If you’ve been envisioning a warm-weather getaway for the upcoming seasons, Oahu, Hawaii is a special destination unlike any other. With spectacular beaches, renowned golf courses, top-notch dining options, and a host of water- and land-based activity options, there’s something for every traveler on Oahu. And traveling to this tropical isle is especially rewarding during the winter and spring seasons, when you’ll enjoy ideal weather and a plethora of activities and events. While planning the many details of an ideal vacation can be overwhelming, this ultimate Honolulu travel guide to winter and spring on Oahu will provide comprehensive tips that are sure to get you moving in the right direction!
Thanks to its warm weather that persists even throughout the winter months, Oahu is a top destination for those looking to escape cold weather elsewhere. While wind and snow sweep in throughout other parts of the world, Oahu remains a warm oasis. Though winter is considered the rainy season (November through March), most days still offer significant hours of sunshine. And as an added bonus, even when it’s raining on one part of the island, there’s often sunshine to be found on another beach. Throughout the winter, temperatures on Oahu remain steadily in the mid- to upper-70s during the day, with the evenings cooling off to temperatures that can often dip into the low 60s. Be sure to bring along a light jacket for cooler winter evenings, which often feel refreshing after a day in the sun!
In Hawaii, the term “April showers brings May flowers” doesn’t ring true. With the rainy season tapering off in March, the dry season begins in April and extends until October. That means that while colder regions are just beginning to thaw and the spring rains are setting in, you’ll find cloudless blue skies on Oahu. Temperatures climb more steadily into the high 70s and low 80s throughout the spring months, with evening temperatures also rising into the high 60s. Spring offers extremely pleasant weather in Hawaii, with warmer temperatures than winter but without the intensity that the summer heat can bring.
Hawaii’s peak travel season occurs from mid-December to mid-April and then again from mid-June to mid-September. If you have a flexible schedule and are able to travel outside of these busier times, you are more likely to find better deals on flights, accommodations, rental cars, and activities, not to mention fewer crowds on the beach. However, if like most other travelers, you’ll be heading to Oahu during peak travel season, there are a few things to keep in mind that will make your trip go more smoothly!
When traveling to Hawaii during peak travel season, be sure to book ahead. Especially in recent years, rental cars are quick to sell out, leaving travelers who didn’t plan ahead with no other option than to rely on public transportation. You’ll also want to book ahead for any activities that are high on your importance list, such as boat tours or a luau, as popular island activities are also quick to sell out in advance. And of course, with the vacation rental setting the stage for the entirety of your stay, you’ll want to plan ahead of time to snag the best Oahu vacation rental for your beach vacation!
Whether you prefer lounging along a postcard-perfect beach or summiting a challenging trail, you’ll find many ways to stay entertained on a winter getaway to Oahu. Whether you’ve got your sights set on soaking up as much sun as possible or you plan to balance the itinerary with the many cultural and historic sites Oahu has to offer, there are many ways to enjoy a winter day on Oahu. Be sure to add some of these favorite Honolulu winter activities on Oahu to your itinerary.
The migration season for humpback whales to Hawaii’s warm waters occurs between December and April, making winter an ideal time to take advantage of a whale watching excursion. While a keen eye can occasionally spot a whale spout from the shoreline, the only way to get a good look at these magnificent creatures is to book an Oahu whale watching excursion with a local boat tour company. A variety of outfitters operate on Oahu, offering tours that range from thrilling Zodiac rides to luxurious catamaran cruises. Onboard technology such as a hydrophone, an underwater microphone, allow passengers to hear current whale songs and for captains to easier locate nearby whales. Often sighting dolphins and sea turtles along the way, a whale watching tour is a great way to view some of Oahu’s most exciting wildlife! Check out Ko Olina Ocean Adventures for whale watching tour options.
Vacationing on Oahu during the winter holidays adds a host of festive holiday possibility options that are sure to brighten your stay. Christmas on Oahu brings unique island flair, such as watching Santa row his outrigger canoe ashore and getting in your holiday shopping among palm trees draped with twinkling lights. Productions of The Nutcracker, Christmas services in places of worship, and holiday parades also bring a traditional element of familiarity to celebrating the holidays in the islands. And there’s no better way to end the current year and ring in the next than with your toes in the sand and a vibrant firework display overhead!
While winter days are still plenty warm for enjoying the beach, they usually lack the intense heat and humidity that come with summer. That makes winter a great time to hit the trail, exploring some of the many miles of hiking trails that will get you away from the busyness of Honolulu and Waikiki. The Manoa Falls Trail is a favorite for its family-friendly terrain, short distance (1.6 miles round trip) and its culmination at a spectacular 150-foot waterfall. Views of the verdant green valley and groves of eucalyptus and bamboo create a lush scenery along the way. Diamond Head Trail is another favorite, summiting the Diamond Head Crater and offering sweeping views of Waikiki, Honolulu, and the surrounding area. This trek is just 1.6 miles roundtrip but also includes 560 feet of elevation gain.
