The Best Time to Go to Hawaii, According to a Local

Are you trying to figure out the best time to go to Hawaii? This guide from a Hawaii local has everything you need to know!

best time to go to to hawaii surfing

Part of the beauty of Hawaii is the fact that it’s an amazing place to visit all year round. This means best time to visit Hawaii depends on what you want to do, how much money you want to spend, and how many people you want to encounter. While this might seem like a lot to take into consideration, I’ve laid it all out to make it as easy as possible for you.

Simply put, if you’re trying to choose the best time to go to Hawaii for you and your group, this guide has you covered!

What Is the Best Time to Go to Hawaii?

The best time to go to Hawaii is when it’s not too hot, not too rainy, and not too crowded. This perfect alignment of events usually happens between March and May as well as October to November.

When Is the Busiest Season in Hawaii?

Manawaiopuna Falls Kauai

Since Hawaii gets visitors from all around the world, it manages to stay pretty busy throughout most of the year. American visitors like to escape the cold and come in the winter. This usually runs from the very end of November to early January. Australian visitors also like to escape the cold, but since their seasons are swapped, they come in the summer from June to August.

Then, there are the random popular weeks in between. The last week of April is Golden Week for Japanese visitors, so Hawaii gets quite busy then. And then there is spring break, which typically takes place from mid-March to the end of March.

What Is The Best Time to Go to Hawaii When You’re on a Budget?

The best time to visit Hawaii on a budget is when there are no crowds. That means March to May (with the exception of Spring Break and Golden Week) and October to November (with the exception of Thanksgiving Weekend) are usually more affordable.

What Is Hawaii’s Weather Like Each Month?

best time to go to Hawaii hiking crouching lion

When talking about Hawaii’s weather, it’s easiest to sum it up as either dry season or rainy season. Dry season, which is full of sunshine, runs from about April to October. Rainy season runs from about November to March, and depending on where you are in the islands, you can experience quite a bit of rain.

If you want to get a little more specific, the weather in Hawaii doesn’t change all that much from month to month. In the winter, the low is 65 degrees Fahrenheit and the high is 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In the summer, the low is 74 degrees Fahrenheit and the high is 89 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most of the variation in the weather actually comes from the amount of precipitation. While June gets just 0.43 inches of rain on average, December and January get nearly three inches of rain.

The Best Time to Go to Hawaii by Season

There are perks to visiting Hawaii during every season of the year, whether it’s the beaches, the hiking, or the animals.

Why You Should Go to Hawaii in the Summer

shelves of golden pineapples

Summer is a great time to visit Hawaii! Thanks to its days filled with sunshine, the beaches are at their prime. You can swim, suntan, and snorkel to your heart’s content.

Book Here: Night Manta Ray Snorkel Experience on the Big Island

Book Here: Snorkel to Molokini Crater on Maui

Book Here: North Shore Snorkeling Tour from Haleiwa, Oahu

Book Here: Niihau and Na Pali Coast Snorkel Tour on Kauai

To add a little extra flavor to your summer beach day, you can bring some tropical fruits with you! While there are different tropical fruits available throughout the year, most of them are in season in the summer. The best place to stock up on these sweet goodies is at a local farmer’s market.

Why You Should Go to Hawaii in the Fall

With its cooler, but not rainy weather, fall in Hawaii is perfect for hiking. You can see some of Hawaii’s best views without having to deal with overwhelming heat or overly muddy trails.

Why You Should Go to Hawaii in the Winter

best time to go to hawaii to see whales

There are a few different reasons to visit Hawaii in the winter. First, there are the waterfalls! Since winter lines up with rainy season in Hawaii, the waterfalls are also at their fullest. While I don’t recommend hiking to waterfalls in the winter, it’s a great time of year for the drive-up waterfalls in the islands.

Second, there’s snow on Mauna Kea! Yes, you read that right! There is snow in Hawaii, but only on the very top of the tallest mountain on the Big Island. And while the snow is rare, it’s actually enough to snowboard and ski. Instead of driving yourself up the mountain (most rental car companies don’t allow you to do that), I recommend taking a tour of Mauna Kea instead.

Last but not least, there are the whales! Every winter, the whales migrate down to Hawaii from Alaska. This means that you can see whale spouts in the distance and even take a whale watching tour.

Book Here: Whale Watching Tour in Waikiki, Oahu

Book Here: Whale Watching Tour in Lahaina, Maui

Book Here: Whale Watching Tour in Kona, Big Island

Why You Should Go to Hawaii in the Spring

Like fall, spring in Hawaii is one of the best times to visit for hiking. While spring is a little rainier than fall, it’s also a little cooler, so it’s a bit of a trade-off.

