With the summer crowds gone and prices going down before the winter holidays, October is one of the best times to head to Hawaii. Go to Oahu for top surf and food; Kauai for charming local bars and hidden swimming holes; Maui for prime whale watching and stellar sunsets; or the Big Island for everything from black sand beaches and waterfalls to lava tubes and volcanoes.
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.
October Weather in Hawaii
Rainfall is at its lowest in Hawaii from April through the first week of October. And while the hurricane season here lasts from June through November, you are as likely to come across a storm in October as you are any other time of the year. Just remember there is still plenty to do in Hawaii, even when it rains.
Temperatures tend to hover in the mid to high 80s range. Evenings are usually pleasant, dropping into the 70s. October has one of the warmest ocean temperatures, making it perfect for water sports lovers. Even if all you want to do is just dip your toes in the ocean while strolling along the beach, the tepid waters will be a delightful surprise.
The ocean temperature in October in Hawaii is warm and comfortable enough for all kinds of fun activities like swimming, surfing, bodyboarding, and scuba diving. In Oahu, expect the ocean temperatures to range between 76°F and 81°F on average. If you’re on the Big Island, the temperatures are similar, usually from 77°F to 81°F. In the northernmost islands, like Kauai, the water typically ranges from 77°F to 83°F.
For the uninitiated, water temperatures below 70°F are considered dangerous, according to the National Center for Cold Water Safety. With that said, if you’re worried that October will be too cold to get down into the water in the Hawaiian Islands or that you’ll need a wetsuit, don’t worry.
Locals and visitors alike surf year-round on Hawaii’s legendary waves, but there are a few things to keep in mind, especially if you’re planning to surf – or as the pros call it, “hang ten”. On the islands’ north-facing shores, waves are usually larger in October, so if you are a beginner learning to surf it can be dangerous.
Cost to Visit Hawaii in October
For the budget-conscious souls, October is hands down the best time of year to travel to Hawaii. Hotels and hostels are well below the annual average; you can easily find a three-star hotel for around $200-$300 per night. When you compare that to the peak season at $350, that’s nothing short of a miracle. Flights and car rentals are harder to predict, but generally speaking, October is one of the cheapest times of the year.
The cost of your round-trip flight will depend on where you’re flying from, obviously, but expect to cough up at least $520 for domestic flights. This is the absolute minimum, and it can easily go up to over $1,200. Premium and first-class tickets are even more expensive.
If you want to save on flights, consider this: It might seem rather unorthodox, but instead of setting your travel dates in advance before booking the flights, why not let the price guide you to the cheapest dates possible? By being flexible with your travel dates, you can often score mega savings on airfare. We recommend setting price alerts on Google, Skyscanner, or AirfareWatchDog, ideally starting several months out.
You can find a good budget hotel in Hawaii for $139-$194 per night during October, while the higher-end options can cost upwards of $987/night. If you want to save even more, staying at a hostel is a good option. The Northshore Hostel in Maui costs $58/night, and the Polynesian Hostel Beach Club in Honolulu is about $49/night.
If you’re traveling with friends or family, you may want to look into renting an apartment via Airbnb or Zillow; this is usually cheaper than booking a couple of rooms at a hotel.
Renting a car anywhere in Hawaii can be a little tricky, especially now after the pandemic. During the pandemic, rental car companies were forced to sell their vehicles and thin out their fleets due to a lack of visitors. Now that visitors are returning in droves, the companies are still struggling with their smaller inventories.
As a result, car rentals have become quite expensive; expect to pay around $90-$120 per day on less-crowded islands like Kauai and the Big Island, while the cheapest available rental car on Maui can cost upwards of $157 a day.
Best Times to Book Your October Vacation
The long-distance canoe races from Molokai to Oahu are usually scheduled in late September and early October. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, this year’s Moloka’i Hoe race has been canceled and replaced with an Oahu-based World Championship Race on October 8-9th, 2022. There will also be the Ironman World Championship from October 6-8th.
