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As Hawaii sits in the tropics, the weather is always great for the beach and a swim. But there is a best time to visit Hawaii due to the crowds, the wet season, and the high costs.
The best time to visit Hawaii is during the shoulder seasons of the fall, after labor day to before Thanksgiving, and the spring in April and May. The best month to visit Hawaii is September. During these periods you will find good weather, fewer crowds, and the best prices.
After living on Oahu and Maui, we used data and our own experience to determine the best time to visit Hawaii. While the data can tell you the cheapest time to visit, the atmosphere on the islands requires one to be there for the experience.
Even with the best time to visit Hawaii, we are still adamant that you should come over whenever you can get away from school and work. With flexibility comes rewards so below you will find all the details on why there is a best time to visit Hawaii.
The Best Time to Visit Hawaii Data
To determine the best time to visit Hawaii we looked at the data. We call our analysis the three Cs: Clouds, Crowds, and Costs. The three criteria overlap to determine the best time to visit Hawaii.
Looking at the data can be tricky due to the pandemic. 2019 is the last full normal year of data for the trends. 2021 is a complete year of travel data but Hawaii’s travel restrictions, COVID variant outbreaks, and the vaccine roll-out made for a rollercoaster in prices and visitor counts.
Until the full data for 2022 is released (Hawaii travel restrictions ended in April 2022), we will use 2019 trends below with comments.
The data doesn’t tell the whole story. While December is a rainy month and expensive, we still recommend planning a Hawaii Christmas vacation. We share the worst times to visit Hawaii but with things to consider!
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The Best Month to Visit Hawaii
September is the best month to visit Hawaii. October is a close second for the best time to visit Hawaii.
In September, you will find the best weather, the fewest people on the islands, the best prices for lodging, and the best ocean conditions for swimming and snorkeling. Plus, the vibe is more laid back after the summer busy season. For all those reasons, it is the best time to visit Hawaii.
October is also a great month to visit but we have found the ocean conditions are not as favorable for snorkeling, swimming, and boat trips. October can experience large swells making ocean conditions dangerous, compared to September. This isn’t every day, but a higher probability of occurring compared to September.
When you choose to visit Hawaii, make sure you know what to pack for the time of year. See our Hawaii packing list!
Let’s dive into the details as there is a lot more to know about the best time to visit Hawaii.
Do you know what Hawaiian island you are visiting? See the best time to visit below.
- Is There a Best Time to Visit Maui? Yes, here is what to know
- When to Visit Kauai
- The Best Time to Visit the Big Island (Hawaii)
When is the Best Time to Visit Hawaii?
We’ve already established that overall, the best times to visit Hawaii are the shoulder seasons of September/October and April/May. But what if you’re looking for the best time to visit Hawaii based on specific criteria? We have you covered.
The Best Time to Visit Hawaii for the Weather
Hawaii has two seasons compared to four on the mainland of the USA. For most of Hawaii, there is summer between May and October and winter between October and April.
Hawaii is in the tropics, where the length of day and temperature are relatively uniform throughout the year.
While we did say that the temperatures are warm year-round, Hawaii does still get rain. And while you are heading to a beach destination, you probably want to minimize your chances of rain.
As you can see from the chart below, Hawaii experiences peak rain from November through March. Though to be fair, rain varies on different sides of each island — we are showing average rainfall for one popular visitor destination on each island.
Therefore, to avoid the rain and cloudy days the best time to visit Hawaii is during Hawaii’s summer or dry season.
The rains are warm in Hawaii and don’t last long. It may rain in the morning and then clear up for a beach day. All-day rains are rare, even during the winter. Plus, rain brings rainbows!
The popular places to stay on each of the major Hawaiian Islands are located on the leeward sides. The leeward side of the island gets less rain and has more sunny days compared to the windward side. The leeward side gets most of its rain during a few winter storms.
Want to know where to stay in the Hawaiian Islands?
- Kaanapali vs Wailea: Where to Stay on Maui
- Where to Stay on the Big Island
- Which Part of Oahu Should You Stay: Waikiki, North Shore, or Ko Olina
- Princeville or Poipu: Where to Stay on Kauai
The coldest temperatures in Hawaii are from January through March where the average low temperature is the high 60s to low 70s.
The summers can get too hot for some, especially along the ocean on the leeward sides of the islands. Lahaina translates to “cruel sun” in Hawaiian due to the hot and dry weather. But, it is rare to get temperatures in the 90s even during the summer.
If you’re looking for warm temperatures but not too hot, the shoulder seasons are the best time to visit Hawaii. We prefer September for the best weather in Hawaii as the hot days are waning and the rainy season hasn’t started yet. September is the end of Hawaii’s summer.
Kauai is a little more complicated when it comes to weather. See Erica’s article on the best time to visit Kauai if you’re planning a Napali Coast Cruise or other activities.
