Which Hawaii island is best in September?
It's true: Hawaii is awesome year-round. Hundreds of beaches. The birthplace of modern surfing. And the world's best poke.
But it can be tricky to know which island to choose and when.
We've rounded up the "best-of" and "perfect-for-you" lists for Hawaii in September on each of the four main islands so you can find your fall island fave. Or check out our original "Which Island Will You Love" guide for a little more on the sleepier islands of Molokai and Lanai if you're down for a digital detox or some no-crowd luxury lounging.
Is September a popular time to visit Hawaii?
From extraordinary annual events across the islands to great hotel prices, September is a perfect time to go to Hawaii.
With school back in session and the summer crowds declining, September is an excellent window before the December peak – and one of the least expensive times to travel. Flight deals are well underway, and resorts like Outrigger offer many fantastic deals.
Weather in Hawaii in September
Hawaii's September weather is also spectacular, with temperatures staying in a perfect-for-the-beach and outdoor fun 87°F average high (and 76°F low!). You'll find all the fun of summer – minus the crowds.
Read on to find the best island to visit in Hawaii in September for your sense of adventure and style.
September loves: which island is best for you
From super-Instagrammable beaches to swimming with manta rays at night, we've gathered our Top 10 September favorites for each island.
Oahu in September
Known as "The Gathering Place," Oahu is comprised of two overlapping volcanoes, a.k.a., a volcanic doublet. This stunning island gets a lot of attention as the most visited in Hawaii, and it's an excellent choice for those who want a little nightlife with their nature – with September bringing near-perfect weather with typically only a couple days of rain.
Top 10 Oahu September loves:
- Hang Ten
The best (read: biggest) surf in the summer months through September is on the south shore of Oahu in famous spots like Queen's and the world-famous Waikiki Beach.
- Hike a waterfall and a volcano
Waimea Falls and Diamond Head are the two main ones on the Oahu bucket list.
- Attend an event (or three!)
Check out one of the many events that are happening around town.
- Join the annual Waikiki Roughwater Swim
Join amateur and pro swimmers from all over the world for the Waikiki Roughwater Swim—or just body surf the famous Waikiki waves on your own!
- Experience yoga on the beach
Practice yoga as the sun rises over the Pacific (daily except Wednesdays).
- Have a Sunday Funday at Iconic Duke's
See 21x Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards (a.k.a. Hawaii’s Grammy Awards) winning musician Henry Kapono at the ultimate seaside Sunday Funday.
- Take your own food truck tour
And check out Oahu's influencer-approved foodie scene.
- Sip on local craft beer
Award-winning local spots like Maui Brewing Co. and more have tasty island-brewed beers and scratch-kitchen faves.
- Get artsy
Check out Oahu's hip emerging art scene or the nightlife and vibrant food scene in supercool Kakaako.
- Have festival fun
Make time for cool annual festivals like the Aloha Festival and the 74th Annual Floral Parade.
The Big Island (Hawaii Island) in September
If we had to pick one word to represent Hawaii Island (a.k.a. The Big Island)? Volcanoes. While every island has its share of lava fields, this has Kilauea, one of the most active volcanos in the world. It's also a great destination for the spirit of ancient history – think kings and queens of old – and diversity of topography, from the western side of Kona to the greener, rainier eastern side of Hilo. September brings hot weather and extraordinary events like the annual Hawaii Island Festival and slack-key guitar fest.
Top 10 Big Island September loves:
- Embrace tradition at the Feast & Fire Luau
Outrigger Kona's Feast & Fire Luau is an incredible display of music, chants and hula that honors the kupuna (ancestors) – and is the best luau on the islands.
- Night swim with manta rays
For a truly magical experience, snorkel with manta rays off the Kona Coast at night.
- Take a (rainforest) hike
Marvel at the lush vegetation that gives way to cascading Kahuna and Akaka Falls at the Akaka Falls State Park.
- Take the scenic route
Drive on Chain of Craters Road within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or the Mauna Loa Road Scenic Drive through Volcano Village for the ultimate scenic route.
- Coffee tour (and taste)
Take a tour through rolling coffee plantations and see what makes Kona coffee some of the best in the world, or try the Ka'u Coffee Trail Run for a little extra coffee adventure through macadamia nut and coffee fields.
- Tour the lava tubes
Head underground for a headlamp tour of the lava tubes like the Kaumana caves in Hilo, with easily accessible tours perfect for families or more hard-core, multiple-hour spelunking tours for the adventurous.
- See the island from the air
With a helicopter tour, you get to see gems from the sky (hidden waterfalls! fresh lava flows!) and famous spots like the lava lakes in the Halemaumau and Puu Oo craters in the Kilauea volcano.
- Hang out at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
On the must-do list, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the most popular tourist destination on the Big Island. You can hike over lava fields, wander through misty fern landscapes, and see the lava glow over the Halemaumau crater at night.
