Hawaii, naturally, is an extremely sought-after vacation destination for a multitude of reasons. White sand beaches, swaying palms, bikinis and boardshorts, what’s not to love? Unfortunately, being the tropical paradise that it is, Hawaii can also be a tough ticket for those looking to enjoy the fruits of their labor without breaking the bank. Therefore, the big question remains, when is the best time to go to Hawaii?
Thankfully, Hawaii’s perpetual 75- to 85-degree climate gives visitors a large window of time from which to choose. The most popular time is undoubtedly summer; mostly because that’s when kids are out of school and generally when people tend to take time off work. In some ways, summer may be the least-desirable time to visit.
Airfare prices tend to skyrocket during summer, often rising to more than $1000 for a round-trip ticket from the US mainland. Also, for those who shy away from the heat, Hawaii, while always gorgeous, can get a bit hotter and more humid in the summer, especially if you are staying—as most people do—in the heart of Waikiki.
Pearl Harbor is a fantastic visit, a must-do for anyone even remotely interested in history, but since most of the things to see there are outdoors, it can get uncomfortably warm during the summer. But a visit during January, for example, is much more comfortable and allows for a less sweaty visit to the amazing sites at the historic harbor.
For many reasons, January is one of the best months to explore all the treasures the Hawaiian chain has to offer. The first week of January can still be pricey due to flocks of Christmas and New Year travelers, but after that, great deals can be found. Another bonus to coming at the start of the year is the whales. The humpbacks, who make their yearly migration from Alaska, are at their most abundant. Even if you don’t take a whale watching cruise, chances are you’ll see them frolicking in the ocean from Diamond Head, the beaches, or any number of hikes that overlook the deep blue Pacific.
By bypassing summer you’ll also have fewer crowds to contend with at the variety of popular locales, and there are there a lot of them. We already mentioned Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head. The winter months are also when the North Shore sees its biggest waves, sometimes in excess of 30 feet tall. And we mustn’t forget Lanikai, Chinatown, Makapu’u, Sandy’s, Halona Blowhole, and so much more. And all of those are just on Oahu!
Many people choose to stay in Waikiki and for good reason. The heart of the tourist zone offers dozens upon dozens of world-class restaurants, bars, oceanside pools, and vibrant nightlife to keep even the most jaded visitors sated for months – and we didn’t even mention the beach!
Staying in Waikiki isn’t for everyone, though. Visitors are increasingly looking to sites like Airbnb for alternative lodging options. Here’s a quick look at some of Oahu’s varied locales. If you’re looking for a tranquil getaway, devoid of crowds and noise, the Windward side of Oahu is great. This is a great area to get some R&R, hang at the beach, and just enjoy your time off. If you’re looking to be central but not in the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, anywhere from Nuuanu to Hawaii Kai would be just the ticket. The west side has Disney’s Aulani Resorts, golfing, a huge water park, and some criminally underrated beaches, but you must time your transportation properly. The morning commute from the west side to town, and the return trip starting around 3 pm can be brutal and should be avoided at all costs.
Hawaii has so much to offer, coming anytime of the year will bear pleasurable fruit. However, if you’re looking to combine reasonable prices with fewer people, January is an excellent time of the year to visit.