Winter months bring a large swell to the North Shore to the extent that big wave surfing competitions draw pro surfers from around the world. While most travelers won’t be getting in the water at many North Shore beaches during the winter, taking in sights of the monster swell is worth a road trip north. Head to Waimea Bay, Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline) and Sunset Beach to catch some of the big wave action, but be sure to watch from a safe distance.
If you’re heading to Hawaii to escape cold weather elsewhere, you’ll be more than ready to soak up all the sunshine possible at Oahu’s best beaches. And thanks to Oahu’s year-round warm weather, it’s easy to enjoy a winter day at the beach! The tranquil ocean lagoons at Ko Olina are ideal for lounging in the sand or swimming, snorkeling, or stand up paddle boarding in the calm waters. Surf lessons can also be booked nearby to avoid the crowds of Waikiki. The secluded stretch of sand at Yokohama Bay is a favorite for its location off the beaten path, especially during the peak tourism season of winter when other beaches may be more crowded.
With much of spring occurring during Hawaii’s dry season, a typical Oahu spring day is filled with blue skies and sunshine. Honolulu spring on Oahu is a great time to enjoy the island’s many outdoor activities!
The peak tourism season tapers off in April, making the middle and end of spring an ideal time to explore some of the more popular beaches that can otherwise be crowded. Explore the famed shoreline of Waikiki, trying your hand at surfing or simply taking in the views. Another popular Oahu beach is Hanauma Bay, which is well-known for its excellent snorkeling. This bay offers a snorkeling experience guaranteed to surround you with a variety of tropical fish, thanks to its status as a protected aquatic Hawaii state park. With daily attendance limited in order to continue to protect this special destination, Hanauma Bay is a great option for spring when the final tourist crowds have gone.
With cloudless skies overhead, spring on Oahu is a great time to enjoy some of Oahu’s top outdoor attractions. Play a ground of golf at the Ko Olina Golf Club, head out on an excursion, go horseback riding, or fly on a zipline over a tropical canopy. There are so many ways to enjoy the great outdoors on a spring day on Oahu!
Without the humidity and intense heat of summer, winter and spring are ideal times to take advantage of Oahu’s al fresco dining scene. Not to mention an outdoor table often means being just steps away from the ocean with a stunning view. A good place to start for outdoor dining on Oahu is Mina’s Fish House, a Michelin-starred restaurant with a fabulous deck just steps from the aqua blue water. Dine on the fresh catch of the day alongside a cold brew or glass of wine as you take in panoramic beach views.
If you head up to the North Shore to experience the large winter swell, consider stopping in for a meal at Hale’iwa Beach House. This casual eatery is situated right on Waialua Bay, offering ocean breezes and scenic views. Snack on a bowl of edamame while you wait for your fresh catch, and be sure to save room for the warm fruity pebbles donuts!
Whether you need to get in some holiday shopping for your winter getaway to Oahu or you simply desire to get your shopping fix, Oahu offers the most extensive shopping experience of all the Hawaiian Islands. Located in Honolulu, Ala Moana Center is the largest open-air mall in the world, offering hundreds of shops that range from local boutiques to worldwide fashion brands, not to mention the many restaurants located here. Waikele Premium Outlets offers more great finds on all the latest trends, while the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet offers a distinctly local flair. The Waikiki Beach Walk offers another distinct island shopping experience, with local boutiques and specialty shops such as the Waikiki Christmas Store and the Ukulele Shop.
Be sure to check the local events calendar to see which of these Honolulu winter and spring events on Oahu coincide with your travel plans!
Generally held between December and January, there are several big wave surfing competitions held on Oahu’s North Shore that are well worth checking out if your travel dates align. The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing at Sunset Beach, Billabong Pipe Masters, and Eddie Would Go, held in honor of Eddie Aikau, all bring in big wave surfers from around the world.
With the marathon distance becoming increasingly popular even among casual runners, planning a destination race is one way to get and stay motivated. The Honolulu Marathon is held in January, and runners enjoy a route that takes them through Waikiki, Diamond Head, and Hawaii Kai.
Cultural events such as May Day add an extra element of fun to the itinerary. Held at the beginning of May, you’ll find lei making and hula events popping up around the island for May Day, known as Lei Day in Hawaii!
Whether you’re getting away for the entire season or staying just a few days, our winter and spring accommodations on Oahu offer an ideal place to vacation. At Ola Properties, we offer a variety of condos, villas, and private homes located on the desirable west coast of the island, just steps from beautiful white sand beaches. Equipped with everything you’ll need for your island vacation, these well-appointed Oahu vacation rentals are the perfect place to call home. Contact us at Ola Properties to learn more!
