Hawaii: Reasons to Go in the Off Season

If you’ve been planning a trip to Hawaii, you’re probably aware that there’s a “high season” and an “off season” for traveling. To get the most bang for your buck, plan to visit when the islands won’t be mobbed with tourists.

Hawaii Island (the Big Island) Hawaii By cowboy6688As you might expect, school holidays are particularly busy times. The weeks spanning the winter holiday break (from about December 15 to January 10) are the most expensive and crowded. Summer break is hugely popular, and spring break (between mid-March and mid-April) is a peak time as well. Other busy periods include the last week of April (Japan’s “Golden Week” of three holidays and, accordingly, an influx of Japanese vacationers) and Chinese New Year, which falls sometime between January and February. Avoid U.S. federal holidays if you can: Because the locals are on vacation themselves, restaurants are likely to be crowded, and cabs and rental cars will be at a premium.

So, where does that leave you? The best times to travel generally fall between late September and mid-March (with the wintertime exceptions noted above). You’ll get the best values and the best weather — not too hot, not too rainy — if you go during either May (just avoid spring break and Memorial Day weekend) or October. Whale-watching season usually runs from December to early March — in other words, there’s some overlap with the off season. If you’re aiming to snorkel or swim in calm waters, try to visit between winter and summer break (late April to early June) or in October.


The Perks of Cheap Times vs. Peak Times

The first reason to go during the off season has to do with price. If you fly to Hawaii in the off season, when demand is lower, you’ll be more likely to find cheaper flights. Many Hawaii hotels slash their rates during the off season as well. It’s a good idea to save on travel and accommodations — you’ll have more money to splurge on adventures!

The second reason has to do with the atmosphere. If you’re coming to an island paradise to get away from it all, you won’t want to fight crowds for a spot on the beach, or get trapped in traffic traveling from one end of an island to another. In the off season, prices are lower, seating and service at restaurants is better, and parking is easy.

Finally, because of Hawaii’s consistent temperatures, there’s little advantage to summertime visits. On average, temperatures during the off season are 5 to 10 degrees lower (but check the weather for the area you’ll be visiting in advance, since climates vary so much across the islands). If you’re averse to sweltering heat, you’ll enjoy the cooler — but still balmy — winter weather. The rainy season extends from November to March, but rain is localized in Hawaii (the islands’ western and southern coasts are typically drier), and it rarely rains more than three days in a row.


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