A common question that is asked of those considering a Hawaii vacation is, “What are the best times to travel to Hawaii?” As with most aspects of a Hawaiian vacation this is largely subjective. Are you looking to do some surfing? Hiking? Whale watching? Do you want the best weather or the thinnest crowds? This article will address some of the most common interests and concerns and how they affect when you should book your trip.
“Wet” and “Dry” Seasons
First, let’s address the only two seasons that Hawaii really has: wet and dry. The technical wet season in Hawaii is between November and March, however it’s important to note that each island has micro weather systems, so it will most likely rain on some part of the island every day. For example, the wet side of Kauai sees rainfall almost every day, while the dry side may not see any between June and October.
When is comes to weather, the most popular times to visit are at the very beginning or very end of dry season. Early May to mid-June, or late September to early November promise to be the most temperate times, in which the sun is not too hot, but you have a low chance of being caught in the rain.
Sunning and Swimming
If you dream Hawaii vacation consists of nothing but sun, sand, and the ocean, then you are definitely looking at a summer trip to the islands. Starting in June, the trade winds die down, the surf begins to calm, and the air and water begin to warm up. By Late August, though, it may be too warm. Temperatures in late summer can reach into the 90s, the sand can burn, and the water can even warm up into the 80s.
If you’re looking for a glowing tan and fun in the sun, look for a trip between early June and late July. Note this is also high-traffic time for families to visit, so you be looking at higher prices for travel and lodging.
Avoiding the Crowds
Hoping to beat the crowds on your trip? The wet season tends to be less popular for most travelers to the islands. Starting in early September, kids are back in school, the weather has begun to cool, and there are less people clamoring to get on the beaches.
Although it is called the wet season, don’t be daunted. This means there is a higher chance of rainfall in many areas, but not all. It most certainly does not mean the weather is cold or that swimming and sunning are out. Temps tend to stay around 70-80 on most islands, with the sun shining throughout most of the day. The occasional shower can actually be a nice reprieve
The travel and lodging will most likely be cheaper, but note that some popular tourist attractions may not be open at this time of year. Look into all of the places you want to visit or things you want to do before make solid plans.
Note there is one time during the wet season that does not follow the norm: mid-December through early January. For about the two weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year, tourism picks back up and you’re likely to see increased rates and lots more people everywhere.
Many people may not realize it, but there is an excellent whale watching season in Hawaii. During November, the whales start coming down from Alaska to the islands to give birth and raise their young. They stick around until around May, when they make the trip all the way back up to Alaska!
While they are around the islands, the whales can be seen breaching the water, playing, feeding, and teaching their young. They are an amazing sight, and there are several companies offering whale watching boat tours on several of the islands. If you’d love to get some whale watching in, try to book your trip between December and April.
While you will be able to catch some nice swells on almost any day on any of the islands, there is one time of the year that has the highest surf and therefore the best surfing for experienced surfers. It’s important to note that if you are a beginner or even intermediate surfer, you will be fine visiting the islands any time of the year. If you are a very experienced surfer, then you may want to plan your vacation between November and March.
This is the aforementioned wet season. Rains and winds are high, and the ocean is very active. There are many areas unsafe for swimming, but they make perfect surfing spots. However, always pay attention to any daily advisories. I they say to avoid the water, then don’t risk it! The sea can be very unpredictable during stormy season, and even if skies look calm one moment, it can change in a matter of seconds.
Many of the islands offer some beautiful hikes of varying difficulty. While the big island boasts volcano hiking on Kiluea, Oahu is host to SOMETHING, and Kauai is home to beautiful trails along the breathtaking Napali Coast. Of course, there are times that are perfect for hiking, and times it’s best to avoid the trails.
During the height of the wet season – roughly from December through February – many trails might be washed out or simply dangerous to hike due to rock slides. Not to mention that even if you find a hikable trail, you might get caught in a storm midway up or down. The height of dry season (July to September) can also be a problem due to heat stroke, so be sure to pack more than enough water if you are hiking during this time.
If hiking is the main attraction of your trip, try for early October to mid-November or md-March to late June for your Hawaii vacation. This way, you’ll be most likely to beat the heat and the rain.
No matter when you decide to visit, Hawaii promises to offer you a vacation you will never forget.