(1 of 3)Hawaiian IslandsAlso see times to save in: Vegas | Orlando
When to Island-Hop With the Smallest Crowds
September - Maui and the Big Island
November - Lanai
February - Oahu and Kauai
April - Molokai
May - The Big Island
More Aloha for Off-Peak Travelers
Although Hawaii's blissful weather lasts year round, the islands cradle the calmest waters and fewest guests in September. As the back-to-school breezes carry families of flip-floppers back home, the incoming tradewinds of U.S. mainland and Canadian tourists suddenly sputter, resulting in roughly 150,000 fewer visitors in September than in August (more than a 20% drop).
So with the quieter beaches, softer waves, and the decibel savings of 300,000 fewer flip-flops, you'd think they'd jack up the rates for the extra zenful paradise. But thankfully not. After Labor Day weekend, you can usually expect reductions of at least 10% for mid-week airfare and up to 55% for hotels, with especially attractive savings for Maui and the Big Island, which enjoy their least traveled and arguably most pleasant month of the year.
Savings continue through October, which is the peak month for weddings and honeymoons on the islands (so the most popular wedding spots on Maui might be exceptions). And the autumn dip lasts through most of November -- until fares and rates quickly snap back up around Thanksgiving and through December's holiday influx.
As the winter waves churn up, so do more off-peak savings opportunities. From the second half of January through the end of February, when Oahu and Kauai have the fewest visitors, you can generally save a bundle on airfare and hotel packages -- upwards of 30% or more as compared to making the same trip in summer. Packages like "stay three nights, get the fourth night free" are often common. February in Hawaii also sees the fewest number of visitors staying in timeshares, which drives down hotel rates and car rental rates even more.
The next quietest and most affordable time is April, after the spring-break rush and before families return on their mega summer vacations. The Big Island also experiences a second reprieve from tourists in May, similar to its September lull.
Potential Savings for a Typical September Vacation
We priced hotel rates for a typical four-night Hawaiian vacation, arriving Sunday, Sept. 18 and leaving Thursday, Sept. 22, and found the following discounts (tax included in dollar figures):
On Oahu (Waikiki/Honolulu)
38 of the 74 hotels with rooms available offered discounts
22 hotels offered 30%-35% discounts
9 hotels offered discounts of 45% or greater
$280 average potential savings over the four nights
$804 potential savings over the four nights at one higher-end hotel
48 of the 99 hotels with rooms available offered discounts
33 offered discounts of 30% or more
$332 average potential savings over the four nights
$1,442 potential savings over the four nights at one higher-end hotel
On the Big Island
21 of the 66 hotels with rooms available offered discounts
15 offered discounts of 30% or more
$374 average potential savings over the four nights
$1,324 potential savings over the four nights at one higher-end hotel
15 of the 47 hotels with rooms available offered discounts
12 offered discounts of 30% or more
$553 average potential savings over the four nights
$1,245 potential savings over the four nights at one higher-end hotel
Average Temps (ºF)
January - High 81, Low 63
April - High 84, Low 64
July - High 88, Low 69
October - High 87, Low 68