Winter in Hawaii | 4 Reasons Why Winter is Best for Your Hawaii Family Vacation

Cooler Temperatures

What’s that you say? Hawaii has seasons? Well, yes. Yes, it does. Summer and Winter a.k.a hot and less hot with the latter running November to April. As I write, I am currently wearing wool socks, wool pants, two shirts, and a sweater. Despite the layers, I find myself contemplating if I can type with gloves on. How cold is it? Well, I was distraught to discover the temperature is not in the 50s as it seems, but rather a balmy 65F. Still, brrr.

But winter in Hawaii brings more than chilly weather. It also brings rain which magically transforms the island from dusky brown to verdant green. Heavy clouds can settle across the sky for days at a time, but more commonly you’ll just experience a quick shower here and there. Why risk the rain? Well, a sunny winter day in Hawaii is sublime – sparkling blue waters, a light breeze, and gentle sunshine wrapping you in a warm hug.

The cooler temperatures are perfect for hiking especially exposed ridge and crater hikes. You might try hiking Koko Head or it’s smaller cousin Diamond Head to take in big sweeping views without the sweltering heat of summer. Additionally, the upside of rain is flowing waterfalls. Easy options include Manoa Falls and Hamama Falls.

dad and daughter hiking in hawaii
boy enjoying a waterfall in hawaii

Fewer Crowds

Tourism numbers continue to rise in Hawaii with a record of 10 million visitors in 2019. The crowds and traffic reach a zenith in December and just when you start to feel dread to even leave your home, the congestion eases and you can breathe again. That period, after the holidays, that’s when you can move freely around the islands and enjoy a bit of solitude. At least until summertime.

an empty beach on the north shore of oahu

Big Surf

You know those big waves you’ve heard about? The 40-foot monsters that turn surfers into legends? Winter is when you will find them. Head to the north shore of Oahu and visit Banzai Pipeline at Ehukai Beach Park, picture-perfect Sunset Beach or Laniakea, north of Haleiwa. On Maui, Hookipa doubles as both a popular surfing spot with consistent waves and a great windsurfing spot. On Kauai, catch beautiful waves at Hanalei Bay.

Winter in Hawaii with big waves on the north shore
a surfer at waimean bay on oahu's north shore

Humpback Whales!

Hawaii and Alaska share joint custody of humpback whales. The whales fatten up in the nutrient-rich waters around Alaska and in fall travel to the warmth and safety of Hawaii to birth their young. On Oahu, you can search for whales while enjoying the views of the windward coast at Makapuu Lighthouse Trail or adventure to the tip of the island at Kaena Point. All of the islands have boat tours, but the best place to search for whales is off Maui. The clear, shallow waters that connect Maui, Lanai, and Kahoolawe are particularly appealing to whales. Book with the Pacific Whale Foundation for the best experience.

Need Ideas for Your Family Adventure?

If you’re visiting Hawaii in winter and get stuck with one of those rainy days, there are options. Check out this post for family fun despite the wet weather. And sign up for the Little Bird Post for more tips on family fun in Hawaii.

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