Best Time To Visit Hawaii: Which Island, Weather, and Saving Money

best time to visit hawaii travel guide.png

Each year, 9.3 million people visit the Hawaiian Islands for vacation.

Having traveled to Hawaii more than I can count, I’ve experienced my fair share of crowds.

Visiting Hawaii at the wrong time can make Waikiki feel like Times Square. 

It’s safe to say that Hawaii is one of the top travel destinations, catering to tourists from around the globe.

Crowds and high travel demands can persist in most months of the year.

But, there is hope: multiple months per year in Hawaii are cheaper, less crowded, and still have picture-perfect weather to sun-bathe in. 

Here is the best time to visit Hawaii to save money, enjoy pristine weather, and beat the crowds.

The Best Time of Year to Visit Hawaii

Visiting Hawaii will be a memorable experience regardless, due to the sheer beauty of the islands: 

Sunset at Hapuna Beach

Sunset at Hapuna Beach

But, you can make your time there even better by picking the best time of year to visit.

The best is subjective and is based on what you enjoy doing most.

Maybe you love crowded downtown cities like Honolulu at its peak or maybe you want to be out in the rain forest alone. 

Regardless, here is the best time of year to visit Hawaii based on what you might want to do while you are there. 

Hawaii Weather: The Best Time to Visit Hawaii For Good Weather

Weather can be extremely variable on the islands, and no matter when you go, you could experience anything from a tropical storm to scorching temperatures.

While average temperatures don’t change much, rain can foil your plans to be at the beach in the sun drinking your Pina Coladas. 

Hawaii has two main seasons: 

  1. Wet season: The rainy / wet season in Hawaii is from November to March.

  2. Dry season: The dry season with less (but still some) rain is from April to October

To avoid the rain (as much as possible), visit Hawaii between April and October. During this time, average temperatures will range from 83 to 87 degrees fahrenheit, giving you incredible warm nights on your balcony to watch the sunset: 

Kelly and I enjoying a sunset on our balcony at the    Westin Hapuna Beach Resort

Kelly and I enjoying a sunset on our balcony at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort

If you still aren’t sure when you are planning to visit Hawaii for good weather, this table can help you plan for average temperatures for each month: 

Average Temperatures for Honolulu By Month
Month Low High
Jan 65.7°F 80.4°F
Feb 65.4°F 80.7°F
Mar 66.9°F 81.7°F
Apr 68.2°F 83.1°F
May 69.6°F 84.9°F
Jun 72.1°F 86.9°F
Jul 73.8°F 87.8°F
Aug 74.7°F 88.9°F
Sept 74.2°F 88.9°F
Oct 73.2°F 87.2°F
Nov 71.1°F 84.3°F
Dec 67.8°F 81.7°F

The Best Time to Visit Hawaii For Hiking

Kelly and I do our fair share of hiking when we visit Hawaii. The natural waterfalls and towering mountain ranges will leave you breathless: 

hiking when to visit hawaii.JPG

This picture was taken on a hike in late September in the Waipio Valley on the Big Island, one of our favorite hikes of all time. 

While we experience no rain, we wished we had due to the intense nature of the hike. 

For hiking, the best time to visit Hawaii is within the dry season: April to October. 

This is your best bet for avoiding big storms, flash floods, and potentially closed hiking trails. 

The Best Time to Visit Hawaii For Swimming and Snorkeling

Swimming in the ocean in Hawaii is one of the biggest attractions. With year-round temperatures averaging 78 degrees, you can swim comfortably any time of the year. 

For snorkeling and swimming, the warmer the water, the better.

Couple that with warm temperatures outside and you can spend all day at the beach without ever needing to towel-off. 

Here are the average water temperatures on any given month in Hawaii to help you plan.

Average Water Temperatures for Honolulu By Month
Month Temp in F Temp in C
January 76 24
February 76 24
March 76 24
April 76 24
May 78 26
June 79 26
July 80 27
August 80 27
September 81 27
October 81 27
November 79 26
December 77 25
Annual Avg 78 26

Beyond that, snorkeling is great any time of the year. In summer months, snorkeling is slightly better due to smaller waves, meaning waters will be clearer and easier to navigate.  

The fish will be active year-round in Hawaii on any given reef.

For the best snorkeling, we recommend the Big Island or Maui, who see less wind and rain, leaving waters crystal clear for fish-finding. 

The Best Time to Visit Hawaii For Dolphin Swimming and Whale Watching

Whale watching and swimming with dolphins in Hawaii are two huge attractions.

