Maui is open for business year-round due to its enviable climate. But the high prices and weather fluctuations mean there are still peak seasons where travelers flood in. So what is the best time of year to visit Maui? Our guide aims to help you understand Maui’s fickle weather along with the tourist and price fluctuations so you can pick the perfect time for your trip.
The Climate on Maui is dominated by the trade winds that blow over much of the Hawaiian islands. Due to its latitude close to the equator, it enjoys warm sunshine year-round. Long sunny days mean the temperatures are warm year-round. However, the trade winds keep things in check by delivering cooler moist air from the oceans.
On Maui the elevation of the mountains causes undisturbed airflow to lift. Creating cloud and rain. This means the island’s climate is turned into a multitude of microclimates. It is impossible to accurately discuss the islands climates as only a few miles apart it can be completely different.
Almost any imaginable climate condition can be found on Maui, Apart from Arctic, however, snow can and does fall high on Haleakala from time to time. Rainforest, Desert, Rural Grassland, Ancient Cloud forest, City, High Mountain, Coastal Forrest, and Tropical Beach all can be found on Maui. The differing Climate zones can be quite staggering. What would take a drive of thousands of miles on the mainland can all be experienced within the confines of this small remote island.
From areas that receive almost no rain to some of the wettest places on the planet, from scorching desert to frigid sub-zero temperatures, Maui’s Climate is nothing if not Diverse. Naturally, the Tourist regions have sprung up in the areas most Stable and most pleasant.
One of the advantages of this variability is that even if the weather is a bit grotty in your area as the mountainous rain spills over a bit more than usual, it is often the case you can simply head down the coast able to find some sun.
The below temperatures are monthly averages and daily temps can vary from this significantly. It is also worth saying these are actual temps Real feel in the sun can be MUCH warmer. So as you can see year-round Maui’s temperatures are very pleasant indeed.
It does Rain an awful lot on Maui.
The Island gets its lush greenness from a large amount of rainfall that falls on the islands. It rains most days on the Island and is often very heavy. Parts of the island are some of the wettest places on earth. Don’t worry if this doesn’t sound conducive to good Vacation weather. The vast majority of this rain falls well outside tourist areas. Even populated areas. It falls higher up in the mountains and on high plateaus and valleys.
From time to time though showers will break free from the mountains and head to the tourist resorts. These are short-lived and usually light. Often in summer they actually provide welcome relief to the heat. Know locally as “little blessings”
More substantial rain falls as part of larger Pacific weather systems and storms. These are pretty rare and you would be very unlucky to lose more than a couple of days to one on any trip. Even that is unlikely but you are more likely to experience this in winter than summer.
Being a tropical climate the island doesn’t really have the traditional 4 seasons. Instead, the Seasons are more summer and winter with shoulder seasons that are little more than a transition Season. Even then the difference between summer and winter isn’t exactly stark. Summers are warmer but the winters are still warm and dry, especially in the tourist havens. The weather really plays little role in your decision about when to visit Maui. Winters in Maui will feel incredibly warm and welcoming compared to the harsh winter of the northern latitudes.
Visitor numbers to Maui are not on the same level as Oahu and certainly not other major US destinations, Yearly visitor numbers to Maui are achieved monthly in Las Vegas for Example. However the relatively low levels of development, essential for Maui’s remote tropical charm mean it rarely feels that way. The island is small and the limited number of resort destinations mean it can feel very busy indeed at peak times.
Traffic is especially a problem, in the hotspots such as around Kahului and the Honopalani Highway to Lahaina traffic can back up horrifically at peak times. While these may be the most beautiful traffic jams in the world, they are still no fun at all and if you are heading to Kahului to catch a flight they can be disastrous!
Again the limited development means when the crowds come, the prices rise. Maui is not cheap but when demand is great the prices can really get eye-watering. Booking early or targetting a quieter season can bag some big savings. We take an in-depth look at when to book in our Maui Money Saving article!
Summer ( June, July, August, September)
The summer season is very busy. The weather is fantastic with very warm temperatures and limited showers which are normally short and brief in the tourist areas. What rain there is normally falls at night or early morning.
Due to the great weather coinciding with traditional family vacation times Visitors flock in. This puts great strain on Prices and infrastructure. Both flights and hotel prices will be at the top end and places will be busy. Expect queues and very little peace and quiet. Beaches will be crammed and traffic jams can form in hot spots such as Lahaina.
For many, the need to travel in these months due to school breaks gives you little choice. This means early June is better as the schools have not broken up yet.
