SD › When to Visit Hawaii
Updated: April 1, 2022
- Where to Stay on the Big Island
- Where to Stay on Kauai
- Where to Stay on Maui
- Where to Stay on Oahu
- Best Family Hotels in Hawaii
- Best Beach Hotels in Hawaii
- Where to Stay in Honolulu
Hawaii Hotels – Tips & Advice
- Best Hotels in Maui: Four Seasons • Montage Kapalua Bay
- Best Hotel in Honolulu: Halekulani
- Best Hotels in Oahu: Four Seasons • Turtle Bay Resort
- Best Hotel in Kauai: Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
- Best Hotel on the Big Island: Four Seasons Hualalai
- Best Resorts in Hawaii for Families: Turtle Bay Resort (Oahu) • Grand Wailea (Maui)
- Best Boutique Hotel in Hawaii: The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club (Oahu)
- Best Secluded Hotel in Hawaii: Hana Maui Resort (Maui)
- Best Honeymoon Hotels in Hawaii: Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort (Maui) • Holualoa Inn (Big Island)
When is the Best Time to Visit Hawaii?
The best weather in Hawaii is in April, May, September, and October. November to March are the rainiest months, and June through November is hurricane season – though big storms are rare. Winter also brings the best waves for surfing, especially on north shore beaches. The quietest month (and cheapest time to visit) for tourists is November.
- Best Time to Visit Hawaii for Good Weather: Hawaii has warm weather all year, with average highs of 26-28ºC in the winter, and 29-31ºC in the summer. The biggest variables are rain and surf conditions. Winter months tend to be rainier, while hurricane season goes from June through November (but big storms are rare here). Surf swells are largest in winter, especially on the islands’ north shores. The most consistently good weather is usually found in April, May, September, and October. But all that said, Hawaii is a great year-round destination and (with a few exceptions) the best things to do in Hawaii can be enjoyed in any month.
- Best Time to Book Hotels for Hawaii: The best hotels in Hawaii and the best family hotels in Hawaii get booked early – especially for July, August, late December, and early January. Try to reserve rooms at least three months in advance.
- Best Time for Surfing: The best time for surfing in Hawaii depends on the skill level of the surfer. The biggest waves tend to hit the north shores of all islands in winter, from about November through March – especially in December and January, and particularly on Oahu’s North Shore. This is the best time for pros, experienced surfers, and spectators. Beginning surfers will want to stick to the south sides of the islands during winter, or travel in the summer months. Waves are especially calm from May through September.
- Best Time for Snorkeling and Swimming: Great swimming and snorkeling are possible year-round in Hawaii, but during summer months (May through September) water is warmer, waves are smaller, and skies are sunnier, making conditions ideal for these water-based activities. Big Island and Maui tend to have the best snorkeling because their snorkel spots are affected less by trade winds from the east. Kauai has the least reliable snorkeling because it tends to rain more year-round, reducing visibility in the water.
- Best Time for Hiking: Some of the world’s most amazing hikes are found in Hawaii, especially on Kauai. Though hiking can be done year round, summer is usually best, because there are more daylight hours and the trails tend to be drier. Summers can get very hot here, so be sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen, and plan on beginning your hike early in the morning, when the air temperature is cooler.
- Best Time for Whale Watching: Whales head down from Alaska to Hawaii every year for the winter, from December through April. The peak time for sightings runs from late February through early March, after the calves are born. Whales can be spotted from the coast on every island, but tend to concentrate between Maui’s western shores and the neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai.
- Best Time to See the Volcano: Kilauea on the Big Island has been erupting non-stop since 1983, sometimes in dramatic bursts and sometimes in lazy flows. There is no certain time of year that sees more or less lava than any other. The main factor in choosing when to visit is the weather. Temperatures at higher elevations are about 6-11 Celsius degrees cooler than at sea level with winter temperatures averaging 8-12ºC. Summer (May through September) is the best time for visiting the volcano while staying warm.
- Best Time for Fishing: Fishing is a year-round activity in Hawaii, with different fish biting at different times off different islands. (Except sharks – you can always find sharks.) Generally, winter sees lots of striped marlin, snapper, skipjack, and bigeye tuna; and there’s a good chance of spotting a whale while you’re out, too. Spring offers more Mahi mahi, yellowfin, and blue marlin. Summer finds jumbo-sized yellowfin and blue marlin, along with ono and skipjack. Fall sees lots of billfish, all varieties of marlin, mahi mahi, and giant trevally.
- Best Time for Stargazing on Mauna Kea: Similar rules apply for visiting Mauna Kea as to visiting Kilauea. Colder winter temperatures mean that summer months are best for keeping warm. For visibility, the best time of month to see stars is during a new moon. If you plan to utilize the world-class telescopes on Mauna Kea’s summit, remember to keep elevation in mind; at nearly 4200 meters up, Mauna Kea’s oxygen level is low. It is highly recommended that travelers pause halfway up for an hour to acclimate and that they never ascend Mauna Kea within 24 hours of scuba diving.
- Best Time for Skiing/Snowboarding: Mauna Kea means “white mountain” in the Hawaiian language. There is snow here year-round, though its consistency varies. The best time for skiing or snowboarding Mauna Kea is during February and March. There are no lifts or resorts, and you’ll need a 4 wheel drive vehicle, but the snow is said to be among the best worldwide.
