What to know about a December vacation in Hawaii
When considering a vacation to Hawaii for the month of December, choosing when to go greatly impacts both costs and crowds. The first few weeks are very quiet and relatively inexpensive, while the last week — including Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays — is a popular and expensive time. In this article, we’ll look into those details and others to help you choose whether December is the best time for you to visit Hawaii.
What’s the weather like in Hawaii in December?
Hawaii’s weather is almost always wonderfully warm. Daytime temperatures typically reach the low 80s (Fahrenheit) while evening temperatures dip in the middle to upper 60s. (Use this link to convert temperatures to Celsius.) You’ll most likely want a light jacket or sweater to wear in the evening.
Even in December, tropical flowers continue to flourish as usual. You may also see poinsettia plants and shrubs growing and blooming outdoors!
With the exception of Hawaii’s Big Island, December is the wettest month for Hawaii. That doesn’t mean that you’ll likely encounter rain all the time. From our experience, we’ve enjoyed some wonderfully sunny days in Hawaii in December. We do recommend that you bring a breathable, rain-proof jacket and/or an umbrella so that a passing shower typically won’t interfere with your plans for very long.
Hawaii’s ocean temperatures are nice enough for swimming. In fact, you can swim anytime of year in Hawaii without needing a wetsuit.
Is December a crowded time to visit Hawaii?
The answer to that question is both no and yes. The first few weeks of December are uncrowded in Hawaii. Then, around December 20th through the remainder of the month, people flock to Hawaii to celebrate the holidays.
Is December a cheap or expensive month for a Hawaii vacation?
Per our analysis of Hawaii hotel rates, December starts out being relatively inexpensive, then around the holidays, prices skyrocket to the most expensive rates of the year. The following graphic shows that trend based on weekly data that was available in 2013.
A more updated view of hotel rates is now only captured on a monthly basis. Here’s a more updated view which shows the same general trends:
The cost of flights are typically more expensive when traveling around the holidays.
Are there any special events or reasons to visit Hawaii in December?
Hawaii is a popular place to celebrate Christmas. The hotels, shops and towns typically provide special holiday decorations to enjoy the festive season. For some examples of Hawaii Christmas celebrations and events, see our Waikiki Christmas guide and this Maui Christmas guide as well as our article describing what Christmas is like in Hawaii.
Hawaii is also a great place to welcome in the New Year. Almost every island offers a great fireworks show for New Year’s Eve. For examples of what goes on, check out these island links that we update every year:
Though we’ve only mentioned the holidays as special events in Hawaii for December, there are other cultural festivals in Hawaii. For a list of festivals and events, search GoHawaii.com.
Have you been to Hawaii in December? How was your visit?
This article is part of our month-by-month analysis to help you determine the best times to visit Hawaii.
Love your articles, but the chart for the average rainfall for the 4 islands has the vertical index reversed … it states that the Big Island has the MOST rainfall, but the actual numbers in the boxes show that it actually has the least, on average. You need to change the vertical index to go from 0 (top) to 6 (bottom) inches of rainfall, rather than 6 (top) to 0 (bottom).
Thanks much, Sherron
Aloha Sherron – Mahalo for reading and for your feedback!
I’d encourage you to take another look at the chart as it is correct. The Big Island line, which is indicated by in blue, does indeed show that the Big Island receives the least amount of rainfall of all the islands. IF you are referring to the listing on the righthand side, that’s the color legend of the chart only — it’s not an indicator of rainfall. If only indicates which island represents which color. Hope that helps.
Love all your articles, but your average rainfall chart has an error.
THe vertical index for the average monthly rainfall is labeled backwards, with 6 (highest rainfall) at the top and 0 (lowest rainfall) at the bottom. That would mean that the Big Island has the MOST rainfall (it’s at the top of the graph) and Maui hits the lowest (it’s at the bottom of the graph). You need to reverse the vertical index so that 0 (least rainfall) is at the top …. or reverse all your line graphs.
Ooops, sorry. You are right … I thought the labels on the right were in the same order. I even looked at the original article (and this month’s) and misinterpreted it the same way. I think I must be going color-blind …. or else I just like purple. 😉
Thanks much, Sherron
No worries, Sherron!
Rainfall should not be a deterrent to visit Hawaii. The day temperature is an average of 70° which is comfortable for a malihini coming from California or New Hampshire. You will dry up in a few minutes. The locals call this event “liquid sunshine”
You should post a temperature graph of rainfall. Is your rainfall intensity graph an average of the Windward and leeward sides?
If you click on the graph, it opens a link that provides all the data behind the graph. In a nutshell, the data is taken from the major airports. The point of the graph is to show the average rainfall levels by month.
Zeus – we use the data collected at the major airports by Weather.com. Per their data, on average the daytime temperature is in the lower 80’s, which is quite warm and pleasant. 🙂
It might be an idea to put the temperatures in degrees Celsius as the USA is the only country in the world to still use the farenheight scale, every other country is metric and the old degrees F mean nothing to us.
Fiona – we thought about putting in Celsius as well, but it started looking too cluttered and confusing. There are many websites that quickly make the conversions for you.
As Hawaii is a US state, all their weather forecasts and such are always reported in Fahrenheit.
Can anybody offer any advice on planning travel from island to island using Expedia?
When I go to Hawaii this winter, I want to spend about 20 days there and see as many islands I can see, but the bulk of my time spent on the Big Island.
You may have to create multiple Expedia transactions.
NCL has a great cruise around that time you can stop at each of the islands.
I plan to go to Hawaii in early December my plane and lodging is payed for.Will $600 to a $1000 be enough for about 5 day stay? Or will it just cover food? I’m trying to make it as cheap as possible. It will be just myself.
See this post for some estimates on spending money: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2012/08/29/how-much-for-a-trip-to-hawaii-budget-calculator/
I’m curious about the difference in weather on the two sides of the islands. I am planning to visit Oahu and the Big Island. We tend to like smaller towns and less crowds so I am thinking of staying away from the major tourist areas, which seem to all be on the west side of the islands (can someone clear up the terminology for me?) So, the question is, will I see a lot more rain in December if I go to the eastern shores for a home base?
Probably rainier on those sides in December. See our island weather guides:
Big Island – https://www.govisithawaii.com/2015/10/06/hawaii-big-island-weather-guide/
Oahu – https://www.govisithawaii.com/2015/09/08/oahu-weather-guide/
Weather in Hawaii in December
Average temps rain. Etc.
I have been to Hawaii and visited most of the main islands including at XMAS time. I do not recall rain while I was there at XMAS. At other times it will rain usually in the morning a short shower and then clear. The holidays are a nice time, but you have to get use to Palm trees instead of fir trees and Santa comes in on a surf board not a sleigh. Also it is not cold like we expect XMAS to be so we do need to make some adjustments. Each island is unique and different. I urge you especially to see the Grand Canyon of the Pacific on Kauai. However, I found the poi tastes like wallpaper paste but each to their own. Have a good trip!
Is the beach and water warm enough to swim or sunbathing in December / januari?
Yes, we cover that in the weather section of the article.