- Check out the world's largest outrigger canoe race
Kai Opua Canoe Club, one of the oldest outrigger canoe clubs, is hosting the legendary Queen Liliuokalani Canoe Races for amateur and pro paddlers of all ages from around the world at Kailua Bay and Honaunau Bay.
- Have festival fun
The Hawaii Island Festival runs all month long, with everything from food and music to a live peek into the heritage and culture of Hawaii. Or check out the 25th Annual Slack-key Guitar Festival with famous musicians like Ledward Kaapana, George Kuo, Kawika Kahiapo and Kailua Moon.
Maui in September
Known for its lush vegetation and nickname "The Valley Isle," Maui is the second largest Hawaiian island and is loved for its world-famous beaches, Road to Hana drive, ancient sites and more. The best months to visit Maui are April, May, and September through November. Weather in September is a little cooler than the other islands, with average highs in the mid to high 70s and lows in the 60s, but the range of activities and fewer crowds makes it the perfect time to visit for all types of travelers.
Top 10 September loves:
- Drive the famous Road to Hana
This is an absolute must on any trip to Maui. Stop by sights like the Garden of Eden, the Keanae Peninsula and the Hana Lava Tube.
- Go to the Old Lāhainā Lūʻau
Enjoy a dinner and show served with aloha and the authentic Hawaiian culture.
- Swim with sea turtles
See sea turtles basking at spots around the island like Maluaka Beach or Hanakaoo Beach, especially before noon! But if you’re lucky enough to spot one of these majestic creatures, remember to keep your distance as they are protected endangered species.
- See the Seven Sacred Pools
In East Maui, the Pool of Oheo, or the Seven Sacred Pools, are easy to access and show off the island's beauty with seven waterfalls and pools against a lush backdrop.
- Golf the island's 14 courses
The perfect weather and varied topography make Maui a golfer's paradise. With 14 courses, there's something for all skill levels.
- Go horseback riding on the world's largest dormant volcano
Take a tour on horseback through the world's largest dormant volcano's crater in the 30,000-acre Haleakala National Park.
- See the jet black sands of Waianapanapa
See the stunning basalt black sands of Waianapanapa contrast with the sparkling sea, alongside natural stone arches, hidden blowholes and anchialine pools.
- Go farm-to-table at O'o Farm
Known for its farm-to-table cuisine, you'll find tasty options all over Maui, and a tour at the sustainable O'o Farm lets you see – and taste – the bounty.
- See the sunrise (and sunset!) at Haleakala
One of the island's most enchanting experiences: watching both the sunrise and sunset from almost 10,000 feet above sea level at Haleakala.
- Have festival fun
Enjoy local arts and music nights throughout the month such as the annual Festival of Aloha, Maui Nui Style that showcases royal pageantry, parades, street parties, concerts, family activities and more.
Kauai in September
From Jurassic Park and Blue Hawaii being filmed on its verdant shores to an abundance of nature-lover activities, Kauai may top the list for those who love a little adventure. You'll find more rain year-round on Kauai than on the other islands, but it typically comes in short bursts, and it's one of the most naturally beautiful destinations in the world.
Top 10 September loves:
- Hike the Kalalau Trail
One of Hawaii's most scenic hikes, the Kalalau Trail is a 22-mile, daylong adventure.
- Tour waterfall(s)
Opaekaa Falls and Wailua Falls are magnificent (try in the early morning for a potential rainbow sighting!)
- Kite surf at Tunnels Beach
The North Shore's famous Tunnels Beach is great for water fun like kite surfing, surfing, and windsurfing.
- Get beachy
Explore the best-kept-secret beaches on the sunny, desert-like South Shore like Poipu Beach.
- Fly over the Napali Coast
Called "a Shangri-la valley accessible only by sea" in a 1960 National Geographic piece, Napali's towering cliffs and jungle-esque glens are impressive from an unobstructed aerial helicopter view.
- Kayak the Wailua River to romantic Fern Grotto
The Wailua River was once open only to royalty. Kayak the river to the romantic waterfall and lava-rock ambiance at Fern Grotto.
- Snorkel sail
After you've flown over it, you must get up close and personal with a sailing adventure that lets you snorkel (or paddleboard) the Napali Coast.
- Lookout at Waimea Canyon
Dubbed the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," this geological wonder is 14 miles long, one mile wide and more than 3,600 feet deep – perfect for scenic Insta shots or a hike.
- Take a movie tour
Explore the stuff of the big screen with an on-location tour of the otherworldly landscapes that put movies like Jurassic Park on the map.
- Have festival fun
The week-long Mokihana Festival brings to life the culture of Hawaii with fun-for-the-whole family events like music, hula competitions and more.
Whichever island you choose, Outrigger has you covered. Check out all the stay offerings – and September deals – at Outrigger.com!
If you crave a more immersive and intimate experience with the world's oceans, only an adventure that sprinkles your soul with salt water will do. There's always something happening on the world's most iconic beaches.