- Best Time for Discounts: For discounted rates, it’s usually best to book early and schedule flights for mid-week. In general, the cheapest rates on flights and hotels can be found during the spring and fall months. Late March through mid-June usually finds great rates, except during the last week in April, which is Golden Week, Japan’s peak travel time. Later in the year from September through mid-December is also a fantastic time to find deals, except during the week of Thanksgiving. June and July are usually less expensive than the pricey winter months, but are more crowded; deals during this time tend to be both rare and last minute.
- Best Time for Avoiding Crowds: The quietest month for tourists is November, with the exception of Thanksgiving week. May through the first week of June, September, and October are also great times to avoid crowds. April can be quiet, except during Golden Week and during the years that Easter falls at the beginning of the month.
- Best Time for a Destination Wedding: Summer months tend to be drier than winter months, so planning a wedding for May through October means less chance of rain, though Kauai and Hilo nearly always have some rain. Hurricane season generally goes from June through November, but big storms are rare. The best bet for a sunny wedding is May.
- Best Time for Inter-Island Cruises: Winter months, December through March, are the best times to spot whales off the sides of your ship, but this is also the rainiest and most expensive time to visit. The best time for cruise deals is between Thanksgiving and mid-December. A greater variety of boats can be found in April, September, and October.
- Best Time for Buying Airline Tickets: Prices for flights fluctuate dramatically. Generally, booking one to four months in advance offers the best rates, with six weeks out being the optimal time for finding deals. Exceptions are when booking for Thanksgiving week and mid to late December. For these times, it’s usually best to book as soon as tickets are available, up to eleven months out.
When To Visit The Hawaiian Islands
The Best Time to Visit Oahu
The best months to visit Oahu are April (the first 3 weeks), May, September, and October for great weather, fewer crowds, and fair rates. Oahu’s temperatures range from 26°C to 31°C all year long, with hot summers (June through October) and pleasant winters (mid-December through late March). There is not much weather variation in the lower altitudes where all beaches and most hotels are; higher elevations inland are cooler and rainier. Rain typically falls overnight. December through February is the rainiest time of year, while June through August is the driest. Early August through early November sees the warmest ocean temperatures, and mid-January through mid-April has the coldest. November through March sees monster waves hitting the north shore, attracting the huge surfing tournaments. The best time for surfers is from March through May, when the waves are still large, but the beach is less crowded. High season coincides with whale season (off the southern coast) from December through March, with high room and flight rates. Low season runs from April through mid-June (except the last week in April, which is Golden Week in Japan and brings large crowds to Honolulu) and September through early December with better rates and fewer travelers.
The Best Time to Visit Maui
The best months to visit Maui are April, May, September, and October. Maui’s daily highs range from the 27°C to 31°C year round, warmer in summer and cooler in winter, but only slightly. The west coast is generally warm, sunny, and dry, while the eastern Maui rainforest is slightly cooler with light rainfall in the late afternoons or overnight. Early June through late October is the driest time of year. November through March sees increased chances of light, brief showers. August through October sees the warmest ocean temperatures, while January through March has the coldest. The biggest surf hits the northern shore from mid-November through early February. December through March is both high season and whale-watching season (whales usually stick to the west coast), with the biggest crowds and the highest room rates. The low season falls from April through mid-June and September through mid-December, with fewer crowds and better rates.
Best Time to Visit Kauai
The best months to visit Kauai are April, May, August, and September for the best weather, lower rates, and smaller crowds. Kauai is the rainiest of the main Hawaiian Islands overall, but its microclimates differ drastically. The northern and eastern beaches (Princeville to Lihue) see regular rains, while the southern beaches near Po’ipu tend to be sunnier, and the western side all around Waimea Canyon is a desert. Mt. Waialeale, near the center of the island, is among the rainiest places on earth. Overall, year-round highs average from 27°C to 29°C, hottest from July through October and coolest from December through March. Brief rains are likely throughout the year, though late May to late September is the driest. Early August through late October sees the warmest ocean temperatures, while mid-January to mid-April is the coldest. November through February sees the largest waves on the north shore. High season and whale season (all around the island) run from mid-December through March; low season runs from April through early June and from September through early December.
Best Time to Visit the Big Island
The best months to visit the Big Island are mid to late-April, May, September, and October for the best combination of great weather, cheaper rates, and fewer people. The Big Island is huge, twice the size of all the other islands put together, with 8 entirely different climate zones. Most travelers only need to worry about 2 areas: Kailua-Kona in the west (hot, muggy, dry) and Hilo and Volcano in the east (warm, muggy, wet – Hilo is the wettest U.S. city). Temperatures are fairly constant throughout the year, with highs in between 27°C to 31°C in Kailua-Kona and highs between 26°C to 28°C in Hilo and Volcano. March and April are the rainiest months in both regions, while mid-May to late July are the driest. Though rainy and dry seasons fall during the same time for both regions, Hilo and Volcano experience almost double the rain of Kailua-Kona during the wet season. Ocean temperatures for both regions are almost exactly the same as one another; August through October is the warmest, while February and March are the coolest. The best surf hits the east and west shores during the winter, though waves are smaller here than on the other islands; the best surfing months are between December and February. High season and whale season (Kohala Coast and Hilo Bay) run from late December through March, while the low season is during April and May and from September through mid-December.
