What to know about a January vacation in Hawaii

hawaii in january

Is January the perfect time for your Hawaii vacation? Let’s look at all the important factors — weather, costs, crowds and events — to help you decide.

What’s the weather like in Hawaii in January?

Hawaii’s weather is warm year round — even in the middle of winter. Hawaii’s weather is warm enough to allow tropical flowers and trees bloom all through the year.

January daytime high temperatures typically average in the low 80s at most Hawaii beach resort areas. Evening temperatures call for a light sweater as they dip into the low to mid 60’s. (Use this link to convert temperatures to Celsius.)

On average, January is not Hawaii’s rainiest month. December has that designation. However, rainfall levels are higher in January compared to the drier months of summer.


This chart shows the general rainfall trends. Data was collected at the major airports. For the Big Island, data is shown for the Kona airport only. Click on the graph for more information about the chart.

Choosing where to stay in Hawaii for a January vacation can greatly impact the amount of rain you may experience. See our article on where to stay in Hawaii to avoid rain for more detailed advice.

From our visits to Hawaii in January, we’ve throughly enjoyed plenty of sunny days. We can’t recall rain interfering with any of our plans. We recommend that you pack quick drying clothes, an umbrella and a breathable, waterproof rain jacket to lessen any impact a passing shower might have on your sightseeing plans.

Though January is one of the cooler months, you can still swim in the ocean. For more details see our Hawaii ocean water temperatures article.

Is January a crowded time to visit Hawaii?

The first few days of January are slightly crowded as the popular holiday season completes. The holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on the third Monday of January, can also be a little bit on the busier side. However, the rest of the month, crowds are low. Per the visitor arrival data we’ve analyzed, the number of visitors coming to Hawaii in January is slightly below average. The following chart shows the arrivals by month based on the most recent data from 2018.

Is January a cheap or expensive time for a Hawaii vacation?

Immediately following New Year’s Day, hotel rates are significantly higher than average. After that, rates come down to just above average as you can see from the below chart.


Airfare is more difficult to predict. Anecdotally, we almost always travel to Hawaii when we can find inexpensive airfare and we’ve found good fares for January travel in previous years. Use our strategies for finding cheap airfare to Hawaii to help you minimize your fare costs.

Are there any special events, festivals or reasons to go to Hawaii in January?

Humpback whales migrate by the thousands to Hawaii in winter months. January is one of the peak months to observe humpback whale season in Hawaii. It’s truly spectacular to watch these massive creatures leaping out of the ocean, surfacing to breathe and slapping their tails and fins.

Two of Hawaii’s top golf tournaments, Sentry Tournament of Champions on Maui and the Sony Open on Oahu occur in January.

Oahu’s famous big waves pound the north shore in January. Quite a few surfing tournaments are held throughout the month.

For more special events in January, use the events search feature on GoHawaii.com.

Have you been to Hawaii in January? Where did you go? How was your visit?

This article is part of our month-by-month analysis to help you determine the best times to visit Hawaii for good weather and cheaper prices.

  1. Which island(s) is/are ideal for seeing the humpback whales in January? We are taking somewhat of a last minute trip; were thinking of going to Oahu and Big Island this time around.

    1. Maui has the greatest concentration of humpbacks. We’ve visited the Kohala Coast of the Big Island in January and the humpback whale activity was excellent.From our experience, Oahu doesn’t seem to have very much whale activity, especially in comparison to Maui and the Big Island.

  2. You and yourinformation are wonderful! Just what I needed. My husband and I are thinking of moving to the islands to live out our last but best years. After I try to memorize all of the info. You have provided I have to find someone that knows the the market for homes. I don’t have facebook so I don’t know how to share with you. Thank you Thank you Thank you for all your hard work for all of us out here that know precious little about such a Beautiful place.

  3. Hi. Im a gardener from Scotland and I would like to find a garden or organic farm to volunteer at during the month of jan/feb. Is this something you could help with?

    1. Hi David – we don’t really offer any services – only the articles you read here.

      We don’t know of any gardens or farms looking for volunteers, but there could very well be some.

      Take a look at our brief series on Hawaii in bloom for a list of some botanical gardens.

      Kauai has three National Tropical Botanical Gardens. They may take volunteers.

