Discovering the Best Time to Visit Island of Hawaii

Sea Turtle in Hawaii

Best Time to Visit the Island of Hawaii: Introduction

Welcome to the Island of Hawaii, a majestic paradise that beckons travelers with its unique blend of natural beauty and vibrant culture.

Known affectionately as the Big Island, it’s a destination where fiery volcanoes coexist with tranquil beaches, offering an array of experiences for every kind of adventurer. But when is the best time to visit the island of Hawaii?

Infographic best time to visit island of Hawaii

In this guide, we’ll explore the optimal seasons to visit the Island of Hawaii, ensuring that your trip aligns perfectly with your travel desires.

Whether you’re drawn to the serene call of its sandy shores or the thrilling spectacle of lava flowing from active volcanoes, timing your visit is key to experiencing the island’s wonders at their peak.

The Island of Hawaii’s diverse attractions range from the lush rainforests of Hilo to the sun-kissed beaches of Kona, and from the snow-capped heights of Mauna Kea to the vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life.

Each season on the island unfolds with its own unique charm and challenges, making the decision of when to visit a pivotal part of your travel planning.

As you read on, you’ll gain insights into the island’s seasonal weather patterns, tourist peak times, and the hidden gems that each month brings.

Whether you’re seeking the perfect wave, a tranquil getaway, or a journey through the island’s rich cultural tapestry, understanding the best time to visit the Island of Hawaii is your first step in crafting an unforgettable island adventure.

Understanding Hawaii's Weather Patterns

Hawaii as seen from sky

Visiting the Island of Hawaii is a dream for many, but knowing the best time to visit is key to making the most of your trip.

This chapter delves into Hawaii’s unique weather patterns, providing essential insights that will help you decide when to pack your bags for this tropical paradise.

From the warm, sunny days of the dry season to the lush, verdant landscapes brought by the rains, each period on the Island of Hawaii presents its own set of charms and challenges.

By understanding these weather dynamics, you can tailor your visit to match your ideal travel experience, whether it’s sunbathing on pristine beaches or exploring the island’s rich natural beauty.

Let’s unfold the secrets of Hawaii’s climate, guiding you towards the perfect time for your Hawaiian adventure.

Average temperatures reported by U.S. Climate Data

Island of Hawaii Weather: A Year-Round Paradise

Hawaii’s Climate Overview

  • Mild and pleasant year-round.
  • Average temperatures: mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (24-29°C).

Dry Season (Kau): May to October

  • Less rain, warmer weather.
  • Ideal for beach activities and outdoor exploration.

Rainy Season (Ho’oilo): November to April

  • More rain, especially east side.
  • Short, heavy showers, often followed by sunshine.
  • Lush landscapes, cooler temperatures.

Average rainfall reported by U.S. Climate Data

Remember, “the best time to visit Island of Hawaii” depends on your preferences for weather and activities.

Peak vs. Off-Peak Seasons in Hawaii

When planning a trip to the Island of Hawaii, one of the most crucial considerations is choosing between the peak and off-peak seasons.

This chapter is dedicated to helping you navigate this decision, ensuring your Hawaiian vacation aligns perfectly with your expectations and travel style. 

Understanding the differences between these seasons is key to experiencing the island’s beauty without the drawbacks of overcrowding or high costs.

Whether you’re seeking a tranquil getaway during the quieter months or eager to immerse yourself in the island’s bustling peak season energy, knowing the best time to visit the Island of Hawaii can significantly enhance your travel experience.

Let’s explore what each season on this majestic island has to offer, from weather patterns to tourist volumes, to help you make an informed choice for your upcoming adventure.

Graph Number of visitors Hawaii Island per month

Navigating Peak and Off-Peak Seasons in Hawaii

Peak Seasons

  • Mid-December to April, mid-June to August.
  • Coincides with holidays and school vacations.
  • Expect busy attractions and crowded beaches.

Off-Peak Periods

  • May to mid-June, September to early December.
  • Fewer tourists, quieter experiences.
  • Consider weather variations.

Travel Costs and Availability

  • Peak seasons: higher prices for flights and hotels.
  • Book early during peak times.
  • Off-peak: potential for discounts and better availability.

Choosing Your Season

  • Decide based on weather preference, budget, and crowd comfort.
  • Each season offers a unique Hawaii experience.

Month-by-Month Guide: When to Visit Island of Hawaii

Determining the best time to visit the Island of Hawaii can greatly influence the quality of your travel experience. 

In this essential month-by-month guide, we’ll take a closer look at what each month on the Big Island has to offer. 