The Best Time to Go to Hawaii by Activity

If you’re hoping to visit Hawaii for one particular activity, certain times of year may be better than others.

aerial view of Kailua Beach

Best Time to Go to Hawaii For Beaches

The best time to go to Hawaii for the beaches is in the summer, because that’s when the water is the calmest and the sun is the warmest. This means that you can enjoy loads of popular beach activities, including suntanning, swimming, and snorkeling.

Best Time to Go to Hawaii for Surfing

The best time to go to Hawaii for surfing in particular though, is different. The biggest waves come around each winter! So if you’d like to watch pro surfers in action or tackle these waves yourself (assuming you’re already a fantastic surfer), you should considering visiting Hawaii in the winter.

Best Time to Go to Hawaii for Hiking

Lanikai pillbox hike on Oahu at sunrise

In addition to its beaches, Hawaii is known for its hikes. While summer can be too hot and winter can be too rainy, spring and fall are the perfect times to go hiking in Hawaii.

If you’re looking for some hiking suggestion, here are the best hikes on Oahu, Hawaii!

Best Time to Get Married in Hawaii

We all know that Hawaii is a popular wedding – and honeymoon – destination, so we have to mention the best time of year to get married in Hawaii.

Since weather plays a major role in weddings, you’ll want to visit during dry season, which is from April to October. That said, the summer months can be quite hot and quite pricey for weddings. If you’re trying to hit the sweet spot, May is likely the best time to get married in Hawaii.

Popular Hawaii Annual Events

When considering the best time to go to Hawaii, you definitely want to take the festivals into consideration. After all, this is one of the best ways to experience local culture! Some months admittedly have a more robust array of events than others, but all of them have something!

Here’s a list of the most popular Hawaii annual events by month.

January

best time to go to Hawaii new years fireworks

New Year’s

New Year’s in Hawaii is a special treat. First of all, Hawaii has loads of fireworks on New Year’s! Everyone sets off fireworks and sparklers from their backyards (although technically it’s illegal to do so on Oahu). There are also loads of official fireworks shows put on by the largest resorts on the islands.

Then, there are the cultural customs that come with New Year’s in Hawaii. My favorite is the Japanese custom of fukubukuro. Around New Year’s and a few weeks after that, many stores in Hawaii sell “mystery gift bags” known as fukubukuro. You then purchase these bags – usually at a significant discount – without actually knowing what’s inside! And then when you open it, you’ll find an amazing surprise!

Da Hui Backdoor Shootout

Most Hawaii surf competitions take place in December, but the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout holds out until January. This Da Hui Backdoor Shootout is a Hawaii locals-only competition and takes place at Pipeline on Oahu.

Waimea Ocean Film Festival

The Waimea Ocean Film Festival may be one of the most unique Hawaii events. To put it simply, this Big Island festival showcases the newest films that revolve around the ocean, whether they are about surfing, sustainability, or something in between.

February

Chinese New Years lanterns in Hawaii

Chinese New Year

While Chinese New Year can also take place in January, it most commonly occurs in February. Each island has its own way of celebrating Chinese New Year, but they pretty much always include lion dancers, traditional music, and delicious food.

Pow! Wow! Hawaii

Pow! Wow! Hawaii is one of the best things to do on Oahu in my opinion. During this annual festival, artists from around the globe come to Hawaii to paint gorgeous murals within a week! And while the international artists are cool, there are also quite a few awesome Hawaii artists who participate as well.

Most of these Pow! Wow! Hawaii murals are in Kakaako, but the event painting area has expanded further into Honolulu and Waikiki in recent years.

One of the coolest parts of Pow! Wow! Hawaii is that you can watch these professional artists create their murals! If you’re staying nearby, why not visit your favorite artists a few times over the course of the week to check on their progress?

March

hula dancers best time to go to Hawaii

Honolulu Festival

March really doesn’t have a lot of festivals going on. The only one of note is the Honolulu Festival. This festival celebrates all of the different cultures in Hawaii.

The best part of the Honolulu Festival is the parade that takes place at the end. With lion dances, hula dancers, a Cherry Blossom queen, and more, it’s quite an entertaining event.

April

Merrie Monarch Festival

The Merrie Monarch Festival may be the most prestigious hula competition in the world, and it takes place in Hilo, Hawaii.

Every year, the best of the best hula halau (hula groups) are invited to participate in the Merrie Monarch Festival. Tons of people from across the globe hope to watch these hula masters in action.

Tickets for this renowned hula festival typically sell out in just a few days! If you want to snatch one up, check the Merrie Monarch website for instructions.

Waikiki SPAM JAM

The Waikiki SPAM JAM is arguably the weirdest festival in Hawaii, but it’s one that’s definitely worth your time. Kalakaua Avenue, the main road in Waikiki, is completely closed down to accommodate all the Spam-themed booths. You can try Spam-filled treats (don’t knock ’em ’til you try ’em!), purchase Spam-bedecked clothing, and even donate a can of Spam to the Hawaii Food Bank.

thriving taro plants from above

East Maui Taro Festival

Taro is one of the primary foods used in Hawaiian cuisine. This special plant is used to make the purple goodness known as poi.