Hawaii Travel Seasons
- High Season (December – March): December through March is Hawaii’s high season, especially around the Christmas and New Year holidays. Flights, hotels, and cars will be at their most expensive this time. Hotels often require longer minimum stays, greater deposits, and have stricter cancellation policies around the holidays. Rental cars can sell out well in advance. Plan well and book early for peak season travel.
- Low Season (April through mid-June, September through mid-December): Spring and fall are the low seasons for travel in Hawaii, from April through mid-June (except the last week in April), and from September through mid-December (except for Thanksgiving week). Flights, hotels, and cars are less expensive, while beaches and attractions are less crowded.
- Summer (Mid-June through August): From mid-June through the end of August, family travel season is in full swing in Hawaii. Prices tend to be less expensive than during the winter months, but beaches and attractions will be more crowded. Fewer deals are available during the summer, especially in August, and the rare ones tend to be last minute.
Hawaii Weather by Month
Temperatures in Hawaii are warm all year long. Rain is more common in the winter months of November through March, with the rare big storm seen during the June to November hurricane season. Brief and light showers occur regularly everywhere. Kauai and the Hilo side of Big Island are the wettest areas, while West Maui and Big Island’s Kona coast are the hottest and driest. Surf is bigger and rougher in the winter, especially on the islands’ northern shores.
- Hawaii Weather in January: January is one of the cooler months of the Hawaiian year, with temperatures as low as 20ºC. Rain is likely, but not heavy. The north shores will see their most enormous waves during this month, with large swells in the west, too. It’s a good idea to bring a light jacket or dress in layers for evenings or for visiting high elevations. (Average high 26ºC, average rainfall 78mm, Honolulu average water temperature 24.7ºC.)
- Hawaii Weather in February: Average temperatures in February are the same as January, around 20-26ºC, but rain is a little heavier. Huge wages continue to hit the north and western shores. A light jacket and clothes that dry quickly are advised this time of year; whale watching excursions sometimes get splashy. (Average highs 26ºC, average rainfall 90mm, Honolulu average water temperature 24.4ºC.)
- Hawaii Weather in March: March temperatures remain the same as in February, with just a little less rain. Northern swells are still quite large but not the monsters of winter. Western waves may be a little bigger than those up north. (Average highs 26ºC, average rainfall 88mm, Honolulu average water temperature 24ºC.)
- Hawaii Weather in April: Temperatures hold steady from March to April, but rain drops off significantly. Layers are still a good idea, but rain gear can be left behind. Waves on all coasts in April range from flat to medium in size, and the water’s starting to warm up. Great time for snorkeling. (Average highs 26ºC, average rainfall 52mm, Honolulu average water temperature 25ºC.)
- Hawaii Weather in May: May is one of the sunnier and drier months of the year, and temperatures continue to heat up. Surf is still small to medium in most places, with warm ocean temperatures. This is considered one of the best months to visit Hawaii for outstanding weather conditions. (Average highs 27º, average rainfall 38mm, Honolulu average water temperature 25.5ºC.)
- Hawaii Weather in June: Gorgeous, sunny, and dry. June sees surf picking up on the south shores, while north shore waves disappear entirely. Ocean temperatures are incredibly comfortable beginning this time of year. (Average highs 28ºC, average rainfall 43mm, Honolulu average water temperature 26ºC.)
- Hawaii Weather in July: High temperatures hold steady in July, with a little more rain than in June. South swells reach their peak, bringing in some big waves. A jacket is still useful this time of year if visiting Haleakala Crater or taking a helicopter tour. (Average highs 28ºC, average rainfall 57mm, Honolulu average water temperature 26ºC.)
- Hawaii Weather in August: In August temperatures reach their upper limits, and rainfall is at its yearly low. Northern surf is still flat, while southern swells are large, and west and east waves are picking up in size. (Average temperature 29ºC, average rainfall 34mm, Honolulu average water temperature 26.5ºC.)
- Hawaii Weather in September: September has the warmest water temperatures of the year in Hawaii, while waves are medium to large on all shores. Air temperatures hold hot and steady. This is one of the rainier summer months, though there’s still not as much rain as is seen in the winter. (Average temperature 29ºC, average rainfall 61mm, Honolulu average water temperature 27ºC.)
- Hawaii Weather in October: October is the last really warm month here, though the rains are beginning to pick up. Waves on the south and east begin to subside, and the north and western swells begin to ramp up for winter. A rain jacket or umbrella may be useful if visiting during this time of year. (Average temperature 29ºC, average rainfall 80mm, Honolulu average water temperature 26.5ºC.)
- Hawaii Weather in November: This is the rainiest month in Hawaii by far, seeing three times as much precipitation as in May or August. Bring an umbrella, and plan some rainy day activities in case of a downpour. Water and air temperatures are still very comfortable, and north and western waves are large again, to the delight of many a surfer. (Average temperature 27º, average rainfall 124mm, Honolulu average water temperature 26ºC.)
- Hawaii Weather in December: In December, air temperatures reach their winter lows, which generally hold steady throughout the coming months. Water temps are still comfortable, though not quite balmy. Southern waves flatten out entirely, while western and especially northern surf grows bigger. The first whales of the season should be showing up now. (Average temperature 26ºC, average rainfall 87mm, Honolulu average water temperature 25ºC.)
