Best time to visit Oahu

Before you read any further, please know that it is always a good time to visit Hawaii. That is especially the case for O’ahu (which we decided to spell as Oahu). Oahu is the most frequently visited of all Hawaiian islands and home to the state’s most popular tourist attractions. This includes Honolulu, Pearl Harbor and Waikiki beach. While occasionally busy, it is also the most affordable island to visit in Hawaii. On top of that, Oahu has a very lively and diverse nightlife meaning there is something to do for all of us. But when is the best time to travel to an island that honestly always good to travel to.

Select your month

Best time to visit Oahu for the weather

In this post we look at two different metrics to determine the best time to travel. The first metric is what all other websites and overviews look at as well: the weather. We can be brief about that. Weather wise, it is always a good time to travel to Hawaii. Even when winter brings slightly wetter and chillier weather, it never gets unpleasantly cold or wet. The average temperature never drops below a comfortable 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius) making Hawaii a year round destination.

Nevertheless, even in a paradise like Oahu, there is a rainy season (November to March) and a dry season (April to October). Although there is logically more rain during the rainy season, the rain never stays too long. Unlike other tropical places on our planet, the rain is never there to annoy you for days. Showers can be intense but never last long enough to completely ruin your day. Often it rains on one side of the island you are on while it is completely dry on the other side.

On the other side of the coin, it can actually get too warm for some in Oahy. In summer the rain clouds have disappeared and it can get very hot and humid. Especially Honolulu and Waikiki can become so warm that some of us would find it uncomfortable. Although tropical cyclones can occur outside the typical season, the hurricane season starts early June and ends late November.

Best time to visit Oahu for small crowds

As said, that is what many other websites will tell you as well. At Avoid-Crowds.com we look beyond weather patterns. We look at when things get busy. This means that we tell you when it is best to travel if you want to avoid crowds. For Oahu, predicting crowds is relatively easy. The peak and low season follow patterns that we know from other parts of the United States.

Oahu seems to follow what we call the ‘traditional American travel pattern’. That means that Oahu, like most of Hawaii, gets busy during two distinctive peak seasons. The first big wave of tourists hits the islands during the summer vacation break that starts half June and ends early September after Labor Day. Like most tropical destinations on the continent, the December holiday season is the second peak season. Although short, this second peak is much more intense with fully booked hotels and surging prices. Good to know: tourism in Hawaii also picks up in March.

If you want to avoid crowds, we recommend traveling during one of Hawaii’s two shoulder seasons. The pre-season starts in April and ends half way June when peak season starts. The late season starts immediately after the labor day weekend. September and October bring very pleasant weather but you run the risk of having a tropical cyclone ruining your paradise getaway style vacation.

Hawaii gets most expensive around public holidays like Independence Day, Christmas or Labor Day. Lowest prices can be found in slow months like February or November. We always recommend booking early!

January

January can be wet in Oahu

Due to its all year round warm weather, Oahu is a destination for any month. Although January is the coldest month of the year in Hawaii, the average maximum temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius) is still very comfortable. With more rain than most other months, it can get wet in the first month of the year. Luckily, most flowers like wet weather and will await you fully blossoming. If you prepare for rain and hope for sun, January is the perfect month to visit Hawaii. Please note that not every island is the same. Check climate data before you start your vacation or even check it before you start planning. If you are really worried about rain, stay at the leeward side of the islands.

Although it can still be a bit busy early on in the month, January is one of the most quiet months in Hawaii.  After the December holiday season, global tourism slows down and that is also the case in Hawaii. As a result, January is one of the least crowded months of the year on basically all islands. Watch out for one busier weekend: Martin Luther King Jr. Day when Americans often travel to the islands.

February

February is a cheap month to visit Oahu

The weather slowly improves as the year starts to progress. Temperatures in February are similar to January but Hawaii starts to see less rain during the second month of the year. The average maximum temperature remains a comfortable 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius) while precipitation in the state drops. Nights can be colder but not cold enough for winter jackets.

February is a slow month for global travel. Once again, Hawaii is no exception. Except for those on romantic getaways around Valentine’s day (February 14), it will not get too busy in Hawaii in February. Especially the last weeks of the month see low crowds. If you want to enjoy relatively low prices, visit Hawaii in February. Hotel prices are relatively low and you are probably able to get good airfares.

