whale-watching season. 

When is the Cheapest Time to Visit Hawaii?

Since Winter and Sumer are the high seasons in Hawaii, they are generally the most expensive times to visit. Due to demand flights, resorts, and other accommodations are at full price during these times. 

Spring (from April to June) and Fall (end of September to November) are the cheapest seasons in Hawaii. Make sure to look for times when there are no school breaks (like spring break), for additional great deals. I personally have had the best luck finding cheap flights and resort stay in April and October. To do this, make sure to check and re-check offers with travel agencies that have special promotions in the off-season, or search for hotel and flight deals online. You can even find some deals at adults-only resorts, hotels, and pools during these times. Because families usually travel when the kids are out of school. 

Hawaii Activities Guide for seasonal visits

Each season in Hawaii has something special to offer. Whether you are a fan of Spring and Summer activities, or a more Fall and Winter kind of tourist, there is plenty to see in each season. While warmer seasons bring more opportunities for safe swimming and sunbathing, the winter months are exciting with whale watching, surfing, and jungle exploration.

Below is a short guide of activities (and some tour suggestions) for each season on the islands of Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island.

Summer and Spring Visits

June through August is the summer season in Hawaii. During this time the air temperature is mostly in the 80 degrees and low 90 degrees. It’s a time for those who love the hotter weather and appreciate the beachside. Spring is slightly milder and usually stays in the 80 degrees range. 

Maui has the most beautiful beaches (in my opinion) with over 30 miles of swimmable shores. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the white sandy beaches of Maui including Kapalua Beach, Olowalu, Baldwin Beach Park, and Big Beach (which is underdeveloped and less crowded). Taking the historic road to Hana is also a good option. If you are looking for a complete tour of the island and some adrenaline, check out one of my favorite helicopter tours:

Hana and Haleakala 45-Minute Helicopter Tour

Duration: 45 minutes (approx.)

Meeting point: Come to the Kahului Heliport and Air Maui Helicopters is the last hanger on the left

Link:https://www.viator.com/tours/Maui/East-Maui-45-minute-Helicopter-Tour-over-Haleakala-Crater/d671-5069EAST45

West Maui and Molokai Special 45-Minute Helicopter Tour

Duration: 45 minutes (approx.)

Meeting point: 108 Lelepio Pl, Kahului, HI 96732

Link: https://www.viator.com/tours/Maui/West-Maui-and-Molokai-Exclusive-45-Minute-Helicopter-Tour/d671-5069WEST45

For those looking for rich and exciting nightlife, bars, high-end restaurants, and a lively atmosphere, the best summer choice is Oahu. This island is best known for the exciting offers of Honolulu and Waikiki which have become the main hub of Hawaii. During the summer months, the weather is calmer with less rain, so it’s perfect to enjoy the huge outside dining offer. 

Adventure and nature lovers should consider the Big Island in the summer and spring because of the rich volcanic activities. The island has a great web of jungle and rainforest trails for hikers. Other locations that I enjoyed visiting are the stunning Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, taking a helicopter tour over an active volcano, and enjoying several plantation and farm tours. It’s a place to learn about the local culture and enjoy farm-to-table meals.  

Winter and Fall Visits

The weather is generally milder during the Fall and Winter in all of Hawaii, but only by a few degrees. There are possibilities for increased wind and rain during the winter, however, there is always a spot on the island with good weather (and you can get there fairly quickly). 

The North and West shores of Oahu are a surfer’s top destination in the winter. With many world-recognized surfing competitions in this period, it’s a great opportunity to watch some stunning waves and masterful surfers. In General, this area attracts athletes from all around the world at this time. Oahu also offers all the appeal of big cities with great content in the Honolulu area. 

Maui is the best pick for those looking to go whale watching, swim in calmer lagoon waters, and enjoy some snorkeling and less extreme water activities. It is a good place to try some canoeing, kayaking, and bodyboarding. The waters are still relatively calmer in the winter months so it’s also a more family-friendly place than Oahu at this time. Maui is also the best spot for whale watching from late fall through winter. 