Hawaii Events and Festivals
Hawaii in January
- North Shore Surf Competitions (Oahu): January is prime surfing season, with several events happening on the North Shore of Oahu. Volcom Pipe Pro at the Banzai Pipeline takes place at the end of the month. January also falls into the competition window for the Quicksilver Big Wave Invitational aka The Eddie, held in Waimea Bay. (But don’t hold your breath on that one. With its minimum requirement on wave size, it has only ever taken place nine times since its inception in 1984.)
- Chinese New Year (Oahu, all islands): Celebrated from mid-January to mid-February on all the islands but especially impressive in Honolulu’s Chinatown neighborhood. Expect impressive fireworks, lion and dragon dancers, kung fu demos, and music.
Hawaii in February
- Maui Whale Festival (Maui): Presented by the Pacific Whale Foundation to raise awareness for the protection of humpback whales. Events take place over the course of the month, but the highlight is World Whale Day with its Parade of Whales.
- POW! WOW! Hawai’i (Oahu): International arts, music, and cultural festival featuring gallery installations, live art, mural projects, lectures, and music. Takes place during Valentine’s week.
- Waimea Town Celebration (Kauai): Eight days of activities in this Western desert town near the canyon. Events include a deconstructed triathlon and an ice cream eating competition.
- Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival (Big Island): Celebration of Japanese and Hawaiian cultural heritage. Tea ceremony, origami, hula, feather leis, food, music, and more.
Hawaii in March
- Honolulu Festival (Oahu): Waikiki’s three-day celebration of Hawaii and the Pacific Rim. The festival includes cultural explorations via food, dance, and arts, and ends with a parade.
- Kona Brewer’s Festival (Big Island): Featuring 47 breweries and chefs from 29 restaurants. The festival opens with a hula and includes a home brewer’s competition, live music, and a trash fashion show.
Hawaii in April
- Merrie Monarch Festival (Big Island): Three day festival with a huge hula competition, invitational arts fair, hula shows, and a parade through Hilo. Most events are free to the public, but tickets are required for the competition and can only be requested by mail.
- Waikiki SPAM JAM (Oahu): A celebration of Hawaii’s infatuation with SPAM, the only meat that gets cooked in a can. This is an evening street festival where chefs from fine dining restaurants come up with new SPAM recipes. Expect SPAM-themed arts, crafts, and retail. The event is free to the public, but attendees are encouraged to donate a can of SPAM to the Hawaii Food Bank.
- Honolulu Brewers Festival (Oahu): Featuring over 100 craft beers from Hawaii, the Mainland, and abroad, plus live entertainment, and food from Oahu’s top restaurants. Tickets have previously been limited to 2500 and have sold out, so pick yours up as soon as they’re available.
Hawaii in May
- Lei Day (all islands): “May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii.” Celebrations all over the islands on May 1st typically feature a lei competition, hula dancing and live music.
- Lantern Floating Ceremony (Oahu): Each Memorial Day at sunset in honor of fallen soldiers, around 40,000 people float paper lanterns carrying prayers and messages into the waters off the coast of Ala Moana Beach.
- Kauai World Challenge Canoe Race (Kauai): A 36-mile outrigger canoe relay race along the Kauai coast. The race begins at Kapa’a Beach Park and ends at Salt Pond.
- East Maui Taro Festival (Maui): Out in Hana town, this festival celebrates Hawaii’s staple food. There’s a farmers market, poi pounding, taro pancake breakfast, and more.
Hawaii in June
- Pan Pacific Festival (Oahu): Annual event celebrating Pacific Rim art, performance, and cuisine. Over 100 performances are slated with the festival ending with a parade.
- King Kamehameha Day (all islands): This is a Hawaiian public holiday honoring King Kamehameha the Great, who united all the Hawaiian Islands. Celebrated throughout Hawaii, common features are a floral parade with pa’u riders, women on horseback in colorful dresses. The biggest festival takes place on Oahu.
- Maui Film Festival (Maui): Taking place in the Wailea resort area, this event includes fine foods, panel discussions, and film screenings under the stars and with toes in the sand.
Hawaii in July
- Koloa Plantation Days (Kauai): Celebration of historic Koloa, the first sugar plantation in Hawaii, and of the community, cultures, and environment there. Events include a rodeo, dance, music, food, and a parade.
- Honolulu Surf Film Festival (Oahu): Month-long film festival at the Honolulu Museum of Arts, celebrating surf history and its cultural impact. Classic and contemporary full-lengths, shorts, and documentaries.
- Prince Lot Hula Festival (Oahu): This is an annual tradition for the past forty years, the largest non-competitive hula event, showcasing dance from several renowned hula groups.
- Joy of Sake (Oahu): Honolulu hosts the largest sake tasting event outside of Japan. Food from some of Honolulu’s best restaurants accompanies the over 300 sakes being poured.
Hawaii in August
- Ho’oku’ikahi Establishment Day Hawaiian Cultural Festival (Big Island): This event celebrates ancient Hawaiian culture. Free to the public, but visitors are asked to learn at least one craft before they go to help preserve the culture; choose from lei making, feather standards, and more. Activities include Ho’okupu Ceremony, canoe rides, and Hawaiian food tasting.
