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Hawaii is great year-round, but prices fall in autumn

SmarterTravel

With Hawaii’s beautiful year-round temperatures, it isn’t surprising so many of our readers have questions about the best time to go, especially when it comes to saving money. Since the weather is outstanding all year, there isn’t necessarily a right time to visit. However, the fall shoulder season is an underrated and overlooked time to take a vacation to the islands.

Summer is the most popular time to visit Hawaii, but not necessarily the best. Although the summer’s hot temperatures and ocean activities are a draw, it’s also when most families are on break from school, and weddings are at their peak. This increase in tourism also causes an increase in prices, not to mention crowds. Although September signals the end of summer for most of the U.S., Hawaii remains unfazed and active in spite of a slight decrease in temperature and tourism.

Fall weather can be as nice, if not better, than in the summer. September through November is slightly cooler than summer, experiencing pleasant daytime highs in the upper 70s instead of the mid-80s. At night, the temperatures drop by 10 degrees, creating the perfect climate for a luau or other outdoor activity.

The slight dip in visitors in the fall often causes prices to ease up a bit. In hopes of boosting tourism, many hotels offer discounts on rooms during that time. Based on 2004 figures from the Hawaii State Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism, hotel daily room rates in the fall are, on average, $14 less than any other time of the year. In addition to the reduced rates, many of the larger resorts also offer incentive packages that often include air, hotel, car, or other benefits. For example, ResortQuest Hawaii (formerly known as Aston Hotels and Resorts) is offering every fourth night free for stays during the fall.

Cheaper flights are also offered by airlines that frequently fly to the islands. Chris Kam, director of market trends at the Hawaii Visitor and Convention Bureau, states, “Traditionally, airline ticket prices are reduced for travel between September and mid-December.” However, it’s always wise to research early and keep an eye out for deals that may appear as the summer rush begins to dwindle. Look for the latest Hawaii airfare deals in SmarterTravel.com’s airfare section.

Even though there may be a decrease in tourism during the fall, there is no shortage of events. In September, the Aloha Festivals honor Hawaiian culture with a six-week, six-island celebration. During the festival, more than 300 events take place, ranging from parades down Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki to the Ms. Big Big Island Pageant. For more of an athletic experience, the Ironman Triathlon on the Big Island happens during October. In addition to these annual festivities, the USS Missouri and the Arizona Memorial will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in September of 2005.

The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau has gone a step further in easing the hardships of planning a trip with the “Ultimate Hawaii Dream Vacation” campaign. This effort, launched in August of 2005, is designed to emphasize the diversity of activities and attractions available during the fall by using a new interactive vacation planner, available online at GoHawaii.com. This new site allows potential travelers to create an itinerary by choosing from 180 activities on the six islands.

Taking a trip to Hawaii doesn’t have to be expensive. Vacationing in the fall can help alleviate some of the cost, while still providing what makes Hawaii great, such as zipping high above the rainforest, snorkeling with a manta ray, or even biking down a dormant volcano. If it’s possible to get away after the school year starts, then fall is the ideal time to save on a tropical vacation.

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