Last visit with my entire family, we swam with hundreds of dolphins on the Big Island:

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With crystal clear waters, we hopped right off the boat and into a cove with dolphins all around us. 

We did this trip in mid-February, the peak-season for dolphins and whale watching in Hawaii. 

From our house in Puako, we could see whales breaching from our back porch, too. 

The peak whale watching season and dolphin swimming season is between February and March.  

The Best Time to Visit Hawaii For Avoiding Crowds

With nearly 10 million people visiting the Hawaiian islands each year, crowds can be overwhelming.

Walking along Waikiki beach during high travel season will feel as densely populated with tourists as Times Square.

If that’s your cup of tea, then you’ll love the high season.

If you prefer more calm months of the year, you’ll want to travel during the low season where you’ll have the scenery all to yourself: 

hiking hawaii zero crowds.JPG

When Hawaii is the most crowded: December to March. Within these few months are the most major holidays, including Christmas, New Years, and more. Airports, in general, will be crowded, and flights will be in high demand. 

If you want to skip the crowds, don’t book your vacation during the months of December to March. 

If you plan to travel during this time, be sure to book your flights, hotels, and rentals far in advance. 

When Hawaii is the least crowded: April, May, & Late September to November. Late September or early October are our favorite times to travel to Hawaii. With kids back in school, you ensure smaller crowds and quiet resorts.

What is The Cheapest Time to Visit Hawaii?

Hawaii vacations are expensive. The average nightly hotel rate is $275 statewide on any given day, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Depending on the time of the month that you visit, those prices can skyrocket, reaching averages of over $400 per night.

Picking the right time of year to visit means: fewer crowds, less demand for rooms, and cheaper hotel + airfare costs. 

In the table below, we detail the average Hawaii hotel prices based on time of year and hotel type to help you pick the most cost efficient time to visit:

Month Luxury Resort Hotel
Average Cost
Mid-Tier Resort Hotel
Average Cost
Budget Hotel / Motel
Average Cost
January $612 $295 $171
February $587 $293 $175
March $599 $292 $170
April $541 $269 $158
May $492 $256 $156
June $562 $280 $166
July $580 $295 $175
August $562 $281 $161
September $552 $278 $165
October $459 $249 $141
November $490 $249 $150
December $759 $332 $188

Overall, the cheapest times to visit Hawaii for purchasing a hotel room are: April, May, October, and November.

If you want to save money on hotels, be sure to book during one of those four months.

So, what about Hawaii airfare costs? How much does it cost to fly to Hawaii during these months? 

Well, if you don’t have any airline miles, the costs can vary throughout the year based on location, flight days (weekday vs. weekend), season, demand, airport choices, and weather. 

Always be sure to check flights in correspondence to the cheapest hotel months.

To compare, let’s take a look at the average cost to fly to Hawaii from some of the biggest cities in the United States, according to data from Hopper.

City Average Flight Cost to Hawaii
New York City $400
Los Angeles $345
Chicago $394
Washington DC $364
San Francisco $412
Boston $391
Philadelphia $390
Dallas $312
Miami $360
Houston $338

Depending on where you are in the United States, flights can range from moderate to expensive. 

Traveling on a weekday is almost always going to be cheaper than flying on weekends. 

If you can, try to schedule your vacation plans to visit Hawaii on a weekday. This will potentially save you hundreds on your flights and hotels. 

Recap: the cheapest time to visit Hawaii

  • Visit during April, May, October, or November for cheap hotels

  • Book flights during the week (rather than the weekend) to save on airfare

  • Utilize an airline credit card to get free or discounted flights any time of the year

The Best Island to Visit in Hawaii For The First Time

With multiple amazing Hawaiian Islands to choose from, which is the best island to visit Hawaii for the first time?

We believe Maui is the best island to visit in Hawaii for the first time.

In fact, Maui was where we got engaged, right at Kaanapali Beach during a beautiful, rainy sunset: 

engagement kaanapali beach pics.png

Kelly and I have been to every Hawaiian Island. Multiple times. 

Hawaii feels like our second home, and for good reason: 

The beaches are pristine. The water is a mesmerizing turquoise, and the adventures are nearly endless. 

While our favorite island in Hawaii is the Big Island, we don’t believe it’s the best island to visit first. 

Its stark landscape on the Kailua-Kona side can take some getting-used-to:

landscape of the big island

The Big Island has multiple diverse layers within just 30 minutes of each other. 

