The Best Time to Travel to Hawaii, by Precipitation, Price and People

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Surfing is a traditional Hawaiian activity on Oahu. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff

When is the best time to travel to Hawaii? That depends on what you want from your Hawaii vacation. Are you going there hoping for a majestic humpback whale sighting? Winter is for you. Do you prefer smaller crowds, warm ocean temperatures and the best weather? September is your time for Hawaii travel. Are you limited by school vacations because you’re visiting Hawaii with kids? Then the islands will be calling you during the high season of summer.

Here’s a look at all of the best times to travel to Hawaii, broken out by rainy and dry seasons, cost and crowd size.

Read More: The Best Resorts in Hawaii for Families

When is the Rainy Season in Hawaii?

Hawaii’s rainy season runs from November to March. But that doesn’t mean your vacation will necessarily be a total washout. True, the islands can experience heavy rainfall and occasional thunderstorms. But they tend to happen in the afternoons and evenings and end quickly. And there’s an upside to the rain: It brings out lush greenery and waterfalls, making for some stunning photo opportunities.

The winter months of November, December and January are the wettest in Hawaii. So if you’re planning to visit then, pack one of these great travel rain jackets.

Read More: Complete Packing List for Hawaii – What to Bring and What to Leave at Home

View of Honolulu, the largest commercial and passenger port in Hawaii. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff

What is the Cheapest Month to Visit Hawaii?

April can be one of the cheapest times to visit Hawaii because it marks the beginning of low season. You can often find lower-cost airfare, car rental rates and hotel room charges.

Low season, also known as shoulder season, in Hawaii runs from mid-April through mid-June, then returns in mid-September and runs through mid-December.

The busiest times to visit Hawaii (and therefore the most expensive) are during the peak season of summer and during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s winter holidays.

Read More: Hawaii’s for Lovers: Best Vacations for Couples

When Are the Crowds Smallest in Hawaii?

With millions of tourists flocking to this tropical paradise all year round, it is rare to find a time when you won’t run into any crowds on Hawaii.

That said, the shoulder seasons in late spring and fall when kids are in school tend to mean fewer people on the islands. So April-May and September-October are the best times of year to visit if you crave fewer people.

The biggest crowds arrive during summer and the winter holidays. However, there are other times of the year when the crowds grow.

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For example, February draws surfers and surfing fans to the North Shore of Oahu, where the world-famous Pipeline and Waimea Bay breaks can be found. March brings families on spring break and December has the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Whale breaching the ocean
Photo credit: MuscleMan29 for Shutterstock

When is Whale-Watching Season in Hawaii?

Each year, humpback whales leave Alaska and swim more than 3,000 miles to Hawaii to breed, calve and nurse their young.

Whale watching season starts in December and can run into May, but the best time for whale watching is December, January and February. And the best place to see these majestic creatures is off the coasts of Maui, Molokai and Lanai and on the South Shore of Kauai. Chances are you’ll be able to spot these majestic creatures from the balcony of your beachfront hotel. Or you can book a whale-watching cruise.

What is the Best Month to go to Hawaii?

While Hawaii is a year-round destination, September might be the best time to visit. Expect good weather and thinner crowds as families head back to school. Prices for everything from airfare to hotel rooms to rental cars tend to be lower.

Look for warm water for swimming and snorkeling and lots of cultural celebrations and festivals. Weather that tends to be warm and dry makes September a terrific time to hike the Napali Coast in Kauai or Volcano National Park in Oahu. Or just lounge on one of Hawaii’s beautiful beaches and swim in the warm ocean waters.

Does it Snow in Hawaii?

Yes, but only on the highest peaks on Maui and the Big Island. Every winter, a little snow falls at elevations generally above 11,000 feet — the peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, according to the National Weather Service.

Hanauma Bay is a top snorkeling site on Oahu.
Hanauma Bay is a top snorkeling site on Oahu. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff

What Time of Year is Hurricane Season in Hawaii?

The Central Pacific Hurricane Season officially runs from June 1 until November 30, though tropical cyclones can occur off-season and storms can happen at any time of year.

While Hawaii rarely experiences direct hits from hurricanes, the islands can be affected by the rain and winds of the outer bands of hurricanes. Consider buying travel insurance that will cover you in case a hurricane disrupts or cancels your vacation.

Read More: Which is the best Hawaiian Island?

Performer at Hawaii Loa Luau
Performer at Hawaii Loa Luau. Photo courtesy Fairmont Orchid.

When Are the Best Festivals in Hawaii?


Honolulu Festival: This annual event celebrates Hawaiian and Asia-Pacific cultures.

Pacific Island Arts Festival: A cultural festival that takes place in Kailua-Kona on the island of Hawaii.

Makawao Rodeo on Maui


Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival on the Big Island of Hawaii.


The Merrie Monarch Festival: This week-long cultural festival in Hilo, Hawaii happens the week after Easter, so it can happen in April in years when Easter is later. It honors King David Kalākaua, called the “Merrie Monarch” for his patronage of the arts.


The SPAM Jam Festival: This cultural celebration of that much-maligned canned meat happens in Honolulu at the end of the month.


Lei Day: Hawaiians and visitors don colorful leis and share in the spirit of Aloha on May 1.


King Kamehameha Day: This June 11 holiday celebrates the accomplishments of “Kamehameha the Great,” who is credited with uniting the Hawaiian Islands in 1810.


Prince Lot Hula Festival: A celebration of Hawaii’s traditional dance that brings together hula groups from all of the islands.


Made in Hawaii Festival: This event in Honolulu is the longest-running showcase of made-in-Hawaii products.

Makai Music & Art Festival: A free concert presented each Wednesday afternoon at the Makai Golf Course on Kauai.


Aloha Festivals: The only statewide festival cultural festival in the country. The events continue in October.


Aloha Festivals:The only statewide festival cultural festival in the country.

Hawaii Food and Wine Festival: This annual festival on Maui and the Big Island showcases Hawaii’s culinary talents with a series of food and wine events.

Hawaii International Film Festival: The festival of record for emerging works from the Pacific Rim, a destination of award-winning films from major film festivals around the world, and an incubator for Hawai‘i-based and Native Hawaiian works. Look for events in mid-October on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii.


Hula O Nā Keiki: A weekend-long children’s hula competition on Maui.


Honolulu Marathon

Cindy Richards is a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist who serves as the Editor-in-Chief of She also is the mom of two now grown kids who have traveled with her since that first, fateful plane ride when one preschooler discovered a barf bag in his seat pocket and his sister, finding none in hers, demanded, “I want a barf bag too!” She has been a reporter, editor and columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, an editor at Chicago Parent and Catalyst Chicago and an instructor in the graduate school at Northwestern’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism.
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