If budget allows Maui is still a wonderful place to visit in Summer, just be ready for the bustle and book attractions nice and early. Sea temperatures are at their highest so water-based activities are popular. The winter storms have long gone and the seas are at their calmest so Snorkelling and Diving are at their peak!
The whales are long gone, however.
Winter (December, January, February, March)
Winter brings the worst weather for the island. It also surprisingly the PEAK season. While the weather is poor for Maui compared to elsewhere it is still warm and beautiful. Larger storms are possible and these can bring more sustained rain across the island. But these are still infrequent. And most rain is short light showers
Expect crowds and high prices as you would in the summer. However, when your hometown temperatures are -20DegC and you are knee-deep in slush and snow the thought of 25DegC on a beautiful beach drinking Mai Tais sounds pretty good.
This is peak whale season too. Large humpback can be spotted from the shore or whale watching sails or cruises. You may even hear the incredible songs while snorkeling.
Another quirk of winter is the possibility of very high swells from Pacific storms. Affecting mostly the windward side these can lead to some of the biggest waves in the world. the Peahi Break, affectionately known as JAWS produces huge walls of water that only bravest (stupidest?) Skilled surfers should even dream of. It is quite a sight to behold, however. When conditions are like this avoiding the water is a very good idea. The ocean can be a misleading and dangerous beast. High surf warnings will be issued by local authorities if this is an issue.
These Storms are primarily felt on the windward side but the swell can and do wrap around the island. This leads to much rougher waters than usual and can definitely make bathing, snorkeling, and ocean activities on hold. If these are of high importance to you winter may not be the best time to visit, However, the nature of the island means there is usually somewhere you can head to in order to find calmer waters.
Spring (April, May)
Spring is one of the shoulder seasons. Being a tropical climate it is not Spring as you would know it, simply a transition from winter to summer. This means temperatures are very nice indeed in the tourist regions. You will see the sun almost every day.
Most importantly the footfall to the island wanes. Prices take a dip as hotels try to draw people in and flights can be had for bargain prices if you shop around. The Plumari Trees start to flower and the island wakes from its winter slumber. This is our second favorite time on the island and the fact it is the cheapest just adds to its allure.
Obviously, there will be a spike in prices around the Easter holidays but if you are able to avoid these then Spring is really wonderful in Maui.
Whales will still be around in April however in much smaller numbers and dwindling through the month, in May the last few will leave for the summer feeding grounds.
Autumn / Fall (October, November)
Like spring Autumn is just a transitional period as opposed to a real season. However, the summer temperatures continue well into November before dropping slightly to their winter levels. The main difference is the change of wind brings the likely hood of winter storms increasing as the month’s roll-on (keep an eye on surf conditions). Chances are you will see hot sunny weather almost every day though.
Autumn is possibly the nicest time to visit the island weather-wise and oddly enough sees the least visitors. Prices will be at their lowest and the island at its quietest. (Thanksgiving weekend is the obvious exception). September has some of the best weather of any month including August but with the kids heading back to school, families stay away. October is only slightly cooler and equally quiet and there can be some real bargains.
November will see the early arrival of the whales, tired from their journey it’s not the best month for spotting them as they are fairly inactive. But they will be there unlike the summer months.
Best Time To Visit Maui, Hawaii?
As you can see all Seasons have their pros and cons. So really the best time to suit is when suits you. If you are bound to the summer due to school holidays as long as you don’t want to see the whales it’s still a great time to come. Or if a winter getaway is a must you will just have to share the blissful weather and beaches with more people. But if you are more flexible there are no real downsides to the “shoulder” seasons. With Spring and Autumn bring the best out of the island!
So hunt for the best flight prices and book accommodation to suit.
From June until November the Pacific Hurricane season is in effect. This can bring dangerous storms to the shores of Hawaii. Fortunately, these events are pretty rare. With only 3 hurricanes actually making landfall in the last few Decades with around 6 hitting as tropical storms. But it is a threat and should be seriously considered. Ensuring you have good cancellation insurance is really the only precaution you need to take in case your flight gets canceled. The most likely effect on your trip would be periods of rain, wind, and high surf as the storm passes by the islands. The high peaks of Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, and Haleakala have an incredible ability to affect Pacific weather and one trick is they seem to divert most hurricanes away from the islands, sometimes at the very last minute.
Of course, as we start to see the effects of our warming climate this is liable to change in the future.
Have Your Say
Let us know in the comments below if you have any experience of Maui’s weather or tourist seasons? Have you been there when it’s Busy? or Quiet? What was your weather experience? Let us know if you have any comments or questions below. We would love to hear from you.