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Visiting Hawaii in November: Things to Do and What to Expect

From The
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Updated: September 1, 2021

Have you been planning a Hawaiian vacation for the month of November? If so, you should prepare everything that Hawaii will present you with during its fall and winter months.

Hawaii in November is a beautiful and fun place to visit, so we’ve compiled this list of things to do and expect to help you get the most out of your Hawaii vacation.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Hawaii?

While many Hawaii island vacationers have a favorite time to visit the islands, the truth is that the state promises warm weather and beautiful beaches all year round. The best time of year to visit Hawaii depends on what’s most important to you!

Avoid the Crowds in November

While many families decide to visit between December and February during Hawaii’s crowded high season, you can enjoy a peaceful and affordable vacation in November with fewer people around.

November heralds Hawaii’s winter season, but temperatures are still warm enough to enjoy Hawaii’s black sand beaches, lush rainforests, and big waves.

When planning your November trip, you may want to avoid taking a family vacation during Thanksgiving week. This is the most crowded time in November, and airline and hotel prices go up as a result. Fewer crowds during the rest of the month mean cheaper accommodations and opportunities to purchase snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking tours without worrying about overbooked activities.

Winter Activities in Hawaii

There’s plenty to do during November in Hawaii, but it’s not the best time to visit the island for everyone. November is a fantastic time to take a peaceful, low-key Hawaiian vacation, but you may miss out on some other, larger events held throughout the year.

Some of Hawaii’s biggest festivals, such as King Kamehameha Day and Lei Day, happen during the summer months. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do during November!

Keep reading to discover all the things you and your family can do in Hawaii in the cooler winter months! From whale watching to basketball tournaments to relaxing on sandy beaches, Hawaiian Novembers offer something for everyone.

November Hotel Prices

November is a great time to visit Hawaii because it’s one of the least crowded times of the year. Hotel prices in November stay affordable—usually between $250 to $275 per night.

Compared to $400 nightly rates during Christmas and New Year, it’s easy to see why a November vacation appeals to those who want to experience the beauty of these islands on a budget.

Tropical Weather: Rainy Season on the Hawaiian Islands

Thanks to its location very near the equator, Hawaii’s weather doesn’t change much throughout the year. The November climate is still warm and sunny but with an increased chance of rain showers.

Hawaii in November: Weather

November is the start of winter in Hawaii and the beginning of the archipelago’s rainy season. During November, the average rainfall in Hawaii is around four to five inches—the third rainiest month after December and January.

The rain brings cooler temperatures through the Hawaiian islands. Day temperatures still reach the low 80s, and you’ll see cold weather at night when temperatures can drop into the high 60s.

Take advantage of the balmy daytime temperatures in November with waterfall hikes and rain forest walks.

Choose Vacation Activities that Avoid the Rain

If you prefer to avoid the rain on your chosen Hawaiian island, there are a few things you can do.

Hawaii’s Big Island tends to be the best island to beat the rain this time of year. However, you can generally avoid the rain by simply moving from one side of any island to the other. For example, if the east coast of the Big Island will see a lot of rain, plan activities on the west side for the day.

In general, any part of the island that is sheltered from the wind will see less rain during winter.

If hiking in hot, muggy weather sounds like something you’d rather avoid, then you’ll love visiting the volcanoes of Hawaii during November. Since temperatures fall as you venture above sea level, you may even need to take a jacket with you if you plan to venture deep into the forest.

Hawaii’s Hurricane Season

November marks the end of Hawaii’s hurricane season. While many travelers choose to avoid tropical destinations during this time, Hawaii is generally safe from hurricanes, so feel free to travel to and from the islands during these months.

Why does Hawaii experience so few hurricanes? Storms tend to dissipate before they reach the islands due to their unique geography.

You might see a tropical thunderstorm or two during your November stay, but the likelihood that you’ll see an actual hurricane is low.

Things to Do on the Big Island

If you plan to visit Hawaii in November, make time for the Big Island. Anyone who’s visited Hawaii before knows that the Big Island has one of the longest lists of things to do, which doesn’t change during the winter!

You may even be able to see snow in winter on the peaks of the islands of Hawai’i and Maui if the season hits the mountains early.

