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What is the Best Time to Visit Maui – for You?
By Love Big Island | updated
Are you dying to visit Maui but not quite sure which time of year to go? Is summer the best time to be there, or is it better to escape the cold in the winter months?
Maui wildfire update (October 23, 2023): County of Maui Announces Reopening of West Maui on November 1
The phased reopening of West Maui accommodations began on October 8. Today, Maui Mayor Richard Bissen announced that the rest of West Maui north of Lahaina — Phases 2 and 3 from Kahana to Kā‘anapali — will begin reopening on Wednesday, November 1. The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority advises travelers to check with individual accommodations, activities and businesses in West Maui for their availability and hours of operation. As travelers return to Maui after the devastating August wildfires, they will help to sustain jobs, keep businesses open, and support the community.
For the latest Maui emergency management and recovery information, and how you can kōkua (help) the people of Maui, visit mauistrong.hawaii.gov.
Obviously, personal schedules will have an impact on when you travel, but if your plans are flexible, it helps to get an understanding of what each time of year offers on Maui so you can make the best decision.
Maui is beloved for its well-rounded range of offerings and laid-back country vibe.
On Maui, you can have a wide variety of experiences, including luxurious resorts, golden-sand beaches, dense rainforest hiking, high-altitude volcanic landscapes, family-run farms and agriculture, award-winning restaurants, and access to small, walkable beach towns, making it a place that tends to please everyone.
If you plan to visit Haleakala and stick around after sunset (or visit to see the sun rise) it’s important to dress appropriately! Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
The second-biggest island in the chain, Maui’s natural landscape and biodiversity include a 10,000-foot volcano (Haleakalā), seasonal whale watching, and remote, undeveloped rainforests, like the infamous Road to Hāna.
A small bay hidden in the mountainside along the Road to Hana on Maui. Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
What is the best time to visit Maui?
The answer to the million dollar question comes down to what you want to do when visiting Maui. Some things are not greatly effected by the seasons – you can still have a great beach day during the winter, for example. But other experiences, like whale watching, are only available certain times of year. The cost of your vacation can also vary with the time of year, as do ocean conditions and the amount of fellow visitors.
More than 10,000 whales make their way to the Hawaiian Islands each year, with a majority posting up off the west coast of Maui in the Auʻau Channel. Whale watching experiences are aplenty (see our guide), including boat and kayak cruises. But if you want to see the whales, you have to show up in the correct season. Whales begin arriving in Hawaiʻi in November and stay through March, with December, January, and February having the highest concentration.
Summarizing: the best time to visit Maui if you want to see whales are the months of December, January, and February.
A humpback whale breaching the surface off Maui.
The best time to visit Maui for snorkeling:
Snorkeling on Maui can be done any time of year, but conditions tend to be the best in the summer months. While you can certainly snorkel on a sunny winter day, the season brings a little more uncertainty in the weather, with a higher chance of rain, bigger waves, and stronger currents. Casual snorkelers shouldn’t worry too much, but if you want to make snorkeling a main component of your trip and explore many different sites, you should opt for the spring, summer, or fall when conditions are best and more consistently accessible.
Summarizing: the best season to visit Maui for snorkeling is summer. Spring and Fall also offer acceptable snorkeling conditions.
Summer is the best season for snorkeling on Maui because the waters are calm and clear. Photo by Subtle Cinematics on Unsplash
The best time to visit Maui “on the cheap?”
Want to snag a great deal on a flight and hotel room? Your best bet is during the fall and spring shoulder seasons.
Summer brings the “summer crowds” as they say, with families traveling during the school break. Winter brings “snowbirds” looking to ditch the winter weather on the mainland, as well as a flurry of holiday activity.
For the best deals, search around during the spring and fall when kids are still in school and the weather isn’t so bad on the mainland. These times of year see the least demand, resulting in the best value deals. Find more money-saving tips in our guide on how to plan a cheap trip to Hawaiʻi yourself.
Summarizing: the best time to visit Maui on a small budget is during the spring and fall seasons.
This comparison of the monthly average daily rate hotels on Maui shows that the shoulder seasons are the best time to find an affordable hotel room.
