When’s the best time to snorkel in Hawaii

by Mihai Pinzariu on September 25, 2019

Want to go snorkeling in Hawaii? The tropical weather and warm temperatures make for great snorkeling all year round, but there are times of year when conditions are better than others.

Knowing where to go is almost more important than knowing when to go snorkeling, thanks to Hawaii’s changing water, wind, and weather conditions. Here are the best times of year to go snorkelling in Hawaii.

Hawaii seasons

Like other tropics, Hawaii has a rainy season and a dry season.

  • The Hawaiian rainy season is between November and March,
  • The dry season in Hawaii is from April to October.

That said, the rainy season often isn’t all that rainy in some parts of the islands.

Hawaii rainy season

Hawaii sees most of its rain between October and April. That said, the Hawaiian islands all have a rainy side and a dry side. Most of Maui’s snorkeling happens on the dry side, and in Oahu and Kauai there are snorkel sites all over the island to explore. Snorkeling in the Hawaii rainy season isn’t ideal, as it’ll be overcast, cooler, and visibility much lower.

Tropical summer storms in Hawaii

Since 2013, Hawaii has experienced a lot of tropical storms and hurricanes throughout the summer months. July, August, and September seem to be the months most at risk of swells, winds, tropical storms, and hurricanes – but don’t let that thought ruin your summer snorkeling plans. You can’t predict weather, but you can predict other things!

Hawaii water conditions

You’ve gotta keep in mind that Hawaii is great for snorkeling but also for surfing. The islands have constantly changing wave conditions and sizes, so you want to try and avoid planning your snorkel trip during a period of high swells.

In winter, Hawaii experiences a north swell that makes snorkeling almost impossible in some parts. The waves will be higher, choppier, and more dangerous, with much less visibility. That said, sheltered beaches can be protected and the south sides of the islands remain OK for snorkeling.

Hawaiian winds

Hawaii is notorious for tropical trade winds that happen pretty much all year round, creating waves and lowering visibility underwater. The best time to snorkel in Hawaii is in the morning, before the winds pick up.

Best time to snorkel in Hawaii:

May to September, where you’ll find perfect conditions in snorkeling sites all over the islands.

Protip: If you want to see Humpback Whale migrations while snorkeling in Hawaii, try to plan your trip between November and May (the best months are January and February).


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