To celebrate this hearty plant, there’s the East Maui Taro Festival. During this event, you can tour of Mahele Farm, find a hidden heiau (a sacred Hawaiian temple), and watch the taro get pounded into traditional Hawaiian poi.

May

May Day

Many places around the world have May Day, but none celebrate it like we do in Hawaii. In Hawaii, there’s a saying, “May Day is Lei Day.” This day is filled with bright, blooming flowers that are turned into Hawaiian lei, or flower necklaces.

There are literally hundreds of May Day celebrations throughout Hawaii. As a matter of fact, many schools put on their own May Day performances. But the most popular one is held at Queen Kapiolani Park in Waikiki on Oahu.

Every year, a Lei Queen and her court are selected for the event, based on their lei making abilities, Hawaiian language fluency, and hula skills. This court then presides over the event, where guests can listen to live music, enjoy delicious food, and even enter a lei making contest.

Memorial Day

While Memorial Day is celebrated all throughout the United States, Hawaii offers a unique way to celebrate this holiday.

Every Memorial Day weekend, thousands of people gather at Ala Moana Beach Park on Oahu to light a lantern in remembrance of loved ones who have passed. They then set these lanterns out on the water, creating a breathtaking scene of the deep blue ocean dotted with glowing yellow lights.

Filipino Fiesta

Approximately 23% of Hawaii’s population is Filipino, yet there are surprisingly few events that celebrate this wonderful culture. The largest Filipino celebration is the Filipino Fiesta. This fantastic event boasts beautiful performances, tasty foods, fun crafts, and more – all inspired by Filipino culture.

June

three ukuleles of varying wood shades

King Kamehameha Celebrations

The King Kamehameha celebrations are some of the best examples of Hawaiian cultural festivals. So if you’re hoping to learn a lot more about Hawaiian culture, one of the best times to go to Hawaii is in early June.

There are King Kamehameha celebrations on all of the Hawaiian Islands. King Kamehameha Day is technically on June 11, but these events can take place at any time between early and mid-June. These celebrations are filled with Hawaiian culture, history, dance, music, food, and more.

Kapalua Wine and Food Festival

If you happen to be on Maui in June, you’ll definitely want to attend the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival. This event hosts the best chefs and sommeliers on the island, so you’ll be able to enjoy fantastic food and wine.

Obon Festivals

An obon festival is a Japanese Buddhist festival meant to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors. There are dozens of obon festivals that take place in Hawaii each June. While at these captivating events, you can join in on the bon dances, listen to the talented taiko drummers, and eat authentic Japanese food.

July

Prince Lot Hula Festival

July is jam packed to the brim with annual events. So if you’re all about experiencing local culture and festivities, July may be the best time to visit Hawaii for you!

The first of the July events is the Prince Lot Hula Festival. This is the largest non-competitive hula event in the state, and it takes place at the Moanalua Gardens on Oahu. You can simply watch these talented hula dancers put on their stunning performances.

the best time to go to Hawaii Hawaii volcanoes national park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Cultural Festival

Visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is already one of the best things to do in Hilo, Big Island. But the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Cultural Festival can add a bit of extra excitement to your visit.

While attending this festival, you can learn how to make lei, watch hula performances, and listen to live Hawaiian music. You can also find out more about the native plants and dine on mouthwatering local food.

Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships

If you’re an avid paddleboarder, the best time to go to Hawaii may be July, simply to experience the Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championships. This is arguably one of the coolest events to take place in Hawaii.

Hundreds of participants paddle the 32 miles of the Kaiwi Channel between Molokai and Oahu. This feat is so tricky that 35 world records have been broken in the midst of this event.

Makawao Parade & Rodeo

Most people associate Texas with rodeos and cowboys, but Hawaii has rodeos and cowboys of its own. Paniolos – or Hawaii’s version of cowboys – have been around since the 1700s! You can learn more about paniolos at the Makawao Parade & Rodeo. With the bull rush, the Makawao parade, and the rodeo, there’s a lot to keep you entertained.

August

the best time to go to Hawaii mangoes

Mango Festival

If you’re a foodie, August is arguably the best time to go to Hawaii, as many of the festivals revolve around food, including the Mango Festival.

The Mango Festival takes place on the Big Island. While there, you can experience everything mango-related. You can learn mango recipes, try multiple mango varieties, and even pick up a few tricks to grow your own mango tree at home.

There are also a couple of mango-focused festivals on Oahu, including Mangoes at the Moana and Mango Jam Honolulu, which take place earlier in the summer.

