This is a question I get asked a lot. A trip to Hawaii isn’t cheap and it’s a long haul over there so most people want to make sure they’re picking the best time to go. While I think anytime is a perfect time, some months are better than others depending on what’s important to you. When choosing dates to travel, most people are driven by price, weather, or wanting to experience something seasonal (like seeing the humpback whales).
When is the best weather?
As far as weather goes, Hawaii is pretty temperate year round, but their seasons technically match ours on the mainland. Our summer is their summer and our winter is their winter. “Winter” is a relative term in Hawaii, but what it mostly means are big waves and more rain. Winter is the wet season in Hawaii so while most resort areas on the Hawaiian islands occupy the leeward (dry and sunny) side of the island, if you’re venturing to the north shore or any jungle areas, you’ll likely experience more rain in the winter months. It’ll also be much lusher and greener and you’ll see more waterfalls.
The winter months also bring big swells and surf competitions (on Oahu) and many stellar snorkeling spots (Honolua Bay on Maui, Waimea Bay on Oahu, and Tunnels on Kauai) aren’t snorkelable (is that a word??) in the winter. But you will get to see some of the best surfers in the world taking on some of the world’s most famous breaks.
The difference is “winter” and “summer” is a bigger deal to locals than tourists. Unless you’re visiting the higher elevation areas of Maui and the Big Island, you aren’t likely to notice a difference. Just remember, winter generally means more rain. And while hurricane season in Hawaii is technically June-November, hurricanes are extremely rare.
When is the cheapest time to go?
As far as the cheapest time of year to visit Hawaii, that would be when most people don’t go! The most expensive time of year to go (high season) is also the most crowded-and that would be around the holidays. Mid-December to mid-January can be ridiculously expensive (and ridiculously crowded). Apparently, everybody dreams of spending Christmas in Hawaii so the prices really jump. If the idea of escaping a cold mainland winter for a couple of weeks in paradise appeals to you (and who doesn’t want that??), shoot for mid-January through February or March.
While summer is cheaper than the holidays, it’s still quite crowded (kids are out of school) and while not as expensive, also isn’t the cheapest time of year to go.
The cheapest time of year to go is the shoulder season. That’s usually April/May and September through mid-November. The weather is usually transitioning between seasons and less people are traveling as the kids either aren’t out of school yet or have just started back. April/May is my favorite time of year to go because it’s cheap, not too crowded, and you’ll probably still see some whales.
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When are the whales in Hawaii?
Humpback whales migrate to the Hawaiian Islands every winter to feed, breed, and have their babies. The first ones usually arrive by late October or early November and they’ll stick around through April with February being the peak of the season.
Now that you’ve got the low down on the factors that can influence the best time of year to go to Hawaii, I’ll let you in on MY favorite time of year to go to Hawaii. I think the best time of year to go to Hawaii is in the spring. March and April are ideal months to visit the islands as the weather will be transitioning from winter to summer. You’ll have longer and sunnier days, although you’ll still see the side affects of a rainy winter (everything is still green and lush). Crowds are low during this time of year and it’s one of the cheapest times to visit. And bonus…you’ll catch the tail end of whale season (did you catch that pun there?)!
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