Home » Hawaii » What’s it Like to Visit Hawaii in May?

What’s it Like to Visit Hawaii in May?

Are you thinking about planning a trip to Hawaii in May? Get all your questions answered. Plus, find out some of the best things to do in Hawaii in May that are worth adding to your itinerary!
This list of things to do in Hawaii in May contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

May is such a lovely time to visit Hawaii! First of all, May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii and it’s a HUGE deal.

But, the rest of the month is also fabulous. We’ve visited Hawaii in May many times and I love that it’s a quiet pocket between spring break and summer vacation.

Whether you are planning your trip to Hawaii in May or still just thinking about it, I’ll answer all your top questions in this post!

Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Hawaii itineraries complete with daily schedules, fun activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.

What is the Weather Like in Hawaii in May?

May marks the start of the summer season in Hawaii. The weather in May is generally warm and pleasant, with average temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (23-28 Celsius) in most parts of the islands.

There may be occasional rain showers, especially in the late afternoon or early evening, but they typically do not last very long.

Is May a Good Time to Visit Hawaii?

Yes, May is generally a good time to visit Hawaii as the weather is warm and sunny, the crowds are relatively low, and there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.

Image of the Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden on Oahu
The Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden on Oahu is much quieter in May.

Additionally, May is typically outside of the peak tourist season, which means that airfare and accommodations may be more affordable.

What are the Crowds Like in Hawaii in May?

May is considered a shoulder season in Hawaii, so the crowds tend to be less compared to the peak season (December to February) and the summer months (June to August).

However, there may still be a moderate number of visitors during this time, particularly during the Memorial Day weekend.

Overall, the level of crowding can vary depending on the specific destination and activities you plan to do.

Are There Any Special Events or Festivals in Hawaii in May?

Yes, there are several special events and festivals in Hawaii in May. Here are some of our top picks:

Lei Day Celebration

On May 1st, the Hawaiian Islands celebrate Lei Day, a holiday that honors the beauty and cultural significance of the lei. Festivities often include live music, hula performances, lei-making contests, and more.

Maui Onion Festival

This festival celebrates the Maui onion and takes place in late May. Festivities often include cooking demonstrations, live music, and food booths featuring onion-inspired dishes.

Lantern Floating Hawaii

This annual event takes place on Memorial Day and involves thousands of lanterns being released into the ocean at Ala Moana Beach Park. The lanterns symbolize the release of worries and a commitment to living a positive life.

Mother’s Day in Hawaii

If you’ll be visiting Hawaii during Mother’s Day, there are lots of cute restaurants that offer Mother’s Day brunches or teas.

What Activities are Available in Hawaii in May?

There are plenty of things tourists can do in Hawaii in May. Some of the top activities and attractions include:

Beach Hopping

May is a great time for beach hopping in Hawaii for several reasons.

Firstly, the weather is typically warm and sunny, with average temperatures in the mid to high 70s°F (around 24-26°C) and low humidity. This makes it the perfect time to hit the beach and soak up the sun, without having to worry about oppressive heat or rainfall.

Check out these amazing condos in Kihei Maui recommended by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel Spot! Image of Maui Kihei Beach with Distant Fisherman
One of the beaches in Kihei, Maui.

In addition to the comfortable weather, May is also considered a shoulder season for tourism in Hawaii, which means that crowds are generally smaller and prices for accommodations and activities may be more affordable.

This allows you to explore different beaches and areas of Hawaii without feeling overwhelmed by crowds or breaking the bank.

May is an excellent time to beach hop in Hawaii, offering a combination of great weather, smaller crowds, and natural beauty that is hard to beat.

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

With the warm water temperatures, May is a great time to explore the underwater world in Hawaii.

In addition to the warm water temperatures, May is also a good time to go snorkeling or scuba diving in Hawaii because the visibility is generally very good.

Find out the best Lanai snorkeling tours from Maui recommended by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel Spot! Image of a woman snorkeling in the ocean
May is great for snorkeling on all the islands.

