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With pleasant temperatures, fewer crowds, and festive holiday celebrations, December is a wonderful time to visit the Hawaiian Islands. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Expect warm tropical weather, with highs around 80°F, along with a slight increase in rain compared to other months.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about Hawaii’s climate in December. You’ll learn about typical temperatures, rainfall patterns, ocean conditions, recommended packing lists, average number of sunny days, and what to expect during the holiday season.

Temperatures and Weather Patterns

Average Temperatures

December is one of the coolest months in Hawaii, but temperatures remain pleasantly warm compared to most mainland destinations. Daily highs reach around 80°F on average, while nighttime lows drop to the mid 60s. The weather is quite consistent across the islands.

You can expect warm sunny days for the most part.

Weather Conditions

While Hawaii has a subtropical climate, December sees very little rainfall overall. The islands reside just north of the equator, keeping temperatures summer-like year-round. December falls during Hawaii’s winter dry season when trade winds blow in cooler, drier air from the north.

Most areas only get 2 to 4 inches of rain this month.

Humidity levels tend to be moderate. Trade winds provide a cooling breeze on the coast. The weather is usually dry and sunny with just a small chance of brief afternoon showers. Rain is slightly more likely on the windward sides of the islands which face northeast.

Ocean Temperature and Surf

The average sea temperature around Hawaii stays quite constant throughout the year at 78°F to 82°F. December falls on the lower end of this range as winter cooling patterns commence. Still, ocean temps are pleasant for swimming and snorkeling.

Surf conditions vary by location and swell activity but tend to be smaller in winter. The north and west shores of the islands see the largest waves from October through April. Expect surf around 10 feet or higher on Oahu’s North Shore. Elsewhere, waves are often chest to head high.


Rain showers in Hawaii during December are typically brief but can occur on occasions. The windward sides of the islands tend to see more rain while leeward areas remain dry. Mountains areas also experience occasional rainfall. But overall, December is a reliably dry month.

Here are the average December rainfall totals for some of Hawaii’s most popular destinations:

  • Honolulu, Oahu: 1.8 inches
  • Kahului, Maui: 2.4 inches
  • Lihue, Kauai: 2.9 inches
  • Hilo, Hawaii Island: 5.2 inches

As you can see, leeward resort areas stay particularly dry. Hilo sees the most rainfall due to its windward location. But even there, brief passing showers are usually the norm rather than steady all-day rains.

What to Pack


When packing for Hawaii in December, light and breezy clothing is key. Temperatures typically range from the mid 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit, with humidity around 70%. Bring lots of shorts, t-shirts, tank tops and swimwear.

You’ll also want at least a few pairs of lightweight long pants and long sleeve shirts if dining at nicer restaurants or going on an evening cruise. A light sweater or cardigan can come in handy for cooler early mornings or nights.

Be sure to pack a hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes from the strong tropical sun. Water shoes or sandals are perfect for the beach.

Beach Gear

Don’t forget the beach essentials! You’ll absolutely want to pack sunscreen, beach towels, a beach bag and snorkel gear. Hawaii has some of the world’s best snorkeling right off the shores. If you plan to spend a lot of time in the ocean, you may consider bringing or buying watersports gear like boogie boards, surfboards, stand up paddleboards etc.

Pack a few good beach reads as well to enjoy under the palm trees. Small beach chairs that fold up neatly can be useful too.

Other Essentials

A few other handy items to pack for your Hawaii trip include aloe vera or aftersun gel, motion sickness remedies if prone to nausea, waterproof phone cases and chargers, and insect repellent. Being an isolated island chain, Hawaii’s cost of living is relatively high so you may want to pack snacks.

You’ll also need to take essential medicines, toiletries, and important documents like passports on any trip. Packing cubes, a luggage scale and a collapsible daypack can help keep things organized and streamlined.

By taking light, breezy vacation wear and protecting yourself from the sun and sea, you’ll be set for an incredible December getaway to Hawaii. From world class beaches and snorkeling to luau feasts and island culture, it’s paradise with perfect weather.

Number of Sunny Days and Daylight Hours

Hawaii is known for its sunny, tropical climate year-round. Even in December, which is technically during Hawaii’s “winter” months, you can expect warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine.

Sunny Days

During December, Hawaii averages between 24 and 31 sunny days, depending on which island you’re visiting. For example:

  • Honolulu on Oahu sees sunny skies about 85% of the time in December, averaging 24 sunny days.
  • Kahului on Maui also averages 24 sunny days.
  • Hilo on the Big Island enjoys 27 sunny days.
  • Lihue on Kauai typically has 31 sunny days.

The takeaway? No matter which Hawaiian island you choose, you’ll be basking in the sunshine more often than not.

Daylight Hours

In addition to sunny days, Hawaii also boasts plenty of daylight hours for you to enjoy in December:

  • Honolulu averages nearly 11 hours of daylight.
  • Kahului also sees about 11 daylight hours per day.
  • Hilo enjoys close to 11.5 hours of daylight.
  • Lihue gets around 10.5 daylight hours.

So even though December is when daylight hours start gradually shortening after the winter solstice, you’ll still have ample sunshine for sightseeing, beachgoing, hiking adventures, and other activities.

The bottom line? With dozens of sunny days and 10+ daylight hours each day, December in Hawaii offers ideal weather for relaxation under blue skies and sunshine 🌞👍😎🌴☀️🏖️😍.

Holidays and Events

Christmas Festivities

The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Hawaii during December. Many hotels and shopping centers deck their halls with wreaths, garlands, lights, and Christmas trees to get visitors into the holiday mood.

Popular attractions like the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu and Lahaina on Maui host Christmas celebrations with carolers, local choirs, arts, crafts, and Santa meet-and-greets for the kids.

On Christmas Eve, churches across the islands hold candlelight services that beautifully combine traditional Christmas carols with Hawaiian instrumentation and hula dancing. For Christmas dinner, restaurants serve glazed ham accompanied by classic Hawaiian sides like macaroni salad, rice, and pineapple.

No white Christmas here – the weather calls for a surfing Santa!

New Year’s Celebrations

The biggest New Year’s celebration in Hawaii happens in Honolulu with live music and entertainment leading up to an incredible fireworks show over the harbor at midnight. Hotels host glamorous black-tie galas, while popular nightlife areas like Chinatown and Waikīkī have their own music and dance parties going late into the night.

During the day on January 1st, the serious runners take part in the Polar Bear Splash. Groups of people plunge into the Pacific Ocean for a brisk start to the new year. The more laid-back can recover from the previous night’s revelries with brunch at a restaurant with an ocean view.

Whale Watching Season

December kicks off whale watching season as thousands of humpback whales make their annual migration from Alaska to the warm waters off Hawaii to mate and give birth. Whale watching cruises depart daily from ports like Lahaina, Maʻalaea, and Honolulu in search of these magnificent creatures.

In addition to sighting whales spouting, breaching, and slapping the water with their tails, you might catch them singing too! The whale song is an intricate sequence of moans, groans, and squeals that scientists believe is a way for males to communicate with potential mates over long distances.

Peak months for whale watching are January through March when the waters around Maui teem with mothers teaching their calves (born in Hawaiian waters) how to survive the long journey back to Alaska. What an unforgettable Hawaii experience!


With warm tropical weather, slightly more rain, and festive holiday spirit, December serves up classic Hawaiian weather with some extra perks. Follow our packing guidance, learn about the unique celebrations, and you’ll be set to fully enjoy everything Hawaii has to offer this time of year.

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