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Winter in Hawaii

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Winter in Hawaii is not really winter, but just a slightly cooler summer, and I love it! Living in the tropics can get boring for some, but for me, it means that you can enjoy the ocean, perfect climate, and not wearing shoes all year-round. How cool is that!

Officially, there are two seasons in Hawaii - Kau (Summer) from April to October and Hoolio (Winter) from November to March. Not much changes between seasons, but there are some subtle differences. The weather in winter is about six to ten degrees cooler than summer, with average daytime highs in the high 70s. Also, winter brings with it rain, more than usual, which isn’t much to begin with, and trade winds. The best place to be on the Big Island during winter months is on the West side, on the golden Kohala Coast, which has its micro-climate and very little rain.

And only on Big Island we actually get some snow in the wintertime. Yes, there’s snow in Hawaii, who would have thought? The volcano Mauna Kea (meaning white mountain) at over 13,000 feet above sea level, is known to get snow in the winter and not the wet messy snow, great fluffy snow they refer to as “pineapple powder”. You can go skiing or snowboarding (no ski lifts there, just F.Y.I.), and a few hours later find yourself on a white sandy beach and dip into the warm ocean.

Photo by M. Varney

In winter, the already amazing surf gets even better with swells growing up to 20’ higher than normal, to the joy of surfers and bodyboarders like myself. My favorite Paniau Beach is the perfect spot and is just a short bike ride away from my house in beautiful Puako. Many surf competitions are held in Hawaii during the winter months. Watching the pro’s make it look easy, surfing on swells peaking at 20’ can be quite exhilarating to see.

Winter is also a season for whale watching. Hawaii is a favorite wintering spot for humpback whales, which means you can look out to sea on any winter day and spot these majestic creatures. Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. where humpback whales mate, calve and nurse their young, and has one of the largest seasonal populations of North Pacific humpbacks in the world. Whale season lasts from November to May, with the peak of the season between January and March.

Since it never gets too cold, the tropical flora in Hawaii is just as lush and vivid in winter as it is for the rest of the year. Even in December and January, tropical flowers continue to bloom as usual. We are also blessed with fresh local tropical fruits and vegetables all year round, making Hawaii a paradise for vegans, vegetarians, and people who just want to eat healthily.

As the holiday season approaches, you will find the landscape lighting up with Christmas lights and decorations, just like anywhere else in the country. Traditional Christmas trees look somewhat odd in the tropics, but they make their contribution to the bright and festive spirit of the season. While COVID closed a lot of usual holiday activities and festivals, you can still enjoy the restaurants and bars in a relaxed, less-crowded setting.

And whether it is winter or summer, Hawaii is always filled with warmth and spirit of Aloha and hospitality. Come, visit, and live your Hawaii Life! I did!

Ta Da!



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