From the sunny, vibrant days of summer to the serene, lush ambiance of the winter months, every period presents unique opportunities and experiences. 

Whether you’re planning to catch the peak of whale watching season or hoping to attend the famous Merrie Monarch Festival, this chapter will provide you with a detailed overview of weather conditions, special events, and the pros and cons of visiting during each month. 

With this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-equipped to decide when the best time is for you to embark on your Hawaiian journey, aligning your trip with the island’s seasonal offerings and your personal travel preferences.

Hawaii Fire Dance


  • Weather: Cooler, occasional rain showers.
  • Events: New Year’s celebrations, whale watching begins.
  • Pros: Lush landscapes post-rain.
  • Cons: Slightly crowded post-holiday season.


  • Weather: Cool with diminishing rains.
  • Events: Whale watching continues, Valentine’s Day specials.
  • Pros: Ideal for romantic getaways.
  • Cons: End of peak tourist season.


  • Weather: Transitioning to drier conditions.
  • Events: Merrie Monarch Festival preparations.
  • Pros: Less crowded, pleasant weather.
  • Cons: Water temperatures slightly cooler.


  • Weather: Warmer days, occasional showers.
  • Events: Merrie Monarch Festival – a major hula competition.
  • Pros: Cultural festivities.
  • Cons: Brief rain spells.


  • Weather: Warm and dry.
  • Events: Lei Day celebrations.
  • Pros: Beginning of the best snorkeling season.
  • Cons: Start of the dry season.


  • Weather: Warm, start of the dry season.
  • Events: King Kamehameha Day.
  • Pros: Great for beach activities.
  • Cons: Beginning of the tourist season.


  • Weather: Warmest month.
  • Events: Fourth of July celebrations, big wave surfing starts.
  • Pros: Ideal for summer outdoor activities.
  • Cons: Peak tourist season.


  • Weather: Hot and dry.
  • Events: Cultural festivals, surfing competitions.
  • Pros: Vibrant island life.
  • Cons: Peak tourist crowds.


  • Weather: Begins cooling, occasional showers.
  • Events: Aloha Festivals.
  • Pros: Fewer tourists, pleasant climate.
  • Cons: Increased humidity.


  • Weather: Mild temperatures, occasional rain.
  • Events: Ironman World Championship.
  • Pros: Ideal for sports enthusiasts.
  • Cons: Some rainy days.


  • Weather: Cooler, start of the rainy season.
  • Events: Coffee harvest festivals.
  • Pros: Coffee lovers’ paradise.
  • Cons: Beginning of the rainy season.


  • Weather: Cool, festive atmosphere.
  • Events: Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.
  • Pros: Festive mood, great for holiday experiences.
  • Cons: Peak tourist season resumes.

Special Events and Festivals

Exploring the Island of Hawaii isn’t just about basking in its natural beauty; it’s also about immersing yourself in its vibrant cultural tapestry, marked by numerous special events and festivals throughout the year.

In this chapter, we delve into these captivating celebrations, helping you determine the best time to visit Island of Hawaii to experience these unique cultural gatherings.

From the lively hula dances at the Merrie Monarch Festival to the aromatic delights of the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, each event offers a window into the island’s rich heritage and traditions.

Whether you’re a festival enthusiast or simply curious about the local culture, this guide to Hawaii’s annual events will enhance your visit, providing insights into the island’s rhythm of life and festivities.

Let’s explore the calendar of events that make the Island of Hawaii a dynamic and enchanting destination year-round.

Infographic Island of Hawaii events per month

Cultural Celebrations: Timing Your Visit for Hawaii’s Festivals

January: Waimea Ocean Film Festival

  • A celebration of ocean-themed films and visual arts.
  • Enhances travel by offering insights into marine life and ocean conservation.

February: International Nights

  • A cultural showcase at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
  • Experience the global community in Hawaii through music, dance, and food.

March: Kona Brewers Festival

  • A craft beer event with local brews, food, and entertainment.
  • Ideal for experiencing Hawaii’s unique local flavors and community spirit.

April: Merrie Monarch Festival

  • The world’s premier hula competition held in Hilo.
  • Offers an immersive experience into Hawaiian culture and the art of hula.

May: Lei Day Celebration

  • Honoring Hawaiian culture with lei-making contests and music.
  • A colorful, fragrant event enhancing the understanding of local traditions.

June: King Kamehameha Day

  • A state holiday commemorating King Kamehameha I.
  • Experience parades, traditional music, and dance, deepening the cultural experience.