Why are we talking about this instead of telling you the best time to book your trip? Because of these events, the island is going to be busier during October. Don’t get us wrong, it won’t be crowded as it usually is during the summer or winter holiday months – but it will be bustling with about 2,000 or so participants who are expected to join in from around the world. In relation to this, make sure you book your flights and accommodations at least 4-5 months in advance.
If you can’t book that early on, book at least 21-35 days in advance to save on domestic flights.
Is October Crowded in Hawaii?
No, it’s not. As we said above, October is the month of outrigger canoe races, or as is the case this year, the Ironman World Championship. Around 2,000-2,500 people come from all around the globe to participate in these events. But this crowd is pretty negligible compared to the tens of thousands of people who flock to the Hawaiian Islands during the summer vacation (in June-July) or winter holidays (in December-January).
Events in October
There’s a lot happening in October in Hawaii:
Oahu has the best Halloween festivities, with costume contests (for people and their pets!), pumpkin-picking fests, and full-fledged carnivals at seemingly every corner. You can partake in the Holy Nativity’s 7th Annual Great Pumpkin Festival in Honolulu, which features a patch of over 2,000 locally-grown pumpkins and offers rides, games, and a watermelon-eating and costume contest.
The Mililani Public Library hosts family-friendly screenings of Halloween-special movies like Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Monsters, Inc., and The NeverEnding Story. We said family-friendly, so no Sicario!
The Big Island
The Big Island will be hosting the 2022 Ironman World Championship in the sunny capital of Kailua-Kona. Age-group and professional triathletes from 55+ countries will participate in the ultimate test of grit, strength, and heart. This is a two-day event; women will race on October 6th and men will race on October 8th, 2022. The age-groupers are distributed between the two days.
For the foodies, the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival is a must-visit. It will be held from October 20th to November 6th this year on multiple islands at different locations, including the Hyatt, Victoria Ward Park, Marriott Resort, Halekulani Hotel, Ko’olina Resort, and the Hawaii Convention Center. Each event features world-famous chefs and wine and liquor producers. On the Big Island, it will be held on October 28-29th.
This year, the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival comes to Kaanapali on October 20-23rd. A series of Festivals of Aloha are also scheduled this year from October 15th to October 20th. It will begin with the Hana Parade at the Hana Ball Park and end with an Arts Talent Show at Hana Bay.
The Annual Coconut Festival is scheduled for October 4th & 5th this year at the Kapa’a Beach Park to honor this delicious and essential part of the Hawaiian culture. There will be pie-eating contests, cooking demonstrations, games, and entertainment featuring – you guessed it – coconut.
The Pupu O Niihau: Jewels of the Pacific exhibition will begin on October 4th 2022 and last through the end of December. This is a Niihau Shell Exhibit that features a gorgeous collection of jewelry pieces you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
On October 1st, from 2 pm to 8:30 pm, the Aloha Festivals will come to Lanai and feature cultural demonstrations, live entertainment, artisans, crafters, free keiki (kids) activities, and much more.
The Aloha Festivals on Molokai are set for October 8th in the evening. Molokai’s Royal Court will host a traditional ceremony where they will receive the Royal symbols. A Ulu-Uala-Kalo Contest, Poke Contest, Special off-island entertainment, and several other events are scheduled for the day.
With endless golden beaches, balmy weather, and inviting blue waves, you can play in the water all October long, no matter which island you’re on. Here are a few ideas on how to enhance your fun in the Hawaiian waters:
Go snorkeling in the Pupukea Beach Park aka Shark’s Cove (Oahu): From March through October, this spot is perfect for snorkeling and diving. The cavernous tunnels and lava tubes are great for both experienced and novice snorkelers. However, make sure to wear reef shoes at all times since there are a lot of sharp rocks around.
Go swimming in Queen’s Bath (Kauai): While dangerous high surf in November-December is common, low surf in June-October makes this tide pool a popular spot for swimming. You’ll need reef shoes – and agility – to get there, but once in, you can mosey like a regal queen, emerging only to climb up the rocks for a short jump back in. Be careful though, especially if you are not a pro swimmer; more than 25 people have drowned here. Swim with extra caution at all times.
