Updated: November 1, 2023
Are you thinking of visiting Hawaii in May? Even though the peak season ends in mid-April, many people find May the best time to visit Hawaii. During this month, the air temperatures start rising, and you can enjoy sunny days during what is honestly quite a reasonably-priced time of the year.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at essential tips for travelers who are planning a May trip to Hawaii.
Weather in Hawaii in May: Pleasant Temperatures
Hawaii has sunny weather all year round, even during the colder months. Due to Hawaii’s proximity to the equator in the Northern Hemisphere, the islands have a tropical climate and is close to having only two seasons: basically, Summer (from May to October-ish), and Winter (from November to April-ish).
All the Hawaiian islands experience the best weather during the summer months, starting from early June. However, the daytime temperatures are high from as early as mid-April.
Throughout May, the average temperatures during the day are around 84°F at sea level. During the evenings, temperatures can drop to around 70°F, and you might need a light jacket when going out. Remember that various microclimates exist depending on the specific area and elevation, so be sure to check local forecasts.
The comfortable temperature range is not the only contributor to the good weather conditions. Hawaii’s rainy season, which peaks in mid-December, ends in March, so the sun is usually shining in May. The month is relatively dry, with sporadic precipitation at night, especially along each island’s northern and eastern shores.
When you visit Hawaii in May, rainfall will likely not disrupt your activities. Showers are generally localized and typically only last a few minutes.
The trade wind is why the four major islands in Hawaii each have a dry side and a wet side. This moisture-rich wind blows over the islands from a northeasterly direction. When the winds reach the volcanic mountains on the islands, the moisture they carry condenses, and rain clouds form.
These winds can’t carry the moisture over the mountains, which means that most rains fall on the windward side of the islands. You can see this effect when looking at a satellite image of Hawaii.
For this reason, some areas are less prone to rain than others. This is why the leeward coastlines (the West-facing shorelines) along all the Hawaiian islands tend to be drier, such as ‘Ewa on O’ahu, and the Kona area on the Big Island.
This trade wind is generally a pleasant, cooling breeze during May, especially if you are near one of the islands’ northern shores.
The warm average temperatures of the ocean surrounding Hawaii’s islands are among the reasons for the islands’ pleasant weather. The water’s surface temperature remains consistent throughout the year, ranging from around 77 °F to 83 °F. The water temperature supports a vibrant marine life and is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and other water-based activities.
Long Daylight Hours
Because May is the first summer month in Hawaii, the number of daylight hours increases to about 13 hours per day, with the sun rising about 6 a.m. and setting at around 7 p.m. These long days allow you more than enough time for the activities you want to plan.
Just be prepared to wake up a little extra early if you want to catch the sunrise!
Visitor Arrivals: Is Hawaii Crowded During May?
Fewer crowds visit Hawaii during May than during the peak seasons before and after it. If you want to avoid the summer crowds and enjoy the islands’ tranquillity, May is the best time to visit Hawaii.
However, visitor numbers do increase during Golden Week, a Japanese holiday season that typically falls on the last week of April or the first week of May, and Waikiki Beach in Honolulu is a popular destination during this time.
Hawaii also receives more visitors during U.S. Memorial Day weekend at the end of the month. Apart from these periods, May is a relatively quiet and peaceful month in Hawaii.
Travel and Accommodation Costs
Because May doesn’t coincide with peak season or any month-long celebrations that drive prices up, costs are relatively low mid-month. However, when tourists flock to the islands during Golden Week or Memorial Day weekend, you can expect prices to increase.
Your holiday expenses will depend on various factors, including the type of lodging you prefer and your holiday destination in Hawaii. Ideally, you should try to reserve your rental at least three months in advance to save on unnecessary costs.
Hotel and Lodging
During May, hotel accommodation prices can be as low as $200 per room per night. However, in luxury hotels, prices remain relatively high, even thought it’s not peak season.
If your budget doesn’t allow for expensive lodging, consider more affordable alternatives, such as an Airbnb.
Providing average flight costs is challenging as airfares vary so greatly between airlines and based upon when you buy your tickets. The location from which you fly also has a significant impact on costs. For example, flying to Hawaii from a U.S. West Coast city is more affordable than flying from, say, Boston or Miami.
If you are planning to visit Hawaii in May, booking your air tickets in February or earlier can save you about 14%.
As you plan your trip, you’ll need to decide if you want to visit more than one island. If so, you’ll need to budget for inter-island flights or other forms of transportation. Check fares and timetables with Hawaiian Airlines and also with the Maui-Lanai Expeditions Ferry between those two islands only.
You’ll also need to rent a separate car on each island if you want to drive around (if not, you can find public or private transportation alternatives).
Car Rentals and Parking
Renting a car in Hawaii gives you the freedom to explore an island on your own. The cost ranges between about $52 and $90 per day. Be sure to also factor in the price of insurance, fees, and gasoline.
Parking at attractions is relatively affordable in Hawaii. However, some locations, such as resorts and hotels, charge a higher parking fee of $30-50 per night.