Greek Festival

Since most people think of Hawaii as a melting pot of Asian and Pacific Islander cultures, they often forget the other cultures in the islands. The Greek Festival is a great example of how Hawaii’s diversity expands further than you might think.

While at this lively festival, you can munch on delicious gyros, test your Greek dancing skills, watch a Greek play, and even try some (adults-only) ouzo sorbet.

September

canoe race in Hawaii

Queen Liliuokalani Canoe Race

The Queen Liliuokalani Canoe Race is the world’s largest outrigger canoe race, and it is held in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. This race takes place every year on Queen Liliuokalani’s birthday.

The logistics of this race are simple. Teams of six-person paddling crews paddle their way as fast as they can between Kailua Bay and Honaunau Bay. Dozens of crews participate in this race every year, including teams from Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, and French Polynesia.

Aloha Festivals

There are many Aloha Festivals that take place on all of the islands each September. The premise is simple: to highlight the beauty of Hawaiian culture. During these events, you can learn about Hawaiian history, listen to Hawaiian music, and watch performances of Hawaiian hula.

October

IRONMAN Triathlon World Championship

While October has just two noteworthy festivals, these two are very exciting. First, there’s the IRONMAN Triathlon World Championship.

Located on the Big Island’s Kona Coast, the IRONMAN Triathlon World Championship features about 1,500 amazing athletes, who tackle one of the most intense physical challenges in the world. The competitors will have to run a full marathon, swim 2.5 miles, and bike 112 miles.

If you’d like to compete, be sure to start training months in advance! But if that level of physical exertion just isn’t for you, you can just be a spectator on the sidelines instead.

It is important to note that many places in Kailua Kona close down on the day of the IRONMAN Triathlon World Championship, simply due to traffic conditions.

Hawaii Food & Wine Festival

The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival was started by two Hawaii culinary greats: Chef Alan Wong and Chef Roy Yamaguchi. These Hawaii-based, world-renowned chefs set up the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival to celebrate Hawaii as a fantastic foodie destination. Today, this event has grown to showcase the culinary talents of over 120 local chefs!

You can experience the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival on both Oahu and Maui.

November

coffee beans inside and around coffee mug

Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival has been around for a whopping fifty years, making it one of the longest-lasting food festivals in the state. While at this festival, you can purchase coffee gear, take part in coffee recipe competitions, and of course sip on some fantastic Kona Coffee.

Vans Triple Crown of Surfing

November is when the biggest waves start to roll in and when the surf competitions begin. In other words, winter is the best time to go to Hawaii for surfers.

The first major surf competition in Hawaii is the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. This is considered to be one of the most prestigious surfing competitions in the world. Since its inception in 1983, surfing greats like Kelly Slater, Sunny Garcia, Andy Irons, and Carissa Moore have all won this competition.

December

surfer at Banzai Pipeline best time to go to Hawaii

The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational

While all of the surf competitions in Hawaii are a sight to see, The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is the one that you mustsee if it lines up with your trip to the islands.

Eddie Aikau was a famous lifeguard and surfer. Over the course of his life, Eddie saved the lives of over 500 swimmers. He also won many surf competitions, including the 1977 Duke Kahanamoku Invitational Surfing Championship, and became a surf legend.

But Eddie’s real claim to fame happened when he joined the historic Hokulea canoeing expedition with the Polynesian Voyaging Society. This journey was supposed to take paddlers from Hawaii to Tahiti, but, not long into the journey, the boat developed a leak. Eddie took his surfboard and swam for help, but he never made it to shore.

The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational was started in honor of the remarkable Eddie Aikau. Started in 1985, this surf competition still takes place today on the North Shore of Oahu. However, the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational isn’t like other surf competitions. Waves must be consistently 30 to 40 feet high (in other words, 60 to 80 feet high outside of Hawaii – we measure waves differently here) in order for the event to run. For this reason, the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational has only run nine times since its inception.

The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational can run any time from December to February, depending on the size of the waves.

Billabong Pipe Masters

If the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational isn’t running, the Billabong Pipe Masters surf competition likely is. This event was started in 1971 and has run every year since then.

Many surfing greats have won this competition, including Andy Irons, John John Florence, and Tom Caroll. Kelly Slater has actually won this competition a whopping seven times!

Jaws Big Wave Championship

But Oahu isn’t the only island that hosts internationally renowned surf competitions. The Jaws Big Wave Championship on Maui is a pretty big deal too.

The waves at Peahi – also known as Jaws – often reach 30 to 50 feet in the winter, so only the most taltned of surfers can ride them. It’s no surprise to find out that many surfing greats, including Billy Kemper and Paige Alms, have competed in and won the Jaws Big Wave Championship.

Is there anything else you’d like to know about the best time to go to Hawaii? Let me know in the comments below!

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