Cheap & Free Things to do on Maui
Is planning your trip to Maui starting to hurt your wallet? Our list with cheap and free activities lets you enjoy Maui without breaking the bank!
When to visit Maui if you want to skip the crowds?
The same logic above applies here – if you want to avoid crowds, avoid the summer, when families are free to travel thanks to summer school break. Spring, fall, and winter are all better options for avoiding the high season. Holidays, like Christmas and New Years, tend to be busier as well.
Summarizing: skip December and the summer months if you don’t like crowds.
Maui visitor arrivals per months for the period from 2017 up to 2022. We omitted 2020 because the severe COVID travel restrictions heavily skew the numbers for that year. September and February are the quietest months, while summertime and December are the most crowded.
What is the best time to visit Maui for the weather?
This is a bit of a trick question, because it depends on what you want to do while visiting Maui.
If you’re looking for the sunniest beach days with the most consistent weather for laying out and ocean activities, then summer is the time to visit Maui. There’s much less rain than in the winter, and the seas are more calm and predictable.
However, keep in mind that those sunny summer days can be quite hot, with temperatures near the 90s in some places. So if you’re not a beach bum or ocean junkie, you may enjoy visiting in the spring or fall, when the days are still nice but it’s not so hot. Hiking and other touring activities might be more enjoyable without the heat of the summer.
There are other considerations at play. Waterfall lovers may be happier in the late winter/early spring months, when the waterfalls flow at their highest volumes.
Surfers will want to dig even deeper – certain breaks are better in summer or winter, respectively, depending on their location.
Summarizing: the best time to visit Maui for the weather depends on what you are looking for. In general most people are happiest during the tropical warm summer months.
There are no rainbows without rain! Photo by Look Up Look Down Photography on Unsplash
How to Avoid Rain During the Rainy Winter Season
Piggybacking off that last section, you may be trying to figure out winter in Maui. It’s the rainy season and the ocean is a bit more rough, but it’s also a time when temperatures are cooler, crowds are less, and seasonal activities, like whales and waterfalls and big-wave surfing, are at their peak.
So, how does one approach a winter visit to Maui?
The answer requires an understanding of weather patterns in the islands, which we will break down simply: The eastern sides of the islands receive the most rain, while the western sides are more dry. As an extreme example, Hilo (east side of Big Island) receives more than 100 inches of rain per year, while parts of Kona (west side of Big Island) receive only about 20-30 inches per year.
The differences on Maui are not quite that extreme, but the general rule still applies: It is drier on the west coasts. So if you’re visiting in the winter, it’s best to position yourself (i.e. book a hotel) on the western side of Maui, where rain is less common.
Summarizing: stick to west Maui to avoid being rained on while visiting during the winter months.
A Month-by-Month Breakdown of Maui Weather
Here’s the weather you can expect in Maui throughout the year:
Spring – Late March through May
In spring, you’ll still get a few hangover showers from the winter rainy season, but for the most part, things will be cleared up. Temperatures will be cooler than in summer. The hottest days will creep above 80 degrees, but most days will be somewhere in the mid-to-high 70s. Ocean conditions will be mellowing out from the turbulent winter months.
Summer – June through Early September
Summer is the hottest and driest season, with average daily temperatures in the mid-to-high 80s, perhaps even touching into the 90s in places like Honolulu, Kailua-Kona, and Lahainā. Rain is less common. While you can experience tropical showers, it is rare to have several days of all-day rain in a row. Ocean conditions are generally predictable and more calm than other seasons.
Fall – Late September Through Early November
In fall, temperatures will drop from the hot days of summer, getting the averages back down into the high 70s or low 80s. Late fall brings a greater chance of showers, should the rainy season decide to begin early.
Winter – Late November Through Early March
Winter is the rainy season in Hawaiʻi, and all islands will receive more rain during this time of year. That said, sunny days are still common, and temperatures are pleasant, usually in the mid to low 70s. Things can get chilly at night along the coast, so bring a pull-over for those mid-60s evenings. During these months, it is possible for snow to fall in the high elevations on the top of Haleakalā while the temperatures remain pleasant along the coast. The snow is a sight to see when standing on the beach with your feet in the water.