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There’s a reason Hawaii attracts millions of tourists every year. In fact, there are many reasons—stunning beaches, lush forests, unique culture, and nearly always great weather, dependable sunshine and warm ocean breezes. So when is the best time of year to visit Hawaii? That depends on your vacation priorities.
Here, we look at the reasons to visit Hawaii month by month to help you decide when is the best time for you to head to America’s island paradise. For each month, we look at the expected weather, the crowds and the holidays and festivals that make that month a great time to visit.
Read More: Which is the best Hawaiian Island?
January in Hawaii
While Hawaii’s climate is warm and humid year-round, the winter months are the wet season, so chances are you’ll see a rain shower or two during your visit.
The rain won’t dampen your spirits when you’re whale watching! January is peak season for seeing the majestic humpbacks who annually migrate 3,000 miles from Alaska to Hawaii’s warm waters to mate, give birth and nurse their young.
Maui, Molokai and Lanai offer the best whale-watching opportunities. 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.
Weather in January
Daytime temperatures in January range from the mid-70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit (about 24 to 29 degrees Celsius). The nighttime temperatures can drop to the mid-60s to low 70s Fahrenheit (around 18 to 22 degrees Celsius).
January is smack in the middle of Hawaii’s rainy season, which runs from November to March. The islands can experience heavy rainfall and occasional thunderstorms, particularly in the afternoons and evenings.
However, the rain usually doesn’t last long and can be a refreshing break from the heat. And there’s even an upside to the rain: It brings out lush greenery and waterfalls, making for some stunning photo opportunities.
Crowds in January
Crowds tend to be smaller than during peak tourist season in the summer months.
Reasons to Visit Hawaii in January
Whale watching, as humpback whales migrate from Alaska to the warm waters around Hawaii to mate and give birth.
Honolulu Festival, an annual event that celebrates Hawaiian and Asia-Pacific cultures. The festival includes a parade, performances by cultural groups and a fireworks show.
Pacific Island Arts Festival, a cultural festival that takes place in Kailua-Kona on the island of Hawaii. The festival features traditional arts and crafts from the Pacific Islands, as well as live music, dance performances, and food vendors.
Makawao Rodeo on Maui, a traditional rodeo event that bull riding, barrel racing and other events, as well as live music and food vendors.
To see snow in Hawaii! The Big Island of Hawaii is home to Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano and the highest peak in the state of Hawaii, where you can see snow-capped peaks during the winter months.
February in Hawaii
Calling all surfers! February is a great month for surfing in Hawaii, particularly on the North Shore of Oahu, where the world-famous Pipeline and Waimea Bay breaks can be found. The big wave season typically runs from November to February, and visitors can watch surf competitions or take a surf lesson to experience the sport themselves.
The migrating humpback whales will still be hanging around the islands, giving visitors a chance to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
SheBuysTravel Tip: If you’re planning to visit the more remote North Shore of Oahu, a rental car is the way to go. You’ll also want to rent a car if you’re visiting Maui to drive the twisty-turny Road to Hana. Or, you can leave the driving to someone else on one of these tours.
Weather in February
Expect temperatures ranging from the low 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (about 22 to 28 degrees Celsius). You’ll still be in the rainy season, so bring along one of these great travel rain jackets to prepare for those sudden afternoon rainstorms.
Crowds in February
Popular tourist destinations such as Waikiki Beach on Oahu and Lahaina on Maui are likely to have more visitors during February, especially around Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day weekend. The North Shore of Oahu may also be crowded with surf enthusiasts, as this is the peak of the big wave season.
Still, February in Hawaii is generally not as crowded as the summer months, which are the busiest time for tourism in Hawaii. It’s easy to enjoy the beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and other attractions in Hawaii without feeling overwhelmed by large crowds.
Reasons to Visit Hawaii in February
Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival on the Big Island of Hawaii offers full lineup of free, multicultural performing arts, hands-on demonstrations, crafters and food booths.
Also expect celebrations of the Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day throughout the islands, with events including parades, festivals, and food fairs.
March in Hawaii
Who doesn’t want to spend spring break in Hawaii? March is typically one of the driest months of the year in Hawaii, with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine. But the higher demand for spring break travel can mean higher prices on everything from plane tickets to rental cars.
It’s still possible to see the majestic migrating humpback whales, but whale-watching season is ending.
Weather in March
March is typically one of the drier months of the year and offers some of the best weather of the year in Hawaii, with warm average temperatures and plenty of sunshine.
