Hawaii’s Seasons: Pay Attention

My wife and I are heading out on a vacation halfway around the world (yes, people who live here in Hawaii also like to travel beyond our own environs). We’re traveling in the off-peak season, to save on costs, and it occurs to me that while we’re away, we’re likely to miss the changing of the seasons here at home.
Yes, you read that right. We do have seasons in Hawaii. The transitions between them, however, are likely to be all but imperceptible to anyone who hasn’t spent years in the islands.

The most noticeable is our transition into the winter months. The most obvious change comes not in the weather, but in the arrival of high surf on the northern shores of the islands. Most famous of these, of course, is the winter big wave season on Oahu’s North Shore.

But there are other, far more subtle clues that whisper of the coming of winter. We don’t have the fall colors of northern latitudes. We don’t get early cold snaps, unless you count not breaking 85 degrees as a cold snap. We don’t break out cold-weather gear.

But we do notice that the mornings are a little chillier. The sun drops below the horizon quicker, and the transition from sunset to dark is noticeably faster, if you’re paying attention. The stars seem to sparkle a little brighter and clearer as we meander into winter. Circling frigate birds, or ‘iwa birds, that appear before storms become a more common sight in the skies.

As I prepare to embark on our trip, the weather outside now is stiflingly balmy. Kona weather, characterized by oppressive humidity, little or no wind, and higher temperatures (it’s been over 90 degree during the day in Honolulu for about a week running now), takes hold. I’m certain that by the time we return to our island home, those cues to seasonal changes will have already begun to make themselves evident.

I’ve always considered that time, our modest changing of the seasons, part of the holiday season. My mother, who was a Christmas fanatic, always referred to the change as “Christmas weather.”

Visitors from more polar latitudes may scoff at our notion of the changing of the seasons, but most of us who live here know that the change happens quickly. One night, we go to bed with the fan or air conditioning on, only to wake up in the morning to temperatures we haven’t experienced in almost a year. And poof! It’s winter. Enjoy the change if you notice it.

Posted by: Jamie Winpenny