What’s the Best Island to Visit in Hawaii in December 2023?

What’s the Best Island to Visit in Hawaii in December 2023?

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. See our Advertising Policy


Ah, the best island to visit in Hawaii in December – a question asked by many. With its warm weather, festive atmosphere, and unique experiences, visiting Hawaii in December is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Get ready to discover what awaits you during the most magical time of the year.

The best island to visit in Hawai’i in December would be O’ahu due to its diverse holiday festivities, and Maui because whale season is approaching it’s peak.

Key Takeaways

  • Experience Hawaii’s winter in December with warm temperatures and minimal rainfall.
  • Enjoy unique weather variations, festive activities, outdoor adventures & water activities across the four major Hawaiian islands.
  • Discover budget-friendly hotel options and unique hotel Christmas trees to make your vacation unforgettable!

Hawaii’s Weather and Climate in December

picture of the beach on O'ahu which is the best island to visit in Hawai'i in december

Picture a holiday where daytime temperatures hover in the low 80s and evenings stay in the comfortable mid to upper 60s; that’s a typical December in Hawaii. The Weather Channel provides more detailed information on the climate in December, but rest assured, this is a far cry from the frosty winter wonderland you might be used to. So, pack a rain jacket (just in case) and prepare to embrace the warm embrace of the Hawaiian Islands.

The ocean conditions are simply delightful at this time of year, making it a great time to visit the best Hawaiian island for your preferences and interests. With an average rainfall of approximately 2 inches per month, the Christmas holidays are still a popular time to visit Hawaii due to its pleasant weather and festive atmosphere.

Weather Variations Among Islands

Similar weather patterns are found on each Hawaiian island in December.

  • Average temperature: The average temperature in Hawaii in December is around 81°F during the day and 69°F at night, making it an ideal destination for a Christmas holiday.

A December trip to Hawaii offers a unique chance to enjoy each island’s warm winter weather and stunning beaches. It’s truly a winter wonderland like no other, as you explore the diverse landscapes and climates of the Hawaii islands.

December Rainfall Patterns

December in Hawaii is synonymous with rain, but fear not, there’s still plenty of sunshine to be enjoyed. Rainfall patterns vary across the islands, with Maui and the Big Island experiencing less rain than Oahu and Kauai. For example, Oahu receives an average of 2.2 inches of rainfall in December, while Maui only receives around 1 inch.

While island exploration may lead to some rainy days, there will be ample opportunities for outdoor activities and ocean adventures. Plus, you might even spot Hawaiian green sea turtles on some of the beaches.

So, whether you’re visiting Haleakala National Park, the west coasts for whale watching, or embarking on a snorkeling tour, Hawaii’s December rainfall patterns won’t dampen your spirits.

Comparing the Major Hawaiian Islands in December

What’s the Best Island to Visit in Hawaii in December 2023?

Each of the major Hawaiian islands – Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai – boasts unique experiences and attractions in December. Whether it’s:

  • the main island of Oahu
  • the whale-watching paradise of Maui
  • the volcanic adventures and waterfalls of the Big Island
  • the beautiful Garden Isle of Kauai

There’s something for everyone in this tropical paradise.

Oahu: A Festive Island Getaway

What’s the Best Island to Visit in Hawaii in December 2023?

Oahu, also known as the Gathering Place, is a festive island getaway during December. With reasonable hotel prices, warm weather, and a variety of holiday events, it’s an ideal destination for those seeking a unique Christmas experience. Some amazing activities to do on Oahu include exploring Pearl Harbor, trekking Diamond Head, and snorkeling Hanauma Bay.

When deciding where to stay on Oahu, consider spending a few days in Honolulu or Ko Olina on the south shore, where you can experience the amazing culture and stunning beaches. If you have more time, add days on the north shore to explore the beautiful landscape and enjoy the local cuisine.

See my guides for the best luxury hotels on O’ahu, the best family hotels on O’ahu, and the best budget hotels on O’ahu.

Oahu’s holiday happenings and beautiful beaches make it an unforgettable destination for a December vacation.

Maui: Whale Watching Paradise

What’s the Best Island to Visit in Hawaii in December 2023?

Maui, especially West Maui, is truly a whale-watching paradise, with humpback whales often seen in the waters and perfect weather for outdoor activities.

If you are not aware, much of this area has been destroyed due to the devastating fire in Lahaina, consider donating to a trusted non-profit to help them out during this difficult time.

The Au’au Channel is one of the most incredible places for whale watching in Maui, and I have written a comprehensive guide to picking the right time for this amazing experience.

