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As the only state that does not observe Daylight Saving Time, Hawaii has uniquely early NFL game start times ranging from 7:00 AM to 2:20 PM HST.
If you’re wondering when exactly to tune into pro football from the islands, here’s a quick guide: Sunday early games kick off at 7:00 AM, late games at 11:05 AM, and primetime matches at 2:20 PM or later Hawaii time.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain Hawaii’s time zone, break down start times for all NFL games, and discuss how the early wake-up calls impact watching football in paradise.
Whether you’re catching the action at home or a buzzing sports bar, we’ll cover everything you need to know to properly plan for NFL Sunday in Hawaii.
Hawaii’s Time Zone: The Key Difference from the Mainland
Constant Hawaii-Aleutian Time
Unlike most of the United States, Hawaii does not observe daylight saving time.
This means that Hawaii remains on Hawaii-Aleutian Time (HAT) all year round. HAT is 10 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-10).
The primary reason Hawaii skipped out on daylight saving time is tourism. By staying on the same time zone year-round, Hawaii provides consistency for tourists planning vacations.
Changing clocks twice a year was seen as an inconvenience and disruption to leisure travel plans.
In addition, Hawaii’s geographic location makes daylight saving time impractical. Being close to the equator, the amount of daylight Hawaii gets does not vary much throughout the year. Thus, adjusting clocks would provide little benefit.
How HST Compares to ET and PT
Hawaii Time (HST) is essentially equivalent to Alaska Time. Both are 5 hours behind Eastern Time (ET) and 2 hours behind Pacific Time (PT).
This means that when it is 5 pm in Hawaii, it is:
- 10 pm in Eastern Time (ex. New York City)
- 8 pm in Pacific Time (ex. Los Angeles)
Consequently, most live sports broadcasts start earlier in Hawaii than on the mainland.
For example, a Sunday Night Football game that kicks off at 8:20 pm ET starts at 2:20 pm in Hawaii.
This time zone difference is a key factor Hawaiians must consider when viewing live TV. Hawaiians are used to tuning in much earlier than those on the West Coast to catch big sporting events live.
NFL Game Start Times in Hawaii
Early games – Sundays at 7:00 AM HST
Football fans in Hawaii are used to waking up early on NFL Sundays. Due to the time zone difference, the early Sunday games kick off at 7:00 AM Hawaii Standard Time.
This allows Hawaii residents to watch all of the 1:00 PM Eastern games live, albeit bright and early in the morning.
Rolling out of bed to watch football can be tough, but Hawaii fans are a dedicated bunch.
Pre-gaming for the early games usually starts around 6:30 AM at sports bars and house parties around the islands. Hardcore fans even host potluck breakfasts synchronized with the game clock.
It’s a unique tailgating experience!
According to a recent survey, over 40% of Hawaii residents consider themselves “obsessed” NFL fans. This passion for pro football leads to packed sports bars every Sunday morning.
Late games – Sundays at 11:05 AM HST
After the early games wrap up, Hawaii viewers only have to wait an hour until the late Sunday matchups kick off at 11:05 AM.
The hotly contested NFC West battles between the Seahawks and 49ers often fall into this late Sunday window for Hawaii fans.
With the early start, late games still finish by the mid-afternoon in Hawaii. This leaves plenty of time to discuss the action from the day’s NFL games at Sunday gatherings.
Few places embrace this like Hawaii – you’re likely to hear heated NFL debates at backyard BBQs, beach bonfires, and pupu parties across the islands on Sundays.
Primetime games – Sundays, Mondays, & Thursdays at 2:20 PM HST or later
Primetime is when Hawaii’s NFL advantage really shines. Sunday, Monday, and Thursday night games kick off at 2:20 PM HST or later.
This means no waiting until the evening – Hawaii residents can watch primetime showdowns in the afternoon and still have time to hit up the beaches and bars afterwards.
The later start times coupled with Hawaii’s laidback lifestyle lead to awesome NFL viewing parties.
Tiki torch-lit backyards, potluck pupus, and plenty of liquid refreshment make for memorable Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays during football season in Hawaii.
|Kickoff Time in Hawaii
|Sundays (early games)
|7:00 AM HST
|Sundays (late games)
|11:05 AM HST
|2:20 PM HST
|2:20 PM HST
|2:20 PM HST
As this overview shows, Hawaii is a special place for NFL fans. With the relaxed island lifestyle and early game start times, watching pro football in Hawaii is a one-of-a-kind experience.
Locals embrace the opportunity to cheer on their favorite teams every Sunday surrounded by ohana and the island’s natural splendor.
It’s no wonder Hawaii has some of the most passionate NFL fans in the country!
