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With beautiful beaches, lush forests, and fascinating cultural attractions, Oahu is an excellent place to enjoy a memorable Hawaiian vacation. Although you may have chosen Oahu as your destination, the next step is to decide when you want to visit. But choosing the right month can be difficult, as there are a lot of factors to consider when planning your trip.
But we’re here to help! If you’re in the process of planning your trip, the best time to visit Oahu is during the shoulder season – mainly April, May, September, and October. During these months, there are fewer visitors and prices are considerably lower. It’s also beautiful weather-wise, with warm temperatures and very little rain.
On the other hand, summer is a better option if you want to visit the North Shore of the island, as winter can bring heavy rains and strong waves on the windward side of the island (great for big wave surfers but not great for the rest of us!). But if you’re staying in Honolulu or Ko’olina (the leeward side of Oahu), then winter can be a good choice because it’s not as rainy as it is in the north.
That said, there are still a few other things to take into consideration when planning your getaway to Oahu. In this article, we’ll share the best (and worst) months to visit so you can get a better idea of when to book your travels.
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The Best Time to Visit Oahu: Weather by Month
Weather is a major factor for many travelers heading to Hawaii. After all, you’ll likely want to spend your vacation outdoors – whether it’s lounging by the pool or snorkeling in the ocean or hiking one of the many beautiful trails on Oahu.
And while Oahu does have a tropical climate with consistent warm weather, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. There is a distinct dry season and wet season, so planning your vacation with this in mind can impact your overall experience in Hawaii.
To give you a better idea of what we’re talking about, let’s take a look at the data.
Oahu Temperatures by Month
Oahu is blessed to have warm weather throughout the year. Summer temperatures hover in the high 80s, with August and September being the two hottest months. Winters are a tad cooler, with an average daily temperature in the low 80s.
Generally speaking, Honolulu and Ko’Olina are much warmer than the North Shore. You can expect for the northern coast to be a couple degrees colder than the southern or leeward side of the island. But regardless of where you’re staying, temperatures rarely go below a high of 75 or exceed 90, making Oahu an excellent destination in general for those seeking a consistently warm, tropical climate.
Oahu Rainfall by Month
Compared to other islands in Hawaii, Oahu is far less rainy – but that doesn’t mean it’s completely immune to showers! As mentioned earlier, Oahu’s rainy season lasts from November until March. However, you should keep in mind that rain can happen at any time throughout the year, although it tends to be heavier and more frequent in late fall and winter, especially during the months of November and December.
Another thing to take note of is that the amount of rainfall varies depending on which side of the island you are on. For example, the North Shore is considerably rainier than Honolulu or Ko’olina. Honolulu gets between 2 and 3 inches of rain in November, while the North Shore can see more than 5 inches in winter!
But on the plus side, rain showers are warm and usually don’t last all day. It may rain in the morning and clear up in the afternoon or evening, which means you can still enjoy some time outdoors or by the pool. However, unexpected weather patterns can still put a damper on your trip, so if you’re set on spending most of the day doing beach and water-related activities, then you’ll want to visit Oahu in the summer.
Check out our list of what to do in Hawaii when it rains just in case!
Hawaii Ocean Temperatures by Month
One of the best things about Hawaii is that the water is relatively warm all year round, so you can go swimming any time. The temperature of the ocean is around 80 degrees in the summer and 70 degrees in the winter. Because it’s so warm, you really don’t need a wetsuit if you’re going swimming or snorkeling. However, you can choose to wear one if you get cold easily or want extra sun protection.
The waters are the warmest in September and October. They’re coolest in the early months of the year, January through April.
Oahu Hurricane Season
The torrential weather caused by hurricanes is something to consider when deciding when to go to Oahu. Although the islands are not directy on the hurricane belt, they can still be impacted by tropical cyclones passing through the Pacific Ocean.
Hawaii’s hurricane season runs from the beginning of June until the end of November. Hurricanes making landfall in Hawaii are rare (there have only been three hurricanes that touched down and caused damage in the last 40 years), and the islands are well equipped to handle such situations.
But if you’re hoping for clear, sunny skies, then you might reconsider traveling to Oahu during this time. This is mostly because hurricanes can bring harsh weather and tropical storms. If you travel during hurricane season, you may find that there are heavy rains, strong winds, or rough ocean conditions during your stay. This can significantly impact your trip, especially if you’ve booked activities outdoors or on the water.
What is the Best Time to Visit Oahu?
The truth is – there’s really no bad time to visit Oahu. Between the beautiful landscapes and vibrant city center, there is an abundance of activities to keep you occupied regardless of whether it rains or shines.
But depending on the kind of vacation you want to have, there are some times to visit that are better than others.
The Best Time to Visit Oahu for Whale Watching
Hawaii is one of the best places in the world for whale watching. Every year, thousands of humpback whales make their way down from Alaska to the warm waters around Hawaii to mate, give birth, and raise their young.
Maui is the best island for whale watching, as they whales love the the warm waters of the Au’au Channel (which islocated between Maui, Lanai, and Molokai). However, Oahu comes in a close second, so it’s still a great place if you want to see these majestic creatures!