When temperatures are dropping and snow begins to fall, keep those dreams of sunshine and beach days alive by planning a winter escape to a tropical paradise. With warm sunny days that remain throughout the winter, the Islands of Hawaii are the perfect antidote to the winter blues. Leave the coats and boots behind in favor of bikinis and board shorts and make your way to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu this winter!
With warm sunny days and cool, pleasant evenings, winter is an ideal time to visit the Hawaiian Islands. Winter also coincides with big surf tournaments, whale watching season, and holiday festivities that are only made better when celebrated island style! Winter is a special time in Hawaii, where cold, gray days are left behind and sunshiny days and warm ocean waters are at the forefront. Make your way to Oahu, Hawaii this winter, and be sure to add some of these sights and activities from our Oahu travel guide to your winter itinerary!
Location is key, and if you’re escaping to Hawaii this winter, you’ll want to be sure and book accommodations that allow for premium beach access. Our Makaha vacation rentals are situated right on the beachfront, so the sights and sounds of the ocean are just steps from your door. Spend long days soaking up the sun from these beachfront accommodations on Oahu, which boast one or two bedrooms and fully equipped kitchens. Our Oahu vacation rentals in the community of Ko Olina are also situated on an exclusive waterfront property, where you’ll find four beach lagoons with beautiful crescent-shaped white sand beaches. The calm waters here are ideal for swimming and stand up paddle boarding, and you’ll also find additional amenities onsite such as a golf course, shopping, dining, swimming pools, spas, and a marina. With onsite amenities and the option of selecting a condo, beach villa, or private home, Ko Olina is a highly desirable community for a stay on Oahu, whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway or a family-friendly destination. From your location in sunny West Oahu, it’s easy to visit some of Oahu’s top sights without compromising your island vacation with the sights and sounds of the city. When you’re ready to explore, Oahu’s best things to see are just a short drive away!
During winter months, Oahu’s North Shore brings big wave surfers from around the world; it is one of the most popular winter activities in Oahu. While surfing beaches such as Waimea Bay, Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline) and Sunset Beach are best left for highly experienced surfers during this season, it is well worth the trip to simply observe from a distance on the shoreline. November through February are the best months to catch big wave surfers in action, though it leaves North Shore beaches largely unsafe for swimming. However, heading to the North Shore is a great opportunity to savor Oahu’s beautiful scenery. On the way, stop at the Dole Plantation, where you can lose yourself in a pineapple garden maze, take a plantation garden tour, take a ride on the Pineapple Express, and sample a variety of pineapple products. Once you’ve reached the North Shore, the rainbow bridge will welcome you to the town of Haleiwa, a small, charming surf town filled with boutiques and quaint eateries. Browse the shops at Haleiwa Town Center and grab a bite to eat at Haleiwa Beach House. If you continue past the famed beaches of Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach, be sure to also stop at Laniakea Beach. Laniakea is the best location on Oahu to spot green see turtles lazing along the sand, giving it the nickname Turtle Beach. Be sure to keep your distance, as these once endangered creatures are protected by law. After getting your fill of turtle sightings, stroll down to the area near the lifeguard stand, which is also known as Chun’s Reef. This is another great place to catch big wave surfers in action on a winter day!
No matter which months you travel, there are always plenty of beaches to explore. Winter days have no effect on Hawaii as a top beach destination. In fact, the main difference between a summer and winter beach day in Hawaii is where you’ll find the tranquil waters. While winter months bring larger swells to the north and east shores, the south and west shores see calmer seas. That means that if you’re in search of the perfect beach for a leisurely swim or glassy waters over which to catch a magnificent sunset, the west coast is the place to be. Consider lazing along the shores of the tranquil Ko Olina lagoons, or heading further up the west coast to catch the sunset from the picturesque Makaha Beach or Yokohama Bay. There are few sights more magical that watching the golden winter sun sink directly into the ocean with the final golden rays of light left glimmering across the water’s surface!
If you find yourself needing a break from beach days, consider setting out for a hike along the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail. Located along the southeasternmost tip of the island, this can be a great spot to catch the sunrise if you’re ambitious enough to tackle it early. Even if you prefer a more leisurely start to the day, this trail offers stunning views over the ocean. At the culmination of the trail, enjoy sights of the historic red-roofed Makapu‘u Lighthouse, built in 1909. Round trip, the trail is just two miles with approximately 500 feet of elevation gain. However, come prepared with plenty of water because much of the journey is exposed to sun and wind. In fact, the final portion of the trail is carved directly into the sea cliff, with just a railing separating you from the panoramic views all around. This trail is particularly great to explore during winter months, as whale spouts can often be spotted offshore along the way.