- Na Hula Festival (Oahu): Prince Lot is the largest, but this is the longest running, non-competitive hula festival. Free admission, takes place in Queen Kapi’olani Park.
- Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament (Big Island): Five-day-long fishing competition in Kona. The public is invited to the afternoon weigh-ins of the huge fish caught, and some may get a photo with the latest Miss Billfish.
Hawaii in September
- Kauai Mokihana Festival (Kauai): Weeklong Hawaiian cultural event that includes a music contest, hula contest, lectures, and a craft fair.
- Aloha Festivals (Oahu, all islands): A statewide celebration, all islands have their own Aloha Weeks, but Oahu has the biggest one. This massive festival attracts over 100,000 attendees. Events include a reenactment of the royal court, Hawaii’s largest block party in Waikiki, and a floral parade.
- Okinawan Festival (Oahu): A celebration of all things Okinawan, featuring karate demos, dance, taiko drumming, food, and lion dancers.
Hawaii in October
- Hawaii Food & Wine Festival (Oahu, Maui, Big Island): Events take place over three islands on different days. Some highlights include an urban luau, rare wine tasting, ramen showdown, kids’ cooking class, and a history of cocktail scandals. Tickets for each event are sold separately.
- Coconut Festival (Kauai): A celebration of the coconut fruit on Kauai’s Coconut Coast. Features a coconut cookoff, a cooking demo, and a pie eating competition.
- Ironman Competition (Big Island): The world’s biggest and baddest triathlon. Competitors by qualification only.
Hawaii in November
- Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (Oahu): Three iconic surfing competitions on the North Shore Beaches. There are holding periods for each event with competitions held on the day during each period when waves are biggest. Continues into December.
- Kona Coffee Cultural Festival (Big Island): A celebration of the Kona region’s coffee, history, culture, and arts. Events take place over eleven days at various spots in the Kona Mountains and on the coast, including coffee cupping competitions, gallery installations, coffee farm and history tours, and coffee science seminars.
Hawaii in December
- Festival of Lights (Kauai): Visit for the opening ceremony or throughout December to see the County Building decked out in lights. These are special decorations made by a deceased member of the community, who made the ornaments out of scraps, like soda cans, toothpicks, and bottle caps.
- Moku’ula by Moonlight (Maui): Free night of slack key and ukulele music, mixed with storytelling and talks on contemporary Hawaiian issues. On the beachfront in Lahaina. Bring your own beach chairs, mats, and blankets.
- Wailea Village Mochi Pounding (Big Island): A community tradition, making rice cakes the old fashioned way. Everyone takes their turn pounding the sticky rice for good luck in the New Year. With taiko drumming, food vendors, fortune telling, and more.
Top Travel Sites for Hawaii – My Recommendations
Best For Flights: Kayak.com • Skyscanner • Momondo
Kayak is the easiest to use. Skyscanner finds the cheapest rates. Momondo is the best for first and business class tickets.
Best For Renting A Car: Rentalcars.com
Great prices from all the biggest rental companies. Easy to use, safe, and reliable.
Best For Hotels: Booking.com
Awesome rates and great for vacation planning. All price ranges. Luxury hotels, 5-star boutiques, cheap hostels, house and apartment rentals.
Best For Tours: GetYourGuide.com
My favorite for booking tours and private tour guides.
Best for Travel Insurance: InsureMyTrip
Compare costs from over 30 insurance providers.
- Best Hotels in Hawaii
- Best Hotels for Families in Hawaii
- Best Cheap Hotels in Honolulu
- Best Things to Do in Hawaii
- Best Restaurants in Hawaii
- Best Beaches in Hawaii
Hey Dave, my husband and I were thinking of visiting in September but not sure which island would be best.
We are coming from Ireland so would be hoping for good weather and are young so would like a mixture of relaxation and moderate activities, maybe snorkelling etc?
My short answer is: Maui. My slightly longer answer is: all of them. Any of the main islands is great for both things to do and places to relax.
I’m going to have to disagree that the best time to visit Hawaii (Maui at least) is April, May, September and October. There’s a reason that the winter months are considered peak season, and it’s because the whales are there. Once you see one of those monsters breach out of the water, your life is never quite the same. It’s just an experience that can’t be described.
Yes, whale season in Hawaii is spectacular, and if whale watching is a priority then December through March is the best time to visit, though whales can be spotted (especially near Maui) as early as November and as late as April.
When deciding when is the overall best time to visit, though, other factors are taken into consideration, including room and flight rates, crowds, weather conditions. April, May, September, and October offer the best combination of reasonable rates, less crowded beaches, and attractions, warm but not too hot weather, comfortable ocean temperatures, and waves that are generally not too big for kids. April is also a good month for whale watching, as most of the calves have already been born, so you’ll get a chance to see the babies in addition to the adults breaching.
I am going to Hawaii for my honeymoon August 31 to September 7th. We are trying to figure out which island will be the best to visit that month (rain, crowds, and weather), but we are thinking of going Maui or Kauai. I did some research and its crowded up until labor since kids go back to school. There is less rain in Maui and more things to do there as well compared to Kauai. What’s your opinion and advice?
