Destination Guides

Thinking about a trip to Hawaii? These are the best times of the year to go

Loved for its beautiful beaches, mountain scenery, incredible marine life and rich culture and cuisine, Hawaii is set to be one of the most popular holiday destinations for 2022. And with four main islands to choose from, you’re sure to find your perfect holiday in Hawaii. It’s also famed as a year-round destination, with a dry summer from May to October averaging 29-30ºC and a mild and rainier winter from October to April averaging 25-26ºC. So what are the best times of the year to visit Hawaii?

While winter is best for surfing, summer is best for snorkelling and hiking. April to May and September to November are quieter months for visitors, but the whole year is filled with events. To help you decide when to go to Hawaii, read our guide to discover the weather and the best things to do every month of the year.

January

While January is one of the wettest months in Hawaii, the showers are usually short and you’re still likely to experience sunshine on your January trip. It’s also a popular travel month, with visitors flying in to catch some winter sun over the New Year break. January also offers up amazing surfing conditions with big swells, although if you’re not a strong surfer it’s best to stick to the pools or the southern shores this month. 

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What to do in Hawaii in January

Whale watching – It’s a great time to spot migrating humpback whales around the islands as they make their annual journey from Alaska to Hawaii between December and April. 

Cherry Blossom Festival – This amazing festival celebrates the Japanese culture and traditions in Hawaii from foods like sushi and udon to performances of dance and music from Japan. 

Pacific Islands Arts Festival – Head to the Kapiolani Park in Waikiki Beach to enjoy this art festival showcasing the top artists and artisans in Hawaii.

Ka Molokai’i Makahiki Festival – Visit the island of Molokai’i in January and you’ll experience a week-long festival featuring Hawaiian sports, games, music, dancing and fishing contests.

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February

The crowds of Christmas and New Year tend to clear out in February and it’s a great month to soak up the winter sun in Hawaii. Expect short showers, bursts of sunshine and calmer winds, perfect for taking to the skies in a helicopter to see the incredible volcanic scenery from above. It’s also a fantastic time to watch the competitive surfers taking on the huge waves of Oahu’s North Shore. 

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What to do in Hawaii in February

Whale watching – While you can spot humpback whales around the islands from December to March, the best time for sightings is late February to early March when the calves are born. You can spot whales from every island, but they usually concentrate between the western shores of Maui and the nearby islands of Lanai and Molokai’i.

Maui Whale Festival – It’s only fitting to hold a celebration of these beautiful giants in their peak migrating season in Hawaii. 

Chinese New Year Celebration – If you looking for a party in February, head to Oahu for the Lunar New Year celebrations featuring parades, food trucks and markets. 

Waimea Town Celebration Week – Waimea is a small town on the Garden Isle but thousands of people flock here in February for the incredible festivities lasting five weeks! 

Snowsports – You’re probably planning to hit the beach on your Hawaii trip… but did you know February is also a great month for skiing and snowboarding? Head to Mauna Keana (meaning “white mountain”) in February and March for some of the best snow in the world. There are no lifts or resorts, so this spot is best for experienced snow bunnies. 

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March

As the wettest month alongside November, you’ll definitely need a waterproof coat for your March trip to Hawaii. The weather is also starting to warm up in March, so there’s still plenty of opportunities for fun activities.

What to do in Hawaii in March

Whale watching – Early March is a great time to spot humpback whales and their newborn calves before they return to Alaska. 

Honolulu Festival – This special festival celebrates the diverse cultures and ethnicities in Hawaii and you’ll experience a range of traditional music and dance performances and other educational activities. 

Prince Kuhio Festival – This amazing festival features music, dance, canoe races and a royal ball on the island of Kauai. It’s held in honour of the beloved Prince Kuhio, the first Hawaiian delegate in the US congress famed for uniting the islands.

Kona Brewer’s Festival – If you love beer, you can’t miss this festival on the Big Island. With over 60 different beers from over 30 breweries, plus 25 restaurants, live music, fire dancers and fun contests, this will be a festival to remember. 

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April

The days are longer and the weather is warmer in April, marking the transition between the Hawaiian winter (Kau) and the summer (Ho’olio). There’s also less rain and the ocean swells are lower, making it a great month for snorkelling and swimming at the beach. It’s also a quieter month for tourists, although the week of Easter is usually popular for holiday-goers.  

What to do in Hawaii in April

Hiking – With minimal rainfall and bright blooming wildflowers, April is a great month to go hiking across the islands.