The ocean is typically calm and clear, with a visibility range of up to 100 feet (30 meters) or more, depending on the location. This allows you to see a wide range of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and even dolphins and whales in some areas.

Another benefit of snorkeling or scuba diving in Hawaii in May is that the crowds are generally smaller than during peak tourist season, which means that you may have a better chance of seeing marine life up close and without as much competition from other snorkelers or divers.

Hiking

Hawaii is home to many beautiful hiking trails, including the Kalalau Trail on Kauai and the Halema’uma’u Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

May is considered a shoulder season for tourism in Hawaii, which means that crowds are generally smaller and trails may be less crowded.

Hanakapiai Falls on Kauai: Image of a man standing in front of a Kauai waterfall
Hanakapiai Falls on Kauai.

This allows hikers to enjoy a more peaceful and less congested experience on the trails, without having to worry about competing with crowds for space or views.

May is also a great time to visit Hawaii for hiking because the flora and fauna are in full bloom. Many of Hawaii’s native plants and flowers, such as hibiscus and plumeria, are in full bloom during this time of year, creating a beautiful natural backdrop for your hikes.

You may also have the opportunity to see rare and endangered plant and animal species that are unique to Hawaii.

Water Sports

May is an excellent time to try out water sports in Hawaii, offering a combination of great weather, smaller crowds, and the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful marine life in the world.

The warm weather makes it the perfect time to hit the water and try out a range of water sports, from surfing and paddleboarding to kayaking and snorkeling.

Check out the best things to do in Hawaii in April recommended by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel Spot! Image of a Woman paddleboarding on ocean
May is a great time to try paddleboarding in Hawaii.

In addition to the comfortable weather, May is also considered a shoulder season for tourism in Hawaii, which means that crowds are generally smaller and prices for water sports activities may be more affordable.

This allows you to try out a range of water sports without feeling overwhelmed by crowds or breaking the bank.

Shopping

May is a great time to shop in Hawaii, as there are many outdoor markets, shopping centers, and specialty stores to explore. Here are some of the best places to shop in Hawaii in May:

Ala Moana Center

Located in Honolulu on Oahu, the Ala Moana Center is the largest outdoor shopping mall in the world and offers a vast selection of luxury brands, boutiques, and department stores.

Waikiki Beach Walk

Waikiki Beach Walk is a popular shopping destination that features a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, including local artisans and boutiques.

Kailua Village

Kailua Village on the Big Island is a charming shopping district that offers a variety of unique shops, galleries, and restaurants, featuring locally made products and souvenirs.

Maui Swap Meet

The Maui Swap Meet is a popular open-air market that offers a diverse range of goods, including fresh produce, handmade crafts, and unique souvenirs.

What are the Best Beaches to visit in Hawaii in May?

May is a great time to visit Hawaii for beaches as the weather is usually warm and dry. Here are some of the best beaches to visit in Hawaii in May:

Hapuna Beach, Big Island

May is a great time to visit Hapuna Beach as the weather is warm, and the ocean temperature is perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

Hapuna Beach State Park on the Big Island. Image of a golden beach with green hills in the background.
Hapuna Beach State Park.

Visitors can enjoy the beautiful white sand beach, rent beach gear, and participate in water activities such as stand-up paddleboarding or boogie boarding.

Additionally, the beach park has restrooms, showers, and picnic areas making it ideal for a day trip or family outing.

Kailua Beach, Oahu

Kailua Beach is a popular beach on the island of Oahu, and visitors should be aware of several things when planning a visit in May.

Image of Kailua Beach on Oahu
Kailua Beach on Oahu.

The weather is generally warm and sunny, making it a great time to enjoy the beach, but it is important to note that the ocean conditions can vary and it is important to check the surf report before going into the water.

Additionally, the beach can get crowded, especially on weekends and holidays, so arriving early is recommended to secure a good spot.

