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Hawaii, with its tropical paradise-like climate and location isolated in the Pacific Ocean, seems like a place that would have a unique time zone of its own. But surprisingly, Hawaii shares a common time zone with other parts of the United States.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Hawaii is in the Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone (Hawaiian Standard Time). This keeps it aligned with other US states like California and Washington.

In our extensive article below, we will explore exactly what time zone Hawaii falls into, why Hawaii has the unusual time zone that it does, how Hawaii deals with daylight saving time, and more details about Hawaii’s unique relationship with time zones and time itself that makes the islands seem to exist outside of the normal space-time continuum.

We will deep dive into the history of what led to Hawaii being placed into the Hawaii-Aleutian time zone, explain the impact of Hawaii’s unique latitude and longitude on time zones, clear up confusion about what Hawaiian standard time means, detail how daylight saving time affected Hawaii in the past and present day, and give you an exact understanding of what the current local time is in Hawaii versus other parts of the United States.

We’ll also look at some colorful stories in Hawaii’s history related to time zones, like the ancient Hawaiian calendar system that originally divided the year differently than the modern Gregorian calendar.

The Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone (HST)

The Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone (HST) encompasses Hawaii and the westernmost Aleutian Islands in Alaska. This unique time zone grouping reflects Hawaii’s geographic isolation in the central Pacific Ocean, over 2,300 miles from the closest point of land in North America.

Definition of the Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone

The HST time zone is 10 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). It observes standard time all year long, with no daylight saving time. Since Hawaii stretches from the Tropic of Cancer to nearly the Tropic of Capricorn, its daylight hours barely change throughout the year, so daylight saving would provide little benefit.

Why is Hawaii Grouped With Alaska Time Wise?

When time zones were established in 1883, Hawaii and Alaska occupied similar longitudes isolated from the continental United States, so were grouped together. The six Hawaiian Islands stretch from 155° to 178° west longitude, while the included Aleutians span from 169° to 172° west longitude.

Although not physically connected or economically integrated, keeping Hawaii synchronized with Alaska made sense for aviation, shipping, communications and commerce across the northern Pacific Ocean basin they border.

Hawaiian Standard Time Vs. Hawaii-Aleutian Time

In technical terminology, the “Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone” refers to the entire UTC−10 hour band, while “Hawaiian Standard Time” refers just to Hawaii’s time. So HST = Hawaii Time, while HAST = Hawaii–Aleutian Time.

Time Zone Description
Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (HAST) UTC – 10 hours
Hawaiian Standard Time (HST) Observed by Hawaii within HAST

When Hawaii Observed Daylight Saving Time in the Past

During World War II, the Territory of Hawaii did observe daylight saving time from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945 as a wartime effort.

In 1947, the Hawaiian Islands briefly observed DST from May to June, but found little benefit for a tropical archipelago with steady year-round daylight. No further DST has been observed since then.

Currently Hawaii remains fixed on its regular Hawaiian Standard Time schedule all year without daylight saving time.

Hawaii’s Geography and Impact on Time Zones

The Hawaiian Islands are one of the most isolated populated landmasses on Earth, located about 2,400 miles from the U.S. mainland. This extreme remoteness has shaped the archipelago’s unique environment and culture – and also impacts what time zone it lies in.

How Latitude and Longitude Affect Time Zones

The lines of longitude that slice horizontally across the globe help delineate Earth’s time zones. Generally, each 15 degree segment equals an hour time difference. The Hawaiian Islands sit just above the Tropic of Cancer at about 21 degrees north latitude, almost halfway between the equator and the North Pole.

Stretching for 1,500 miles in the Central North Pacific Ocean, the islands span the longitudes of 154 to 178 degrees west – placing them firmly in the Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone. This time zone lies 10 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) – meaning Hawaii has no daylight saving time, since it is the farthest west time zone in the U.S.

Local Time in Hawaii Currently

Exact Time in Hawaii Right Now

At this very moment, the local time in Hawaii is 10:23 AM on Tuesday, December 19, 2023. Hawaii observes Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time all year long, which is 10 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-10). This places Hawaii in the last time zone behind the continental United States.

Hawaiian Time vs. California & East Coast Time

Hawaii does not observe daylight saving time, so its offset from mainland US states changes by an hour at different times of the year:

  • Hawaii is always 3 hours behind California when California is on Pacific Daylight Time from March to November.
  • During the other months when California returns to Pacific Standard Time, Hawaii is 2 hours behind California
  • Compared to the East Coast, Hawaii is always 6 hours behind New York when daylight saving is active there from March to November
  • For the remaining months, Hawaii is 5 hours behind New York when standard time resumes there

What Time is it in Hawaii vs. Other US States?

State Current Local Time Time Difference from Hawaii
Hawaii 10:23 AM
California 7:23 AM 3 hours ahead
Texas 9:23 AM 2 hours ahead
New York 1:23 PM 5 hours ahead

As seen above, Hawaii’s unique geographic location makes its time zone markedly different from the other 49 US states. Travelers heading to Hawaii should be mindful of this time difference as they adjust their schedules.

For more details, visit the official Hawaii state website which monitors Hawaii Standard Time.

The History of Time and Timekeeping in Hawaii

Ancient Hawaiian Calendar Systems

The ancient Hawaiians used natural cycles like phases of the moon and seasons to keep track of time before contact with Western civilizations. They divided the year into 2 seasons – the rainy season (Ho’oilo) and dry season (Kau).

The months were named after the moon phases, with the New Year beginning with the first appearance of the Pleiades star cluster in November/December.

Adoption of the Gregorian Calendar

After Western contact in the late 18th century, Hawaii began adopting elements of Western culture, including the Gregorian calendar. Around 1820, King Kamehameha II decreed to officially replace the ancient Hawaiian lunar calendar with the Gregorian version.

This allowed better alignment with business dealings and communication with Europe and America.

Stories About Early Timekeeping in Hawaii

Folk tales mention the demigod Maui, who slowed the sun’s journey across the sky to lengthen daylight hours. Another story credits a chief named Olopana with inventing the first Hawaiian calendar in the 15th century AD.

It’s said he observed the stars and seasons until he configured a calendar aligned with the annual cycles of agriculture and fishing.

According to oral histories, one way time was kept before Western Contact was with a gourd filled with water that slowly drained through a small hole over the period of a day. When the gourd was empty, it marked the end of the day and the passage of time.

The gourd would then be refilled to repeat the process.


As we explored in detail throughout this article, Hawaii occupies a unique space both geographically and in terms of time zones and the measurement of time itself. While in the modern era it falls into a standard US time zone and keeps clock time aligned with the West Coast, aspects of Hawaiian culture and history related to ancient calendars, isolation from continental landmasses, and environment continue to give the islands an otherworldly, timeless flavor.

Whether you’re visiting Hawaii for the first time or are lucky enough to call the Islands home, keeping the basics about Hawaii time zones, daylight saving time, longitude and latitude, and rich history in perspective helps unpack why time seems to flow differently on the Hawaiian islands.

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