Both islands are gorgeous in their own ways. Maui has the famous, long white sandy beaches, great restaurants, and plenty of attractions, while Kauai has more rustic charm, with quieter beaches, dramatic landscapes, and rainforests. Maui is generally more crowded than Kauai, because it has been a travel destination for longer and is much more developed, while Kauai is quieter overall, though its main hotel hubs in Princeville and Po’ipu do attract a fair number of guests. Both islands should have calm weather during August and September. Maui is drier overall than Kauai, though its Upcountry and its eastern half (where the famous Road to Hana is) are covered in dense rainforest. Kauai is generally wetter, though Po’ipu is usually sunny and the westerly Waimea Canyon is a true desert.
For a long trip, though, it’s best to stay in Maui. Staying in Kauai for a whole week may feel too long (unless you’re happy by the pool, relaxing and sipping cocktails in which case you’ll be very happy in either). Since Maui offers the most diverse landscape and activities, you can stay in one of the drier areas for the bulk of your vacation (historic Lahaina, hip Ka’anapali or Kihei, or boho Po’ipu) and stay in the Upcountry (rural and rustic) or Hana (pristine and romantic) for a couple of nights to enjoy the variety.
My fiancé and I are getting married this fall and would like to honeymoon in Hawaii at the end of October. We want to do some relaxing on the beach but would also like to do some hiking and snorkeling, since we are active outdoorsy people. I was thinking maybe Kauai or Maui but not sure about the weather. Any suggestion of a specific island or area that would be good for us? Thanks!
Both Kauai and Maui have wonderful beaches, but Kauai has more pristine natural attractions to enjoy, and its small size makes it easy to visit different locales. Hike in Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast State Parks, snorkel at Tunnels Beach, Anini Reef, or even right offshore at Po’ipu Beach, or spend the day at Hanalei Bay, surfing, paddleboarding, and swimming. Late October is right before the rainy season hits, and Kauai is the rainiest island, so if you keep your schedule flexible, you can visit spots on the north end or in the interior, like Hanalei Bay or Wailua Falls, on sunny days. Visit the desert, Waimea and Na Pali, on days where it rains on the rest of the island. Stay at a hotel in the Po’ipu area, which sees half the rain of Princeville. Ko’a Kea and the Grand Hyatt are both excellent choices for honeymooners.
My wife and I planning to visit least one of the Island (Kauai – Princeville) or Maui (Lahaina) towns. Are these good choices? We are planning to visit 2nd week of April or end of April for 1 week. This will be first time for both of us for Hawaii. Should we split our 1 week between 2 islands? Are above towns good for activities? I’ve heard usually there will be some rain in northern islands and in Princeville. Is it spotted rain or continuous?
Maui and Kauai are both fantastic choices though very different. Maui is more developed and has a broader range of resorts, attractions, and dining options, while Kauai is more tranquil, better known for its natural beauty. Maui (Lahaina in particular) is also drier year-round than Kauai. Princeville is on the wetter side of an already rainy island, though rain usually comes in short bursts, not all day long; if you’d like to visit Kauai but prefer less rain, consider staying in Po’ipu instead.
Since it’s your first time to Hawaii, and you only have one week, Maui is the better choice. Rather than splitting your time between two islands, consider splitting your vacation into two areas on Maui. Lahaina is a great place to start; it is sunny and dry almost every day, with amazing, white sand beaches, great restaurants, and plenty of activities. Midway through your vacation, drive the Road to Hana and stay for a few of nights in the hippie/surf town Pa’ia, in the rustic hills of the Upcountry, or on the black sand beaches of Hana (Hana is in the rainforest, so there may be some occasional showers here).
Planning a trip to Hawaii. It will be a 7-8 night visit and our main interest is exploring Kilauea. Is there a best time or month to experience the volcano? Can we explore on our own, or do we need to go with a tour group?
Kilauea has been erupting nonstop for over thirty years, but its flow is unpredictable and there is no time of the year that typically has more or less dramatic flows. The main factor in determining the best time to visit is the weather. Higher elevations make Kilauea much cooler (by 6-11°C) than the beach areas. Summer is the best time of year to visit, while staying warm; you’ll only need to add a light jacket to your packing.
Exploring on your own is possible by car via Crater Rim Drive or the Chain of Craters Road or on foot using one of many trails great for day hikes or camping. Several maps are provided by Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. If you plan on camping overnight in the park, you will need to purchase a $10 permit within 24 hours of the start of your stay.
Though the drive offers several overlooks (best at night or in the early morning when it’s still dark) you’ll be far from the actual lava. Add to that the elevation and vog (fog with volcanic ash), and the views can be less than stellar. To get up close and personal with the lava, it’s really best to go with a guide. Lava flow changes constantly, and having a guide who knows the current conditions can help you maximize your time. Epic Lava offers the best private and small group hiking tours. Another unique option is to see the lava by boat; Lava Ocean Tours cruises to where the Kilauea flow meets the Pacific.
My husband and I would like to visit the road to Hana while on Maui. I have several questions.
1) What time should be plan on starting out if we want to make it a leisurely trip?
2) Can you go all the way around or do you have to turn back? We have been told several different things
3) Do you need a 4 wheel drive vehicle for any part of the road?
Thank you so much for your help.
