Hawaii in May: Blooms, Breezes, and Beautiful Adventures

May in Hawaii presents a unique transition in the climate, marking the end of the rainy season and the onset of the drier, warmer summer months. The islands experience an average temperature ranging from the low 70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit, creating an ideal environment for outdoor activities. Rainfall is considerably less frequent compared to the preceding months, though brief showers, particularly on the windward sides of the islands, are not uncommon. These occasional rains contribute to the lush landscapes Hawaii is known for, without significantly disrupting outdoor plans.

The ocean temperatures during this time are comfortably warm, typically hovering around the mid-70s Fahrenheit. This makes May an excellent time for swimming, snorkeling, and other water-based activities. The trade winds, a defining characteristic of Hawaii's climate, continue to blow, but with less intensity than in the winter months. These milder trade winds provide a refreshing breeze that balances the warmer daytime temperatures, creating a pleasant atmosphere both on the coast and inland.

Hawaii's Flora: A Spectacle in Bloom

Hawaii in May is a botanical paradise, with a variety of native and exotic plants flourishing across the islands. The floral display is particularly vibrant during this time, thanks to the preceding rainy season that nourishes the vegetation. Some of the notable blooms to witness include:

  • Plumeria: Known for its sweet fragrance and stunning flowers, plumeria blooms in a range of colors from white and yellow to pink and red. These flowers are often used in making traditional Hawaiian leis.
  • Hibiscus: The state flower of Hawaii, hibiscus, can be found in many gardens and natural areas. Its large, colorful blossoms are a symbol of the islands' beauty and diversity.
  • Bird of Paradise: Resembling a bird in flight, this exotic flower is a common sight in Hawaiian landscapes. Its striking appearance makes it a favorite among visitors and locals alike.
  • Orchids: Hawaii is renowned for its orchids, with numerous species thriving in the warm, humid climate. Orchid farms and gardens across the islands offer a glimpse into the diversity of these elegant flowers.

The lush greenery and vibrant floral displays contribute to the islands' reputation as a tropical paradise. Public gardens and botanical reserves provide an excellent opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of Hawaii's flora. These settings not only showcase the variety of plant life but also offer a peaceful retreat to enjoy the natural surroundings.

Outdoor Activities: Beaches, Hikes, and More

May's pleasant weather in Hawaii creates ideal conditions for a wide range of outdoor activities. The beaches, famous for their golden sands and clear waters, are less crowded compared to the peak tourist seasons. This provides a more serene beach experience, whether for sunbathing, casual swimming, or simply enjoying the scenic views. Waikiki Beach on Oahu and Kaanapali Beach on Maui are popular choices, offering excellent facilities and opportunities for water sports.

For hiking enthusiasts, the islands' trails are in prime condition. The end of the rainy season means trails are generally dry and safe to navigate. Hikes range from easy walks to challenging treks, catering to all levels of experience. The Na Pali Coast on Kauai and the trails in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offer some of the most breathtaking views, combining rugged terrain with the unique natural beauty of Hawaii. These hikes not only provide physical challenge but also a chance to connect with the islands' diverse ecosystems.

Outdoor Activities: Beaches, Hikes, and More

Cultural Events and Festivals in May

May is a significant month for cultural events and festivals in Hawaii, reflecting the rich heritage and traditions of the islands. These events offer a glimpse into the history, arts, music, and dance of Hawaii's various ethnic communities. Notable events and festivals include:

  • Lei Day Celebrations (May 1st): Lei Day is a statewide celebration honoring Hawaiian culture and the art of lei making. Festivities include lei making competitions, hula performances, and music, showcasing the aloha spirit.
  • The Lantern Floating Ceremony: Held on Memorial Day at Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu, this ceremony is a poignant event where thousands of lanterns are set afloat in the ocean in remembrance of loved ones.
  • King Kamehameha Day (June 11th): While just outside of May, this major festival is worth noting. It commemorates King Kamehameha who united the Hawaiian Islands. The celebration includes parades, hula, and traditional ceremonies.

These events not only serve as a vibrant display of Hawaii's cultural richness but also offer a platform for visitors to engage with and learn about the local traditions and history. Participating in these festivals provides a deeper understanding of the islands beyond their natural beauty.