In addition to whale watching, Maui offers a plethora of activities to enjoy in December. Here are some options:

  • Attend a lively traditional luau
  • Go snorkeling or kayaking
  • Relax on the beautiful Wailea Beach
  • Explore the breathtaking Haleakala National Park

No matter what your interests, Maui is sure to delight and amaze during your December stay.

Big Island: Volcanic Adventures and Waterfalls

What’s the Best Island to Visit in Hawaii in December 2023?

The Big Island offers a diverse range of experiences for December travelers. Volcanic adventures, stunning waterfalls, and majestic snow-capped mountains are just some of the amazing attractions you’ll find on this incredible island. At Volcanoes National Park, witness active volcanoes, lava flows, and steam vents, providing an unforgettable experience.

In addition to its volcanic wonders, the Big Island is home to breathtaking waterfalls, best viewed during the winter months. Visit Mauna Kea Beach and Hapuna Beach on the west side of the island for some relaxation and beach time.

With so much to see and do, the Big Island is an ideal destination for a December vacation.

Kauai: The Garden Isle in Winter

What’s the Best Island to Visit in Hawaii in December 2023?

Kauai, known as the Garden Isle, is a beautiful destination to visit in December. However, it’s important to note that the island experiences more rainfall during the winter months. To avoid the rain and make the most of your vacation, consider staying in Poipu, located on Kauai’s south shore.

Despite the rain, Kauai offers an array of exciting opportunities for visitors. Take a helicopter tour over the entire island or hike the Kalalau Trail on the Na Pali Coast like I did for an unforgettable adventure. Be prepared though as this is one of the most difficult hikes in the state, rated top 10 in the nation. With its lush landscapes and unique attractions, Kauai is a must-visit destination during your December Hawaiian vacation.

Budget Considerations for a December Hawaii Vacation

Budget considerations are key when planning a December Hawaii vacation. Timing your trip for early December can help you avoid higher prices during the holiday season.

Exploring alternative accommodation options, such as hostels, Vrbo, and hotel day passes, can save you money on lodging expenses.

Early December vs. Holiday Season

Compared to the holiday season, early December presents a significant budget advantage. During the first weeks of December, you can enjoy lower prices for airfare, accommodations, and car rentals, making it an ideal time to visit Hawaii without breaking the bank.

However, the holiday season, from mid-December to the New Year, is considered the peak travel season in Hawaii. While this time of year offers a more festive atmosphere and beautiful Christmas events, it also comes with higher prices for flights, hotels, and other expenses during a Christmas vacation.

Alternative Accommodation Options

To save on accommodation costs during your December Hawaii vacation, consider alternative options such as:

  • Hostels
  • Vrbo
  • Budget hotels
  • Vacation rentals

These options provide a great alternative to traditional resorts and hotels, often at a fraction of the cost.

Unique December Events and Activities on Each Island

Unique and exciting events and activities abound on each Hawaiian island in December. Here are some highlights:

  • Oahu’s festive holiday parades
  • Maui’s whale watching
  • The Big Island’s Christmas Festival
  • Kauai’s breathtaking natural beauty

There’s something for everyone to experience and enjoy during this magical time of year.

Oahu’s Holiday Happenings

What’s the Best Island to Visit in Hawaii in December 2023?

Oahu is the perfect island to experience the festive spirit of Hawaii in December. One of the most anticipated events is the Triple Crown of Surfing on the North Shore, where the world’s top professional surfers compete for a grand prize of over $1 million.

In addition to the surfing competition, Oahu offers a variety of holiday-themed events, such as delicious food truck festivals and the beautiful Festival of Lights ceremony. These events provide a festive atmosphere and plenty of entertainment for visitors of all ages.

Maui’s Winter Wonders

What’s the Best Island to Visit in Hawaii in December 2023?

Maui is a winter wonderland during December, offering a variety of unique events and activities. The Na Mele O Maui competition celebrates the vibrant Hawaiian culture and music, showcasing performances from talented local artists and musicians.

Another popular event on the island is the Lahaina Banyan Tree Lighting, featuring a joyous lighting of the Banyan Tree and a plethora of festive holiday activities. The Maui Sugar Cane Train is another must-see event, providing an incredible historic train ride through the stunning sugar cane fields of Maui.

Big Island’s Christmas Celebrations

What’s the Best Island to Visit in Hawaii in December 2023?

The Big Island offers a variety of exciting Christmas celebrations for visitors to enjoy. Some of the events include:

  • Kailua-Kona Christmas Parade
  • Waimea Christmas Twilight Parade
  • Hilo Christmas Light Parade
  • Na Makua Invitational Christmas Gift Fair

These events are a great way to experience the island’s holiday spirit.

Other exciting Christmas events in the Big Island include the Holualoa Village Association’s Annual Music & Light Festival, the Keaau Christmas Parade, and the Kona Surf Film Festival. These events offer cheerful carolers, captivating performances, spectacular parade floats, and wonderful holiday shopping opportunities.

