Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase through my links I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.
With its unique aloha spirit, volcanic mountain terrain, tropical rainforests, national parks, and world-class beaches, it’s not a surprise that Hawaii is a top destination on people’s vacation wish lists. If you’re thinking of planning your first trip to Hawaii, you probably have a lot of questions, including When is the Best Time to Visit Hawaii?
Well, that’s not an easy question to answer. That’s because if you’re a surfer, you’re going to want to come at a different time of the year than someone who wants to whale-watch. And if you’re on a tight vacation budget, you’re going to want to steer clear of the most popular times to visit the Aloha state when prices double or triple!
When is The Best Time to Visit Hawaii? It Really Depends on What Important to You
While the best time to visit Hawaii is subjective based on your preferences, there are some factors most vacationers consider when planning vacation time. Read on and learn the best time to visit Hawaii based on commonly asked questions.
1. When is the Best Time to Visit Hawaii to Avoid Crowds?
Hawaii is the least crowded during the shoulder seasons. That includes Late April-May for spring and September-October for fall. Fewer people on the islands means not waiting in long lines at restaurants, rental cars are easier (and less expensive) to find, and tours and rentals will still have availability.
Hawaii is most crowded during the Christmas holiday season and in July/August. However, the cost isn’t the only reason to avoid summertime and the holidays. Unfortunately, most people don’t factor in how crowded Hawaii truly can be when planning their tropical vacation.
Reservations for restaurants can fill up weeks or months ahead, and booking a luau last minute is almost impossible. In addition, getting tickets to popular events like seeing the sunrise from Haleakala Summit becomes very difficult, and even the traffic can be a challenge, like driving the Road to Hana.
So if crowds aren’t your thing, think about when kids are in school and schedule your trip to Hawaii then. Or, if your state or district is off of school during a time when others in America or not, that can be a perfect time to go to Hawaii with kids “off-season.”
For example, schools in New Jersey are off the week of election day, typically the first week of November. It’s a time that those families book vacations to very popular places, like Disneyland, to take advantage of traveling during their kids’ breaks, avoiding the crowds and peak prices.
2. What Months Have the Best Weather in Hawaii?
A week in paradise isn’t the same without copious amounts of sunshine, and some months are better for this than others. March through September see the highest temperatures with the least amount of rain. Plan your trip during this time for the best chance of spending a warm, cloud-free vacation in Hawaii.
3. When Is It Warm and Dry in Hawaii?
Most of Hawaii only experiences two seasons. May through October are “summer” months, and November through April are “winter” months. With that said, according to Weather.gov, the average annual temperature in Hawaii is between 78° and 85°. That’s plenty warm enough to enjoy your vacation and dethaw from the winter.
Use this travel guide by rssweather.com showing Hawaii weather and rainfall averages to plan your trip to the Hawaiian Islands.
Average Temperature and Rainfall in Oahu:
4. Does Hawaii Have a Hurricane Season?
Yes, technically, but not really. Hurricane season runs from June through November in Hawaii. Although it’s rare for Hawaii to get hit with a hurricane, it does experience four to five tropical storms each year. Suppose you’re planning a trip during these months. In that case, it’s essential to make reservations you can cancel for a full refund as close to your travel date as possible.
5. When is the Best Time to Visit Hawaii for Whale Watching?
Is whale-watching on your bucket list? You’ll want to book your stay between November and May. To increase your odds, plan to be in Maui sometime between mid-January and March. That’s the peak season to go whale watching since thousands of Humpback Whales migrate to Hawaii during this time.
According to the Pacific Whale Foundation, a total of 650 whales were spotted on January 29, 2020, alone. Researchers spotted a whopping 75% of those off the coast of Maui. For this reason, many people plan their vacations around whale season in Hawaii.
6. What is the Best Time to Visit Hawaii for Surfing?
Surfers worldwide gather in Hawaii each year to catch the big waves. November through February is the surfing season. The North Shore of Oahu hosts some of the top surfing competitions in the world. If you’re an experienced surfer, there’s no better time for surfing the giant swells in Hawaii than the winter months.
If you’re not an experienced swimmer, you should know that some shores will be too dangerous. Since the winter months tend to have rougher waves, families will appreciate the calmer waters in the Lagoons at Ko Olina in Oahu or other parts of the islands based on the time of year.
7. When Can I Avoid Box Jellyfish Invasions in Oahu?
Planning a vacation around a jellyfish invasion may not be a top priority for most vacationers. However, if you’re hoping to spend time on the south shore of Oahu, it should be. You can expect some beaches to be closed for three days, eight to 10 days after a full moon. Other beaches may not be closed but may have jellyfish warning signs posted.
Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island of Hawaii can also have jellyfish invasions but aren’t typically as bad as Oahu’s. That is especially important to know if you’ve got your heart set on getting snorkeling on Hanauma Bay on Oahu’s south side.
Southside beaches in Oahu also include Waikiki Beach and Ala Moana Beach Park. You can use Waikiki Aquarium’s box jellyfish calendar to coordinate your visit and avoid the worst time to vacation in Hawaii. While not widely known, it’s one of the essential travel tips you can get for planning a trip to Hawaii, especially if you have your heart set on going to see certain places that can be closed for jellyfish.
8. When’s the Cheapest Time to Go to Hawaii?
If you avoid the peak travel times in Hawaii, you’ll save a lot of money on flights on accommodations. That being said, if you redeem years of airline miles and hotel rewards, you could get free flights and accommodation even during peak periods covering the biggest typical expenses when traveling to Hawaii.
Saving money on flights and lodging means more money for planning the best itinerary in Oahu and other Hawaiian islands and making room in your budget for major excursions like helicopter tours.
9. What’s the Cheapest Month to Travel to Hawaii?
In 2019, Skyscanner reported January and September as the cheapest times to fly to Hawaii. Couple that with hotels being at their cheapest between September through early December and September comes out as the winner for both flights and hotels as the least expensive time to travel to Hawaii.
10. What Days are the Best to Book Flights and Fly to Hawaii?
According to Hopper.com, a travel-booking platform, you’ll save the most money by booking your flight on a Tuesday or Wednesday. But, of course, that refers to the day you book your ticket. So it is no surprise that flying mid-week is also the least expensive time to fly. In addition, you’ll avoid the busier weekend flights this way, so you’ll not only save money, you’ll have fewer crowds to fight along the way.
A 2021 survey by CheapAir.com suggests the best time to book is 64 days before your flight. You can also use any top travel site to search and compare the best airfare prices.
Flights to Hawaii can vary by hundreds of dollars depending on what season you plan to travel. One way to save money on plane tickets is to fly to Hawaii for free using credit card points or airline miles. But, you can take it a step further and get Southwest Airlines’ coveted Companion Pass. Once you have the Companion Pass, you can fly a friend for free anywhere you fly!
11. How Can You Save Money on Hotels in Hawaii?
An essential part of planning a trip to Hawaii is finding an affordable hotel in a good location. There are several things to consider, such as whether you’ll be traveling with kids, how important an ocean view is, and of course, your budget.
The Hawaiian Tourism Authority reported that the average daily room rate for 2021 was $225.31, down from $240.92 in 2019. If your trip is less than a week-long, you’ll save money by staying during the week and avoiding weekend rates.
You’ll also pay less for rooms without an ocean view. If you’re willing to walk a few blocks to the beachfront, you’ll save even more. In general, the further away you are from busy tourist areas, the cheaper the hotel will be.
You can also rent a room from a timeshare owner who isn’t using their week. Some of the most popular resorts in Hawaii are actually timeshares. You can save 25% or more by renting rooms from beloved resorts like Hilton Hawaiian Village, Marriott Ko Olina, Marriott Maui Ocean Club, Hyatt Kaanapali Beach, The Cliffs at Princeville, and so many more!
12. Which Hawaiian Island is the Cheapest?
Well, the answers are in the details for sure! Hotels in Waikiki, Kaanapali Beach in Maui, and luxurious Lanai are sky-high. But savvy shoppers can still find money-saving opportunities on any island, especially outside of the most popular areas.
Flights to Waikiki often are the cheapest as there are tons of them. However, a flight to Maui with a layover in Texas, or Los Angeles, could end up being cheaper than a direct flight from New York City to Waikiki.
Activities and excursions on any of these islands could also blow your budget. So could daily $75 parking fees or $50pp resort fees in top Waikiki Beach hotels. On the other hand, if you book accommodations with a full kitchen and make 2/3 of your meals in your place, you could save serious money vs. booking a very cheap hotel room where you need to eat out three meals a day. As you can see, there are so many factors to take into consideration!
13. What’s the Worst Time to Visit Hawaii?
Is there a wrong time to visit Hawaii? Not necessarily, but if you’re hoping to plan an epic vacation, there are some things to keep in mind. It’s no surprise that the last two weeks of December, specifically the holiday season, is the most expensive time to visit Hawaii.
Hawaii-Guide.com estimates room rates increase by an average of $100 per night the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Flights are also double the price during that time compared to September when flights are typically at their lowest. Airfares also increase during the summer months when kids are out of school and families have time for vacations.
Some people may say that Hawaii at Christmas is magical, while some say the giant crowds make it the worst time of the year to visit.
Like most things, beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to the best time to visit Hawaii.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.