Updated: September 1, 2023
If you’re planning a tropical vacation to Hawaii, you shouldn’t rule out January as your vacation month.
Many tourists are hesitant to plan a Hawaiian vacation during a month that is notoriously cold and snowy throughout much of the U.S.
However, planning your Hawaii vacation for January can provide you with hot weather, and even boasts some benefits over visiting during the more popular holiday months.
Read on to learn five reasons why you should visit Hawaii in January.
Hawaii Weather in January is Pleasant
One of the primary reasons people travel to Hawaii is to participate in all of the state’s outdoor activities.
If you’re interested in surfing, swimming, hiking, or taking a helicopter tour on your trip, you’ll be happy to know that January offers ideal weather conditions for each of these activities.
Hawaii weather is pleasant and warm throughout January, while big waves create exhilarating surfing conditions for professional surfers. Here’s some more information about the weather in Hawaii throughout January.
Average High and Low Temperature
If you’re planning a Hawaii vacation to enjoy hot, sunny weather, rest assured—January is still plenty hot for a beach vacation. The average high temperature is around 79 to 80 degrees F in January, while the average low temperature is approximately 65 degrees.
The Hawaii island you visit determines the temperatures you will experience during your January trip.
For example, while average low temperatures stay in the 60s and 70s on Kauai in January, you can experience temperatures as low as the 30s and 40s at the Mauna Loa Observatory or Hawaii Volcanoes Park on the Big Island.
While you may need a light sweater or light jacket in the evenings during your trip, Hawaii’s high humidity and sunny, pleasant temperatures create the perfect beach weather to swim and get some sun.
Unlike many other states in the U.S., daylight hours do not differ too drastically in Hawaii from month to month. Whether you visit in January or June, you can expect to experience about eleven hours of daylight each day during your Hawaiian vacation.
Most often, the sun rises around 7:10 am and sets around 6:00 pm in Hawaii in January.
Hawaii’s rainy season lasts from October to March, with Hawaii’s rainiest month being December. As a result, if you plan to visit in January, you can expect a few rain showers to occur during your trip.
Specifically, the average monthly rainfall in January across Hawaii is about 9 inches.
Even though January is in the middle of the rainy season, you will likely still experience beautiful weather and mostly sunny days during your January trip.
Many of Hawaii’s rainstorms last no longer than ten or fifteen minutes before the clouds clear out and the sunshine and warm weather return. Just be sure to pack rain gear for any outdoor activities to prepare for these pop-up showers.
If you’re trying to avoid the rain as much as possible, we recommend sticking to the Big Island during your vacation. This island tends to experience less rainfall than the other islands.
However, keep in mind that all the islands need their fair share of rain to stay lush, green, and beautiful year-round.
Even though January is one of Hawaii’s cooler months, the ocean temperatures are still warm enough to allow you to swim comfortably.
You can expect the ocean temperatures to reach around 72 to 76 degrees F, making the water just slightly cooler than the outside temperatures at the peak of the day.
Additionally, the ocean tends to be choppier in January compared to the summer months. The winter months tend to experience rougher water conditions, often creating giant waves along the west and north shores.
These big waves create ideal conditions for experienced surfers to show off their skills. However, if you’re a beginner looking to take surf lessons, we recommend planning your vacation for the summer instead, when Hawaii’s ocean conditions are milder.
Trade winds are permanent east-to-west winds that flow in locations near Earth’s equator, providing a cool, refreshing breeze in some of the planet’s hottest spots. Hawaii experiences these wind patterns all year, but some months are windier than others.
In January, these winds only occur around 40% to 60% of the time, ensuring that the air does not get too chilly during January’s cooler days.
Hawaii Travel and Hotel Costs Are Affordable in January
Another significant reason to visit Hawaii in January is the price. Compared to the peak months of June and July, visiting in January can save you money on necessary expenses such as airfare and hotel costs.
This is primarily because most winter tourists visit Hawaii during the holiday season when they already have time off from school and work or are looking to celebrate the holidays.
Here is a quick breakdown of the different expenses you may encounter during a January trip to Hawaii.
Flight prices vary significantly from day to day and airline to airline, so there’s no way to know for sure what Hawaii flights will cost in January until you go to book your flight.
With that said, flight prices in January tend to be more affordable than what you could find during the holiday months of November and December.
If you plan to visit two islands during your trip, you will need to factor in the transportation costs to get from island to island. You can fly by helicopter or take a ferry or boat to the different islands.
ferry is the most affordable island-hopping option, costing between $30 to $50 per person for each trip.
Traveling to Hawaii in January could leave some room in your budget to allow you to check out several of the major islands during your trip.
If you’re planning a Hawaii trip in January, you can expect to find hotel prices in a moderate range compared to other months of the year. Some hotels lower their costs in January to attract visitors after the holiday rush.
Avoiding New Year’s Day can help you find reasonable rates and save money on your total costs. Additionally, looking for hotels away from the airport can also save you money.