Kona coffee farm on the Big Island

Hawai’i’s Kona Coffee festival happens in early November. To enjoy a delicious cup of local coffee, make sure to leave time in your schedule for this ten-day celebration.

Things to Do on Maui

Home to Hawaii’s highest peak and 30 miles of beaches, Maui is the perfect choice for a winter getaway.

Hula O Na Keiki

Are you regretting missing Hawaii’s Lei Day during the summer? If so, make sure to leave time for the Hula O Na Keiki festival on Maui during November.

While not as big as Lei Day, the Hula O Na Keiki hula competition that’s just as fun.

Hula O Na Keiki may look small in comparison to something like Lei Day, but this expansive, multi-day festival lasts an entire weekend. Traditionally, Hula O Na Keiki is a children’s hula competition. Children aged five to 17 compete to see who has mastered hula.

You’ll enjoy traditional and modern music, art, and dance throughout the festival.

For Basketball Fans: Hawaii’s Maui Invitational

Hawaii may be relatively far from the mainland United States, but that doesn’t mean residents don’t enjoy America’s favorite sports! If you’re a fan of basketball, make sure to leave time in your itinerary for the Maui Invitational. This college basketball tournament happens in Lahaina, Hawaii.

Any self-respecting basketball buff won’t want to miss it! The Maui Invitational usually takes place during Thanksgiving week.

Things to Do on Oahu

Kick back this November on Oahu’s famous Waikiki Beach or venture out into the dense forests for a hiking trip. Whatever you choose, this island offers some of the most breathtaking views in Hawaii.

Finding Big Waves: Oahu’s North Shore

Surfers and beach-goers will be pleased to know that November has no shortage of surfing weather. The winter season (November through March) is Hawaii’s prime surfing season, with the biggest Pacific Ocean waves hitting the north shores of each island.

In particular, Oahu’s North Shore boasts one of Hawaii’s best November surfing spots, though you can catch the best waves in mid-December and January. If you’re still learning the basics of surfing, you can find calm waves along the southern beaches year-round.

Check Out the World’s Best Surfers

Don’t forget that the North Shore is also home to the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, one of the world’s largest and most famous surfing events. Even if you don’t plan to surf November’s biggest waves yourself, you can watch some of the world’s most talented surfers cruise through them instead!

Pay Your Respects at Pearl Harbor

No American citizen should visit the Hawaiian islands without visiting Pearl Harbor. The naval base is now considered a National Historic Landmark, the only naval base in the United States recognized as such.

Aerial view of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor

What to Expect on the Pearl Harbor Tour

On the tour, you’ll see:

·         The memorial of the USS Arizona

·         What happened in the attack

·         The names of both heroes and survivors

·         Several of the ships lost during the event

·         Historical data and photographs.

You’ll also have the opportunity to take home souvenirs and visit the Pearl Harbor Museum Store.

Whale Watch While Visiting Hawaii

Take time to see some of the largest, majestic creatures on Earth when you’re in Hawaii — whales. Because of Hawaii’s expansive coastlines, you can catch whale sightings virtually anywhere along the coast.

Where and When Is Best for Whale Watching?

The Kohala Coast on Hawai’i, Poipu Beach on Kaua’i, and Makapuu Lighthouse on Oahu are some of the best places to watch these elusive and rare creatures.

While January and March are the best times to glimpse whales in the shallows, you may spot stragglers throughout Hawaii’s winter season.

Fun Things to Do on Any Island

If you plan to island-hop during your trip or aren’t sure which island to visit, consider these perennial favorite tourist activities. The rich cuisine, hiking trails, and sparkling water will be there no matter which island you choose.

Make a Splash in Hawaii’s Beautiful Oceans

Snorkel Through Hawaii’s Reefs

Hawaii is famous for its beautiful and pristine coral reefs, teeming with wildlife and sea flora. While summer is traditionally the best time to snorkel (and swim) while visiting Hawaii, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy it during the winter, too!

The waters around Hawaii tend to be warm and pleasant year-round, so you can add snorkeling or scuba diving to your trip any time of year.

Snorkeling might be even more satisfying than usual in November for some because of the lack of usual crowds.