1. The Road to Hana is about a full day trip, whether you turn around at Hana or do the full loop. From the start of the Hana Highway in Pa’ia, it takes about two and a half to three hours to drive to Hana, if you don’t do any stops along the way, and around the same amount of time getting back. Most people plan on stopping at five or six places, including waterfall hikes, lava tubes, bamboo forests, and botanical gardens. Where you choose to stop and how long you take at each stop will affect the duration, but plan on leaving early, around 8 a.m. or so in order to be off of the road by sunset. It can be a dangerous road after dark with low visibility. Another option, if you want to really take your time, would be to stay for a night or two in Hana. There’s a great luxury resort, Travaasa Hana, as well the mid-range Hana Kai, and a smattering of good restaurants here.
2. and 3. As mentioned earlier, yes, you can make a full loop, but most people choose not to or just don’t know that it’s an option. The road beyond the Seven Sacred Pools turns into dirt, gravel, and an incredible bumpy mix of broken, washed out asphalt and gravel. It’s winding with sheer cliffs, just like the main part of Hana Highway, but there are also cows wandering in the road. Even still, any car can make this trip, barring extremely stormy weather; you do not need a four wheel drive. There is a mistaken belief that if you drive on this road, it will void your car rental contract, but this is not true. However, if something does go wrong, it’s a remote stretch with not great cell reception, so it may take some time to get help. There is absolutely stunning landscape to see while driving around the back side of the volcano, with a few attractions along the way, like Pu’u Maneoneo Petroglyphs and Ruins and Alelele Falls, among others.
I’ve heard that hurricane season in Hawaii is late summer and fall. What’s the best Island for avoiding the worst weather if we’re visiting in August/September?
Hurricane season in Hawaii runs from June through November, but it’s pretty rare for big storms to hit, so don’t let that deter you. The best places to visit for consistently dry and sunny weather are the Big Island, near Waikoloa, or Maui, near Kihei, Wailea, Ka’anapali, or Lahaina. Waikoloa on the Big Island is the driest part of the state year-round and has some of the clearest water, though the beaches start to get rocky along the coastline the farther south you stray toward Kailua-Kona. Maui has just a little more rain than the Big Island, but it’s still very dry compared to O’ahu or Kaua’i. Of the four Maui cities listed, Kihei and Lahaina are the next driest areas, with white sand beaches nearly everywhere.
August is generally the hottest month of the year and drier than September, while September is a rainier summer month but with the warmest water temperatures. Waves on the east and west coasts are usually a medium size in August; waves on all coasts are medium to large in September.
Hello Dave. We will be in the area in early August with our two kids, and want to visit Volcanoes National Park. Assuming we have “average” weather temperature wise- just wondering how hot it can be at the park. We will have option of going either early in the morning (7:30 AM) on one day or late afternoon on another. I am assuming morning is better but thought I had read somewhere that given location that it never really gets too hot in the park so maybe afternoon would be fine as well? Thanks for your help.
The park is quite large with a couple of different microclimates inside it. Parts of it are close to sea level, while the peak of Kilauea is 1247 meters. Most of the park is in a rainforest, but a stretch of the Chain of Craters Road runs along the dry, hot coast. The summit is usually around 6-11°C cooler than it is at the base. Average highs for most of the park in August are very comfortable, roughly 18-21°C in the afternoons, though mornings and evenings can get chilly, down in the 11-14°C range. It’s a good idea to dress in layers, including raingear, so that you can adjust as needed to stay comfortable. Temperature-wise, afternoons may be a little more comfortable, but the best views of the lava are early in the morning, when it’s still a little dark out.
I have a question for you. I’d like to plan a trip to HI, but my only available traveling window is during mid-December, one of the region’s biggest travel months. What’s the best island/area to stay in if I want to avoid the crowds as much as possible? I don’t need much in the way of activities, just looking to relax and unwind.
There are several great options for quiet stays during the peak season, but two spots really stand out as great getaways. The more luxurious of the two is Travaasa Hana. This is set at the far end of Maui’s famous Road to Hana, and features all-inclusive packages with meals, spa days, and more. Set up on a cliff overlooking the ocean, the views are dramatic, and it’s only a short drive to the black sand Hana Beach.
A more rustic option is in Hanalei, Kauai. This small town covers half of Hanalei Bay, the most beautiful beach, just west of the main resort area in Princeville. Hanalei has a charming small town vibe, with plenty of mom and pop diners and little boutique shops within walking distance. The best place to stay there is the Hanalei Dolphin Cottages, a small, family-owned property with five rustic stilt houses overlooking the river.
Hi! I’m interested in doing some whale watching in Hawaii. With that in mind, which would be the best island/area for me to stay on? And then for that location when would be the best time to visit? Thanks in advance.
Maui is by far the best island for seeing whales, especially on its northwestern coast, between the Maui and its neighboring islands Moloka’i and Lanai. Lahaina, Ka’anapali, and Kapalua offer the best vantage points for seeing whales, even from the shore without stepping onto a boat! Whales can be spotted from all islands, but this part of Maui is where the greatest amount of whales congregates.
Whales migrate to Hawai’i every year between December and April, but the peak time for seeing them is from February to March, just after the calves are born. You are pretty much guaranteed a whale sighting this time of year.
