Me and Cody on top of Mauna Kea watching the sunset

Hawaii in May: Everything You Need to Know About Weather, Events, Costs, and More

After April, May is one of the best times to visit this beautiful archipelago. The rainy weather is pretty much over, so you’ll have warm and sunny days to look forward to. Plus, hotel prices and airfare rates are down, and there are usually fewer tourists in May in Hawaii since summer break begins in June and July. The variety of annual festivals, events, and outdoor activities also make this a good time to travel to Hawaii.

Note on Related Articles: This article is part of a series of articles to help our readers decide which month is best to visit the Hawaiian Islands. If you are thinking of going to Hawaii in a different month, please check out our other articles listed at the end of this one.

May Weather in Hawaii

When people think of spring travel, they mostly think of the rainy season which can put a damper on the whole experience. The good news is, this is not the case with Hawaii. While May marks the beginning of spring in Hawaii, rain showers are rare during this time. The days are full of warm sunshine and the nights are relatively cooler.

The average temperatures during evenings can reach the low 70s, nothing a light sweater or long sleeve shirt can’t handle.

Gorgeous golden sand beach at Napali Bay in Maui with perfect blue water
Napali Bay, Maui

Average Temperatures

Being outside in May in Hawaii – no matter which island you’re on – always feels comfortable throughout the day. Daytime temperatures average between 80°F to 85°F, while they can dip down to 70°F-71°F at night.

Water Temperatures

With sea temperatures ranging from 76°F to 79°F, swimming, snorkeling, and paddling are not only pleasant but super fun. The water this time is so comfortable you won’t want to get out!

Ocean Conditions 

After rainy and somewhat cloudy weather in March and April, the month of May feels like a blessing. The sky is clear and so is the sea. The ocean swells start to tone down in May, even on the north shores where big winter swells attract pro surfers. So, if you’re traveling with children or you’re not as experienced at swimming, the calm ocean is perfect for you to play around in.

Gorgeous golden sand beach at Tunnels Beach in Maui with perfect blue water
Tunnels Beach, Maui

Cost to Visit Hawaii in May

Compared to June and July, May sees cheaper prices in terms of hotels, flights, and car rentals. This rate does rise a bit over the Memorial Day weekend but only slightly.

Airfare

Except for the Memorial Day weekend, you can find a round trip ticket to Hawaii for $460 – $875, depending on whether you’re flying from the east coast or the west coast. Flights from east coast cities (like New York City) are much more expensive than flights from west coast cities (like San Francisco).

Accommodations

The average cost of hotels during May is about $170-$250 per night. Of course, if you’re willing to do without a plethora of amenities to save money, you can rent an Airbnb or Vrbo for $80 to $100 per night. Hostels, dorm rooms, and even RV rentals or camper vans are even cheaper options.

Car Rental

Expect to pay around $100 per day for a rental car on almost every island. Parking fees, gas, and taxes will bump this price up even higher.

Best Times to Book Your May Vacation

May is not considered peak season in Hawaii, so you can get away with last-minute bookings. And by “last-minute”, we mean 15-21 days before your departure. That being said, it’s always best to book as much in advance as possible.

The pool at Queen's Bath in Kauai with perfect calm blue water
Queen’s Bath, Kauai

Is May Crowded in Hawaii?

No, but there are a couple of exceptions. May is actually one of the least crowded months in Hawaii, but there are two events that attract quite a crowd. One is Memorial Day weekend and the other is Golden Week, which usually falls in the first week of May. This is a major Japanese event where four of their national holidays occur in the same week.

With Hawaii’s proximity to Japan, a lot of these folks come to the islands to celebrate their short vacation. Waikiki (Oahu) tends to receive most of this crowd.

You can avoid the crowds by scheduling your trip for the second or third week of May.

Events in May

There’s a lot happening in Hawaii in May:

Oahu

May 1st is Lei Day in Hawaii and it’s celebrated across all islands. Locals, as well as visitors, take to the streets wearing colorful leis made from flowers, leaves, vines, fern, foliage, shells, and other adornments. On Oahu, a big event is held at Kapiolani Park to celebrate the occasion with a lei contest, live performances, music, and more. 

May Day Waikiki is another great event on May 1st that commemorates Waikiki as it was in the days gone by. There are food booths, games, free canoe rides, and other activities.

If you’re in Hawaii on Memorial Day, head over to the Lantern Floating Ceremony at Ala Moana Beach to pay respect to those who lost their lives. Thousands of people gather at this beach with beautiful lit lanterns and release them out into the Pacific Ocean. It’s an enchanting but sober ceremony.