Even though May is a more affordable time to visit Hawaii, your holiday costs can ramp up if you are not careful. Activities such as swimming, fishing, and hiking are affordable, if not free. However, you might encounter significant expenses if you want to enjoy fine dining, spa treatments, and the ultimate Hawaiian golfing experience.
Various local restaurants and other businesses offer affordable goods and services while providing their customers with an authentic Hawaiian experience.
Things to Do When Visiting Hawaii
As one of the ultimate holiday destinations, Hawaii has no shortage of activities for visitors. You will never be bored if you like outdoor activities, sightseeing, or luxury experiences.
Go Sightseeing to Enjoy the Islands’ Natural Beauty
Kilauea, Hawaii’s most active volcano, erupts regularly, and you can get up close and personal with the lava flows. Volcano National Park is a popular tourist attraction, and you can view the smoking mountain from one of the hiking trails.
Hawaii is famous for its beautiful, lush greenery, flowers, waterfalls, and ocean views. By driving around one of the islands, you can expect to see some of the most beautiful sights on earth.
Every year, humpback whales travel from Alaska to Hawaii. Their primary season is from December to April, but memorable encounters from the shores of West Maui, Lanai, or Molokai are still possible in May.
Hike the Island Trails
During May, the weather in Hawaii is perfect for hiking. The trails on Kauai and O’ahu are popular among tourists, and hiking them is a great way to see waterfalls, flowers, and historical landmarks. Singling out the best hiking trails is not possible, as each one is unique with breathtaking ocean or mountain views.
Before you go hiking, remember to take enough water and sunscreen. Start your hike early in the morning while the temperatures are still relatively low.
Golf, Tennis, and Other Sports
Hawaii is the golfer’s dream with championship-level course designs, beautiful scenery, and signature holes. The must-visit golf courses in Hawaii include:
- Turtle Bay Resort on the Oahu North Shore
- Wailea Golf Club in Maui
- Kaanapali Beach Resort in Lahaina
- Poipu Bay Golf Course on the Kauai South Shore
Hawaii is also an excellent destination for vacationing tennis players. Hawaii’s most popular tennis courts are at the Fairmont Orchid, the Holua Resort near Keauhou Bay, and the Mona Kea Beach Hotel.
Go Surfing at Oahu’s South Shore
During May, the waves on the famous North Shore of O’ahu tend to be small. However, the waves on the South Shore beaches around Oahu tend to have swells, making this the perfect time to take a surf lesson!
Furthermore, the breaks on the South Shore of O’ahu tend to be more beginner-friendly than those on the North Shore.
Some popular surfing locations include Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head cliffs on O’ahu’s southern shore, and Honolua Bay on Maui. Surfers can also visit the Launiupoko State Wayside Park and enjoy the long reef waves.
If you enjoy snorkeling, May is the best time to visit Hawaii. The sunny skies, warm water, and smaller waves provide the perfect conditions for snorkeling and experiencing Hawaii’s underwater sea life for yourself. Maui and The Big Island of Hawaii have the best snorkeling spots. The water in these areas is clear with a low risk of silt-outs.
Go on a Boat Tour
If you want to explore the Hawaiian island shores in comfort, you should add a boat tour to your activities list. You can choose from many types of boat tours, including dinner cruises and inter-island tours.
By taking a lava ocean tour, you can visit the coastal location where the Kilauea flow runs into the ocean. Because May is a relatively quiet time, you probably don’t need to make boat tour bookings in advance.
The Hawaii calendar is jam-packed with events. Attending these festivals, shows, and contests is a great way to experience Hawaiian culture during your trip, which helps to make the month of May the best time to visit Hawaii.
Before planning your trip around an event in May, confirm the details beforehand to make sure that you don’t waste precious time and money.
Popular events in May include the Outrigger Canoe Season, which features races every weekend from May to September. You can also attend the Maui County Ag Festival, a celebration of Hawaii’s local farmers.
The Lei Day Celebrations take place on May 1 in Waikiki, Oahu. This festival features lei-making contests, beauty pageants, and entertainment for the whole family.
You can also attend the annual live concert at the Queen Kapiolani Regional Park Bandstand.
Samoa Festival and World Fire-Knife Dance Championships
These events take place at the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. You can see performances from fire dancers of all ages and nationalities at this event. You can also enjoy Samoan cuisine and festivities.
Lantern Floating on Magic Island
The lantern floating is an annual Memorial Day ceremony of the Shinnyo-en Temple that attracts more than 40,000 people. The ceremony takes place on Magic Island at the Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu. After the lantern floating, stick around to enjoy the hula performances and music.
The Memorial Day ceremony takes place on the last Monday of May in the National Memorial Cemetery at the Punchbowl Crater in Honolulu. During this ceremony, the U.S. armed forces honor those who died during active service.
Spend Quality Time With Your Loved Ones in Hawaii This May
If you are looking for a suitable time to schedule your Hawaii visit, May is an ideal option, especially if you avoid the very beginning and end of the month. During this relatively quiet period, the days are warm and sunny, and costs are relatively low.
Visit Hawaii to enjoy an unforgettable experience with your friends and family next May!