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With pleasant temperatures, plenty of sunshine, and beautiful island landscapes, Hawaii beckons visitors year-round. If you’re wondering what Hawaii’s weather is like in January, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: January is one of the cooler and rainier months in Hawaii, but temperatures remain very comfortable, ranging from the mid 60s to high 70s Fahrenheit. Expect warm and mostly sunny days with increased chances of passing showers.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Hawaii’s climate in January including average temperatures, rainfall, humidity, water temperatures and more for the different islands.

We’ll also offer packing tips and highlight some of the best places to visit and outdoor activities you can enjoy during Hawaii’s winter month.

Average Temperatures and Weather Conditions

Oahu & Maui

The weather in Oahu and Maui during January is generally warm and sunny, with average high temperatures around 80°F (27°C). However, temperatures can vary across different areas of the islands. For example, leeward areas like Waikiki tend to be a few degrees warmer than windward spots.

Rainfall is higher during Hawaii’s winter months. In January, Oahu receives around 4 inches of rain on average. Maui tends to be rainier, with about 5-6 inches typically falling in places like Kahului. However brief passing showers are more common than steady all-day downpours.

The gentle trade winds blow consistently from the northeast. These keep conditions relatively comfortable by preventing humidity levels from getting too high. However, the windward coastlines can still feel muggy at times.

Ocean temperatures hold fairly steady in the high 70s Fahrenheit around most island shores. This makes January one of the best months for swimming, snorkeling, surfing, or any other water activities!

Kauai & Big Island

In January, average highs reach into the low 80s Fahrenheit on Kauai and the Big Island. However, temperatures vary more widely across different microclimates here compared to smaller islands like Oahu and Maui.

For example, beach towns on Kauai’s south shore like Poipu may climb to 85°F (29°C) in the afternoons. Meanwhile, the lush mountain peaks of Waialeale often top out 15-20 degrees cooler. The Big Island shows similar sharp contrasts from hot, dry Kona to the chilly 13,000 foot elevations of Mauna Kea.

Rainfall also differs across each massive island. The windward areas, like the North Shore on Kauai or Hilo on Hawaii Island, tally 10+ inches of rain during January. Yet the leeward Kohala Coast may only see an inch or two all month.

Luckily, clouds and rain often stay focused over small areas instead of blanketing entire islands. So even if a shower rolls through in the morning, brilliant sunny skies could emerge by the afternoon!

Rain and Humidity

The weather in Hawaii during January is known for being warm, sunny, and humid. Though it is technically Hawaii’s rainy season, the rain usually comes in the form of brief passing showers, rather than all-day downpours. Here’s an overview of what to expect:


January falls right in the middle of Hawaii’s rainy season, which runs from October through April. However, the term “rainy season” is a bit misleading. Rather than having days-on-end of constant rain, Hawaii generally sees brief but heavy rain showers that pass through quickly.

These rain showers tend to occur more frequently on the windward (eastern) sides of the islands.

  • On Oahu, expect brief but heavy rain showers a few times per week, especially on the eastern shores.
  • On Maui, Molokai, and Lanai, passing rain showers can occur almost daily, again focused on eastern-facing shores.
  • The Big Island sees the most variation in rainfall, due its size and highly variable geography. Hilo and the eastern side of the island tend to get more rain overall.

The key thing to remember is that while rain is possible any day, showers rarely last all day. Some mornings may start off sunny before clouds roll in, bringing a quick downpour in the afternoon. But skies often clear just as quickly.


With Hawaii located in the tropics, humidity levels remain remarkably consistent year-round. Expect average humidity around 70-80% on most islands in January.

On some warmer or rainier days humidity could spike even higher. But the ocean breezes typically keep the air feeling relatively comfortable for most people.

If planning beach days or outdoor activities, the chances of encountering muggy weather go up the further inland you travel on each island. Higher elevations also tend to see less extreme humidity overall.

Tips for Managing Rain

While rain is certainly possible during a January vacation in Hawaii, a few tips can help ensure you enjoy your trip no matter the weather:

  • Pack lightweight, waterproof layers like rain jackets that can be easily tossed on if a shower passes through.
  • Plan a mix of indoor and outdoor activities each day. Having museum visits or restaurant reservations as a backup allows flexibility if rain hits.
  • Consider staying at accommodations with covered lanai spaces. These allow enjoying the tropical atmosphere even during rainy spells.
  • Check rainfall radar apps before heading out. This allows gauging if showers are approaching.

By following the motto of “flexible but prepared”, it’s easy to have an amazing Hawaii vacation even during the islands’ rainy season. A little rain won’t stop most adventures!

Ocean and Water Temperatures

The ocean and water temperatures in Hawaii during January are reasonably warm and comfortable for swimming and water activities. Here’s an overview:

  • Average ocean temperatures range from 75-79°F (24-26°C), with slight variations between the islands. For example, waters off Maui and the Big Island tend to be a bit warmer than Oahu and Kauai.
  • Water temperatures are warmest in calm, shallow areas protected from ocean currents and trade winds. Popular spots include Hanauma Bay on Oahu and the western shores of Maui and the Big Island.
  • Surf temperatures are usually a bit cooler, averaging 72-76°F (22-24°C), due to mixing with deeper ocean water. Still pleasant for surfing and playing in the waves.
  • Compared to summer and early fall, the ocean cools by about 2-4 degrees from October through March. But January is still warm enough for most water activities.

