The culture. The people. The diversity of terrain. The colors bouncing off clouds during a sunset. The sea spray of a waterfall kissing your face. A refreshing rainbow shave-ice after a volcanic hike. No matter the island, your senses are always enlightened enjoying the best of Hawaii.
The Hawaiian Islands offer a tantalizing escape no matter the season. But if you are looking for key things to do and see while you are visiting, here are our recommendations of when to be embraced by the aloha spirit.
While many dream of a white Christmas sipping hot chocolate and cuddling by a wood burning fire, Hawaii offers just as magical of a holiday experience; just a much warmer one. White sand beaches, fresh-caught seafood dinners, and plenty of Christmas lights to make the palm trees sparkle.
Three Reasons to Go to Hawaii in the Winter Months:
Between the months of November and April, over 10,000 humpback whales migrate from Alaska to the warm Hawaiian waters for the winter. Peak season for whale watching is in February and March. According to gohawaii.com, the official tourism site for Hawaii, whale watching in Oahu is extra special because you’ll get a chance to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Many visitors choose to spot the whales on a catamaran ride.
Hawaii is known as the place to catch the biggest waves in the winter. According to gohawaii.com, the best places to watch are Waimea Bay (which is where big wave surfing started in the 1950’s) and the more dangerous waves of the Banzai Pipeline. Of course there are plenty of calmer waters to surf yourself. Try Maunalua Bay or where Duke Kahanamoku, “Big Kahuna” himself, surfed all day back in the early 20th century right on Waikiki Beach. If you are a surfing rookie, consider taking surfing lessons on your next vacation to Hawaii.
While so many golf courses on the mainland are covered in snow by Christmas time, the courses on all of the Hawaiian islands are fresh and ready for 18-holes of play. The Sony Open Golf Tournament takes place in early January, and tickets are available to the public.
Bonus: Where to See Lights and Snow in Hawaii
Throughout the month of December, Honolulu City Lights hosts festive events including photos with Santa, family movie night, milk and cookies, and more. Also during December, you can experience actual snow in Hawaii at the Queen Kaahumanu Center. Where else can you play in the snow and jump into 80-degree ocean water? Only in Hawaii.
To avoid tropical rainfall, the ‘dry season’ of spring might be your ideal time to enjoy the best of Hawaii. The weather is almost perfect, and you can also find less crowds flocking the islands.
Three reasons to visit Hawaii in the Spring:
The Beach is Perfection
Unlike the record-breaking waves that crash on Oahu’s North Shore in the winter, the sea is typically calm and inviting in the spring. From early March through May, water temperatures trend near the high 70’s and the sunny days keep temperatures in the 80’s. Spring might offer the perfect time of year to snorkel the reefs, or try longboarding without the crowds of competitive surfers.
Flowers, Flowers Everywhere
After the heavy tropical rains of the winter months have ceased, the mountains are an emerald green and the flowers are in bloom. The flowers of Waikoloa are stunning in the spring.
Merrie Monarch Festival
The Merrie Monarch Festival is one of the top annual events in Hawaii. This cultural festival takes place on the Big Island of Hawaii, honoring King David Kalakaua. The festival perpetuates the art of hula through art exhibits, craft fairs, demonstrations, performances, a Ho’olaule’a (Hawaiian for ‘celebration’) and a three-day hula competition that is renowned for its historic significance.
Summer in Hawaii has the highest temperatures and humidity, but still may be more pleasant than the scorching summer weather you are used to back home. Summer is considered the dry season in Hawaii, but keep in mind that in Hawaii you are visiting paradise so the weather won’t have too much variance.
Three reasons to visit Hawaii in the Summer:
Enjoy the North Shore of Oahu
Yes, you can enjoy watching the expert surfers brave the crashing waves of the North Shore during the winter months, but during the summer the waters of the north are calm and inviting. After a shave ice, you and your family can grab your favorite floaties and relax without the fear of a monster wave coming straight at you!
During the month of June on the island of Oahu, hula dancers and taiko drummers share the spotlight during this celebration of Hawaiian and Japanese traditions. Waikiki Beach turns into an international party complete with crafts, food booths, and a multicultural parade.
Hike with Less Chance of Rain
Hiking through the islands of Hawaii uncovers so many ‘oooo’ and ‘ahhh’ moments. While a tropical rain shower shouldn’t deter hunting for hidden waterfalls, black sand beaches, and local flora and fauna, rain can also turn your hike into a Slip n’ Slide. A hike up Diamond Head Volcano would be a bit more challenging through the rain. But the views of the ancient volcano are idyllic no matter the weather.
Many travelers love the thought of fall foliage, pumpkins, and sweater-weather, but if you can’t bear the thought of summer ending, a trip to Hawaii in the fall might be a good compromise. Similar to spring, you will find fewer tourists visiting the islands due to school schedules.
Three Reasons to Travel to Hawaii in the Fall:
Snorkel Hanauma Bay
No, the protected bay doesn’t turn colors in the fall, but you can take advantage of fewer crowds to truly enjoy this breathtaking experience under the sea. The views above Hanauma Bay are incredible and the view through the coral reef is unreal. This snorkeling spot is ideal for both experts and amateurs.
IRONMAN Triathlon in Kona side of the Big Island
According to Ironman.com, 15 people came to experience the best of Hawaii in 1978 and take on the IRONMAN challenge. Prior to racing, each received three sheets of paper with a few rules and a course description. The last page read: “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!” If you are an IRONMAN competitor or want to witness this bucket list experience in person, a trip to Kona during this endurance event will be well worth it.
Instead of apple picking in the fall, Hawaii has a great alternative. You can avoid the high season crowds, and visit a genuine pineapple plantation. Instead of carving a jack-o-lantern this year, try your skills carving a pineapple!
No matter the time of year in Hawaii, you will always find the breathtaking sights, sweet smells, and happy feelings that the Aloha state is known for. Are you ready to live island style?