Maui is the name of the Hawaiian god who pulled the islands out of the sea with his magic, powerful fishhook. Maui is also called the Valley Isle for its geography, a sort of valley between two volcanic peaks. LIke all the Hawaiian islands, there’s absolutely no bad time to visit if you’re willing to embrace the fact that it’s an island in the middle of the ocean and subject to whimsical weather. That said, there are a few things you can stack the odds for, picking seasons — or times of day, even — that give you the best shot at great conditions for your vacation.
Best time to travel to Maui
Spring and Fall — the shoulder season — offer the best weather for visitor to Maui. Bonus? You’ll miss the high season rates and crowds. Heads up — the last week of April is Golden Week, a big travel week for Japanese tourists. Flights and hotels can be at a premium and advance reservations are highly recommended. Spring and fall are also the best time to buy plane tickets, fares tend to drop in this travel season.
Best time for snorkeling
You’ll often have two options for dive tours, a morning and an afternoon tour. Take the morning one. The waters are typically more calm in the mornings, plus, with the sun high in the sky, you’ll get better visibility. Save the afternoon for those sunset cocktail cruises. If you’re taking a snorkel tour to Molokini, the little crater off Maui’s shores, be sure to book a morning trip. Afternoon tours are often cheaper, but that’s because the trade winds may create unfavorable conditions for this particular spot. It’s not a deal if you don’t get to go.
Best time to take a helicopter tour over Maui
Like so many activities on the island, time of day matters more than time of year. The earlier you leave the ground, the more like it is your skies will be clear. Winds pick up in the afternoons, too, so your flight is likely to be less choppy when you fly early in the day. Season isn’t as critical, but there is less wind — and therefore, less rain — in the winter. Ask your tour operator about their weather policy.
Best time for whale watching
Whales start their migration vacation in Hawaii’s warm waters in mid-December and the lucky giants stick around until as late as April, when they head out to less sheltered places. Peak season is from January until the end of March, Of course the best way to see them is to take a whale watching tour, but don’t be surprised if you see them breaching or slapping their flukes when you’re standing on the shore.
Best time to fish Maui’s waters
Fishing is a year round pursuit for visitors and locals alike — there’s no bad time to go fishing in Hawaii. There’s always something to catch, marlin, bluefin tuna, mahi mahi, ono… If you’re determined to catch a particular species of fish, plan your trip around that creature’s calendar, not your own. Check in with your charter operator to find out what you can expect to find when you’re out on the water.
Best time for Maui surfing
Winter is Maui’s big wave season. But there’s good news for beginners, too — Maui is a great place to learn as it’s got nearly a dozen beach parks that have protected gentle breaks and are accessible year round. Heads up. Those winter storms can change conditions, always check with the lifeguard before entering the water.
Best time to drive to Hana
This famous road with its TK curves is one of Maui’s most popular attractions. Too many people rush it, making the trip in one day, barely giving themselves time to explore the town — and the National Park — at the other end of the road. Don’t be those people! Rather than jumping in your car first thing in the morning, book and overnight or two. Then, head out around 9:30 or so, after any commuters have made the trip, and drive at your leisure. Do the same on the return trip. Heavy winter rains can lead to washouts — go from May to September if you’re worried about a little rain. But keep in mind that it’s rainy most of the year on the windward side of the island. Be prepared for a little rain. That’s how you get rainbows.
Best time to visit Haleakala National Park
Are you a sunrise person or a sunset person? That’s how to decide when best to visit Haleakala, Yes, of course you can go any time of day, and yes, there are winter snows that can affect road conditions. But plan your trip up this mountain around the sun — and the clarity of the skies. Stargazers might want to go up for sunset and to see the cosmos, early birds will enjoy seeing the sun appear out of the Pacific. It can be cold and windy — bring extra layers.
Best time to golf on Maui
The island has dozens of golf courses, from world famous challenges to lower key municipal park courses. To find the best time to play, consider where your course of choice is located. On the windward side — the course are (surprise!) more windy and conditions are better early in the morning or late in the afternoon. On the leeward side, mornings are best, with very little wind. In winter, regardless of where on the island you are, the winds tend to drop off so for a shot at the best conditions, golf the leeward side from November to February.
Best time to see dolphins in Maui’s waters
In case you doubt that dolphins are smart, here’s proof: They live in Hawaii year round. You’re almost guaranteed to see dolphins if you head out on a dive or fishing tour. Spinner dolphins frequent the waters between Maui and Lanai, and there’s a resident pod off the west Maui coast, and another off the south coast. There’s no bad time for dolphin spotting.
Best time to visit Iao Valley State Park
Ioa Valley State Park is open 7am-7pm, year round, but if you want a shot at seeing the Iao Needle — the overgrown rocky spike that makes the park so photogenic, go early in the day. This is one of the rainiest spots on Mauai, but don’t let the forecast keep you home. Rain and clouds make for gorgeous pictures, and they keep the peak green.