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Hawaii Hurricane Season Months
Hawaii hurricane season runs June 1 – November 30th. While hurricanes don’t occur or cause damage or destruction every year, it’s something to be aware of as you book your trip. Hurricanes causing destruction in Hawaii are rare. The last three hurricanes that caused damage on Hawaii are Hurricane Lane (2018), Hurricane Iniki (1992), and Hurricane Iwa (1982). The majority of the damage from Hurricane Inkiki was on Kauai.
Even if a hurricane doesn’t cause destruction or harsh weather (many of them veer off the path of Hawaii), it can still be disruptive to your vacation. When you get a hurricane warning while on your trip, you can expect to have things disrupted for a few days until the threat passes. For example, if you have a boat trip planned, it will likely be canceled as they wait for storm warnings to pass.
The Best Time to Go Swimming in Hawaii
The ocean temperature around Hawaii varies from 71 degrees in the winter to 80 degrees during the summer. You can go swimming year-round in Hawaii without a wet suite.
While the ocean stays warm year-round in Hawaii, the ocean conditions change a lot from the summer to the winter. The best time to go swimming in Hawaii is in the summer as you will have a higher probability of calm conditions on the north and south shores of the islands.
Always check lifeguard flags, ocean conditions, and Hawaii Beach Safety before you head out. See our articles below for safety information.
- The Best Snorkeling in Hawaii by Month
- 5 Best Big Island Beginner Snorkeling Spots
- Swim Without Fear: The Best Places to Snorkel on Maui
Large waves and strong currents are caused by storms thousands of miles away in the Pacific.
During the winter, storms from Alaska create large waves (and big wave surfing) on the north shores of the Hawaiian Islands. Storms from the southern hemisphere are blocked by other islands but you can still experience large swells during the summer on south shores of the Hawaiian Islands.
The Fewest Crowds in Hawaii
If you’re worried about the islands being to busy during your vacation, pick a month when the daily visitor census is low.
January, February, September, and October have the fewest people on the Hawaiian Islands. To avoid the crowds, these months are the best time to visit Hawaii.
September and October are the least crowded as visitor counts drop to the islands after Labor Day.
While the pandemic has caused visitor counts to vary dramatically from previous years, the trends in the ebb and flow of visitors remained the same. September and October consistently bring the least number of people to Hawaii. When we lived on Maui, those months were a nice break from the summer crowds.
In the 2021 visitor count by Hawaiian Island graph below, you can see that Oahu receives far more visitors than the other islands. If you’re looking to beat the crowds, head to Kauai or the Big Island.
When Prices are the Lowest in Hawaii
Lodging will be your biggest expense when you visit Hawaii. Hotel and vacation rental rates vary by supply and demand. Hence, the busy periods of the summer and winter experience a surge in average daily rates.
The lowest hotel rates were in September in 2019. In 2021 and 2022, hotel rates also experienced a dip compared to the summer and winter months. FYI, Oahu is the cheapest Hawaiian Island to visit thanks to hotel prices.
Vacation rental daily rates are also low in the fall. The lowest rates for vacation rentals are found in October and early November (prior to Thanksgiving). October had the lowest vacation rental rates in 2019 and 2021.
Car rental rates track with lodging rates as they base the price on the amount of demand. Hence, you will find the lowest car rental rates in September and October.
For all of our trips to Hawaii, we price shop on Discount Hawaii Car Rental. We find they have the best prices with no pre-pay for the national car rental companies. We share our favorite local car rental companies here.
Airplane tickets are not as seasonal. See the articles below for booking your flight to Hawaii.
The Worst Times to Visit Hawaii
While you can figure out the best time to visit Hawaii using the charts above, you can also deduce the worst times to visit Hawaii.
The busy times to visit Hawaii are the winter and summer. The winter brings snowbirds who wish to escape the cold. Many annual travelers to Hawaii stay in timeshares or vacation rentals. Hence, vacation rental prices are higher than average during the winter.
The summer is the peak season with school being out and summer vacations. Hawaii hit a million monthly visitors in July 2019. Post-pandemic, the numbers are returning as July 2022 experienced 919,154 visitors.
Hotel rates skyrocketed compared to previous years (why are Hawaii hotels so expensive (plus clever ways to save)) in 2022.
The Christmas season is another expensive time to visit due to the popularity of the islands for the holidays. While we say it is the worst time to visit Hawaii, Christmas is a special time on the islands. In fact, the holidays are our favorite season on the islands.
Regardless of the time, you choose to visit Hawaii, you will have a blast with our Wayfinder Itineraries. Our itineraries finish the planning for you with one download. Perfectly planned excursion days, where to eat, where to stay, a video guide, and more.
Learn more about our Hawaiian Island Itineraries below.