Kapalua Beach, Maui

Kapalua Beach in May offers perfect swimming conditions and clear water for snorkeling. Visitors should note that the northern part of the beach is usually quieter and offers more secluded spots to relax.

Image of Kapalua Bay on Maui
Kapalua Bay on Maui.

Additionally, the beach may be crowded on weekends and during holidays, so it’s best to arrive early to secure a good spot.

Hanalei Bay, Kauai

May is a great time to visit Hanalei Bay, as the weather is warm and sunny, and the water is calm and clear.

Image of Hanalei Bay on Kauai
Hanalei Bay on Kauai.

Visitors can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and surfing, as well as exploring the town of Hanalei, which offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions.

Makalawena Beach, Big Island

May is a great time to visit Makalawena Beach as the weather is usually dry and warm with temperatures around 80°F.

Makalawena Beach on the Big Island.

However, the beach is quite remote and requires a 20-30 minute hike to reach, so visitors should be prepared for the trek and bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

Additionally, there are no facilities at the beach, so visitors should plan accordingly.

Waimanalo Beach, Oahu

Waimanalo Beach is a beautiful and secluded beach located on the eastern coast of Oahu. In May, the water is usually warm and calm, making it a great spot for swimming and sunbathing.

Waimanalo Beach on Oahu. Image of a sandy beach with ironwood trees
Waimanalo Beach on Oahu.

However, visitors should be aware of strong currents and waves that can occur on occasion.

Additionally, Waimanalo Beach is known for its soft, powdery sand and picturesque views of the nearby mountains.

What are Some of the Best Places to Visit in Hawaii in May?

There are many great attractions to visit in Hawaii in May, depending on your interests. Here are some of the top attractions to consider:

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

May is a great time to visit the park, as the weather is usually clear and sunny. However, there is always the potential for rain and fog.

Lava at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

It is important to wear appropriate clothing and footwear for wet and slippery conditions and to check with park rangers for any trail closures due to safety concerns.

Visitors should also be prepared for changes in volcanic activity and potential closures or restrictions in certain areas of the park.

Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace is a historic landmark that served as the royal residence of Hawaii’s monarchy, featuring stunning architecture and beautiful grounds.

Image of crowns in a glass case with thrones in the background at Iolani Palace in Hawaii
Throne room at Iolani Palace in Hawaii. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

In May, visitors can witness the annual Lei Day Celebration, which honors Hawaiian culture and traditions.

Road to Hana

This scenic drive is a must-see for visitors to Maui, and May is a great time to go as the weather is warm and dry.

The road may be less crowded than in peak season, but there can still be traffic delays and the road can be narrow and winding.

Road to Hana Stops: Image of the Pipiwai Trail through a bamboo forest
Pipiwai Trail on the Road to Hana.

Tourists should also be prepared for sudden weather changes and bring appropriate clothing and supplies for hiking and swimming.

Additionally, some waterfalls and attractions may have less water flow in May due to the drier season, so it’s important to check current conditions and plan accordingly.

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is one of Hawaii’s most iconic attractions, featuring historic sites and memorials that pay tribute to the events of December 7, 1941.

Image of the USS Arizona Memorial on the water at Pearl Harbor on Oahu
USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

In May, visitors can witness the annual Memorial Day commemoration, which honors those who served and sacrificed for our country.

Tourists visiting Pearl Harbor in May should plan to arrive early in the day to avoid crowds and ensure the availability of tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial.

It’s also important to note that backpacks, purses, and other bags are not allowed on site, and there are restrictions on what can be brought into the park.

Na Pali Coast

This stunning coastal area on Kauai is best seen by boat or helicopter, and May is a great time to go as the weather is typically clear and calm.

Sea cliffs along the Na Pali Coast.

However, the ocean conditions can be unpredictable and rough, so it’s important to check the weather and ocean conditions before heading out on any boat or kayak tours.

Additionally, hiking trails in the area may still be closed due to recent heavy rains and flooding, so it’s important to check trail conditions and closures before embarking on any hikes.