Crowds in March
Spring break can be bigger crowds. If you’re not traveling with kids, head for adult-focused areas to find fewer crowds.
Reasons to Visit Hawaii in March
Honolulu Festival, the Kona Brewers Festival, Prince Kuhio Day
The Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long cultural festival that takes place annually in Hilo, Hawaii. It happens the week after Easter, so it can happen in April in years when Easter is later. It honors King David Kalākaua. He was called the “Merrie Monarch” for his patronage of the arts and is credited with restoring hula and other Hawaiian cultural traditions during his reign.
April in 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 prices on airfare, activities and even the best hotels sometimes offer discounts to fill hotel rooms in April.
And this is the month to honor SPAM! The much-maligned canned meat is a staple of Hawaiian diets. It gets mixed into eggs for breakfast, fried for lunch and paired with rice for dinner.
Weather in April
Expect temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit (around 24 to 29 degrees Celsius). While April tends to be dry, the trade winds can bring rain, particularly to areas like Hilo on the Big Island.
Crowds in April
In years when Easter falls in April, expect larger crowds in the week before and after. But the end of the month is shoulder season when crowds tend to be smaller.
Reasons to Visit Hawaii in April
The SPAM Jam Festival, a cultural celebration of that much-maligned canned meat happens in Honolulu at the end of the month.
The Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long cultural festival that takes place annually in Hilo, Hawaii. It happens the week after Easter, so it can happen in March in years when Easter is early. It honors King David Kalākaua. He was called the “Merrie Monarch” for his patronage of the arts and is credited with restoring hula and other Hawaiian cultural traditions during his reign.
May in Hawaii
The start of the summer season in Hawaii, May brings calmer waters with warmer ocean temperatures that are better suited for swimming, snorkeling and stand-up paddleboarding.
May is also the start of the dry season, which runs through October. The warm and pleasant weather makes this an ideal time of the year for outdoor activities such as hiking and beach-going.
However, May marks the start of peak season for tourism, so expect crowds and higher airfare, activities and hotel prices.
Weather in May
May is one of the driest months in Hawaii and temperatures typically range from the mid-70s to the low 80s Fahrenheit (around 24 to 28 degrees Celsius).
Crowds in May
This is the start of peak season for tourism, so expect crowds to grow, especially over the long Memorial Day weekend at the end of the month.
Reasons to Visit Hawaii in May
Lei Day, when Hawaii locals and visitors don colorful leis and share in the spirit of Aloha with hula performances, lei-making demonstrations, lei contests, entertainment and more. It happens every year on May 1.
SheBuysTravel Tip: A lei is considered a symbol of affection and the spirit of Aloha. You should never refuse to accept a lei. If you must remove the flowered garland, do so discreetly.
June in Hawaii
The family-friendly islands celebrate “Ohana” all year round, but it really hits its stride in the summer when kids are off school and families are on vacation. Look for lots of family-friendly celebrations and kid-focused fun.
Weather in June
June is the start of hurricane season, which runs through November. 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.
Crowds in June
As kids get out of school for summer vacation, travel to Hawaii ramps up. Plus, the big statewide holiday, King Kamehameha Day, is celebrated in early June, so even the locals are attending events and going on vacation.
Reasons to Visit Hawaii in June
King Kamehameha Day is a very big deal in Hawaii. The June 11 holiday celebrates the accomplishments of “Kamehameha the Great.” He’s credited with uniting the Hawaiian Islands in 1810. Look for large crowds of Hawaiians and tourists to attend celebrations across the islands honoring Kamehameha.
July in Hawaii
The height of summer, July is dry, warm and welcoming in Hawaii. See the fireworks on the Fourth of July, 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.
Weather in July
Temperatures range from the mid-70s to the low 80s Fahrenheit (around 24 to 28 degrees Celsius). You’re still in hurricane season, so consider buying travel insurance, just in case.
Crowds in July
Expect big crowds in popular tourist spots and on the best beaches in Hawaii.
Reasons to Visit Hawaii in July
Prince Lot Hula Festival, a celebration of Hawaii’s traditional dance that brings together premier Hālau Hula (hula groups) from all of the islands.
August in Hawaii
August features long summer days, warm summer temperatures and warm ocean waters, a trifecta that means it’s a great time to visit to spend long lazy days on the beach and dipping your toes into the water.
The cool trade winds make August a great time for hikes to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or the Napali Coast.