July: Big Island Hawaiian Music Festival

  • A celebration of Hawaiian music in Hilo.
  • Engage in Hawaii’s rich musical heritage.

August: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Cultural Festival

  • Focuses on the indigenous culture and natural wonders of Hawaii.
  • Offers a blend of natural exploration and cultural education.

September: Aloha Festivals

  • The largest Hawaiian cultural celebration in the U.S.
  • A great opportunity to witness Hawaiian heritage through parades and street parties.

October: Ironman World Championship

  • Renowned triathlon in Kailua-Kona.
  • Experience the excitement of a world-class sporting event.

November: Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

  • Celebrating Hawaii’s centuries-old coffee heritage.
  • Perfect for coffee enthusiasts to learn and taste Kona coffee.

December: Festival of Lights

  • Holiday celebrations with a Hawaiian twist.
  • Experience Hawaii’s unique take on holiday festivities.

Each festival offers a unique glimpse into Hawaii’s diverse culture. Attending these events can greatly enrich your travel experience, providing deeper insights into the island’s traditions and contemporary life.

Best Time for Activities

Embarking on a journey to the Island of Hawaii promises a plethora of activities, from serene beach outings to adventurous hikes.

But when is the best time to enjoy these experiences to the fullest? Understanding the optimal seasons for various activities can significantly enhance your island adventure, aligning your interests with the island’s diverse offerings.

Akaka falls Hawaii

Optimal Timing for Activities: Beaches, Hiking, and More

Beach Visits

  • Best Time: May to October during the dry season for sunnier skies and warmer ocean temperatures.
  • Tip: Early morning or late afternoon visits help avoid the midday sun and crowds.

Hiking Adventures

  • Best Time: May and September offer cooler temperatures and fewer rain showers, ideal for comfortable hiking.
  • Tip: Always check weather forecasts and trail conditions, as some trails can be slippery after rain.

Snorkeling Excursions

  • Best Time: Summer months (June to August) for the calmest and clearest waters.
  • Tip: Morning snorkeling often provides calmer conditions and better visibility.

Observing Lava Flows

  • Best Time: Lava flows are unpredictable, but visiting during the dry season may offer clearer views with less rainfall.
  • Tip: Check the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park updates for current lava flow activity and safety guidelines.
Lava Hawaii

Whale Watching

  • Best Time: Peak whale watching season is from December to April, when humpback whales migrate to Hawaii’s warm waters.
  • Tip: Boat tours offer closer views, but whales can often be spotted from the coast, especially in February.

Wildlife Viewing

  • Best Time: Depends on the species. For sea turtles, summer is great; for migratory birds, winter months are ideal.
  • Tip: Respect wildlife by keeping a safe distance and not disturbing their natural habitats.

By aligning your travel plans with these activity-specific recommendations, you can make the most out of your visit to the Island of Hawaii. Remember, the “best time to visit Island of Hawaii” depends on what you want to experience on this diverse and enchanting island.

Humpback Whale Hawaii

Best Time for Surfing on Hawaii Island

Hawaii, the birthplace of surfing, offers an unparalleled experience for surf enthusiasts.

The Island of Hawaii, in particular, presents diverse surfing conditions across its shores, making it a year-round surfing destination.

Understanding the seasonal changes in wave patterns is crucial for both experienced surfers and beginners looking to ride the Hawaiian waves.

It’s good practice to check the current surf conditions before you head out on the water.

Infographic best time for surfing Island of Hawaii

Summer Season: May through October

During the summer months, the Island of Hawaii experiences calmer waters, especially on the north and south shores, making it an ideal time for beginners to learn surfing.

  • North Shores: These shores are known for their flat-to-small waves during summer, with occasional larger swells influenced by trade winds. This creates perfect conditions for those new to surfing or looking for a relaxed surfing experience.

  • East Shores: The east faces strong trade winds that can generate large and rough waves. While this might be challenging for beginners, it’s an exciting draw for experienced surfers seeking a thrill.

  • South Shores: The south shores are frequented by large swells, providing consistent waves for a more adventurous surfing experience.

  • West Shores: Similar to the north shores, the west sees swells wrapping around from the north, offering high surf conditions, ideal for experienced surfers.

Surfer in Hawaii

Winter Season: November through April

Winter brings the iconic Hawaiian big waves, particularly on the north and west shores, attracting surfers from around the world.


  • North Shores: Renowned for their huge and often dangerous swells, the north shores of Hawaii become a hotspot for professional surfers and those seeking to witness the power of nature’s waves. However, novice surfers and swimmers should exercise extreme caution or avoid these waters during high-surf conditions.