While there will still be plenty of other tourists on vacation, you may be able to make last-minute or spur-of-the-moment arrangements where you wouldn’t be able to during the high season.

Plus, if you’re used to snorkeling or scuba diving during Hawaii’s summer months, you may have the pleasure of seeing different fish and sea creatures during the winter!

Fishing and Boating on Hawaii’s Coast

Hawaii’s abundant coastline means there’s no shortage of locations to fish!

You don’t have to rent a boat or charter to get the most out of Hawaii’s fishing, either. Simply get yourself a pole, some bait, and toss a line in the water — just keep an eye out for no-access areas before you drop your line in.

If you do decide to go out on the water, you’ll have the pleasure of enjoying your ride through Hawaii’s pristine blue waves as well. There’s nothing like a boat ride around your chosen island to take in some truly incredible views.

While you’re out in the deep water, though, you may as well try your hand at catching some of Hawaii’s delicious seafood! Snapper, Tuna, and Mahi-Mahi are some of Hawaii’s most delicious species, and they’re both common catches during November.

November is also one of the best times to go sportfishing in Hawaii, as multiple varieties of marlin and amberjack tend to bite this time of year.

Kayaking, Paddling, and Other Water Activities

Boating isn’t the only way you can enjoy Hawaii’s incredible ocean views. You can also take in some of the archipelago’s most beautiful scenery by kayak or paddleboard.

These recreational activities will delight the whole family, and while they may take some practice, you’ll get plenty of sun and exercise at the same time.

Kayaking and paddleboarding depend on calm waters for success, so you should stick to Hawaii’s southern beaches if you want to partake during November.

Hike Your Hawaii Vacation

November is a fantastic time to go hiking in Hawaii. Since November sits on the cusp between Hawaii’s fall and winter seasons, you’ll get to enjoy the drier weather of fall and the cool temperatures of winter at the same time.

Of course, if you’re unlucky, you may end up with warm, wet weather instead, but you can usually remedy this just by visiting another part of the island.

Hawaii has some of the most beautiful and exotic flora and fauna in the United States, so it would be a shame not to observe some of it on a nature hike. Alternatively, you might consider taking a walk through some of Hawaii’s lava flats.

However, you may want to think twice about taking any lava rocks home with you. Legend says that Pele, the goddess of volcanoes and fire, will curse anyone who takes these rocks.

Hawaii is home to two different national parks: Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui, and Volcanoes National park on the island of Hawai’i. The islands are home to many nature reserves where you can observe Hawaii’s incredible wildlife as well.

Taste Hawaii’s Ethnic Cuisine

Hawaii is home to some of the most authentic and delicious seafood in the world, so the archipelago is like heaven for seafood lovers! However, Hawaii has plenty of delicious options for those who dislike seafood, too.

Woman holding a fresh plate of poke

Pork, in particular, is particularly important to Hawaiian cuisine, and you’ll see many recipes across the island that celebrate it.

Part of the reason for Hawaii’s unique food is its colorful history, full of cultural influences from across the world. Make sure you sample Hawaii’s fine dining, local cuisine, and historical dishes, as all three categories contain wildly different fares!

Stargaze Atop Hawaii’s Highest Peaks

Mauna Kea observatory

Finally, before you leave Hawaii’s islands, make sure you take the time to see the stars. Because of its location in the middle of the ocean, Hawaii has much less light pollution than the mainland.

If you plan to visit Hawaii in November, we recommend visiting one of Hawaii’s most remote peaks after dark. You can take in the vast sky full of stars from any island, but Mt. Mauna Kea on the island of Hawai’i is a favorite of stargazers.

The elevation, coupled with Hawaii’s remote location, makes for some of the best stargazing you’ll ever have the chance to experience. Even during the rainy months, the stars are visible from Mt. Mauna Kea for about 325 days every year.

Enjoy the Island Vacation of Your Dreams

With these tips, we hope you feel inspired to schedule a November trip to Hawaii. Escape the freezing temperatures at home and enjoy the balmy tropical weather, family-friendly activities, and vibrant culture that brings millions of tourists to Hawaii every year. Say “aloha” to the perfect winter vacation!