Stargazing – Hawaii is famed for its clear night skies and twinkling stars. You can get out of this world on Mauna Kea, where you’ll find telescopes and observatories to explore the galaxy. It’s also a beautiful place to watch the sunset.

Merrie Monarch Festival – Held on the Big Island, this week-long festival celebrates Hawaiian culture with an incredible hula competition and colourful parades through the town of Hilo.

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May

May heralds the start of the summer season that lasts until October. It’s one of the best times of the year to visit Hawaii, with calmer waters and rising temperatures. There’s also fewer crowds, with the exception of Golden Week in the first week of May, the longest holiday period of the year for many Japanese workers.

What to do in Hawaii in May

Surfing – May is a great time to learn how to surf in the smaller waves, while experienced surfers can try out their skills in Oahu’s famous North Shore.

Snorkelling and swimming – If you’re not up for surfing, you can still get underwater with snorkelling and swimming activities. May through September is perfect for this as the water is warmer, there is little rain, the water is clearer and the waves are smaller. Maui and the Big Islands usually have the best snorkelling as they have fewer winds and better visibility in the water.

See the volcanoes – Hawaii’s famous volcanoes, like Kilauea on the Big Island, can erupt all year round. The best time to go is usually May to September when the weather is warmer. This is because the volcanoes are at higher elevations, meaning they’re up to 11 Celsius degrees cooler than at sea level.

Lei Day – The lei is one of the most famous Hawaiian traditions, and Lei Day is all about celebrating this custom by wearing leis, making leis and even crowning a lei queen. 

Celebration of the Arts Festival – Held in Maui, this festival offers the chance to meet local artisans and learn about the Hawaiian arts traditions. 

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June

June is all about hot, sunny weather and the lowest rainfall of the year. This glorious weather is best experienced in the first half of June before the summer crowds arrive.

What to do in Hawaii in June

Hiking – You’ll find some of the world’s most stunning hikes in Hawaii. They’re best tackled in the summer months when the trails are drier and there are more daylight hours. Be warned that the temperatures can get very hot so be sure to bring plenty of water, pack lots of sun protection, and start your hikes in the cooler early mornings.

Kamehameha Day Celebration – This public holiday is celebrated across Hawaii to commemorate the unification of Hawaii by the beloved King Kamehameha I. You’ll experience all kinds of festivities including carnivals, parades, competitions and ceremonies.

Moloka’i Ka Hula Pika – As the birthday of the island of Hula, this day is filled with special cultural performances like hula dancing. 

Kapalua Wine and Food Festival – Prepare your tastebuds for this delicious four-day culinary festival filled with renowned chefs, mouthwatering cooking demonstrations and wine tastings. 

Pu’uhonua O Honaunau Cultural Festival – Head to the Big Island for this amazing cultural festival featuring traditional events like hula dancing and net fishing. 

Pan-Pacific Festival – With over four thousand artists, musicians and dancers from Japan, this festival celebrates the cultural diversity of Hawaii. 

Maui Film Festival – Enjoy feature films across theatres and cinemas in Maui, plus plenty of delicious food and wine events.

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July

Summer is in full swing in July, with blue skies, hot temperatures and amazing beach conditions for the next three months. These are also the busiest months with visitors travelling from mainland USA and all over the world to soak up the sun in Hawaii. The first week of July is one of the busiest and most expensive, thanks to Independence Day celebrations. 

What to do in Hawaii in July

Makawao Rodeo – Hundreds of cowboys from across the world gather on Maui for this celebration of all things country including rodeos and live country music. 

Hale’iwa Arts Festival – Head to the North Shore on Oahu to experience a wonderful celebration of traditional arts including singing, music and storytelling. 

Prince Lot Hula Festival – Held in the gorgeous Moanalua Gardens in Honolulu, this festival is the largest non-competitive hula event in the state. It celebrates the beautiful tradition of hula and is named after Prince Lot who encouraged Hawaiian culture to flourish after western suppression. 

Ukulele Festival – Head to Waikiki Beach for a wonderful celebration of the ukulele, an indigenous Hawaiian instrument. Relax on the sands and enjoy the lovely rhythms of the ukulele.

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August

This high summer month is still serving up perfect weather and it’s one of the best (and busiest!) times of the year to visit Hawaii.

What to do in Hawaii in August

Water sports – The surfing is best in the south of the islands in August, while snorkellers and swimmers should visit the northern shores for great visibility and calmer waters.

