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Best Time to Visit Kauai | When to Go & Travel Tips

Best Time to Visit Kauai | When to Go & Travel Tips

Kauai, the “Garden Island” of Hawaii, is one of the lesser-known gems of the tropical Hawaiian islands. Thriving tropical rainforests, majestic mountains, and time-carved canyons with the deep blue ocean as a backdrop create some of the best scenery you’ll find across all the Hawaiian islands.

But the time of year you go is the most important thing if you want to get the full Kauai experience! Find out the best time to visit Kauai for incredible weather, cheap prices, and fewer crowds in this quick travel guide.

From the busy, temperate high season to the lower-priced, quieter low season, there’s a perfect time of year for you to go to Kauai. This guide will help you pinpoint the dates for your stay!

Why You Should Visit Kauai

Why You Should Visit Kauai as a window to paradise on the Kalalua Trail

Ludo Koos/Shutterstock

Kauai, Hawaii’s “Garden Island,” is one of the most scenic tropical locations you’ll ever visit. It has everything a nature-lover could want. Sprawling beaches, rugged coastlines, mountains, canyons, natural pools, waterfalls, and lush rainforests dot the island.

If you’re the type who prefers an off-the-beaten-path destination, Kauai needs to be on your list. Rent some gear and go snorkeling along the shore to see incredible fish and ocean life up close.

You might see sea turtles and the rare Hawaiian monk seal! Pack some snacks and explore the vast rainforest that covers much of the island and be amazed at the diverse wildlife and greenery you spot!

Spend a day sailing to see the rugged coastline from a new perspective, trek down to the Olokele and Waimea Canyons, and hike over to the 400-foot tall Manawaipuna Falls you may remember seeing in Jurassic Park.  

There are fewer options for hotels and resorts here than on Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii (the Big Island), but that’s part of the charm. On Kauai, it’s all about the beauty and wonder of nature.

The Sleeping Giant mountain range runs through the island, creating dramatic cliffs and peaks that the bravest adventurers will want to climb. The unspoiled 17-mile Napali Coast is a must-see while you’re here.

It’s a strenuous hike (make sure to bring plenty o water and comfortable shoes) but more than worth the effort. If you don’t have a ton of time to explore the island in full, you can still take in the beauty of Kauai’s rugged Napali Coast from above via helicopter tours. 

Families especially will enjoy some of the unique attractions on the island, like tubing through channels in an old sugarcane plantation in Poipu Beach Park.

Don’t forget to check out local shops and restaurants to get a taste of the real Kauai while you’re there – all that exploring is sure to leave you hungry! Next, check out the best time to visit Kauai for your specific vacation goals.

Whether you’re seeking the ideal weather conditions, the cheapest time to go, or the least busy time of year to visit, we’ve got you covered. We’ll also look at the worst time of year to go and share some helpful travel tips for your stay.

Read Next: The 15 Best Hikes in Kauai

Overall Best Time to Visit Kauai

Wailua Falls during the best time to visit Kauai, in the early summer

Mohamed Selim/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Kauai when you factor in weather, prices, and crowds is April to May. April, May, and even early June aren’t as busy as July and August — the real high season on Kauai, when most tourists arrive to enjoy the sunny summer weather while the kids are out of school.

As a result, prices can be much more affordable than in July and you’ll deal with smaller crowds and shorter lines. The weather from April to June is nothing short of idyllic.

You’ll enjoy temperatures ranging from the upper 70s to the low 80s during this time of year and the water temperature is perfect.

There’s little rainfall to slow down your outdoor plans, and you’ll be able to experience Hawaii in full spring bloom if you visit during April and May. By visiting between the winter high season and summer high season, you’ll be able to experience the best Kauai has to offer.

Outdoor exploration is perfect at this time of year, the ocean is calm enough to bring your kids for a swim, and the lush greenery around you will make you feel like you’re in a tropical paradise. Truthfully, you will be!  

Cheapest Time to Visit Kauai

Hiking trail and the Na Pali coast pictured during the cheapest time to visit Kauai, in the Fall and early Winter

Rene Holtslag/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Kauai for cheap prices on flights and hotels is during September through November. With the exception of Fall Break in October (when kids are out of school and there’s a brief uptick in prices), you’ll be able to enjoy the lowest flight and hotel prices of the year at this time.

The stream of visitors slows to a trickle in September, slightly picks up in October, and dives back down in November. This lowers the demand for flights and hotel rooms, making prices lower and your trip a lot cheaper.

In fact, if you want to plan the absolute cheapest trip to Kauai, plan to go during early September – you’ll see rock bottom prices and still be able to take advantage of the warm summer weather. 

The rainy season begins in November-December, so prepare for some additional rainfall the later in fall you plan your trip. Bring a lightweight rain coat and umbrella so you can have fun in the rain or sun!  

Least Busy Time to Visit Kauai

Two lounge chairs in Princeville pictured during the least busy time to visit Kauai

Stan Jones/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Kauai for smaller crowds (and cheaper prices as a result) is February, April to May, and September to November. Picking the time of year that’s best for you means factoring in the weather and pricing for each of these low season periods. 