If your getaway to Oahu falls during winter months, this is the perfect opportunity to go whale watching. The whale watching season begins in mid-December and usually lasts through April, when migrating whales make their way back to Alaskan waters. Though it’s often possible to spot whale spouts from the shoreline, a boat excursion will get you up close and personal with these sizeable creatures. Most outfitters have equipment to listen to the whales’ songs and detect their location, practically guaranteeing a sighting. As an added bonus, pods of dolphins are usually spotted along the way! Ko Olina Ocean Adventures is a good place to start when it comes to booking a highly rated whale watching tour on Oahu.
Aside from whale watching and snorkeling tours, a wide variety of other water winter activities in Oahu are available to add excitement to beach days. Boogie boarding, surfing, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding are all popular with residents and visitors alike, and the proper gear can be easily obtained. Whether you’re an experienced waterman and simply need to rent gear for the day or you’re a complete beginner and would prefer to begin your activity of choice with a lesson, water activities can be enjoyed by travelers of all ages and ability levels.
For an adrenaline rush away from the waterfront, consider embarking on one of the many adventure activities that make the most of the island’s diverse terrain. From hiking to lush waterfalls to horseback riding along the base of a picturesque mountain, there’s so much more to Hawaii than it’s beautiful beaches. Parasail over Waikiki, take in hidden sights that can only be spotted from a helicopter tour, zipline through the tropical forest, or ATV along meandering off-road trails. There are so many ways to enjoy the island beyond its coastline!
If there’s one thing that’s always present at gatherings in Hawaii, it’s large portions of finger-licking good food. From fresh seafood to Pan-Asian and Native Hawaiian cuisines, there is no shortage of options when it comes to good eats in Hawaii. Be sure to try some of these well-loved dishes on your winter getaway to Oahu!
If you haven’t already heard of poke, you’ll likely encounter this dish soon after your arrival in the islands. Poke, a dish consisting of diced raw ahi tuna and pronounced poh-keh, is a Hawaii favorite. This Native Hawaiian dish is traditionally prepared with sea salt, seaweed, and limu. However, nowadays you’ll find a whole range of options such as spicy tuna and wasabi mayo. At most gatherings you’ll find poke used as a side dish, although many restaurants are now serving up poke bowls that turn it into a main meal atop scoops of white rice. It may seem anticlimactic, but some of the best places to try poke are from supermarkets you’ll find around the island, such as Foodland. The restaurant Fresh Catch also has several locations around the island and offers over 20 varieties made fresh daily. Grab a few varieties to go and head to the nearest beach to enjoy your poke with a view!
It may go against the natural inclination while in a tropical location, but another must-try dish in Hawaii is a bowl of steaming saimin, Hawaii’s favorite way to eat noodles. Along with broth and noodles, you’ll typically find ingredients such as char siu, green onions, wonton, Spam, Portuguese sausage, choy sum, kamaboko, and fried eggs in your bowl of saimin. If you can’t bring yourself to eat a bowl of steaming soup on a hot Hawaii day, wait until the sun begins to dip toward the horizon and you’re reaching for your sweatshirt before heading out to one of Oahu’s best saimin restaurants. Palace Saimin and Shige’s Saimin Stand are a couple of the top saimin eateries on Oahu, but part of the fun is trying multiple locations and discovering your personal favorite!
You can’t end a trip to Oahu without noshing your way through at least one serving of shave ice for dessert. Different from the snow cones you’ll find in other locations, shave ice is Hawaii’s version of snow, created with thinly shaved ice that results in a much smoother texture. From rainbow-colored flavors to sweeter concoctions that include a scoop of ice cream at the bottom, the choices of shave ice are many. Matsumoto’s is a mainstay on the North Shore, serving up shave ice for nearly 70 years. Island Snow is another favorite – be sure to include a scoop of macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom of your flavor of choice!
Of all the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu by far offers the widest variety of shopping options. Whether you want to pick up some new beachwear for your day along the oceanfront or you simply want to fulfill that shopping urge, the shopping venues on Oahu more than meet expectations. In fact, Oahu is home to the largest outdoor shopping mall in the world – Ala Moana Center. With beautiful landscaping and swaying palms throughout, you can continue to enjoy the island vibe as you shop at Ala Moana. This mall boasts over 300 stores, with everything from well-known brands to local boutiques, as well as a hearty share of onsite restaurants to keep fueled along the way.
To bargain hunt top brands, consider heading to Waikele Premium Outlets, or find local items at great deals at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. Waikiki Beach Walk offers a pleasant vibe with a good mix of known brands, local boutiques, and specialty shops. The Waikiki Christmas Store located on the Beach Walk is a must-see if your winter getaway to Hawaii coincides with the holiday season! And if you’re staying on the west coast, browse the Shops at Ko Olina for resort wear, beach wear, and gift items.
At Ola Properties, we specialize in offering top-notch Oahu vacation rentals, particularly along the island’s desirable sunny west coast. Contact us today to learn more about where to stay, what to do, and how to save more on your winter getaway to Oahu!