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Dreaming of a Hawaiian getaway but not sure when to book your flight to score the best deals? Flights to the paradise islands can get pricey, so timing it right can save you hundreds.

If you’re looking for a quick answer: For mainland U.S. travelers, aim to book Hawaii flights about 2-4 months in advance for the best fares, during shoulder seasons like May and September.

Planning ahead and knowing when to pounce on sales can lead to big savings on airfare. Read on for tips on finding cheap flights to Hawaii whatever time of year you want to visit.

Hawaii’s Peak and Off-Peak Travel Seasons

Peak Season: Mid-December to Mid-April

Hawaii’s peak travel season runs from mid-December to mid-April, when the weather is typically sunny and warm. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, around 30-40% of visitors come during these months, especially around the Christmas and New Year holidays.

During peak season, hotel rates and airfares usually see a sharp uptick, often 50% or more compared to other times of the year. So expect packed hotels, beaches, attractions, and higher prices across the islands.

However, the lively atmosphere and gorgeous weather make it an amazing time to soak up Hawaii’s aloha spirit.

High Season: June to August, Parts of December

The summer months of June through August are also quite popular in Hawaii, along with the weeks leading up to Christmas in December. Visitor numbers are still high, though just below peak levels.

You’ll find mostly families traveling with kids during summer vacations or honeymooners taking advantage of summer’s warmer ocean temperatures.

As the second busiest stretch for tourism, expect somewhat crowded beaches and popular sights. Hotel rates and airfares are pricey too, though you can find some deals on packages or last minute bookings. The weather brings plenty of sunshine along with higher humidity.

Shoulder Seasons: September to Early December, April to May

Before peak season ramps up, the fall months of September to early December make up Hawaii’s first shoulder season. And then April through May comprise the second shoulder stretch after the crowds thin out.

Visitor numbers fall about 20-30% below peak levels, generally ranging from 500,000 to 780,000 travelers per month. With smaller crowds, beaches and attractions feel less packed so you’ll have more elbow room.

Flights and hotels offer significant cost savings too – often 40% cheaper than winter prices.

Shoulder Season Benefits Potential Drawbacks
Lower prices on hotels & flights Increased rain during Fall
Smaller crowds Higher ocean temperatures in Spring
Easier access to attractions Weather transitions to hotter or cooler

The pleasant weather and slower pace makes shoulder seasons a budget-friendly choice. Just be ready for some extra rainfall in the Fall or hotter ocean temps in the Spring. Either way, you’ll beat the largest crowds and save the most cash by visiting before or after the winter rush!

Also read: When Exactly Is The Rainy Season In Hawaii?

How Far in Advance to Book a Hawaiian Vacation

4-7 Months Out: Best for Traveling During Peak Times

If you hope to visit Hawaii during the islands’ peak tourism seasons like summer or the winter holidays, booking flights and hotels about 4-7 months in advance will serve you best for finding availability and snagging deals before the rush.

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, over 30% of the state’s annual visitors arrive between June and August. Trying to book a Hawaiian getaway for these summer months closer than 4 months out means you might find limited flight options, sold out hotel rooms, and higher overall trip costs.

Similarly, securing December holiday flights and hotels to Hawaii 6+ months ahead is ideal. Competition also spikes for vacation weeks in mid-December through early January.

  • In December 2022, round trip flights from Los Angeles to Honolulu averaged $467 when booked 6+ months out versus $572 within 3 months of travel (Google Flights data).

Travel deal sites like Hawaiian Airlines, KAYAK, and CheapAir can uncover some last minute specials, but fewer peak season deals emerge close to departure dates.

2-4 Months Out: Best for Visiting During Shoulder Seasons

If your ideal Hawaiian vacation falls during spring, fall or other “shoulder” seasons, booking 2-4 months ahead positions you well.

Competition for both flights and hotels proves less intense than summer or December. You’ll still enjoy lovely weather and fewer crowds. With a little proactive planning, cost savings emerge too compared to peak visits.

Average April Flights from San Francisco to Maui Booked 6+ Months Out Booked 0-3 Months Out
April 2023 Round Trip Fare $467 $572

Booking April flights well ahead provided a 15% discount over waiting until under 3 months pre-travel (Google Flights).

Similarly, shoulder season Hawaii hotel rates often run 10-25% lower for rooms secured 2+ months out rather than last minute.

1-3 Months Out: Aim for Last-Minute Deals and Sales

Scoring legit last second Hawaiian travel deals proves more art than science. Yet, staying vigilant 1-3 months pre-departure can uncover special promotions.