When you land in Kona, you are met with what feels like an endless stretch of lava-rock

Take a drive 40 minutes north to Hapuna Beach and you will land on one of the top-ranked beaches in the entire world. 

On the other hand, Maui provides the first-time Hawaii experience that most people are looking for:

  1. Nice, white-sand beaches

  2. Palm trees on every corner

  3. Tons of night-life near hotels

  4. Booming resorts

  5. Endless excursions 

Kaanapali Beach, Maui

Kaanapali Beach, Maui

From the famous Kaanapali Beach to the Road to Hana, Maui is a dream island that is perfect for first-time adventures:

Waterfalls along the Road to Hana

Waterfalls along the Road to Hana

Maui is perfect for those looking to relax on the beach, hike to waterfalls, drive cliff-side roads, or even just sip Mai Tai’s by the pool.

Best Time to Visit Hawaii's Big Island

Hawaii’s Big Island is Kelly and I’s favorite island to visit in Hawaii. 

The best time to visit Hawaii’s Big Island all depends on what side of the island you stay on. 

Staying on the Kailua-Kona side will experience far less rain year-round than the Hilo side.

map of big island hawaii

Visiting in the later summer months (and into fall) like August, September, October, and November will be less crowded, less rainy, and warmer. 

If you are visiting the Hilo side of the island, stick to the dry season: April to October. 

Ocean temperatures will be near the 80-degree mark, great for cooling off after a nice hike:

The Big Island is our favorite due to its wildly diverse natural landscape. 

hiking on the big island of hawaii

Looking for lava rock and volcanic adventures? Check. 

Dreaming of relaxing at one of the top beaches in the entire world? Check. 

Want to experience a tropical rainstorm in the mountains? Check. 

No matter what time of year you visit, the Big Island is sure to leave a lasting memory. 

sunset on big island hawaii

Best Time to Visit Maui

Maui, the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands, is one of the most popular islands to visit in the world. 

From stunning white-sand beaches to Molokini Crater, there is no shortage of adventure and relaxation to enjoy. 

View from Kaanapali Beach

View from Kaanapali Beach

Maui is more crowded than the Big Island and Kauai year-round but becomes less busy in late September, October, and November.

No matter what time of year you decide to go, the temperatures average in the mid-to-high 70’s Fahrenheit.

Best Time to Visit Honolulu and Oahu

Oahu, home to Honolulu, is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. 

With major city amenities, pristine beaches, and incredible mountain hikes, Oahu won’t disappoint:

view from diamond head hike oahu

This is the view from Diamond Head, a 300,000-year-old volcanic crater sitting off the coast near Waikiki Beach. 

The best time to visit Honolulu and Oahu is: April, May, late September, October, and November.

During the later months, temperatures will be warmer both outside and in the water, giving you a great beach experience. 

At night, temperatures will still be warm enough to walk Waikiki Beach in flip flops and shorts. 

During these months, rainfall will be lower, allowing you to explore the entire island and avoid tropical storms. 

If you are feeling adventurous, you can make it over to Kualoa Ranch on the North-East side of the island to experience some Jurassic Park adventures: 

kualoa ranch Jurassic park in hawaii

Avoid traveling to Honolulu in December and January, as the Honolulu Marathon starts early December, making the city far more crowded. 

On top of that, prices for flights and hotels also rise during the holidays in these two months

Best Time to Visit Kauai

Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands and is the fourth-largest, boasting some incredible beaches and jagged mountain ranges.

kauai photo for blog.JPG

Kauai nets the largest amount of total rainfall out of any of the Hawaiian Islands, making it very important to pick when and where you visit. 

On the north end of the island, rainfall is heavy and frequent nearly year-round. 

When visiting Mt. Waialeale, you can expect rain any time of the year, as it’s one of the wettest places on earth. 

Sticking to the southern end will help you escape the rain as much as possible.

Try visiting Kauai in April, May, September, October, or November to beat crowds, rain, and high costs.

What Time is it in Hawaii Right Now?

Hawaii is categorized in the Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time zone (HST). 

Currently, the time in Hawaii right now is:

Wrapping Up

The best time to visit Hawaii can be hard to find. With nearly 10 million annual visitors, it’s hard to beat the crowds and the sky-high prices.

But, the best times to go often fall in: 

April, May, October, and November. Flights will be cheaper, and hotels will be too.

Try to book your next vacation using airline miles to save money, too. 

Whichever Hawaiian island you choose to visit, you are in for an amazing, relaxing vacation. 

Looking for fun things to do in Hawaii? One of our favorite adventures was swimming with dolphins. Read more about it here.

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