Best time to visit Maui Ocean Center
It’s always good to have a rainy day activity in your pocket and the best time to visit this small but very attractive aquarium is on a rainy day. You can get a good look at the residents of Hawaii’s waters without stepping foot in the waters. The aquarium does get busy in peak season (winter and summer vacation) so if you want to avoid the crowds, visit later in the day, an hour or two before closing.
Best time to visit Maui’s lavender farms
While different varieties of lavender bloom year round in Maui’s upcountry, peak bloom season runs from June to September.
Best time to hop the ferry from Lahaina to Moloka’i or Lana’i
Crossing the Maui channel on this ferry with locals who live on the two outer islands makes a great trip, if you’re going for the day or to overnight. But heads up for the less than seaworthy! The Maui channel can be very rough, with the afternoons being the worst of the lot. Take the morning ferry and stay the night on these remote-feeling outer islands, or book a return flight. Note that you’ll fly back into Kahului, so you’ll need to take a cab or shuttle back to Lahaina if that’s where you’ve been staying.
Best time to get married on Maui
A sunset wedding on a Maui beach, what could be more romantic, more picturesque! Book your wedding party slash vacation in the springtime for rainbow weather — a little rain is good luck! There are also more flowers in the springtime and fewer crowds. Skip spring break and Easter time, the island tends to draw more travelers then, and it occupancy can be a bit higher. May and October are low season, you’ll find the best deals and the quietest days. If your heart is set on dry days, you’ll need to book in the wintertime, but this is also peak travel season, so rates will be higher and rooms will be harder to find.
Maui weather by month
Maui Weather in January and February
Maui Weather in January and February: Winter months on Maui are can be rainy and cool, but keep in mind that this is Maui, and it’s still the tropics. Highs can reach 81°F. while lows at night can drop to 63°F; lower if you’re staying in Hana. You’ll want to pack rain gear and some extra layers for early morning and evening outings, or if you’re heading up Haleakala, where it can be quite cold and windy. The swell is up and that creates big surf on Maui’s north and northwest shore – popular for surfers but not great for swimming. (Average Max Temperature: 81°F. Average Precipitation: 3.49 inches)
Maui Weather in March and April
Maui Weather in March and April: The tradewinds pick up come March, but winter storms start to drop off. The surf is still up on the North and West shores, and because it’s shoulder season, you’ll find the breaks a little less crowded. Come April, Maui’s leeward side is quite sunny and warm, hitting 84°F at this time of year – bring sunscreen. You’ll still need an extra layer in the evenings, lows drop to 64°F, but the winds can make it feel cooler than it really is, too, especially if you’re headed upcountry or up the volcano. (Average Max Temperature: 84°F, Average Precipitation 1.79 inches)
Maui Weather in May
Maui in May: Summer arrives early on Maui and temperatures can reach 85°F. May brings consistent tradewinds to the windward side, but the air is drier and holds fewer clouds – so there’s less rain. Lows rarely drop below 68 come May, though you may still find an extra layer useful for sitting outside on breezy evenings. The ocean starts its warming trend, and averages about 76°F. You’ll always find it’s rainier on the windward side, and summer is no exception. (Average Max Temperature: 85°F, Average Precipitation 1.05 inches)
Maui Weather in June and July
Summer is peak summer and tourist season on Maui, with the usual rules pertaining to the windward side. The trade winds blow pretty consistently at this time of year, which makes for clear skies and bright starry nights, and the breezes can take the edge of the heat, which can reach 87°F. The nights are warm too, hovering around 68°F. Hurricane season starts with peak summer on Maui, but it’s a rare that extreme weather will impact your travels, though it’s always good to stay informed. The swell starts to pick up – those with sensitivity towards seasickness might want to keep their feet on the ground at this time of year. There’s still a higher chance of rain on the windward side, but don’t let that keep you from making it part of your summer vacation. (Average Max Temperature: 88°F, Average Precipitation 1.00 inches)
Maui Weather in August and September
August and September are hot, reaching 89°F, while ocean temperatures can reach up to 80°F. Crowds on Maui start to wind down at the end of August and in early September, temperatures start to drop on the windward side of the island. It can be rather humid in late summer, you might want to be sure your vacation stay has air conditioning. Nights are warm too, staying at about 70°F after dark. This is hurricane season, so keep an eye on the weather forecast, especially on travel days. You’re unlikely to be impacted but it’s good to be informed. The swell is up as well. Beach safety is critical year round, but at this time of year, beginners should seek out sheltered beaches with lifeguards. (Average Max Temperature: 88°F, Average Precipitation .50 inches)
Maui Weather in October and November
Maui Weather in October and November: Fall is shoulder season so there are good deals and fewer tourists, though there’s a spike around Thanksgiving. The island turns back to winter, with temperatures starting to drop back down, though the days can still be quite warm, topping out around 87°F especially on the leeward side of the island. Evenings begin to cool, though that’s relative for Maui, you may still find them quite mild with a low around 67°F. Rains start in late fall, especially on the windward side, with the first winter storms dropping showers on the island. Always, the weather tends to be transitional and easy to either wait out or escape. (Average Max Temperature: 85°F, Average Precipitation .50 inches)
Maui Weather in December
Maui Weather in December: It’s back to winter weather – winter for Maui, anyway. The trade winds drop off, so there are more cloudy days, and a higher chance of rain. The cloud cover keeps the temperatures down to lows of 65°F at night, while winter vacation means the tourist population goes up. It’s back to packing those extra layers for evening and early morning outings, though you can often escape the rain by either waiting it out, or heading to the leeward side of the island. The big waves return to the North and West shores, so it’s a great time to go watch the surfers. (Average Max Temperature: 85°F, Average Precipitation 2.15 inches)
Maui Events and Festivals
Lahaina Second Fridays: Gallery walk, live music, and shopping in Lahaina Town at Campbell Park.