Wildlife Watching Opportunities

Hawaii in May offers unique opportunities for wildlife watching, both on land and in the sea. The islands are home to a variety of endemic species, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world. The Hawaiian Monk Seal, a critically endangered species, can be spotted lounging on remote beaches or swimming in nearshore waters. Bird enthusiasts will find May particularly rewarding as it is the nesting season for many native bird species, including the Nene (Hawaiian Goose) and various seabirds.

The surrounding ocean waters are rich with marine life. While the peak season for humpback whale watching ends in April, other marine mammals like spinner dolphins and various species of sharks can be observed. Snorkeling and diving excursions provide an up-close experience with Hawaii's vibrant coral reefs and colorful fish. Specialized tours offer safe and respectful ways to encounter these creatures in their natural habitat, emphasizing conservation and the importance of preserving Hawaii's unique ecosystems.

Historical Sites to Explore in Hawaii

Hawaii's rich history is reflected in its numerous historical sites, offering insights into the islands' past from ancient times to the modern era. One of the most significant sites is the Iolani Palace in Honolulu, the only royal palace on U.S. soil. It was the residence of Hawaii's last reigning monarchs and is now a museum, showcasing royal artifacts and telling the story of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Another notable site is Pearl Harbor, a pivotal location in World War II history. The USS Arizona Memorial and the Battleship Missouri Memorial provide a poignant look at this era.

On the Big Island, the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park offers a glimpse into ancient Hawaiian culture. This sacred site served as a place of refuge and sanctuary in times of war. The park features well-preserved temple platforms, wooden carvings, and a reconstructed ancient Hawaiian village. Visiting these historical sites is not only educational but also provides a deeper connection to the cultural and historical context of Hawaii.

Historical Sites to Explore in Hawaii

Water Sports and Ocean Adventures

Hawaii's clear, warm waters and diverse marine environments make it an ideal destination for water sports and ocean adventures. The variety of activities available caters to all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned enthusiasts. Key water sports and adventures include:

  • Surfing and Paddleboarding: Hawaii is known as the birthplace of modern surfing. Waikiki Beach and the North Shore of Oahu are iconic spots for surfing. Stand-up paddleboarding is also popular, offering a more relaxed way to enjoy the ocean.
  • Snorkeling and Scuba Diving: The islands are surrounded by coral reefs teeming with marine life. Popular snorkeling spots like Hanauma Bay on Oahu and Molokini Crater off Maui offer crystal-clear waters and abundant fish.
  • Kayaking and Canoeing: These activities provide a unique perspective of Hawaii's coastline. Kayaking trips often lead to secluded beaches and coves, while outrigger canoeing offers a taste of traditional Hawaiian maritime culture.
  • Deep-Sea Fishing: For those interested in fishing, Hawaii's waters are home to numerous game fish, including marlin, tuna, and mahi-mahi. Charter trips are available for both novice and experienced anglers.

Safety is paramount in all water sports, and many companies provide lessons and guided tours to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Engaging in these water activities allows visitors to experience the beauty of Hawaii's oceans and to appreciate the islands' connection to the sea.

Accommodations: From Luxury Resorts to Cozy Inns

Hawaii offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit various preferences and budgets. From luxury resorts with world-class amenities to quaint inns offering a more intimate experience, the islands cater to all types of travelers. Key types of accommodations include:

  • Luxury Resorts: These establishments are often located on prime beachfront properties and offer extensive amenities like spas, golf courses, and fine dining restaurants. Notable examples include the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea and the Halekulani on Oahu.
  • Boutique Hotels: For those seeking a unique and personalized stay, boutique hotels in Hawaii offer distinct charm and character. They are typically smaller and provide a more intimate setting.
  • Vacation Rentals: Vacation rentals, including condos and beach houses, are ideal for families or groups seeking more space and the comforts of home. They often come equipped with kitchens and are available across the islands.
  • Bed and Breakfasts: Bed and breakfasts are perfect for travelers looking for a cozy and home-like atmosphere. These accommodations often provide an opportunity to interact with local hosts and gain insights into the area.

Choosing the right accommodation can greatly enhance the Hawaiian experience. Luxury resorts offer indulgence and relaxation, while smaller inns and B&Bs provide a glimpse into the local lifestyle and culture.


In conclusion, visiting Hawaii in May offers a multifaceted experience that blends natural beauty, cultural richness, and a myriad of activities. The favorable climate sets the stage for exploring the islands' diverse landscapes, from lush rainforests to pristine beaches. Hawaii's flora, in full bloom, adds a vibrant backdrop to every outdoor adventure.