Updated: March 1, 2023
Hawaii is a popular tourist destination, but choosing the perfect time to go can be hard. The good news is that Hawaii has something to offer year-round, so you can never really go wrong, regardless of your chosen season.
You may feel that visiting Hawaii in February sounds a bit strange — who goes on vacation so soon after Christmas? — but it offers an appealing respite from the dark and cold of late winter in the mainland United States. A Hawaii vacation in February might be just the thing you need to lift your spirits and start your year on a high note.
What to Expect from the Weather in Hawaii in February
The weather plays a significant role in what you do during your time on the islands. While Hawaii enjoys stable temperatures year-round, you should still plan your vacation around weather conditions like rain and hurricane risks.
February’s average temperatures remain relatively mild throughout the islands. You can expect daily highs of approximately 79°F and lows of 68°F. Nights can be relatively cold in the low 60s, so pack a light jacket and pants to enable you to stay comfortable during your vacation.
Air temperatures vary between islands, and the higher you go, the cooler the weather. Elevated areas, such as the volcano on the Big Island, can get positively chilly, so if you’re planning a hike or overnight stay, make sure to pack at least a light sweater and potentially something warmer.
Hawaii is home to constant breezes regardless of the season. Usually, these breezes come from the northeast and are more common in summer. They act as a natural air conditioner, keeping the islands cool despite the tropical heat.
During the fall and winter months (October to February), the islands experience Kona winds that come in from the south or west and tend to bring rainfall along with them. These winds may also bring whiffs of sulfur dioxide from Big Island’s volcano, forming a volcanic fog that dissipates when the northeasterly winds return.
Winter is Hawaii’s rainy season, and while February weather tends to be dryer than in December and January, you can still experience the occasional downpour. The good news is that most rain happens overnight, with only occasional showers interfering with your vacation plans.
A simple way to protect yourself from the rain is to plan activities on the side of the island facing away from prevailing winds — also known as the leeward side. The leeward side often gets much less rain due to the protection that the mountains and hills offer, meaning less chance of disrupting your vacation plans.
Unlike many other tropical destinations, Hawaii is relatively safe from hurricanes. The last hurricane to hit the islands was Hurricane Lane, which landed in August 2018. While we can’t make guarantees about the weather, the chances of seeing a hurricane while on a Hawaiian island are very unlikely.
Surface ocean temperatures remain very stable during most of the year, usually hanging around 76°F. While getting a tan in early February may be more difficult due to the generally overcast weather, it’s still possible to enjoy ocean-based activities such as swimming and surfing.
Strong prevailing winds and intense winter storms in the northern hemisphere often result in huge swells on certain beaches. Generally, the north shores have powerful and dangerous swells, the east and western shores have big waves and high surf, and the south shores experience calm seas with very few waves.
Take Advantage of Off-Peak Season Prices
One of the biggest benefits of a Hawaiian winter vacation is that your dollar goes a lot farther. Due to the low demand for hotels and car rentals, you can often snag great deals that leave more cash for fun activities. While not the cheapest time to visit the islands (that’s May), planning a visit to Hawaii in February can save you money on most of your vacation costs.
Mid-February hotel rates sometimes see a spike due to Valentine’s Day crowds, but these settle down in early and late February. Similarly, you can often get affordable car rentals and cheap flights if you visit Hawaii during winter, especially if you plan your vacation well in advance.
February is the low season in Hawaii, with few visitors, especially when compared to the summer months. While experienced surfers love the big swells on the north shore of Big Island, most people prefer visiting Hawaii during spring break or the high season.
While Hawaii has a spike in mid-February visitors due to Valentine’s Day, the rest of the month has smaller crowds. If you’re looking for a quiet vacation where you can enjoy good weather in peace, February is the best time to visit Hawaii. You’ll find that beaches and hiking trails are much less busy.
Plenty of Fun Things to Do in Hawaii in February
While Hawaii in February may not have the best weather, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be limited to indoor activities. Most rain happens at night and evening, and the higher sea level makes for some great surfing opportunities. Here’s a taste of what you can do in Hawaii during the off-peak season.
Many people find the overcast Hawaii weather the perfect time to do some serious hiking. Hiking during peak season can become uncomfortable due to high humidity, crowds, and hot temperatures.
Hawaii offers a vast array of hiking trails through diverse landscapes. The Kalalau Trail on Kauai is one of the most popular hikes, offering up spectacular views of the coastline. It’s also the only way to access Kalalau beach by land, a welcome break after a day of hiking.
If you prefer something less strenuous but just as rewarding, the Kaena Point walk is a three-mile trail on the westernmost tip of Oahu. This serene walk goes through the volcanic coast and offers amazing views of the Makua coastline. Since the trail has no shade, the rainy season is the best time to explore without having to keep an eye on the weather.
While not technically a hike, visiting the Pearl Harbor Historic Trail is definitely a worthwhile way to spend a day. This six-mile walk offers a visual history of Pearl Harbor, culminating in a visit to the Pacific National Monument and Pacific Aviation Museum. If you have even the smallest interest in the events of Pearl Harbor, this is an unmissable opportunity to immerse yourself in history.