March

March is a busy month in Oahu

March is a relatively busy month in Hawaii. Compared to February or April, it is busier on all islands including Oahu, Maui, Big Island and Kauai. Interestingly, these relatively larger crowds cannot be explained by improved weather. March is wetter than the month before or after. A sudden rise in temperature also does not explain the popularity of a vacation in March. The third month of the year sees similar temperatures (80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius)) as the months before. March is also most definitely colder than April.

So how can it be that March is a relatively busy month in Hawaii? American youngsters. Lots of young Americans travel to sunny destinations in March as Spring Break offers them an opportunity to travel. Spring Break makes all sunny destinations within the United States busier than the surrounding months. If you want to avoid crowds in March it is best to travel outside busy Spring Break weeks. You can find out which weeks are Spring Break weeks by doing a bit of research. For example by searching for ‘Spring Break Events March Hawaii’.

April

April is a great month to visit Oahu

While March can be a relatively busy month, things slow down again in April. With smaller crowds and even better weather (less rain, higher temperatures), April is a great month to visit Hawaii. The average temperature for the State increases to 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius). Although it is an overall quiet month, it can get busier during some specific weekends. You can identify these weekends if you watch out for school vacations and local events. Important to be aware of is that in 2021 and 2022, Easter falls in April. Around the world, Easter is a first test for destinations preparing for a busy summer season. Although this effect is much bigger in Europe than in the United Sates, it does result in additional tourists for Hawaii. During the Easter weekend, Tourism picks up rapidly and slows down again immediately after. Although this effect is not as big in the United States, the Easter weekend still makes Hawaii busier than other weekends.

Expect relatively large crowds during the long Easter weekend in Hawaii. Easter in Hawaii in 2021 takes place during the first weekend of the month (April 4, April 5). In 2022, Easter will take place halfway the month: April 17 or April 18.

May

May is a perfect month to visit Oahu

May is a perfect shoulder season month. Temperatures slowly start to rise while rainfall is much lower. Compared to other sunny states in the United States, Hawaii is much drier in Spring. Meanwhile, the larger tourist crowds have yet to arrive on Hawaii’s islands. May is simply one of the slowest months on the islands. Nevertheless, it can get a bit crowded around Memorial Day as well as during the Japanese Golden Week, a series of April holidays in Japan, when tourists from the country travel to Hawaii. Especially Waikiki is affected. Golden week falls in the first week of May. For smaller crowds, you should pick dates in the middle of the month between Japanese Golden Week and Memorial Day in the United States.

Sunrise - best time to visit Oahu
Water sports Best time to visit Oahu

In May you can benefit from some of the cheapest hotel rates of the year. The average prices drops well below the yearly average. Airfares, although less predictable, also drop and are especially cheap if they are booked early. We believe the pre-season in Hawaii is better than the late season. Although the weather might be slightly better in September, the risk of a hurricane in May is much smaller.

June

June: quiet before the tourism storm in Oahu

June is the driest month of the year in Hawaii. If you are visiting one of the islands during the sixth month of the year, it is unlikely you will see lots of rain. Meanwhile, the average maximum temperature for the entire state has climbed to a warm 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29.4 Celsius). Only at higher altitudes it can get chilly during the warm Hawaiian summer.

Although June marks the start of the busy summer peak season in Hawaii, it is not as busy as the most popular months July and August. Especially early in the month, most tourists are yet to travel to the islands. Crowds do tend to get bigger later in the month when the summer vacation season gets into full swing.

July

July is hot and dry in Oahu

July is hot, dry and busy in Oahu. The month starts with the incredibly busy fourth of July weekend as Independence day attracts tourists from around many parts of the United States. During the Independence Day weekend, hotel prices in Oahu surge and airfares to the island become expensive. Although it does get quieter after the busy Independence Day weekend, US school vacations make the entire month busy. If you want to avoid crowds, July is probably not the best month to visit Oahu.

Although July is a bit wetter than June, rain is unusual and mostly takes place in the evening. The average temperature is still rising with a Hawaii state wide maximum average of 85 Fahrenheit (29.4 Celsius). Meanwhile, the ocean has also warmed up making the water very comfortable for a swim.