Made in Hawaii Festival – Celebrate Hawaii’s incredible artisans at this festival in Honolulu. It’s the largest festival showcasing products made in Hawaii and you’ll find everything from pottery and clothing to musical instruments. 

Korean Festival – This celebration of cultural diversity in Hawaii features traditional Korean dance, martial arts and cuisine. 

Statehood Day – Celebrated on the third Friday of August every year, Statehood Day commemorates the day that Hawaii became part of the USA in 1959. 

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September

September is one of the best times of the year to visit Hawaii as there are fewer visitors, but the weather remains warm, dry and calm. 

What to do in Hawaii in September

Snorkelling and swimming – Underwater visibility is fantastic in September so get out there and explore Hawaii’s incredible reefs and marine life. 

Aloha Festival – As the only statewide cultural festival in the country, the Aloha Festival is an unmissable event. Lasting from September to October, the festival puts on free cultural celebrations for locals and visitors alike, including the Floral Parade and a ho’olaule’a in Waikiki. 

Queen Lili’uokalani Music Festival and Concert – Held in Hilo in honour of Queen Lili’uokalani, this festival sees hundreds of hula dancers perform in the gardens named after the Queen. 

Hawaii Food and Wine Festival – Featuring hundreds of internationally renowned chefs, winemakers and culinary experts, this festival is all about showcasing Hawaii’s incredible culinary scene, with locally-grown products, cooking demonstrations and wine-tasting and dining experiences.

Kaua’i Mokihana Festival – The Garden Isle celebrates the Hawaiian culture with this festival featuring a range of crafts, arts and language workshops and events.

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October

October marks the transition between winter (Kau) and summer (Ho’lio) in Hawaii. While the temperature begins to drop and there’s always a chance of storms and rougher seas, it’s still a great month for water sports and hiking through the lush scenery. October is also one of the quietest months with fewer visitors and the lowest prices. 

What to do in Hawaii in October

Halloween in Lahaina – Famed as the ‘Mardis Gras of the Pacific’, this is one of the biggest celebrations in Maui. Over 20,000 people in vibrant costumes arrive at Front Street in Lahaina each year ready to party at Halloween.

Hawaii International Film Festival – This festival features the best movies and documentaries made by indigenous Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

Ironman World Championship – Whether you participate or watch from the sidelines, the Ironman in Hawaii is extraordinary, with over 1,000 competitors arriving for the ultimate test of endurance. 

Maui Fair – Head to the Wailuku War Memorial Complex for three days of rides, food and entertainment. 

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November

November is the quietest month for visitors (except for the week of Thanksgiving), but it’s also the wettest month of the year, on par with March. However, the archipelago’s position near the equator means there’s year-round sunshine, so you’ll likely enjoy a mix of dry and wet days when visiting in November.

What to do in Hawaii in November

Kona Coffee Festival – As one of the oldest food festivals in the country, this is a special one for food and coffee enthusiasts. Kona coffee has been grown for almost two centuries and it’s renowned as one of the most premium coffees in the world.

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December

December is one of the wettest and busiest months of the year in Hawaii, and there’s plenty of things to do and festivities to enjoy.

What to do in Hawaii in December

Whale watching – The whale watching season kicks off from December to May, when the North Pacific humpback whale population migrates from Alaska to the warmer waters of Hawaii to breed and give birth to their calves.

Surfing – The biggest waves return to the north shores of all islands in winter, particularly from December to January. It’s the best time for experienced surfers and spectators. Beginners should stick to the pool or the south shores during this season.

Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade – Visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum to witness the parade to remember those lost in the Pearl Harbour attack. The parade marches down Kalakaua Avenue to Kapiolani Park in Waikiki and you can also see Cobra and Huey helicopters.

Holiday Pops Concert – Spend an evening at the Hawaii Theater in Honolulu, where you’ll watch the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra perform classic Christmas songs with a Hawaiian spin.

Honolulu City Lights – Get into the festive spirit with the lighting of the 50-foot Christmas tree in Honolulu. 

Festival of Lights Christmas Boat Parade – Keep the Christmas lights going at the marina in Hawaii Kai Towne Center where brightly decorated boats float in the water.

Christmas in Polynesia – If you’re looking for something a little different this Christmas, head to the Polynesian Cultural Center in La’ie, Oahu. The building is decked out in festive lights and decorations and you can experience a magical canoe ride, train ride and scavenger hunt. 

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When would you like to travel to Hawaii? Let us know in the comments below!

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