It’s always the perfect time to snorkel while on your Hawaii vacation, but adjusting to the seasons can maximize your enjoyment. Hawaii’s Big Island offers the best February snorkeling spots, especially on the Kona Coast. This sheltered spot protects fish from winter storms, while the warm ocean temperatures ensure that you stay comfortable in the water.
Another amazing snorkeling experience is the Manta Ray Night Snorkel. Found predominantly on the Kona Coast of Big Island, manta rays are gentle giants that feed on phytoplankton and are harmless to humans. Tour guides use strong lights to attract phytoplankton, the manta rays’ favorite snack, almost always ensuring that you’ll see a few manta rays during your session.
You can find manta rays on most of the islands, but they tend to hang around feeding spots such as:
- Waikoloa on the Kohala Coast
- Garden Eel Cove on the Kona Coast
- Olowalu Reef in West Maui
- Keauhou Bay on the Kona Coast
Whale Watching in Hawaii
One of the biggest draws of Hawaii from December to mid-April is humpback whale season. February is often the best season for whale sightings, especially in Maui. While you can spot humpback whales in Big Island, Lanai, and Molokai, most whales tend to aggregate around Maui’s west coast.
The Pacific Whale Foundation holds an annual Maui Whale Festival throughout February, with events such as Run & Walk for Whales, the Great Whale Count, and many others. The Foundation also offers humpback whale-watching tours that include either a two-hour boat trip or an hour-long snorkeling session. The trip guarantees whale sightings, and you can enjoy the fully stocked bar and excellent views when looking for humpback whales in the ocean.
While surfing doesn’t have an official season in Hawaii, you may need to plan your sessions around the weather. Hawaii in February still gets strong winds and storms, resulting in some beaches getting high waves and intense swells. While most north shore beaches are too wild for surfing in February, you can catch some excellent waves on Sandy Beach, Makaha, or Queen’s Beach.
February may not be the best time to visit Hawaii if you want to focus on surfing, but that doesn’t mean that the northern beaches like Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach are completely off limits. Keep an eye on the weather reports, and if possible, drive out daily to see what conditions are like. The chances are that you’ll luck out and get to surf some of the best waves in the world.
If you’re not an avid surfer yourself, check out surfing competitions, like The Eddie, which tend to run from December to February. These competitions showcase some of the world’s best talent and are an unforgettable experience.
Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival
The Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival is a long-standing tradition in Hawaii. The festival showcases the blending of Japanese and Hawaiian cultures to create something unique and unforgettable.
While the main focus is on appreciating the cherry blossoms and reflecting on your life, the festival also has many other activities to keep you entertained. From live performances and music to Hawaiian-Japanese cuisine, there’s sure to be something to catch your eye.
Mountain Tubing in Kauai
The Kauai tubing adventure offers a gentle trip down artificial irrigation canals, tunnels, and flumes. Visitors start their journey on a former sugar plantation and get to experience a host of historical and natural vistas. The plantation’s extensive irrigation system winds its way through 17,000 acres of plantation land and showcases some of the island’s best views.
Best of all, the tubing adventure is available throughout the year, rain or shine. It’s the perfect way to spend a day while visiting Hawaii.
Laupahoehoe Music Festival
The Laupahoehoe Music Festival in Hawaii is a great opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy some fantastic music on the beach. In addition to traditional Hawaiian music, the festival also offers classic rock and even country folk music, so there’s something to please everyone.
Even if you’re not interested in the music, the food and fun on offer are sure to entice you. Local vendors provide delicious food ranging from kalua pork to Thai cuisine and, of course, dessert. Local craftspeople also come to the festival to sell authentic and traditional crafts, or you can spend your money during the silent auction.
No matter what your interests are, the Laupahoehoe festival is sure to be a memorable day out for the family. The Festival tends to move around its dates between February and April, so it’s important to keep an eye on the official website to see what the next year’s date will be.
Waimea Town Celebration
If you’re in Hawaii in February, leave time in your schedule for the Waimea Town Celebration. This multi-day event is the oldest festival on Kauai and offers several days of cultural and recreational events. Events range from a spam musubi eating contest to a film festival and even Hawaiian storytelling evenings.
The festival attracts many local vendors, including skilled chefs and local cooks. If you love food, you’ll adore the wide range of authentic Hawaiian dishes, fusion foods, and delicacies on offer. The festival also hosts several exciting competitions, including a showdown rodeo, long-distance canoe race, 3-on-3 basketball tournament, and even a ukulele contest.
Is February the Right Time for You?
Visiting Hawaii in February offers a unique experience that you won’t find during the summer months. In general, airfare and hotel rates are more affordable, there are fewer people, and you get to experience a side of Hawaii that you may not see otherwise. You can still participate in all of Hawaii’s outdoor activities, such as hiking, snorkeling, and surfing, without suffering in the summer heat. Hawaii in February is also home to many great festivals celebrating Hawaiian culture and heritage, so you’ll never run out of things to do.
So is February the best time for visiting Hawaii? We think so! That said, there is no bad time to visit the state thanks to its mild climate, even in the winter months, and wide range of things to do. If you want to take advantage of cooler temperatures, less crowded beaches, and lower costs, visiting Hawaii in February should be on your bucket list.