However, keep in mind that hotel costs can vary significantly depending on the type of hotel you would like to stay in. Hawaii is famous for its resorts and high-end hotels, but these lodging locations tend to be much more expensive than your average Holiday Inn.
Car rental companies are notorious for increasing their rates during the busiest seasons on the Hawaiian islands. As a result, you can expect your rental costs to be lower in January than they would be during November and December, two of the state’s busiest tourism months.
Hawaii Crowds Subside in January
Some months bring more tourists and visitors to Hawaii than others. If you’re planning a January visit to Hawaii, you may be wondering how busy the state will be during your trip.
Compared to late December, when many visitors flock to Hawaii to celebrate the holidays, January is slightly less crowded.
Though some tourists wrap up their vacations during the first or second week of January, many of the busiest locations have thinned out as visitors head back to school and work.
January is also a less popular time to visit Hawaii due to the milder, cooler temperatures. Even though the climate is still enjoyable throughout the state in January, many tourists choose to visit during the hotter summer months rather than these milder winter months.
If you’re looking for the least busy time to vacation in Hawaii in January, we recommend the end of the month.
Some of the state’s most popular tourist spots start to pick up again by the third Monday of the month when visitors take advantage of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to extend their vacations.
Many Famous Hawaii Events and Activities Take Place in January
You may expect all of the good Hawaiian events to take place during the summer. However, January still sees several special events that tourists cannot experience during any other month of the year.
Some of the most popular January events include Chinese New Year, humpback whale-watching, professional surfing tournaments, and more.
Chinese New Year
Hawaii celebrates Chinese New Year each year from mid-January to early March. As a result, if you plan your trip for any time after the first week or two of January, you may have the opportunity to participate in Chinese New Year festivities.
Hawaiian locals take Chinese New Year very seriously by planning a wide range of events and activities to celebrate this holiday.
You can expect to see lion dances, kung fu demonstrations, drum performances, and other festive activities throughout the New Year celebration.
These festivities take place on all of the main islands throughout Hawaii.
One benefit to visiting Hawaii in January is that January falls at the peak of Hawaii’s whale season. Thousands of humpback whales migrate from Alaska to Hawaii each January to give birth in the warmer Hawaii ocean waters.
This means that if you’re planning a January vacation to Hawaii, you may get the chance to see these majestic creatures.
Several companies throughout Hawaii offer whale-watching boat tours and events that allow you to see humpback whales up close and personal.
However, if you’re traveling to Hawaii specifically to see some whales, you may have the best chance of a clear viewing experience on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island.
Surfing Events on Oahu’s North Shore
January is peak surfing season in Hawaii, making this month the perfect time for the islands to host professional surfing competitions and events.
If you’re a surfer or enjoy watching professional surfers, be sure to check out any surfing competitions that are happening during your vacation.
Two popular surfing events in January are the Pipeline WSL Championship and the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout, which both occur on Oahu’s North Shore.
While some of the best surfing competitions take place on the North Shore, you can expect to find surfing events throughout the state.
Hawaii Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition Parade and Rally
Each year on the third Monday in January, a unity rally and parade take place on the South Shore of Oahu to commemorate the Rev. M. L. King Jr.
Organizers promote the day as an opportunity for national and community service and to advocate for interracial cooperation and equality, global peace, social justice, and eliminating poverty.
The parade begins at Magic Island and proceeds along Kalakaua Avenue through Waikiki to Kapiolani Park, where the unity rally and festival occur.
Waimea Ocean Film Festival
The Waimea Ocean Film Festival is another popular event that takes place in January each year. This festival showcases some of the best films and filmmakers in Hawaii and spans several days, starting during the first week of January.
The festival features world premieres of dozens of different films in categories ranging from ocean experience to island culture.
National Tropical Botanical Gardens
One of Hawaii’s best features is the beautiful, lush greenery and plant life throughout its islands. If you’re looking for a way to see a wide variety of vibrant tropical flowers and plants, you can spend a day of your January trip at the botanical gardens.
There are several different national tropical gardens throughout the state, with a few of the most popular ones located in Koloa, Hanalei, and Hana.
While you can visit these gardens any time of the year, the greenery within the gardens will be the lushest and healthiest following the heavy rain in December.
A Winter Hawaiian Vacation Can Help You Start the Year Off Right
January is one of the coldest months of the year in most U.S. states. If you’re looking for a way to escape the cold, snowy weather and start the new year off right, planning your Hawaii vacation for January could be the perfect solution.
Hawaii’s warm temperatures and frequent sunshine make it the perfect destination to get out of the cold and warm up in a beautiful, balmy climate.
And kicking back on Waikiki Beach or snorkeling in the warm ocean waters is the best way to relax and unwind following the busy, stressful holiday season.
There’s no doubt about it: January is one of the best times to take a trip to Hawaii. If you’re unsure of which month to plan your trip, we recommend strongly considering January.