Sunsets, snorkeling and when to have a whale of a time on Maui
Things are sort of topsy-turvy when it comes to the best time to visit Maui. Its so-called high seasons – winter and summer – are "high" only because that's when visitors either escape bad winter weather elsewhere or take a summer vacation with the kids. That means that the best time to visit Maui – unless you're there for whale watching – is actually during its low season, spring and fall, when the temperatures are mild and there's little rain.
The take-home point here is that anytime is a great time to visit Maui, and honestly, the weather between seasons differs by only a few degrees. But to fine-tune the timing of your Maui vacation, take advantage of these tips.
Avoid the crowds and travel for less
Everyone loves to go to Hawaii over the winter holidays – in fact, anytime when the weather is bad elsewhere. Hands down, the winter months are the most crowded and the most expensive. If you can, instead, take time off in the spring and fall, you'll not only beat the crowds but will also avoid the high-priced hotel and airfare rates of winter and summer.
The Japanese also consider Hawaii a prime vacation destination, so try to avoid Japan's Golden Week, which incorporates four national holidays into the last week of April through the first week of May.
Sun and snorkel
To beach it – whether to sun, swim, snorkel or paddle board – you might want to avoid the rainy season from November through March. In fact, the historically driest months on Maui are from June through September. This doesn't mean you will necessarily experience heavy or frequent rain in the winter – it just means that rain is more likely than in summer.
For some specifics, consider that November averages 2.2 inches of rain a year, December 3.2 inches and January 2.8 inches. Compare these amounts to, say, Florida's average winter rainfall – another popular winter destination – which averages 3.5 inches of rain in November, 3.9 in December and 4.3 in January. Maui is the clear winner here.
Again, spring and fall are the ideal time for sun, with rain averaging just 1.5 to 1.25 inches per year. And the temperatures during these two seasons are also ideal, ranging from highs in the mid-to-high 80s and lows in the mid-60s and 70s. Summer sees much higher temperatures, frequently in the 90s, so if you're heat-sensitive, it's a time to avoid.
Catch a whale (or a wave)
To see the island's famous whales, you must be there in the winter when the North Pacific humpback whales migrate between Hawaii and Alaska. Peak season is February, and next best is anytime between January and March, although you might catch a stray whale anytime between November and May.
And if you're a surfer, winter is definitely for you, since the best waves arrive between December and March.
Understand the lee of the land
Since we're talking about an island here, consider that there is a leeward and a windward side, which definitely impacts the weather, creating several microclimates. Anytime of the year, you'll find warmer and drier weather on the leeward side (west and south) which also features the island's most stunning beaches and all of its resorts. The windward side features rainforests and rocky lava and is home to the famously beautiful and winding Road to Hana.