Kauai’s Seasonal Spectacles

What’s the Best Island to Visit in Hawaii in December 2023?

Kauai offers a variety of seasonal spectacles to enjoy during December. The Annual Lights on Rice Parade is a joyful celebration held in the town of Hanalei, showcasing spectacular illuminated floats, lively marching bands, and entertaining local performances.

The Waimea Lighted Christmas Parade is another festive event held a week before Christmas, featuring delightful local entertainment and delicious refreshments. To ring in the New Year, head to Poipu Beach Park for a stunning fireworks display that will leave you in awe of Kauai’s beauty and festive spirit.

Outdoor Adventures and Water Activities in December

What’s the Best Island to Visit in Hawaii in December 2023?

December brims with a variety of experiences for travelers to enjoy, including:

  • Hiking the scenic trails of Haleakala National Park
  • Exploring Waimea Canyon
  • Snorkeling and scuba diving in the islands’ crystal-clear surrounding waters

No matter what your interests, there’s an adventure waiting for you in Hawaii during this magical time of year.

Hiking Opportunities

December is rife with hiking opportunities, featuring trails in Haleakala National Park, Waimea Canyon, and Diamond Head State Monument. Exploring Haleakala National Park is an unforgettable experience, as you witness the breathtaking sunrise from the summit and trek through the stunning crater landscape.

For those seeking more adventure, the Waimea Canyon on Kauai offers breathtaking views and amazing hiking trails, while Diamond Head State Monument on Oahu provides a challenging hike with rewarding panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Ocean Adventures

Whale watching tops the list of popular ocean adventures in Hawaii, making December a fantastic time for these activities. The waters surrounding Maui are a prime location for spotting humpback whales, while the Na Pali Coast offers stunning boat tours for those looking to explore Kauai’s breathtaking coastline.

Snorkeling and scuba diving are also popular activities during December, with the average ocean temperature at a delightful 77°F. Discover the vibrant marine life and colorful coral reefs that Hawaii is famous for, and create unforgettable memories exploring the underwater world.


From the warm weather and festive atmosphere to the unique events and activities, Hawaii in December is a truly magical experience. Whether you’re exploring the volcanic landscapes of the Big Island, whale watching in Maui, or attending holiday events on Oahu and Kauai, there’s something for everyone in this tropical paradise. So, pack your bags, book your tickets, and get ready to create unforgettable memories in the enchanting world of Hawaii during the most wonderful time of the year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Hawaiian island is warmest in December?

Based on air temperature averages for December, the Big Island is the warmest Hawaiian island, with a high of 82 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is December a good time to visit Hawaii?

December is still a great time to escape the winter and visit Hawaii, despite the slight chance of rain and larger crowds. Enjoy the sunshine and crystal-clear waters while you can!

Is Hawaii a good place to go during Christmas?

Hawaii is a great place to celebrate Christmas with parades, hula performances, mele and plenty of events around the Hawaiian Islands. Honolulu has many popular events and a long list of annual events can be found for those wanting to experience Hawaii during the holidays.

Is it cheaper to go to Hawaii in December?

It is more expensive to go to Hawaii in December due to peak holiday season and hotel rates soaring at this time. Flights are also at a premium during this period and the average hotel stay can cost around $465 during Christmas and nearly $100 more than the annual average by New Year’s Eve. February and March tend to be cheaper months to fly to Hawaii.

What is the weather like in Hawaii in December?

In December, Hawaii’s delightful weather makes for a pleasant holiday – days are sunny with temperatures in the low 80s, and evenings in the mid to upper 60s. Pack a rain jacket and make the most of the refreshing weather!

Previous articleReview: Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 Economy HNL-KOA
Next articleKona International Airport Guide | Big Island Hawaii (KOA)
Aloha, as the founder and chief editor of Suites & Lobbies, I enjoy offering unique perspectives on hotel accommodations, airline services, dining experiences, and the evolving travel landscape of Hawai'i. Raised in the town of Ka'alaea on O'ahu, a native Hawaiian, and a lifelong learner. My extensive travels across Hawai'i ensure that readers receive accurate and up-to-date information, from emerging hotel projects to the latest in restaurant openings and travel-related concerns. My commitment is to provide unbiased, thorough insights stemming from first-hand knowledge of current affairs here in Hawai’i. I further showcase this on my YouTube channel, where I present detailed visual reviews and updates. Connect with me there or find me on LinkedIn engaging with industry peers and fostering meaningful discussions on Hawai'i travel. Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCS1xESm74twX__Iw9ESs5BA LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/brandon-hughes-hoku-marketing/


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.