  • February has smaller crowds because the snowbirds who arrived in the beginning of winter are clearing out and leaving hotel rooms and flights vacant. Temperatures hang in the upper 70s and it’s one of the rainiest months of the year on Kauai. 
  • April and May see fewer visitors as the Spring Breakers leave the island and summer tourists haven’t yet arrived. Temperature highs range from 79 to 81 degrees on the island and rainfall tapers off considerably. 
  • September to November see the fewest visitors of the year on Kauai as the summer break ends and the rainy season begins to pick up. Temperatures range from the upper 80s to 90s and there’s a roughly 20-30% chance of rain on a given day during this time of year. 

Choose the low season period with the weather and prices that best fit your plans. You’ll enjoy fewer crowds, cheaper prices, and better hotel availability during your stay! 

Worst Time to Visit Kauai

Rainbow over Hanalei during the Worst Time to Visit Kauai

Vanessa S Hunter/Shutterstock

While you’ll enjoy your stay anytime you visit, the worst time of year to visit Kauai is December to March. This is the winter “rainy season” on Kauai and poor weather can ruin your outdoor plans.

The temperatures are nice and mild at this time of year, but if you’re dealing with daily rainstorms, it may not be enough to justify a visit during this time. 

December through March is also one of Kauai’s peak tourism seasons when snowbirds arrive to escape winter weather in their homeland. Is a little rain in a gorgeous, tropical locale better than ice and snow at home?

You bet, but with the higher prices that come along with this mini-peak season, you may decide that it’s just not worth it overall. December through March is ideal for one thing, though — surfing.

The Pacific’s waters are rougher with large swells during the rainy season, so you’ll be able to catch the best waves at this time of year. If you have kids or want to enjoy calmer waters, visit during spring, summer, or fall instead. 

More Things to Consider

Helicopter flying over Kauai during the best time to visit

Benny Marty/Shutterstock

  • If you’re not outdoorsy, look elsewhere. Kauai is perfect for outdoor adventurers who revel in the lush islands’ tropical natural beauty. But if you prefer visiting shops, restaurants, and cities, you’ll probably want to check out Oahu, Maui, or the Big Island of Hawaii instead. Kauai does have lots of hotels, restaurants, and shops, but it’s all about hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and exploration here. 
  • Take a hike – seriously. Kauai is mostly covered in tropical, lush rainforests. You can’t go without hiking and exploring all this unique landscape has to offer!
  • Tour the Napali Coast via helicopter or on foot. The Napali Coast is one of Kauai’s major draws for tourists. It’s a rugged, natural 17-mile coastline that is totally unspoiled by the modern world. Lush, green pali (cliffs) jut out into the blue Pacific and give you a sense of how gorgeous Hawaii really is. You can hike it if you’re up for it – it’s a strenuous hike for sure – but helicopter tours are a better option for families or those who don’t want to break a sweat. 
  • Pack the gear you’ll need for your plans. If you plan on venturing deep into the rainforests, make sure you pack the proper gear. It’s warm but you’ll still want to have your arms and legs covered to avoid bug bites and scrapes as you make your way through the lush greenery. Bring shoes that can get muddy, lightweight pants and a long-sleeved shirt, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and bug spray to make your time there more enjoyable. A cooler is a great idea, too! 
  • Take a snorkeling tour. One of the best ways to experience Kauai is right on the surface of the water! Snorkeling tours outfit you with the gear and put you right on top of brilliant schools of fish, incredible natural formations, and thriving reefs that will thrill you. Don’t skip snorkeling – it’s some of the best in the world here. 
  • Discover the best places to stay on Kauai. Although there aren’t quite as many hotels and resorts on Kauai as the more popular Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii islands, there are enough options to leave a first-time visitor overwhelmed. It’s a lot easier to choose your accommodations when you know what each place has to offer!

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Kauai?

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this guide, so let’s recap to wrap it up. The best time to visit Kauai overall is from April to May.

This is the period that will give you the quintessential Kauai/Hawaii experience as the temperatures are moderate (upper 70s to low 80s), the greenery is lush and dense, and the weather is sunny with little rainfall.

Visitors peak in June, July, and August, so you’ll avoid the biggest crowds by going in April or May. To stick to a tight budget on your trip, visit during September or November.

September is the cheapest month to visit Kauai as summer visitors have gone and winter’s high season has not yet arrived. The temperatures in September hang around the upper 70s and it’s very pleasant.

In November, prices are still much lower than the rest of the year, but the rainfall increases and the temperatures begin to fall closer to the low 70s. If you’re avoiding big crowds and want a more relaxing stay, you have a few options.

February, April to May, and September to November are all low season periods when fewer visitors arrive on Kauai. You’ll benefit with better hotel and resort availability (even being able to book last-minute trips cheaply), shorter lines for activities, food, and drinks, and lower prices all around. 

The worst time of year to visit Kauai is during the winter high season in December through March. Rainfall is heaviest, visitors hit their seasonal highs, and prices jump in response.

Final Thoughts

The ocean is much rougher around Kauai at this time of year – perfect for surfing, but not for calm snorkeling or swimming. By factoring your goals for the trip in, you can find the best time to visit Kauai for your family’s needs.

And if you’re really just looking for the best time of year to enjoy beautiful Kauai in all its natural splendor, planning to go during April or May won’t leave you disappointed. 

Get ideas for planning your trip itinerary (and see if there’s a Hawaiian island that’s a better fit for your family) with these quick guides next!