Haleakala National Park

This park on Maui is home to a stunning volcanic crater, and May is a great time to visit as the weather is usually clear and sunny. Plus there are fewer crowds than spring break or summer.

Image of Haleakala National Park on Maui with lots of rocks at sunrise
Haleakala National Park on Maui.

The weather at the summit of Haleakala can be unpredictable, so make sure to bring warm clothing, a rain jacket, and sturdy hiking shoes. Temperatures at the summit can drop to freezing, especially at sunrise or sunset.

Haleakala National Park offers a variety of hiking trails for all levels, but be aware of the altitude and weather conditions. Always stay on designated trails and bring a map, plenty of water, and sunscreen.

Kualoa Ranch

This scenic ranch on Oahu offers a variety of outdoor activities, and May is a great time to visit as the weather is usually warm and dry.

Image of horses at Kualoa Ranch on Oahu
Try horseback riding at Kualoa Ranch on Oahu.

Kualoa Ranch features a range of activities including ATV tours, horseback riding, and movie set tours. These tours book up quickly, so make sure to reserve them before you go.

In May, tourists should be prepared for warm temperatures and occasional rain showers, so it is recommended to bring sunscreen, hats, and rain gear.

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay is a stunning nature preserve that is home to a diverse range of marine life, including sea turtles, colorful fish, and coral reefs.

Image of a coral reef in Hawaii called Hanauma Bay on the Island of Oahu with cliffs in the background
Hanauma Bay on Oahu

In May, the weather is typically warm and sunny, making it an ideal time to snorkel or scuba dive in this beautiful bay.

Visitors should help preserve the coral reef and marine life in the bay by following guidelines such as not touching or standing on the coral, not feeding fish, and using reef-safe sunscreen.

It’s also important to book tickets in advance as the bay has limited daily capacity to protect the ecosystem.

What is the Water Temperature Like in Hawaii in May?

In May, the water temperature in Hawaii ranges from around 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 27 degrees Celsius), depending on the location and depth.

The water is typically warm and comfortable for swimming, snorkeling, and other water activities.

What Should I Pack for a Trip to Hawaii in May?

If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii in May, it’s important to pack for warm and humid weather. Here are some essential items to consider packing:

Find out what to add to your Kauai packing list recommended by top Hawaii blog Hawai Travel Spot! Image of a suitcase with vacation clothes
Try not to overpack for your trip to Hawaii in May!

Light and Breathable Clothing

Pack plenty of shorts, t-shirts, and sundresses. Hawaii’s temperature in May typically ranges from the low 70s to mid-80s°F so you’ll want to dress for warm weather.

Swimwear

Hawaii’s beautiful beaches are one of the main attractions, so be sure to pack your swimwear.

Sun protection

Reef-safe sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are essential for protecting your skin and eyes from the strong UV rays.

Light Rain Jacket

While it’s not the rainy season in May, it’s still a good idea to pack a light rain jacket or umbrella in case of an unexpected shower.

Also, if you plan to visit higher elevations, such as Haleakala National Park or Mauna Kea, be sure to pack warm clothing as temperatures can drop significantly.

Comfortable Shoes

Hawaii is a great place to explore on foot, so pack comfortable shoes for walking and hiking.

Insect Repellent

Mosquitoes and other insects can be a nuisance in Hawaii, so be sure to pack insect repellent.

Camera

Hawaii’s stunning landscapes and attractions are perfect for photography, so don’t forget to pack your camera or smartphone.

Reusable Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is important, so pack a reusable water bottle to refill at water stations or fountains throughout your trip.

Check out my full packing lists for Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.

May in Hawaii Wrap Up

May is one of my favorite times to visit Hawaii because it’s part of Hawaii’s shoulder season. There are fewer crowds and the weather is usually pretty fantastic!

I hope you have the best trip to Hawaii this spring!

Looking for more Hawaii travel tips? Check out my top planning tips for Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island!

Leave a Comment