If you’re looking to book a cruise to Hawaii, chances are you have been wondering, ‘When’s the best time to go?’.
However, this does not necessarily have an easy answer. As with most aspects of a Hawaiian vacation, it’s largely subjective. Do you want to spend your port days on the beach? Go on some scenic and unforgettable hikes? Do some whale watching? Or are you simply looking for the best prices and smallest crowds?
This article will explain the best times to visit Hawaii depending on what you are looking for in a family cruise around Hawaii.
Wet and Dry Seasons
First, let’s tackle the two “seasons” that Hawaii has: wet and dry.
Technically, the wet season is between November and March, but it’s important to remember that every island has micro weather systems daily, so it is likely to rain on one part of each island almost every day.
For example, the wet (North) side of Kauai receives 40-50 inches of rainfall each year and it can often rain even during the “dry” season, while the dry (South) side may not see any rain between June and October.
If weather is a concern, the best times to visit are at the very beginning or end of the dry season. This means early May to June, or late September to November. These promise to be the most temperate times, when the sun is not too hot, but you have a low chance of being caught in the rain.
Maximizing Beach Time
If your dream vacation in Hawaii consists of a whole lot of sunbathing, sand, and hanging out in the ocean, then you’ll want a summer trip to the islands.
Starting in June, the trade winds lessen and the surf calms down. The heat is just right for a swim or some water sports in the now-temperate water.
But by late August, it be too warm for many people’s comfort. Temperatures in late summer can reach into the 90s, the sand can burn, the water can warm up into the 80s, and there are very few breezes to slacken the heat.
If you can’t wait to get that golden tan and do some swimming/snorkeling/surfing, book a trip between early June and late July. However, be aware that this is the most popular time for families to visit the islands, so you will have more crowds and slightly higher prices.
Going to Hawaii to Whale Watch
Starting in November, large populations of whales make their way to the waters around Hawaii to give birth. They stay until late May raising their young, and can be seen breaching the water, slapping their tales, and occasionally even jumping!
It’s truly an amazing site, and many of the islands have areas where you can watch them from the shore. Or you can book one of the many boat tours to venture out closer to the action and take plenty of pictures!
If whale watching is on your to-do list for Hawaii, look for a trip between late November and late April. Be aware that even boat tours will not get you right on top of the whales, as Hawaii state law requires they keep a distance of at least 100 yards for the safety of the whales as well as the people.
Hiking and Walking Tours Around Hawaii
It may not be well-known, but the islands of Hawaii all offer gorgeous hikes on active and extinct volcanoes, through lush jungle, and overlooking breathtaking views.
There are also many walking tours that will take you through abandoned sugar canes factories and fields, through quaint and historic towns and villages, and more. If you are planning to explore Hawaii on foot, there are times of the year that are far better than others.
Between late November and late February, the rains are high and often wash out the trails. You could even be stuck in a storm that wasn’t active when you started a hike, but now has you slogging through heavy mud and worse.
On the flip side, the height of dry season can be problematic due to the heat – some hikers suffer heat stroke every year due to this.
Instead, pick dates between October and November or between March and June to find the perfect “sweet spot” of less rain and only mild heat. This will ensure you enjoy either your walk or hike to the fullest!
Avoiding the Crowds
You may be anxious to get to Hawaii and just relax, but worried about dealing with crowds during your getaway. If this is the case, you may want to look at traveling to the islands during the wet season.
Around September, families all but stop visiting the islands, the weather is cooling down (though never gets cold), and there are far less tourists to be seen.
The term “wet season” may scare you a bit, but don’t worry. It only means that the chances of rain are higher, but it hardly rains for an entire day, and never gets cold. In fact, he brief bouts of rainfall may be a welcome respite from the relentless sun and heat. It definitely doesn’t rule out swimming or sunbathing, and many tourist activities are still available.
However, if you have your eyes set on a boat tour during this time, be aware that a storm during your trip may change, delay, or even cancel the trip. Many boaters know to stay out of the waters in a storm.
Also, be aware that there is one time during the “off” season that is very much “on”: the week before Christmas through the week after New Year’s are often very busy, and you will see an increase in travel, lodging, and attraction prices.
As mentioned, the best time to visit Hawaii is largely subjective to what you plan to do on your days in port, but no matter when you go or what you plan to do, it’s always best to plan ahead and book well in advance.
If you’re planning on staying before or after your cruise, many hotels and accommodations are booked 6 to 8 months in advance. Also, booking your excursions in advance often means scoring the best deal, so be sure to build your itinerary long before you make the trip!