How Fans in Hawaii Catch the NFL Action
Heading to sports bars for the early games
With Hawaii located in the Pacific Ocean, NFL fans need to wake up early on Sundays to catch those 10am EST kickoffs.
Thankfully, sports bars across the islands open their doors bright and early to accommodate the football crowds.
Fans flock in to cheer on their teams over stacks of pancakes, breakfast burritos, and bottomless mimosas.
The energy and camaraderie make getting up at the crack of dawn totally worth it!
According to a report by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, over 16,000 visitors traveled to Hawaii specifically to watch NFL games during the 2019 season.
Sports bars saw a huge boost in business, with some reporting 50% increases in food and beverage sales on Sundays.
As the NFL’s popularity grows in the islands, these sports havens will continue being Sunday hot spots for both locals and vacationers.
Recording late games to watch later
While the early slate of games is manageable with coffee and an alarm clock, the later afternoon and primetime games pose more of a challenge with the time difference.
But thanks to DVRs and streaming, Hawaii football fans can simply record those late games and watch them after the fact.
Devices like DIRECTV, YouTube TV, and Hulu allow easy recording and access to replays on demand.
Diehard fans might stay up late to catch the Sunday and Monday night games live, making for some sleepy workdays after cheering on their teams into the night!
According to a 2019 survey, over 36% of Hawaii residents planned to watch NFL games after 1am local time that season.
While island life is laidback, football fandom still keeps people burning the midnight oil!
Impacts of Hawaii’s Time Zone on NFL Viewing
Pros and cons of the unconventional start times
Hawaii’s unique time zone results in some unconventional NFL game start times for local fans.
While this can present some challenges, there are also advantages to the island schedule according to resident fans. Some of the key pros and cons include:
- Early morning games – Mainland games often start as early as 6 or 7 AM local Hawaii time. This can be difficult for fans who want to sleep in.
- Ability to watch more games – With the time difference, fans in Hawaii can watch both the early and late mainland games in one day.
- Primetime still feels primetime – Evening mainland games still start in primetime for Hawaii viewers, so there’s no adjustment needed.
- Difficult for bars and restaurants – The odd start times can make it hard for sports bars to draw big crowds.
While the schedule takes some getting used to, most Hawaii NFL fans agree the ability to watch football from morning to night is worth it.
A unique NFL experience
In many ways, football fans in Hawaii get a one-of-a-kind NFL viewing experience. With games starting as early as breakfast and continuing past midnight, football truly lasts all day long.
Fans can also follow multiple games at once or even rewatch key matchups they missed live earlier in the day.
Additionally, the unfamiliar start times create a special communal atmosphere as fans adjust their schedules to watch and discuss the games together.
While unconventional, Hawaii’s unique football schedule offers fans a special connection to the sport.
Tips for Enjoying NFL Sunday in Paradise
Have coffee ready for 7 AM kickoffs
Waking up at the crack of dawn for football can be brutal, especially when you’re on island time!
Make sure to brew a strong pot of Kona coffee the night before so it’s ready to go first thing in the morning.
There’s nothing better than sitting on the lanai with your java, taking in the island breeze while watching those early Sunday matchups.
Consider investing in a programmable coffee maker so your joe is hot and fresh right at 7am HST.
Having your caffeine fix ready to go will make those sunrise kickoffs much more enjoyable.
Use your DVR strategically
The time zone difference can make catching all the NFL action a challenge in Hawaii.
With the mainland games starting as early as 7am, you’ll likely miss some of the key plays live. Make good use of your DVR to record games and watch them later at your convenience.
Focus on catching the morning matchups you care most about, then queue up the recordings for the rest.
Planning ahead ensures you won’t miss those crucial games and can relax and watch stress-free later in the day.
You can even enjoy replaying epic touchdowns and catches whenever you want!
Watching the NFL from the Hawaiian Islands is an incredible treat, but the time zone quirks can take some adjusting.
With the right strategies like strong coffee and smart DVR use, you can maximize your football viewing pleasure. Don’t let the early start times ruin your Sundays in paradise.
A little planning goes a long way – your NFL experience will still feel lei’d back even with the time differences!
Also read: Does Hawaii have an Nfl Team?
Thanks to Hawaii’s tropical location, NFL fans in the state trade late sunsets for early sunrises on NFL Sundays.
While the unusually early start times take some adjusting, Hawaiians ultimately get a one-of-a-kind pro football viewing experience.
By making a game plan ahead of time, you can catch all the action whether from the comfort of home or surrounded by fellow fans at a buzzing sports bar.
So get the coffee percolating, set those DVR recordings, and get ready for some unforgettable NFL mornings, Hawaiian style!