Winter in Hawaii: What to Know and What to Do

While travel to the Aloha State peaks in the spring and fall, both summer and winter are amazing times to visit Hawaii. During the Hawaii winter, visitors and kamaʻāina (local residents) alike will find new and unique ways to explore Oahu. If you're wintering in Hawaii, here's everything you need to know about the weather, seasonal events, and planning ahead for a beautiful December, January, February, and March in Hawaii.


What to Know About Winter in Hawaii

Oahu and the rest of the Hawaiian island chain really only have two seasonsKau (summer, which stretches from May through October) and Hoolio (winter, running from October to April). 


1. Plan Ahead for Hawaii Winter Weather

The rainy season kicks into high gear around November, but it's still significantly balmier and dryer than anywhere else in North America:

  • Pack a light sweater. You can still sport your summer attire when wintering in Hawaii, but you'll likely experience gustier winds and may find the evenings chillier than normal. 
  • Bring a rain jacket. Waikiki sees an average of 101mm of rain in December compared to just 14mm in June. The good news? Bouts of rain are always followed by the warm, tropical sun—and often within minutes of a rainstorm. Even better, if one beach is rainy, it often means the beaches on the other side of the island are still warm and sunny!


2. Enjoy Unique Events Only Available When Wintering in Hawaii

The lush, verdant mountains and forests of Oahu are beautiful all year, but there are some can't-miss things you can only enjoy right now:

  • Whale watching: Every year, up to 21,000 humpback whales migrate to Hawaii from Alaska. Whale watching season typically starts in mid-December, with peak whale activity happening in February and March. Some of the best spots to watch for whales are on Oahu's southeastern coast, including the Halona Blowhole just 20 minutes from the conveniently located Waikiki Resort Hotel
  • Christmas in Hawaii: Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas)! If you're lucky to be wintering in Hawaii during the holidays, these four holiday events in and around Waikiki will have you ho-ho-hoing all December long.
  • Check out the surf: Winter season brings monstrous 50-foot swells to Oahu's famous north shore, making it perfect for surf-watching. 


3. Navigate the Logistics of the Winter Season

Don't let poor planning or travel mishaps sabotage the aloha spirit:

  • Booking in advance: Hotels and flights can jump in price right around the holidays, and when kids on the mainland are on their winter breaks. Book in advance to avoid getting sticker shock. 
  • Getting around: While there's often less traffic right around the Christmas season, Oahu's roads can still get gridlocked and many Waikiki parking stalls can't keep up with demand during holiday festivals. Make sure you know all the ins and outs of parking and driving on Oahu.
  • Island hopping: Winter is the best time to do the unthinkable—building a snowman or going snowboarding in the tropics. On the Big Island of Hawaii, the slopes of Mauna Loa, Haleakala, and Mauna Kea often get snow in December and January. It's the perfect excuse to book and plan in advance and consider using Oahu as the jumping-off point to island hop (airfare between islands can be had for as little as $40 each way). 

If you're thinking of wintering in Hawaii, Waikiki Resort Hotel's central location puts you right in the middle of all the seasonal celebrations and attractions—whether you want to catch a festive Christmas parade or see majestic humpback whales arching through the Pacific. Book your stay at the Waikiki Resort Hotel online or call us at 1-800-367-5116 to see why our location, friendly staff, convenience, and amenities give us top ratings among our guests all year long.