      Also, there’s a neat organic food garden on Maui, O’o Farm https://www.govisithawaii.com/2013/05/20/organic-farm-to-table-tour-at-oo-farm-on-maui/
      and an interesting vanilla farm on the Big Island https://www.govisithawaii.com/2012/02/06/hawaiian-vanilla-farm-tour-lunch/ I don’t know if they need/take volunteers as they’re for-profit businesses.

      Also worth noting is that there are coffee farms, macadamia nut farms and a chocolate farm all on the Big Island. They’re all for-profit, though.

    2. There are many opportunities to volunteer and stay at little to know cost.
      You can start with:
      wwoof is an acronym for ‘worldwide opportunities on organic farms” but other farms may have simular programs.
      Pick an island and do a little research online.
      It’s a fun way to travel!

  4. Hello Sheila,
    Could you please tell me where on Maui I could stay with my mom in a quiet,beach accessible (want to see the humpback whales)place that is affordable…I am looking for beauty, not too crowded,beach
    access and affordable….what do you think. Thank you, joanna.

    1. Joanna – the most affordable area to stay in Maui is in Kihei. There are many vacation rental condos on the beach and across the road from the beach. There are only a couple of small hotels, though. https://www.govisithawaii.com/2008/01/31/is-kihei-mauis-best-kept-secret/ When we go to Maui in the winter months, we aim to stay in South Maui, which is where Kihei is, as we talk about in our Maui Weather Guide: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2015/09/29/maui-weather-guide/

  5. Hi. I’m in high school right now so I’m really just planning for the future but one of my life goals is to learn how to surf. Are there opportunities for that on Oahu? And would January be a good month to go since the waves are so big or would it be better to go when the waves are more mild? Again, this is all planning for way in the future I was just curious! Thanks!

    1. The big waves come to Oahu’s North Shore. When they’re there, only very, very experienced and professional surfers should surf there. Usually when big surf is on the North Shore, the South Shore has smoother conditions. So, there’s no guarantee, but there’s a good chance that you’d be able to take surf lessons in January.

  6. We are coming to Hawaii end of January. Want to stay for two weeks the four of us. What is the most affordable way to stay?

  7. Planning a trip for my 70th birthday thinking of a cruise to see all islands 3 days on the big island what are your thoughts on cruises to see Hawaii

    1. Hawaii is a great place to celebrate special milestones!

      We haven’t personally cruised in Hawaii, but we know folks who have and very much enjoyed it. It’s a great way to see all the four major islands in a short amount of time and without having to pack and unpack multiple times.

  8. I’m thinking about visiting Hawaii end of January through February how is the weather? Is the water warm enough to swim? And is it shorts weather. Does it rain much during January and February. When is the best time of year to visit?

  9. In January REALLY a good time for fun the in sun? We just want go, lay on the beach for some good sun, and do nothing!

  10. Good day Ms. Sheila,
    My fiancé and I are getting married by the end of this year. We are planning to spend our honeymoon on January in Hawaii. Initially, we are thinking of Honolulu but would love to also arrange for a quiet and full of scenes island in Hawaii. Would you please recommend/ advice us.
    Also, if you can let us know about the activities, places to stay and so on in these two islands.


  11. My husband and I are travelling with our 1 year old to Hawaii in January. We are looking to spend most of our time relaxing on the beach but we have no idea which island would be best for that this time of year. Any suggestions would be really appreciated. Our flight options seem to be the best to Honolulu but not sure if that’s the best place to go, something said you also don’t need to rent a car there?

  12. Hi Sheila,

    Thanks for all the wonderful information! My family and I would like to come out mid-January. We would love to see the whales, but we are very outdoorsy hiking enthusiasts. Any suggestions on where to stay for the best of both worlds? Thanks so much!

  13. i will be coming to Hawaii in January for my birthday I just want to no is the water warm enough to get in and b comfortable

  14. My Sister n I are planning to visit Hawaii in January, which are the best island(s) to stay for a total of 6-8 nights. we are both retirees aged 61 & 64

  15. Hello,
    Thank you four your article. I’m aiming to Hawaii by end of January/beginning of February. I was wondering what are the warmest islands during that time? Also, an island that would have accessible and calm beaches?
    Thank you for your help.

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