Us walking towards the ocean at Lanikai Beach with a view of the Mokes
Lanikai Beach, Oahu

The Big Island

The Hamakua Harvest Annual Farm Festival is the place to go if you’re interested in family-friendly activities and educational events about agriculture. More than 40 local food vendors showcase the best farm-to-table cuisine during the event and you get the opportunity to relish it all.

Coffee lovers should visit the Ka’u Coffee Festival to get a taste of the unique coffee farms located on the Big Island.

Maui

As a part of the Golden Week celebrations, Maui Matsuri cultural festival is held in the first week of May to offer a glimpse into Japanese culture. There is authentic food, arts and crafts, live entertainment, and a ton of interesting games for children.

The Seabury Hall Crafts Fair is held every year the day before Mother’s Day, where over 100 local craftsmen get together to share their arts, wares, and other handmade treasures.

Water Activities 

We don’t need to tell you the sheer number of opportunities you have to swim, snorkel, bodyboard, and kayak throughout the islands. But if you want to do something unique, try sailing the Napali Coast in Kauai. The Napali Coast State Wilderness Park is spread over 6,000 acres and, surprisingly, is still very much untouched. 

There are no roads that access this park directly, so you’ll either have to take a boat tour or hike an 11-mile rugged trail. With a boat tour, you can enjoy the striking view of the Napali cliffs which are about 4,000 feet above the beach. You’ll also get to see the natural arches, coastal caves, and waterfalls from the aforementioned boat tour.

Outdoor Activities

The things you can do in Hawaii are nearly endless – you’ve got sightseeing, hiking, biking, fire dancers, nightclubs, chilling in a hammock, and so much more. For the adventurer inside you, consider skydiving on the north shore of Oahu. There’s something about jumping out of an airplane over a gorgeous island in the Pacific Ocean that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

See Also:

The 9 Big Island Luau Shows: Everything you need to know!

The Best Luau in Oahu: A Complete Guide

Other Activities Worth Mentioning

No trip to Hawaii is complete without a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center. The center has showcased the unique Hawaiian and Polynesian culture for over 50 years via a series of interactive displays and shows. Your visit will include a trip to six island villages where you’ll get to learn incredibly cool things like how to drum Tahitian-style, do the Maori war dance, shimmy up a coconut tree, and more. You can also get a temporary Fijian tattoo!

We highly recommend attending the Polynesian Cultural Center Luau that’s held every day from 12:45 pm to 5:30 pm. Ticket prices range from $69.95 to $242.95.

FAQs 

Is May a good time to go to Hawaii?

Absolutely. The different islands and their varying microclimates mean you can consider Hawaii at any time of the year. But April and May are one of our favorite times due to fewer visitors and affordable prices all around.

Is it rainy season in Hawaii in May?

No. May does receive odd showers, however, but they are mostly at night. There won’t be any long showers during the day to disrupt your fun.

What is the cheapest island to visit in May?

Oahu tends to be the least expensive Hawaiian Island – not only in May but throughout the year. Maui, on the other hand, is the most expensive.

What is the least visited island in Hawaii?

Both Lanai and Molokai attract only a fraction of all the visitors that flock to the archipelago each year. Molokai doesn’t have any resorts and it’s mostly rural, while Lanai has a handful of exclusive luxury resorts. Other than that, the Big Island is considered less touristy compared to Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.

You Only Live Once

Hawaii in May is a real treat. The weather is perfect and the crowds are lessened after Memorial Day visitors head back home. You’ll find plenty of things to do and will surely have a blast!

Each Hawaiian Island is a magical destination with so many amazing things to see. If you’re hoping for a vacation that takes you outdoors to beaches, jungles, craters, and volcanoes, Hawaii has got you covered. The most important thing to plan your vacation is to decide what you want from the experience. For example, if you’re big on swimming and snorkeling or looking at the ocean life, the Ocean Center of Maui or the manta rays of the Big Island will warrant a visit. Leave some room for spontaneity too though – you never know what unexpected thrill you’ll find on your vacation!

If you’re thinking of going to Hawaii during a different month, check out the below travel guides we have created for you:

Related Articles:

Hawaii in January

Hawaii in February

Hawaii in March

Hawaii in April

Hawaii in June

Hawaii in July

Hawaii in August

Hawaii in September

Hawaii in October

Hawaii in November

Hawaii in December