Although you can see whales as early as October or November around Oahu, the official whale watching season usually runs from December until March. If whale watching is a priority, then you’ll want to make sure you book your trip during this timeframe.
There are lots of whale watching boat tours to choose from, although you can also see them from shore. The best places in the north are Shark’s Cove, Turtle Bay, and La’ie Point while Makapu’u Lighthouse and Halona Blowhole are good whale watching spots in the south.
There’s a volunteer-run whale count that’s conducted every year, which keeps track of how many whales are spotted off the coast within a 15-minute time frame. In 2023, the month with the most sightings was March, although the numbers vary from year to year.
The Best Time to Visit Oahu for Snorkeling
Snorkeling is a popular activity on Oahu – and for a good reason! With colorful coral reefs and an abundance of marine life, there’s an entire underwater world of beauty to discover off the coast!
If you’re coming to Oahu to snorkel, then make sure to come in the summer. Some of the island’s best snorkeling spots are on the North Shore (we highly recommend Waimea Bay, Sharks Cove, and Kuilima Cove), but they are only accessible during the summer months. That’s because the ocean currents in the winter are rough and too dangerous for swimming.
But if you are on Oahu for winter, you can go snorkeling in the south. Turtle Canyon is a good choice if you want to be somewhere close to Waikiki; otherwise, you can head to Hanauma Bay for some amazing snorkeling right off the beach!
Another option is to book a snorkel tour. Because some of Oahu’s best spots are only accessible by boat, it’s worth booking a tour to help you get to those hard-to-reach destinations. Plus, it’s nice to have a guide who can point out interesting marine life along the way!
The Best Time to Visit Oahu for the Cheapest Costs
Hawaii is not a cheap destination, but there are certain times of the year you should avoid if budget is a concern. Keep in mind that prices fluctuate depending on the number of tourists. So, if you’re traveling during a busy time of the year, you can expect the costs for flights, lodging, and rental cars to be higher that they would during quieter months.
On Oahu, your biggest expense is likely to be accommodation. According to data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the most expensive hotel rates are for trips in July (an average of $308 a night) and December (an average of $320 per night). This is due to the increase in tourist numbers for summer and winter break. Summer and late December through early January are peak season for visitors (and prices!).
Therefore, if you want to save money on hotel costs, we recommend booking your trip in January ($241), February ($236), or May ($246). This is when hotel rates are the cheapest, so you can save quite a bit of money by traveling during this time.
Another option for cutting down costs is to stay in a vacation rental. The average price for an apartment on Oahu is slightly cheaper than a hotel, costing around $197 a night. September ($283) and December ($255) are the most expensive months, while April ($210), May ($211), and October ($217) are the cheapest months to book.
Airfare can also be pricy, traveling during the summer or holidays. But on the plus side, Oahu is the cheapest Hawaiian island to fly into. And while the exact cost depends on where you’re flying from, it’s usually going to be cheaper to book tickets during the shoulder season.
The Best Time to Visit Oahu for the Fewest Crowds
Every year, more than 50% of people who travel to Hawaii visit Oahu, making it the most visited island in the archipelago. So, while you can’t escape the crowds completely, you can plan your trip around the times when there are fewer tourists.
Peak time for Oahu is in Summer (June, July, August). November and December can also be crowded, but it’s mostly limited to the week surrounding holidays: Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year.
The least busy times are in February and October, which is right in the middle of both shoulder seasons. Not only can things be cheaper during the off season, but you’ll also have an easier time getting into restaurants and booking excursions.
The Best Time to Visit Oahu for the Weather
With a year-round tropical climate, the temperature on Oahu is usually between 75 and 90 degrees throughout the year. But while the weather is generally warm, it may not be sunny or clear every single day. This is especially true if you’re traveling in the winter, as it’s Oahu’s wet season.
However, some parts of the island are more affected by rain than others. While the North Shore sees a lot of rain during these months, the southern coast tends to be a bit drier.
If you have your heart set on the north, the summer is the better time to visit. But even if it’s hotter and less rainy, it’s still the peak of busy season, so there will be lots of people on the island. Essentially, you’ll have to decide if the tradeoff for warmer weather is more important than the crowds and high prices!
Plan the Rest of Your Trip
Once you’ve booked your snorkeling tour, there is so much more to see! Let our itinerary help you make the most of your trip by taking you on excursion days to different parts of the island. We take you on a planned out route to see the best sights, do the best activities, and stop at the best restaurants.
Your vacation guide was absolutely amazing. Traveling to Hawaii required 100s of decisions from where to stay, what to eat and what to do, and you made it a TON easier. All of your restaurant suggestions were fantastic.Rebecca S.
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The step-by-step itinerary takes you to all the best beaches, snorkeling spots, restaurants, and sights. You’ll get six carefully planned excursion days to help you see the can’t miss stops no matter how limited your time is.
Get all the details on our itinerary and download it for a memorable and easily planned trip to Oahu.