August

August in Oahu is busy, hot and sunny

August and September are the hottest months of the year in Hawaii. The average maximum temperature has now climbed to its peak at 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 Celsius). At the same time, August is a very dry month with almost no rain. Even in the evenings the weather remains comfortable with temperatures not dropping below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius) at night. Of course, temperatures at higher altitudes can be colder. Please note that August and September are within the Pacific hurricane season.

With the warm and dry weather, crowds flock to the islands. With the exception of the December holiday season, the summer months of July and August is the busiest period of the year. Like most of the world, peak season peaks in Hawaii during the last two weeks of July and the first weeks in August. This is especially the case for traveling families. Things calm down again towards the end of the month but gets a bit more intense again if Labor Day falls early in September.

September

Oahu tourism slows down in September

In September global tourism starts to slow down as the beach routine makes place for the daily work routine. Hawaii is no exception and tourists start to leave the islands quickly as September progresses. Meanwhile, the average maximum temperature remains warm with 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 Celsius). September remains a very dry month as precipitation is low. Be aware, September is within the Pacific hurricane season.

waikiki-best time to visit Oahu Hawaii

Except for the Labor Day weekend, crowds are low in September. After the last summer holiday weekend, Hawaii in September gets very quiet when compared to the two busy summer months. If you want to avoid crowds in Hawaii, September is the best month to travel as long as you go after Labor Day.

October

October is a quiet month to visit Oahu

Around the world, October and November are two slow travel months. Hawaii is no exception. Tourism will have slowed down on the islands from early September onwards. Tourism will not pick up again until the extremely busy holiday season kicks off in late December. October in Hawaii means relatively good weather with an average maximum temperature of 85 degrees (29.4 Celsius). That temperature is basically the same as most summer months. Unfortunately, it does get a bit wetter in October as precipitation towards the end of the calendar year starts to increase. However, October is much drier than November or December. Please be aware, October is also within the hurricane season in the Pacific.

November

November in Oahu is a slow month

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.November is the slowest month of the year for global tourism. In Hawaii, November marks the start of the winter season. Although winter weather in Hawaii is much more comfortable than winter weather on mainland USA, it does get noticeably wetter and colder. The average maximum temperature drops to 83 degrees Fahrenheit (28 Celsius) during the day but you will notice winter mostly in the evenings when temperatures drop quickly. Be aware, early November still falls within the Pacific hurricane season.

Although November sees some of the lowest crowds of the year, it can get busy around the Thanksgiving weekend. As a result, prices are low all month except for one of America’s most important holidays. If you want to travel with small crowds and great deals and don’t mind a bit of rain, November is your month.

December

Things get busy again in December

December has a short but very intense peak season. This is also the case for Oahu. With most Americans off from work and school in the second half of the month, many replace the cold and wet weather on the mainland for more tropical destinations. The last two weeks of the year are the busiest and most expensive 14 days of the year in Honolulu and beyond.

This is the case for most other sunny American destinations as well. As a result, tourism in Hawaii as well as Florida starts to heat up. In the month of December you can expect larger crowds as well as higher prices for your flight and hotel. It is also a time when there are relatively more families on vacation.

Meanwhile, December in Oahu is the wettest month of the year with frequent showers. Good to know is that rain on the islands usually does not stick around for days. Rains comes in short shower bursts that hardly ever last for more than 10 to 15 minutes. The average maximum temperature in Hawaii will drop to 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius) which is a fraction warmer than the first months of the year.

Traveling during the pandemic

As this blog is posted in January 2021, it is unknown how COVID-19 will exactly impact tourism in Hawaii. Looking at Europe now opening up after the lock down, it is likely that travel will pick up again but at much lower levels. Especially in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic crowds will be smaller as the appetite to travel internationally has taken a major hit. Although most tourists in Hawaii are domestic travelers, lots of people are less likely to hop on a plane after the crisis. As a result, it is likely that the holiday season of 2021 will be slower than normal. The effects of the 2022 travel season are yet unknown. Follow all official guidelines and instructions and don’t forget to wear a mask.

Leave a Reply