Hawaii Winters: Big Sunshine, Bigger Waves
If you decide to vacation in Hawaii during the winter, you will be going when most people who visit Hawaii beside you go. The peak travel season in Hawaii falls between the middle of December and the middle of April, exactly when many other parts of the world are still experiencing cold weather and snow. Hawaii’s sundrenched beaches and warm ocean breezes make it irresistible to tourists at that time of year.
While winter is considered Hawaii’s “rainy season,” especially on the eastern and northern shores of the islands, you can count on staying dry and warm along Hawaii’s western and southern coasts. But traveling to Hawaii during the winter means that you almost certainly have to forgo discounted room rates, which normally run between 10 and 15% higher during the winter months than they do during the summer.
Although the northern shores of Hawaiian Islands, especially on the Big Island and Kauai, receive more rainfall during the winter than other parts of Hawaii, the rainy season also brings with it some of the best surfing conditions found anywhere in the world at any season. Oahu’s North Shore has long been considered the best stretch of surf breaks anywhere on earth, with its 6 mile stretch encompassing more than 20 major breaks.
The North Shore of Oahu is situated so that huge swells generated by Northern Pacific storms thousands of miles away keep building until they reach the reefs just off Oahu, North Shore. These surfing conditions are so spectacular that Oahu is now become the site of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
The Triple Crown surfing events are held at three different North Shore beaches. The first is at Haleiwa Beach; the second at Sunset Beach; and the final event at the world’s best-known surf break, the Banzai Pipeline. The Banzai Pipeline is renowned for its “tubes,” hollow spaces inside of the way which resemble walking hallways. Surfing the tubes in the Banzai Pipeline, however, places each surfer just inches above the razor-sharp coral reefs off Oahu, and at risk of serious injury should they lose control of their boards.
A far more sedate, but highly popular, tourist activity during the Hawaiian winter is whale watching. The height of the whale watching season occurs between January and May. The best place to glimpse humpbacks and other kinds of whales is off Maui’s western coast. The fifth largest of all whale species, humpback whales were nearly hunted to extinction, and are now on the endangered species list. They can grow as long as 45 feet, and reach a weight of 45 tons.
The shallow waters of Ma’alaea Bay discourage shark attacks, making it a great nursery for whales and their new offspring. The whales are often visible right from the shore, but there is a thriving tour business for operators of whale-watching charters.
Hawaii has much to offer away from the coasts as well. If you love to bike do not miss the chance to coast along the looping Haleakala Highway. Remember those fallen at Pearl Harbor during World War II. Scale the crater at Diamond Head. Arrange for a pig roast, and learned to hula. Regardless of why you decide to go to Hawaii, you will find more reasons to be there than you can ever imagine.