For my favorite tours make sure to check out:

Small-Group Whale Watching Adventure (Maui)

Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

Meeting point: Harbor Slip #16, 675 Wharf St, Lahaina, HI 96761

Link: https://www.viator.com/tours/Maui/Small-Group-Whale-Watching-Adventure/d671-58415P3

Ultimate 4-Hour Whale Watch & Snorkel from Lahaina Harbor

Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

Meeting point: Slip 17 Lahaina Harbor (Lahaina Harbor, Lahaina, HI 96761)

Link: https://www.viator.com/tours/Maui/Lanai-Snorkel-Dolphin-Watch-HALF-DAY/d671-121504P3

Best Big Island activities in the Fall and Winter include whale watching, going stargazing on Mauna Kea, exploring booming and lush waterfalls in the jungles, ziplining over roaring rivers and rainforests, and more. Believe it or not, in the winter you can even go skiing or snowboarding on Mauna Kea (when there is snow). The island is also rich in cultural activities, so make sure to visit my favorite – Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park. 

Conclusion on The Best Time of Year to Visit Hawaii

Hawaii offers incredible and unforgettable vacations of excitement and luxury. It is a place where every type of traveler can find the right island and style of vacation they are looking for. 

Each Hawaiian island offers something special, and each season has something new to offer.

I’m my guide you can find all the necessary information needed to decide when the best time to visit Hawaii is – for you! And as an added bonus there are tour suggestions, activities found on each island, and more. 

If you are looking to make an informed decision on content, price, and the right weather this is the spot. There are even suggestions for those looking to go off the beaten path.

Enjoy your vacation and let us know if we helped. 

FAQ

What is the cheapest time of year to visit Hawaii?

The cheapest time to visit Hawaii is generally in the Spring (from April to June) and Fall (end of September to November). For best deals, times of school vacations should be avoided including spring break, summer break, and the winter holidays like Christmas and New Year.  The spring months are dryer and have slightly higher temperatures. While the winter months offer whale watching, surfing, great water activities, and rainforest exploration.

What month is Hawaii least busy?

We love to travel to Hawaii in April, May, and October. Generally, this is the time with the least tourists and you can enjoy plenty of privacy and calm exploration of the beaches, trails, and more. It’s also the cheapest to find hotel accommodations and easier to book your favorite restaurant or tour. As a bonus in this period, there is the least rain in Hawaii, so more opportunities for outdoor activities and swimming in the ocean. 

Where should I stay in Hawaii for the first time?

The most popular island in Hawaii is Oahu. It has a great and diverse offer of activities for everyone. As a bonus, it also tends to be the cheapest island. With Honolulu as the center, Oahu offers a lot of content like great restaurants, nightlife, and shopping. 

Still, the other islands also have a lot to offer. Maui for example, has arguably the best beaches in the world, with over 30 miles of white sandy shore. It’s a top destination for honeymoons and romantic getaways. 

The Big Island on the other hand has the stunning Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, opportunities to tour above an active volcano and enjoy hikes, waterfalls, and less crowded beaches. Whatever island you choose, you will not be disappointed. It all depends on the style of vacation you are looking for. 

What month is rainy in Hawaii?

The moths with the most rain in Hawaii are the winter months and early spring. December usually has the most precipitation. Still, the rainy season generally does not disturb vacation plans and usual activities and tours offered on the Islands. Rain is usually very localized meaning you can find better weather and sunshine with just a short drive. 

Otherwise, most activities in these months are prepared for rain. Meaning the tours provide equipment and protection so you can still enjoy your booked tours. If the rain bothers you, check out the weather report and plan activities on the rest of the island or visit one of the many indoor attractions. Personally, after enough time soaking up the sun, I enjoy a short rain shower to cool everything down. 

Last Updated on May 1, 2023 by Brigitte