Hawaii: When is the best time to visit?

Rainbow over Kapa'a in Kaua'i

When is the best time to visit
Hawaii - especially its waterfalls?

The state's temperatures are relatively uniform throughout the year. Thanks to its remote location (surrounded by the ocean while at 2,000 miles from the nearest continental landmass) and the unique northeasterly trade winds that help ventilate the humid tropical climate, any time of year is a good time to visit.

But even with that said, there are two main seasons - winter and summer.

The winter season (usually October through April) is characterized by stronger storm systems. These complement the rainfall already brought by the moisture-laden trade winds, which tend to condense and precipitate the windward sides of each island (i.e. the eastern and northeastern shores). Thus, the winter is generally the rainy season and the more reliable time to see waterfalls (though this is far from guaranteed for some of the them).

Heavy winter rain on the Moloka'i North ShoreTemperatures can range from the low 80s to the 50s (the coldest months are February and March (as opposed to December and January) because of the dominance of the ocean). In some cases, the trades along with the lower temperatures and lower humidity may make you think you're not even in a tropical climate! This is also the season where waves crashing into the windward coasts (typically North Shores and Northeastern Shores) are monstrously large, which dare serious surfers to ride the big waves.

The summer season (usually May to September) is characterized by fewer storms and a relatively less overall rainfall (though trade winds can still persist on the windward side of the islands). However, sometimes large convective tropical storms and thunderstorms can develop when trade winds aren't blowing. Hurricanes, while possible, are very rare. There are also infrequent Kona winds (typically only in the summer), which blow opposite the direction of trade winds and bring moisture to the leeward shores of the islands.

Beautiful summer morning at the Dragon's Teeth in MauiTemperatures can range from the high 80s to the high 50s and low 60s in the coastal regions (where most of the population is). The hottest months are August and September; again due to the lagging effect from the dominant ocean surrounding the islands. However, when the ventilating trade winds aren't blowing, it can be uncomfortably hot and humid. Also, many waterfalls tend to dry up as this season progresses (despite the presence of trades). But on the flip side, it's an excellent time for more beach and ocean activities as oceans tend to calm down.

For a more complete climate summary from NOAA's website, click here.

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