Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Hawaii winters and how to notice them

Hawaii winters and how to notice them

Other than the literal, astronomical, and calendrical start of winter on December 21, it’s hard to say when a “Hawaiian winter” starts. Residents just sort of feel it. Winter is here and it feels a little late. Maybe because it’s a La Nina year, when climate patterns goose ocean surface temperatures and jiggle wind patterns. Or maybe it’s just in our heads.

A clear November morning in Kaneohe.

At any rate, our mornings are brisk and the air is crisp even as the sun beats down and scalds careless beachgoers pink and red along sandy white strands throughout the Aloha State. Winter swells have begun their yearly onslaught along northern shores. The humpbacks are breaching “from Hilo to Hanalei”, as the popular phrase goes.

Most Hawaii visitors won’t notice the change. Most are fleeing winter. Unless, perhaps, a stubborn weather front parks itself over our archipelago and drenches the islands for days on end. It is the rainy season, so it’s possible, but most Hawaii vacations last longer than a single weather event.

“It’s just passing, brah!”

The hallmarks of a Hawaiian winter are subtle. Our prevailing trade winds clock a little to the north. The water temperature is colder by a couple of degrees, imperceptible to anyone that doesn’t spend a significant amount of time in the ocean. Honolulu downtowners wear their jackets and sweaters in the chilly breeze that blows through the shadows of concrete canyons.

And, yes, we “break out that extra blanket”, just as our news anchors say every year. It’s corny, a decades-old broadcast routine, but it’s true. And it’s still the best weather on the planet.

Clearly winter in Honolulu.

One way to describe winter in Hawaii, at least from this humble blogger’s perspective, is that everything seems just…closer. The air is clearer than in the warmer months when Kona winds scatter Kilauea’s volcanic haze westward across the state for days on end and sea spray blurs the horizon.

It’s easier to notice the movement of the writhing rainforests of the islands’ interiors when that north wind blows. “Liquid sunshine” happens often, when you can get drenched by a passing shower and a sunburn at the same time. It’s also Rainbow Season.

Rainbow season.

So, while the concept of winter in paradise seems paradoxical, it’s real. Even if you have to try to notice it. Those of us who live here are hardwired to sense its arrival, and it always kind of happens overnight. We welcome it, knowing that a couple of months down the road, the tilt in the earth’s axis will bring us more balmy days, more stifling heatwaves and long days under a lazy sun lingering in our low latitude.

If you are fortunate enough to be planning a vacation during our Hawaiian winter, we encourage you to notice it. It is indeed a special, subtle time of year, and we here at Hawaii Aloha Travel want to help you experience it fully and safely.

Another returning winter visitor.

Posted by: Jamie Winpenny on Nov 30, 2021