Weather in August
August is typically one of the hottest months in Hawaii, with temperatures hitting the high 80s Fahrenheit (30 Celcius). And, the weather tends to be dry. But August can be high season for hurricanes, so consider buying travel insurance in case bad weather disrupts your trip.
Crowds in August
This is still one of the busiest tourist months in Hawaii. But crowds ease a bit at month’s end as kids return to school.
Reasons to Visit Hawaii in August
Made in Hawaii Festival in Honolulu is the longest-running showcase of made-in-Hawaii products. Nearly 400 vendors will showcase thousands of locally-made products including food, books, fashion, handmade crafts and jewelry.
Makai Music & Art Festival is a free concert presented each Wednesday afternoon at the Makai Golf Course on Kauai.
September in Hawaii
The beginning of the shoulder season in Hawaii, September is a great time to visit. The weather tends to be warm and dry, but the crowds thin as families head back to school. Expect lower prices for everything from airfare to hotel rooms to rental cars.
Look for warm water for swimming and lots of cultural celebrations and festivals to keep you entertained all month long.
Weather in September
Air and water temperatures will be in the 80s (30C) with cooling trade winds off the ocean.
This is the height of hurricane season. Although Hawaii rarely gets hit directly by hurricanes, nearby storms can drop a lot of rainfall on the islands, dampening your vacation, but reviving the state’s majestic waterfalls.
Crowds in September
Expect big crowds over the long Labor Day weekend, but crowds will thin after that.
Reason to Visit Hawaii in September
Aloha Festivals, two-month-long series of free cultural festivals take place on six Hawaiian islands, with parades, music, and hula dancing. It’s the only statewide festival cultural festival in the country. The events continue in October.
October in Hawaii
September and October bring the warmest ocean temperatures to Hawaii, with water temps a very comfortable 80F (2.6.C).
Weather in October
October is right on the cusp between the winter months and summer months in Hawaii. Expect daily high temperatures in the low-to-mid 80sF (upper 20sC). But this is also the start of the rainy season and still hurricane season in the Pacific Ocean, so bring rain gear just in case.
The amount of rainfall varies by island, with the windward (eastern) sides of the islands typically receiving more rainfall than the leeward (western) sides.
Crowds in October
October is shoulder season. With most kids in school, crowds are much smaller in Hawaii in October.
Reasons to Visit Hawaii in October
Aloha Festivals, two-month-long series of free cultural festivals take place on six Hawaiian islands, with parades, music, and hula dancing. It’s the only statewide festival cultural festival in the country.
Hawaii Food and Wine Festival: This annual festival takes place in October on Maui and the Big Island. It showcases Hawaii’s culinary talents with a series of food and wine events. Visitors can attend tastings, seminars, and cooking demonstrations by some of Hawaii’s top chefs.
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 Hawaii-based and native Hawaiian works. Look for events in mid-October on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii.
November in Hawaii
The first two weeks of the month bring smaller crowds enjoying the still-warm temperatures, lush gardens and stunning waterfalls thanks to the rain. It’s a great month for a Hawaiian honeymoon.
Expect the crowds to grow in the last two weeks of the month as the Thanksgiving holiday gives kids time off school and opens up travel opportunities for families. If you plan to visit then, consider booking hotel rooms, excursions and tours early. They tend to sell out.
Weather in November
November starts the rainy season in earnest. Rainfall averages around five inches during the month, the third rainiest month after December and January.
Daytime temperatures will reach 80F (26.6C), with nighttime temps falling into the 60s (18.3C).
Crowds in November
Crowds will build throughout the month as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. Expect large crowds the last two weeks.
Reasons to Visit Hawaii in November
Hula O Nā Keiki, a weekend-long children’s hula competition on Maui. Children ages 5 to 17 compete during a three-day event designed to teach participants the Hawaiian language and culture through the art of hula, oli and mele.
Maui Jim Maui Invitational, which calls itself “the premier early-season college basketball tournament” takes place in Lahaina.
December in Hawaii
Weather in December
December tends to be one of the wettest months of the year in Hawaii. Even so, the rain showers aren’t likely to wash out your vacation. Just plan some indoor activities for the afternoons when rain showers are forecast.
Crowds in December
While the first two weeks of the month are a great time to visit if you like smaller crowds and lower hotel prices, arriving in late December for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays will mean big crowds and high prices.
Reasons to Visit Hawaii in December
Honolulu Marathon, a great opportunity to run through some of Hawaii’s most beautiful scenery.