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Four Seasons of Paradise: The Best Times of Year to Visit Hawaii

Start planning your Hawaiian vacation today

The Vacationeer
Little girl in grass skirt and lei exploring the rocks along the Pacific shoreline in Hawaii.

With its famous aloha spirit, diverse terrain and unique experiences like waterfall mist kissing your face, planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands offers a tempting escape no matter the season.

Here are some of the best things to do in Hawaii season by season. 

Winter

While many travelers dream of a white Christmas, sipping hot chocolate and snuggling by a fire, a Hawaiian vacation during winter months offers a magical (and warmer) holiday experience. 

Here are three reasons to visit Hawaii in the winter.

Whale Watching

Between November and April, more than 10,000 humpback whales migrate from Alaska to the warm Hawaiian waters. The peak season for whale watching is in February and March. 

Visit these top islands for whale watching while in Hawaii.

Surfing

Hawaii is known as the place to catch giant waves in the winter. According to the Hawaiian Tourism Board, the best places to watch surfing daredevils are Waimea Bay, where big wave surfing started in the 1950s, and the Banzai Pipeline's more dangerous waves.

There are also plenty of calmer waters to surf. If you’re a surfing rookie, take surfing lessons on your next visit. 

Put your new skills to use at one of these beaches best for beginner surfers.

  • Oahu: Try Maunalua Bay on Waikiki Beach where Duke Kahanamoku, “Big Kahuna” himself, surfed in the early 20th century. 
  • Big Island: Surf Banyans on the Big Island’s West Shore is a popular surf spot a few miles from downtown Kona. 
  • Maui: At Surf Lahaina Reefs, you’ll find fun reef breaks for riders of all levels. 

Golf

While snow covers many of the U.S. mainland greens during winter months, the paradise of the Pacific's courses 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.

Play a round at one of these top golf courses on your Hawaiian vacation. 

  • Oahu: Ewa Beach Golf Club boasts an award-winning Robin Nelson championship design. This course is a local favorite. 
  • Big Island: Waikoloa Beach Golf is where you can try two breathtaking courses – Beach Course and King’s Course. 
  • Maui: Located on the lower slopes of Mount Haleakala, you can play the Wailea Golf Club designed by Arthur Jack Snyder. 

Where to See Lights and Snow in Hawaii

Throughout December, Honolulu City Lights hosts festive events, including photos with Santa, family movie night and more.

Visitors can also 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 on the same day?

Spring

Avoid tropical rainfall and enjoy the islands during spring’s “dry season." You’ll find near-perfect weather and fewer crowds. 

Here are three reasons to visit Hawaii in the spring.

Beaches

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. Spring boasts the ideal time of year to snorkel the reefs or try longboarding without the crowds of competitive surfers.

Check out these three can't-miss beaches.

  • Oahu: Haleiwa Beach in the North Shore. You can surf, spot sea turtles and enjoy the famous Matsumoto’s Shave Ice
  • Big Island: Visit Green Sand Beach (Papakolea Beach), one of only two green sand beaches in the United States.
  • Maui: You'll find the Black Sand Beach (Waianapanapa State Park) near the outskirts of Hana. Take in the views of ancient lava caves, hidden blowholes and natural stone arches. 

Spring Blossoms

After the winter months' heavy tropical rains have ceased, the mountains are emerald green, and the flowers are blooming. The flowers of Waikoloa, especially, are stunning in the spring.

Take in the beauty of spring foliage in Hawaii at these spots.

  • Oahu: Foster Botanical Gardens is the oldest of the Honolulu botanical gardens. Escape the city with a visit to Foster’s outdoor butterfly garden. 
  • Big Island: Nani Mau Gardens is a 22-acre botanical garden outside Hilo.
  • Maui: A visit to Maui’s Garden of Eden will include 26 acres of trails to enjoy the sweet aroma of tropical blossoms in a natural island setting. 

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, honoring King David Kalakaua.

Celebrate the art of hula like a local through these must-see festival activities.

  • Art exhibits
  • Craft fairs
  • Demonstrations
  • Performances, including a three-day hula competition that is renowned for its historical significance

Summer

Summer in Hawaii has the highest temperatures and humidity and is also considered dry season in Hawaii. However, keep in mind that the weather won’t have too much variance.

Here are three reasons to visit Hawaii during summertime.

North Shore of Oahu

While you may enjoy watching the expert surfers brave the crashing waves of the North Shore during the winter months, similar to springtime, summer brings quieter seas. 

Pan-Pacific Festival

During 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.

Hiking

Uncover breathtaking moments and hike through the islands of Hawaii

  • Oahu: A hike up Diamond Head volcano offers views of the ancient volcano that are idyllic no matter the weather.
  • Big Island: Enjoy the contrast of black sand against lush hillsides while hiking the Waipi’o Valley in Kohala. 
  • Maui: Lose yourself in a bamboo forest while hiking the Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala National Park. 

Fall

Many travelers love the thought of fall foliage, pumpkins and sweater-weather. Still, if you can’t bear the thought of summer ending, a Hawaiian vacation during autumn is a good compromise.

Much like springtime, you will find fewer tourists visiting the islands thanks to school schedules.

Here are three reasons to visit Hawaii in the fall.

Snorkel Hanauma Bay

Take advantage of fewer crowds to truly enjoy this breathtaking experience under the sea. Arrive early to take in the view above the bay and to avoid the line to get in. This snorkeling spot is ideal for experts and amateurs alike.

Ironman Triathlon

Since making its Hawaiian debut in 1978, the Ironman challenge has become a worldwide event. If you’re an Ironman competitor or want to witness this bucket list experience in person, a trip to Kona during this endurance event is well worth it.

Pineapple Plantation

Instead of apple picking in the fall, Hawaii has a great alternative – visit an authentic pineapple plantation.

  • Oahu: Order a Dole Whip, and walk the gardens at the Dole Pineapple Plantation. Don’t miss the Pineapple Garden Maze. 
  • Big Island: At Kohala Farms, you’ll see fresh pineapple along with organic vegetables, greens, and root crops.
  • Maui: At Maui Pineapple Tours, you’ll learn the cultivation techniques as well as tour the distillery. Sample the Pau Maui Vodka—the only vodka in the world made from pineapples. 

No matter the time of year in Hawaii, visitors always find breathtaking sights, sweet smells and good vibes for which the Aloha state is known.

The islands are also home to nine (soon to be 10) Hilton Grand Vacations properties and provide Owners and guests the ideal home base on their Hawaiian vacation. 

Read Travel Bucket List Ideas: 14 Must-See Photo Spots in Hawaii for a list of the most Instagram-worthy spots in Hawaii.

Vacationeer

The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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