Farmer’s Markets: There’s a market nearly every weekday on the island – if you don’t seek them out, you’ll probably find one by accident. They’re excellent places to buy local, seasonal produce.
Maui Chef’s Table: One of a kind meals hosted by select Maui chefs, all inclusive. Most Saturday evenings. Open kitchen, smaller groups, participation encouraged.
Wailuku First Friday: Live music, street food, gallery walk, and more. On Market Street in Wailuku.
Maui in January
New Year’s Day: It’s a National holiday, so get your basic services like banking and shopping done on the 31st before the shops close.
Maui in February
Valentine’s Day: Valentine’s Day, February 14, is a hugely popular day for getting engaged among Hawaii vacationers. If you want to pop the question in a particularly special venue, make reservations well in advance, though who can argue with a sunset on the beach proposal?
Maui Open Studios: Island wide, the month of February is open studio month. Meet artists where they work, see demonstrations, and support the creative people that live on Maui.
Maui in April
Celebration of the Arts: Go deep into Hawaiian culture at this festival elevating Native Hawaiian crafts, music, dance, food, and more. Hands-on workshops, an extensive performance schedule, and an inviting array of educational opportunities.
East Maui Taro Festival: You might think you don’t like poi, but it’s possible you’ve never had the real thing. Try freshly pounded poi and learn the significance of the plant at this smaller local festival in Hana.
Maui in May
Maui Brewer’s Festival: Food from local restaurants and caterers, beer tastings from local and national craft breweries, live music, a home brew competition, plus, for the non-beer drinkers, hard cider, hard kombucha, and root beer.
Maui Matusuri: Experience Japan in Hawaii when part of the University of Hawaii Maui campus is transformed into a Japanese village.
Maui in June
Maui Film Festival: Movies on the big screen, under the stars! Consider it a Hawaiian Sundance Film Festival, entirely outdoors.
Kī Hō‘alu Guitar Festival: This slack key guitar festival brings some of Hawaii’s finest music to the Maui Arts and Culture Center. And, it’s free.
Kapalua Food and Wine Festival: A benefit for the Culinary Arts Program at Maui College, this event brings top chefs and epicures together to taste the results of Maui’s agricultural abundance.
Maui in July
Fire it Up! Hawaiian BBQ takes center stage at this beachfront festival of BBQ, bourbon, and beer.
July 4, Independence Day: The Lahaina Town Action Committee hosts this spectacle shooting off a massive fireworks show from an offshore barge. Head to Front Street to find a good viewing spot. The show starts around 8:00 pm. Heads up, this is a state holiday and banks, transit, and other services may be on a holiday schedule. Plan ahead.
Maui in August
Obon Festivals: There are four different Buddhist temples on the island and they take turns hosting an Obon Festival each weekend of August. This traditional Japanese event pays respect to family ancestors with music and dance. The costumes are spectacular.
Maui in September
Maui Ukulele Festival: World renowned ukulele musician and teacher Roy Sakuma is the host of this annual event highlighting this most Hawaiian instrument and its artists.
Maui in October
Maui Marathon: Lace up and pick you race – full marathon, half, 10k, 5k, or relay. Qualify for the Boston Marathon while on your Maui vacation.
Hawaii Food and Wine Festival: The Maui branch of the Waikiki based food festival brings international chefs to work with the ingredients of Maui, with an emphasis on sustainability.
Maui in November
Made in Maui County Festival: Want to make sure you shop local? Head to this country fair style event that showcases the work of Maui County artists, small businesses, and other producers. It’s Hawaii, so there’s food and music, too.
Maui in December
New Year’s Eve: December 31st, New Year’s Eve. The biggest fireworks show on the island is hosted by the Poipu Beach Association and yes, it’s free. There’s a family friendly movie, then fireworks start around 8pm.