During the Vans Triple Crown, John John Florence — one of the world's top surfers — puts on a show on Oahu's North Shore. // © 2016 WSL/Kirstin
Feature image (above): Humpback whales are easy to spot during Hawaii's winter months. // © 2016 Heather Del Carlo
As the gloom of winter settles across much of the U.S. mainland, Hawaii beckons travelers to a land of light and warmth. It’s not just the state’s weather that’s ideal throughout the winter, which runs roughly from November to April. During that time, visitors to the Aloha State also can enjoy an array of activities, events and other lures that are distinctive to the destination.
Since increasingly more travelers have discovered the joys of Hawaii in the winter, clients should book hotels and rental cars well in advance for trips during those months. Costs are generally higher then, as well, but the payoffs overshadow the price tag. Check out these reasons for heading to the islands for a winter getaway.
Forget snowboarding. Hawaii’s favorite sport during the winter months is surfing. Each year, professional wave riders head to the 50th state — especially Oahu’s legendary North Shore — to challenge mammoth swells pushing upward of 40 feet. Famous beaches such as Sunset and Ehukai are great spots for viewing the action. Crowds gather on the safety of the sand to watch international tournaments, including the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, when daring chairmen of the boards compete for the title of world’s best surfer.
During the U.S. mainland’s cold-weather months, boring bananas, mediocre apples and bland tomatoes often pass as fresh produce. In Hawaii, however, the growing and harvesting season never ends. Thanks to the destination’s benevolent climate, winter visitors can buy a remarkable range of just-picked crops such as avocados, carrots, corn, eggplant, lychees, oranges, papayas, pineapples, tangerines and zucchini. Farmers’ markets are in abundance, making it easy for clients to purchase perfectly ripe produce any day and month of the year.
Hawaii delivers year-round warmth and sunshine, but come winter, the weather around the islands is particularly soothing for snow-weary travelers. While U.S. mainlanders are shivering in their boots, Hawaii’s visitors are soaking up the Vitamin D. The average daytime high across the islands is 78 degrees, ideal for activities by land and sea. The only caveat is that Hawaii gets more rain from November to April than the rest of the year. When the drizzles start, however, it’s easy to drive somewhere else where the sun is shining. Or, embrace the weather with these fun things to do when it rains in Hawaii.
Hawaii kicks off winter with island-style holiday happenings such as Honolulu City Lights on Oahu, the Waimea Christmas Twilight Parade on Kauai and Kailua’s Lighted Boat Parade on Hawaii Island. Athletic clients gravitate to Hawaii to participate in winter challenges such as the Xterra Trail Run World Championship and Honolulu Marathon, both held in December. High-profile spectator sports include basketball’s Diamond Head Classic, a Honolulu showcase of top men’s college teams in December, and golf’s Tournament of Champions in Maui’s Kapalua Resort in January.
Throughout each winter, visitors can spot whales in Hawaii’s warm waters. The Auau Channel between west Maui, Lanai and Molokai is a favorite location for humpbacks breeding, calving and nursing their young. From shore, folks easily can see whales breaching and spouting. On any island, clients can book boat tours that bring them closer to the splashy action. Many whale-watching vessels feature underwater microphones that broadcast the songs of the ocean’s gentle giants, adding to the allure of a winter vacation in Hawaii.