We’ll be on the Big Island Christmas day and I want to book an excursion that will be memorable for my husband and I. I was thinking Captn Dan’s Whale Watching cruise out of Kona – Is this a good time of year for whales? What’s the weather like this time of year? Or should I splurge and do a helicopter tour of the island? Which in your opinion is better?
Tough call! But helicopter tours can be done on any island at any time, while whales only visit certain places in Hawai’i and for less than half of the year. I recommend opting for the whale watching cruise. December is the beginning of whale season in Hawai’i, and even though it’s not the peak of the season, you’ll have a very good chance of seeing several whales around Christmastime. Mornings are usually best for whale watching. Since the water is calmer early in the day, the boats will be able to cruise farther off the coast and further north to where the whales tend to congregate.
Weather can be unpredictable, especially in the winter, and it’s not unusual for an excursion to be canceled the day of due to inclement weather. I would recommend scheduling the whale cruise early in your vacation. That will leave you a few options for rescheduling later if necessary. Many cruise operators (Captain Dan included) also offer guaranteed whale sightings, or you get a free cruise to try again. Booking early will also give you extra days, in case the whales are feeling shy.
How is the crowd at Hapuna beach in late September? Thinking of doing an intimate vow renewal on a Thursday. Suggestion…Hapuna beach or Kukio beach for the renewal? Thanks so much. Aileen
Both are great but would recommend Kukio for it having a more idyllic feel.
Hi Dave – Are mosquitoes or any similar biting creature a problem in Maui? What about near the rain forest? Thanks.
There are mosquitoes in Maui, but they mostly come out at dusk, and they tend to shy away from more populated areas. They are most concentrated in the rainforest, and you are likely to encounter them along the hiking trails where they gather in the grass, underbrush, and near calm water. At the hotels and in the cities, they are typically not a problem; just don’t leave your balcony door or window open in the early evening.
Other biting and stinging insects in Maui include bees, mites, and spiders. Like mosquitoes, they tend to be in the rainforest and less developed areas. Insect repellant is helpful for keeping all of them away, whether DEET or a natural alternative.
Hello, please help: After finding some great deals on July flights to the Big Island, I’m considering a summer trip instead of the winter one I’ve taken the two previous years. Will there be much difference in the weather? Will it be crazy hot at the end of July? Thank you.
Weather-wise, there’s really no bad time to visit the Big Island! Average temperatures in Hilo run from 26ºC in January to about 28ºC in July, while Kona ranges from 27ºC in January to 30ºC in July. Summer finds Hilo a little rainier than in winter, while Kona will be slightly drier in July versus January.
The biggest difference will be in the surf and sea life. Winter sees bigger and more frequent waves, while the ocean tends to flatten out in the summer. Also, the whales that are plentiful in winter will be absent during the summer months.
After years of dreaming about it, I’m finally ready to bite the bullet and plan a Hawaiian vacation for my family, and I’m wondering if you can help by recommending an island/city for us. We are two adults and three kids – ages 11, 9, and 6. We’re fairly active and would like to get out and about a bit (volcanoes, hiking, snorkeling, etc.), but none of us are surfers. We like beaches but I’d be surprised if we were at a beach more than a few days. What city, island, or area would you recommend for us? Thanks in advance.
Definitely visit Hawai’i Island aka the Big Island! It’s the only island with an active volcano, which you’ll find on the windward (eastern, rainy) side of the island, about a 45-minute drive south of Hilo. There are eight different climate zones to experience here, from desert to rainforest, and from tropical heat to frosty mountains.
Some of the best hiking is on the Hilo side of the island, in and around Volcanoes National Park, where you can hike through the rainforest, right up to the lava flow or visit the Jaggar Museum to overlook the volcano. If you visit Jaggar, go on a clear evening to get the best view of the glow.
The Big Island is the youngest island in the chain, so it has fewer sandy beaches. If you do feel like having a beach day, visit Kauna’oa (Mauna Kea) Beach or Hapuna Beach for the quintessential white sand beach experience. The Kona side of the island (leeward, western, dry) has the clearest water in all of Hawai’i, and here you’ll have the opportunity to snorkel with the manta rays after sunset, a truly unique and memorable experience that you’ll not want to miss. This is swimming in the open ocean, well away from the coast, so although there is no age limit that I’m aware of, it’s recommended only for strong swimmers. Another great snorkel spot is Carlsmith Beach Park in Hilo. Not your typical sandy beach, this is instead an area where freshwater meets ocean, with a great lagoon area for snorkeling and spotting sea turtles; it’s a bit rocky here, so watch your step!
I would recommend beginning your trip in Kailua-Kona. Snorkel with the manta rays here, visit Mauna Kea Observatory, and see the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboys) in Waimea. From here you can take a day trip up to the Kona Mountain to visit a coffee farm and snorkel at Two Step or head to Hawi, a small town known for its boutiques, galleries, and eats. Spend the last half of your trip on the Hilo side, hiking the rainforest and volcano. Be sure to check out Richardson Beach, a black sand beach on the east side of Hilo. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also take Highway 11 down from Hilo and hike to Papakolea Green Sand beach (one of only four green sand beaches in the whole world), passing several ancient heiaus (temples) and cave dwellings along the way. Papakolea is not great for swimming (the currents here are strong!), but the journey is a lot of fun.