Take a surf class in Maui: If you’ve always wanted to learn to surf, Maui has several surf schools that offer lessons at a cheap rate. You can try well-known companies like the Royal Hawaiian Surf Academy, Surf Club Maui, Maui Surfer Girls, Maui Beach Boys, and Maui Waveriders; don’t forget to price hunt to find the best deals.
Looking to spend time outside exploring the archipelago? Here are some salient ways to enjoy Hawaii during your October vacation:
Visit the Kamakou Preserve (East Moloka’i): For those looking for something off the beaten path, consider visiting this 2,774-acre rain forest preserve tucked away on the slopes of Mt. Kamakou. From March to October, guided educational tours are available to take you through this stunning wonderland full of native trees, rare bogs, wet ohia forests, and colorful wildlife. These excursions tend to fill up many months in advance, so make sure to reserve as soon as you can.
The IWT Aloha Classic Wave Championships (Maui): The greatest windsurfers in the world come together for this final event in the Pro Boardsailing World Tour. It’s usually scheduled for the last week of October; this year, it will be held from October 24th to November 4th. If you’re in Maui, don’t miss this spectacular event.
The Lahaina Halloween Party (Maui): Around 20,000 people show up to this giant costume party on the streets of Lahaina. The festivities start before sunset, and we recommend getting there as early as possible because finding parking here is not easy.
Other Activities Worth Mentioning
If you want to see the rare – and endangered – silversword plants, drive down to Kalahaku Overlook on your way to Haleakala Crater Road. This is a striking plant that grows only in Hawaii and takes anywhere from 4 to 50 years to bloom! From May to October, the plant sends up an up to 6-foot long stalk that looks like a bouquet of purple sunflowers.
Unless you’re willing to risk arrest, don’t even think about plucking one and taking it home!
Is October a good time to go to Hawaii?
Absolutely! By October, kids are usually back at school, so fewer families travel to Hawaii around this time. And since this is the off-season, you can find great deals on hotels and airfare.
Is it rainy season in Hawaii in October?
No. Winter (December to March) is considered the rainy season in Hawaii; October doesn’t get a lot of rain.
Is October hurricane season in Hawaii?
Yes, it is. But wait, it’s not as scary as you might think – tropical storms and hurricanes rarely hit Hawaii. The most recent hurricane to hit Hawaii was in September of 1992 in Kauai. In August 2019, Hurricane Erick passed by about 230 miles away from the southernmost Hawaiian Islands, resulting in a light tropical storm.
What are the worst months to visit Hawaii?
Okay, first of all, there’s no bad time to visit Hawaii!
That being said, if you hate crowds and/or overspending, December will be your least favorite month to plan a Hawaii vacation. In addition to the insane holiday crowds, there’s also the fact that December is the wettest month of the year. Mother Nature cannot be predicted; she does what she wants, when she wants.
What is the cheapest time of the year to go to Hawaii?
There are two specific periods when everything is cheaper in Hawaii: the first off-season is from the Easter Break until the middle of June, and the second off-season is from September through the middle of December. In other words, October is one of the cheapest times to visit Hawaii.
Can you swim in Maui in October?
You most certainly can! September and October have the warmest ocean temperatures in Hawaii, so the water is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and surfing.
What should I wear in Hawaii in October?
Whatever you normally wear in summer, i.e., lightweight clothes, shorts, skirts, sandals, and flip-flops. The days are sunny and hot, so wear clothes that are loose and breezy. Based on this, you may want to bring a lightweight sweatshirt or jacket for the nights when it can get a little cooler. Don’t forget to pack sunglasses, a hat, and plenty of sunscreen.
As the leaves are changing and temperatures are cooling off in most parts of the continental US, October is a fantastic time to take a trip and recharge your spirit. And what better place to feed your soul and escape the daily stress than the land of leis, blue waters, and boundless nature. We hope this guide helped you understand what to expect from Hawaii in October.
Until next time, Aloha!