That said, last second specials may apply to off peak spring and fall trips more than prime summer or Christmas bookings.

Remain flexible regarding Hawaiian island, flight times, and hotel tiers to boost chances for true 11th hour bargains.

Also read: Unpacking the Mystery of Cheap Flights to Hawaii: Why Paradise is More Affordable Than You Think

Booking Considerations by Hawaii Island

Oahu Flights: Book Early for Best Fares

As the most populated Hawaiian island with top attractions like Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, and Honolulu, Oahu sees high tourism demand year-round. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Oahu welcomed over 4.2 million visitors in 2021.

To secure the lowest airfares, experts recommend booking Oahu flights 2-4 months in advance.

Fare sales generally open 11 months prior to departure. Set price alerts and pounce when discounts of 25-50% pop up. Peak seasons like summer and holidays sell out quickly, so don’t delay. Services like Scott’s Cheap Flights notify members of limited-time deals.

Maui: Aim for Shoulder Season 2-5 Months Out

As Hawaii’s second most visited island, Maui also sees consistent visitor numbers. While you’ll still find deals in shoulder seasons like spring and fall by booking 2-5 months ahead, greater advance planning of 4-6 months can yield savings between 30-45% for winter’s high season.

Use flexible dates in your initial search, then book when you locate an acceptable rate. Hawaii Guide cites late April and early May as a sweet spot for deals before summer rates hit.

Kauai, Lanai, Molokai: Be Flexible for Deals

For less crowded islands like Kauai, Lanai, and Molokai, flexible travelers can sometimes score last-minute bargains within a month or less of departure. However, these islands now see more visitors thanks to increasing interest in sustainable tourism.

Booking 1-3 months out locks in competitive rates.

Check platforms like Google Travel regularly for price drops. While summer deals prove more elusive, you may encounter winter fare sales if booking further out.

Island Hoppers: Book Each Leg Separately

Instead of booking travel to multiple islands on one ticket, booking each leg separately can secure substantial savings. Allow extra connection time between inter-island flights.

Services like Kiwi easily piece together separate bookings while providing price alerts for rate changes. Just ensure you read cancellation policies closely when mixing airlines.

Tips for Finding Cheap Flights to The Hawaiian Islands

Be Flexible with Travel Dates and Departure Airports

Being flexible with your travel dates opens up more flight options and usually results in cheaper fares. Avoid booking flights during peak seasons like spring break, summer vacations, and major holidays when demand is high.

Consider traveling during shoulder seasons when the weather is still nice but there are fewer tourists. You can save hundreds of dollars just by shifting your dates by a week or two.

Expanding your departure airport search also increases your chance of finding budget-friendly flights. Look at flying out of nearby airports within a few hours’ drive instead of only your local one.

Sometimes you can save money even after accounting for gas or parking with a longer airport drive.

Check Budget Airlines and Alternative Routes

Budget carriers like Southwest, JetBlue, and Spirit often run sales and have cheaper base fares than major airlines for flights to Hawaii. Be aware, they may charge extra fees for checked bags and other services.

Rather than nonstop flights, consider connections that allow stopovers in western cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or Portland. It adds a few extra hours but could potentially chop hundreds off airfare.

Some sample route bargains found recently:

  • New York to Maui with a stop in San Francisco for $481 roundtrip
  • Atlanta to Honolulu with a stop in Seattle for $556 roundtrip
  • Dallas to Kona with a stop in Portland for $566 roundtrip

Consider Packaged Deals with Hotel

Booking airfare and hotel together often saves a bundle compared to purchasing separately. Online travel agencies like Expedia, Priceline, and Travelocity offer all sorts of fly and hotel package deals to Hawaii resort destinations.

For example, a recent Expedia package for airfare plus 5 nights at a Maui resort for a couple was $2,317 total, compared to $1,894 for flights alone and average resort costs of $175+ per night. That’s around $700 in total savings by bundling.

Also read: How To Travel To Hawaii Cheaply


With dreamy beaches, lush landscapes, and near-perfect weather year-round, Hawaii remains a hugely popular vacation destination that welcomes millions of visitors annually.

By booking your flight during shoulder seasons and keeping an eye out for sales 2-7 months ahead of time, you can save hundreds on airfare. This allows you to spend more on island activities, restaurants, and resorts across the iconic Hawaiian islands.

Follow these tips on booking affordable Hawaii flights no matter when you plan to bask on the island shores. With flexible dates and airports, you’ll soon be on your way to paradise without breaking the bank.

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