I sometimes see and hear people asking if winter is a good or bad time to go to Hawaii. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Hawaii in all four seasons and each season is great – even winter. Here are three excellent reasons why winter is a definitely a good time to visit Hawaii.
1. Hawaii’s Winter Weather is Wonderfully Warm
Hawaii can be a great winter escape, especially if you live in a cold climate. I’ve been to Hawaii in the chilliest winter months of January and February and thoroughly enjoyed the warm Hawaiian sun. So, what sort of temperatures can you expect? Let’s take Waikiki and Honolulu as good, centrally located example and examine their January weather averages. Per Weather.com, Waikiki’s average daily high temperature in January is 80ºF. Just imagine what a respite that would be from the freezing cold of North America. I can tell you from experience, it rocks!
Now, Waikiki’s January evenings will get a bit “chillier”, that is if you want to call 66ºF “chilly”. When you’re knee-deep in snow at home, 66ºF is almost unimaginably, sweltering hot.
If there is a “downside” to Hawaii’s winter weather, it’s that the islands tend to receive more rain during the winter as compared to summer. Typically, spurts of rain are short lived in Hawaii. One very interesting pattern for Hawaii rain, is that most of Hawaii’s precipitation falls overnight. It would be unusual to experience two or three days of solid rain. Just think of this increased chance of rain as increasing your rainbow and waterfall viewing opportunities. Check out our Hawaii rain post to learn more.
Hawaii has many micro-climates and some areas receive significantly less quantities of rain. So, if you are headed to Hawaii in the winter, be sure and see my recommendations on where to stay in Hawaii to avoid rain. You may not be able to avoid it altogether, but you will certainly minimizes your chances.
To learn more information on the weather patterns of Hawaii, see our Hawaii weather guide.
2. The Big Waves Visit in Winter
Hawaii’s winter brings monster waves. What do I mean by monster waves? I mean waves that are 20-feet and higher. Oahu’s North Shore is the place to see these giant waves and watch the expert and professional surfers carve their way through these massive forces. The big winter swells normally come from the north. So, most north-facing areas of the Hawaiian Islands will have the winter waves crashing to the shore. On Maui, “Jaws” at Peahi is a spot to watch for big waves. Kauai’s North shore also experiences big waves.
On Oahu, if you time your visit right, you may even get to watch the world’s most prestigious surfing competitions, Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Two of my favorite big wave watching spots are the Banzai Pipeline at Ehukai Beach and Waimea Beach.
3. Hawaii Offers Outstanding Humpback Whale Watching in Winter
Each winter, between four to six thousand humpback whales migrate to Hawaii’s protected waters to mate and give birth. It’s virtually impossible not to be amazed when you see a 40-ton whale leap out of the water and create a giant splash. Even the sight of a whale’s tail or exhalation is fascinating.
The months of January, February and March are the peak months for humpback whale watching, though you may also see them in December and April. The Hawaiian Islands of Maui, Lanai, and the Big Island are our favorite islands for observing humpback whales. (Learn more about when and where to see humpback whales in Hawaii.)
So, let’s recap. In winter, you’ll have the chance of soaking in some warm tropical weather while observing incredible waves and humpback whales. Wouldn’t you agree that winter is a great time to go to Hawaii?
Have you been to Hawaii in the winter? What was your experience? Did you bask in the sun while your hometown was freezing cold?
Also see our article on the best months to visit Hawaii.