  • East Shores: The conditions here remain similar to the summer, with strong trade winds creating large, rough waves.

  • South Shores: Offering a respite from the wild winter waves, the south shores have flat-to-small waves, suitable for beginners or those looking for calm surfing conditions.

  • West Shores: Like the north shores, the west shores experience high surf due to northern swells, making it an exhilarating spot for seasoned surfers.

Tips for Budget Travelers

Traveling to the Island of Hawaii can be a dream come true, even for those on a budget. With some strategic planning and timing, you can explore this paradise without breaking the bank.

Here are some cost-saving tips that hinge on the time of year you visit, addressing variations in travel costs, accommodations, and activities.

Mahana Beach Hawaii

Traveling on a Budget: Cost-Saving Tips for Hawaii

Choose the Right Time to Visit

  • Off-Peak Travel: Opt for the shoulder seasons (May to mid-June, September to early December) for better deals on flights and accommodations.
  • Avoid Peak Seasons: Try to steer clear of the high tourist seasons (mid-December to April, mid-June to August) when prices typically soar.

Accommodation Savings

  • Book in Advance: Especially during off-peak times, booking your stay well in advance can secure lower rates.
  • Alternative Lodgings: Consider vacation rentals, hostels, or camping as cost-effective alternatives to hotels.

Affordable Transportation

  • Public Transit: Utilize the Island’s public transportation system to save on car rental costs.
  • Economy Flights: Look for economy deals and flight comparisons online. Mid-week flights can often be cheaper.

Dining on a Budget

  • Local Eats: Opt for local diners or food trucks over tourist-centric restaurants. Not only are they more affordable, but they also offer authentic Hawaiian cuisine.
  • Self-Catering: If your accommodation allows, prepare some meals yourself, especially breakfasts and beach picnics.

Cost-Effective Activities

  • Free Natural Attractions: Explore the Island’s beaches, hiking trails, and natural parks which are mostly free or have a minimal cost.
  • Discounted Tours: Look for discounts on tours and activities during the off-peak season. Group tours can also be more budget-friendly.

Local Events and Festivals

  • Free Entertainment: Keep an eye out for local events and festivals, many of which are free and offer a glimpse into Hawaiian culture.

Travel Insurance

  • Stay Protected: Investing in travel insurance can save money in the long run, especially if unexpected events affect your travel plans.

By incorporating these budget-friendly strategies and considering the “best time to visit Island of Hawaii” from a financial perspective, you can enjoy a memorable Hawaiian vacation without overspending.

Remember, a little planning goes a long way in making your trip both affordable and enjoyable.

Conclusion: Your Ideal Hawaiian Getaway Awaits

As we wrap up our guide on the “best time to visit Island of Hawaii,” it’s clear that the island offers a dynamic array of experiences throughout the year, each season bringing its unique charm and opportunities.

Whether you’re drawn to the warm, dry days of summer for beach adventures and vibrant cultural festivals or prefer the cooler, quieter ambiance of the rainy season for lush landscapes and intimate encounters with local traditions, the Island of Hawaii caters to every type of traveler.

Remember, the optimal time for your visit should align with your personal preferences. Consider the kind of weather you enjoy most, the types of events that excite you, and your crowd comfort levels.

While the peak seasons offer bustling energy and a full event calendar, the off-peak periods provide a more relaxed pace and potential cost savings.

Ultimately, no matter when you choose to visit, the Island of Hawaii promises a rich and fulfilling experience. Its stunning natural beauty, coupled with a deep cultural heritage, ensures that every journey here becomes a treasured memory.

So, as you plan your trip, think about what you want to experience most and let that guide your decision on when to embark on your Hawaiian adventure. The Island of Hawaii is waiting to welcome you with open arms, any time of the year!

Not sure if Big Island is the right destination for you? Take a look at the article Best Hawaii Island to Visit to see which island is your best match.


Written by Stefanie

I'm Stefanie, your adventurer-in-chief at She Roams Free, and solo travel enthusiast. The world has been my playground since I first hopped on a plane from my home in the Netherlands to South Africa by myself, way back in 2002. Solo travel has been my preferred way to see the world ever since, with South Africa, Namibia and Botswana being my favorite destinations. It has been a baptism by bushveld, a crash course in self-reliance, and a love affair with the unknown. My goal is to inspire other solo female travelers through my stories, and provide tips to explore the world safely and experience the same freedom!

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