The mild tropical climate means Hawaii’s ocean and water temperatures stay relatively comfortable year-round. While less warm than August-October, January is a great time to go snorkeling, surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, or swimming off Hawaii’s beautiful beaches.

Regional Differences

Water temperatures do vary slightly by island and location. Here are some key regional differences:

  • West and South Shores: Tend to be calmer and more protected from winds and currents, resulting in warmer temperatures. Popular spots include Kaanapali on Maui and Kona on the Big Island.
  • North and East Shores: More exposed to ocean swells and trades winds, so temperatures run a bit cooler. Great for big wave surfing at places like the North Shore on Oahu.
  • Tidal Pools: Can be warmer than the open ocean, reaching 80°F+ (27°C) in some spots, making them comfortable for lounging.
  • Hawaii vs. Kauai/Oahu: On average, the Big Island and Maui run 1-2 degrees warmer than Oahu and Kauai in January.

So while overall ocean temperatures are mild across Hawaii, visitor should consider regional microclimates when planning aquatic adventures.

What to Pack for Hawaii in January

When packing for a Hawaii vacation in January, the weather is typically warm and sunny, though occasional rain showers can occur. Packing layers and having some rain gear on hand is advisable.

Clothing and Shoes

Be sure to pack lightweight, breathable clothing like shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, and dresses. Packing at least one long sleeve shirt and lightweight pants is a good idea for cooler nights or air-conditioned buildings. Bring swimwear, a coverup or sarong, hat, and sandals.

Water shoes can be useful for hiking and exploring near water. Having a light rain jacket handy is wise in case of passing showers.

Toiletries and Gear

Bring all essential toiletries and medications. Pack sun protection like sunscreen, sunglasses, and lip balm. Don’t forget the aloe vera for any sunburns! Bring insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes. Pack a reusable water bottle, portable charger/power bank for your devices, and a beach bag.

Having a lightweight backpack is great for carrying your essentials on adventures.

Water Activities Gear

If planning to snorkel, be sure to pack your own snorkel, mask, and fins, as well as waterproof cameras if you want underwater photos. Pack reef-safe sunscreen to protect marine environments. For surfing, your own board and leash is ideal, though rentals are available.

If stand-up paddleboarding, most rental places provide the paddleboard and paddle.

While packing, check any COVID entry restrictions in place and bring paperwork/tests as needed. Confirm your lodging has amenities like toiletries, beach towels, laundry facilities, etc. With lightweight, breathable layers and proper gear, you’ll be set for an incredible Hawaii vacation.

Best Places to Visit and Outdoor Activities

Hawaii boasts spectacular scenery and a tropical climate perfect for outdoor adventures year-round. Even in January when the weather tends to be a bit cooler and rainier, there are still ample gorgeous destinations to explore and fun things to do outside across the islands.


Oahu is home to popular spots like Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head State Monument, and the North Shore. The average highs in January are around 80°F making it comfortable for sightseeing, hiking, snorkeling, and whale watching excursions.

  • Hike the Koko Head Trail along the southeastern tip of the island for sweeping views from the top of the 1,048-foot summit.
  • Spot humpback whales from scenic lookouts along the coastline during their annual winter migration to Hawaii’s warm waters for mating and birthing calves.
  • Surf at the world-famous North Shore beaches like Pipeline, Sunset Beach, and Waimea Bay which host surfing competitions in the winter when the big waves roll in.


Maui wow visitors with the majestic Haleakala National Park and the stunning Road to Hana filled with lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and black sand beaches. January days typically reach the low 80s making these outdoor wonders pleasant to explore.

  • Hike through bamboo forests and past waterfalls along trails like Pipiwai Trail near Hana.
  • Snorkel or scuba dive among sea turtles and tropical fish at beaches like Kapalua Bay and Maluaka Beach.
  • Play a round of golf on world-class courses with oceanfront views like Kapalua Resort and Wailea Golf Club.

Big Island

The Big Island wows with two of Hawaii’s most iconic natural sites – the summit of Mauna Kea volcano and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where the lava still glows. January highs average around 80°F making for pleasant exploration conditions.

  • Hike across volcanic craters and see steaming vents and glowing lava flows at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
  • Stargaze from the Astronomy Visitors Center at the summit of Mauna Kea, home to world-class observatories taking advantage of the clear high-altitude conditions.
  • Spot manta rays while snorkeling at night near Kona.
Average January Temperatures in Hawaii Average High Average Low
Oahu 80°F 66°F
Maui 82°F 63°F
Big Island 79°F 62°F

So while Hawaii may see a bit more rain in January, the temperatures stay mild and there are still plenty of crystalline beaches, verdant trails, and marvelous sights to take in across the islands. Just bring some light layers for those occasional breezy or showery days.


January ushers in Hawaii’s mild and comfortable winter season with daytime highs ranging from the upper 60s to mid 70s. With occasional passing showers, January is one of the wetter months, but rainfall remains lower than many mainland locales in winter.

From whale watching and snorkeling to golf and island sightseeing, January offers ideal weather to enjoy the outdoors in Hawaii. With this guide detailing what to expect, you’ll be fully prepared to make the most of your Hawaiian vacation this January!

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