Long days of sunshine and fairly mild year-round temperatures make Hawaii, including Maui, an all-season destination. Most resort areas are at sea level, with average afternoon temperatures of 75°F to 80°F during the coldest months of December and January; during the hottest months of August and September the temperature often reaches 90°F. Higher Upcountry elevations have cooler and often misty conditions. Only at mountain summits does it reach freezing.
Typically the weather on Maui is drier in summer (more guaranteed beach days) and rainier in winter (greener foliage, better waterfalls). Throughout the year, West Maui and the South Shore (the leeward areas) are the driest, sunniest areas on the island—that's why the resorts are there. The North Shore and East Maui and Hana (the windward areas) get the most rain, are densely forested, and abound with waterfalls and rainbows.
Many travelers head to the Islands in winter, especially during Christmas and spring break; room rates average 10% to 15% higher during these times than the rest of the year. The best months for bargains are May, September, and October.
In winter Maui is the spot for whale-watching. The humpback whales start arriving in November, are in full force by February, and are gone by early May. The biggest North Shore waves show up in winter: kiteboarders and windsurfers get their thrills in the windy, late summer months.
Hawaiians appreciate any occasion to celebrate; not only are Hawaiian holidays honored, so are those of the state's immigrant cultures. If you happen to be in the Islands on March 26 or June 11, you'll notice light traffic and busy beaches—these are state holidays. March 26 recognizes the birthday of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, a member of the royal line who spearheaded the effort to set aside homelands for Hawaiian people. June 11 honors the first islandwide monarch, Kamehameha the Great; locals drape his statues with lei and stage elaborate parades. May 1 isn't an official holiday, but it's Lei Day in Hawaii, when schools and civic groups celebrate the flower lei with lei-making contests and pageants. Statehood Day is celebrated on the third Friday in August (Admission Day was August 21, 1959). Most Japanese and Chinese holidays are widely observed. On Chinese New Year, in winter, homes and businesses sprout red good-luck mottoes and everybody eats gau (steamed pudding) and jai (vegetarian stew). Good Friday is a state holiday in spring, a favorite for picnics. Summertime is for Obon festivals at Buddhist temples and the July 4 Rodeo; the Maui County Fair and Aloha Festivals are in fall.