Okay, how cold really is the water in Hawaii?

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#1
Fort Lauderdale
236 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
Every time I've mentioned to someone that we're traveling to Hawaii, the reaction is the same... "Wow! You'll have a great time. It's beautiful. But the water is FREEZING!"

How freezing is freezing?

I live in South Florida and have pretty much visited most of the islands of the Caribbean, through different times of the year. Some places have had cooler water temps, but nothing I couldn't handle or get used to.

How is it in Hawaii? We're traveling in mid-June.

Mahalo!
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#2
sunny so. cal.
185 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
I think it's relative... I'm from southern California and I think the water here is *freezing* (and it's really only 60-65-ish)

When we were there a couple of weeks ago, the water temps were in the low to mid 70's - and I'm sure they'll get a little warmer as summer draws near. So... hardly *freezing*, but maybe worthy of a short wetsuit if you're going to be spending significant time underwater.

(edited to add: found this fun link for you...http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/dsdt/cwtg/hawaii.html)
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#3
Indiana
397 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Well I heard that it was about 75 degrees but when we snorkeled in Maui a week or so ago it felt dang cold but we were out at Molokini crater but when we swam at shore it wasnt that bad, it was nice because it was warm outside and felt good. Thyere is a website - hawaiiweathertoday.com try that.
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#4
12,048 Posts
Joined Mar 2001
Originally posted by thunderfox
I think it's relative... I'm from southern California and I think the water here is *freezing* (and it's really only 60-65-ish)

When we were there a couple of weeks ago, the water temps were in the low to mid 70's - and I'm sure they'll get a little warmer as summer draws near. So... hardly *freezing*, but maybe worthy of a short wetsuit if you're going to be spending significant time underwater.

(edited to add: found this fun link for you...http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/dsdt/cwtg/hawaii.html)
HA! You're lucky. Just a few hundred miles up the coast (on the central coast), our water temps are in the 50s. We're lucky if it gets to 60.

umwife11: The water is not freezing in Hawaii. It is not as warm as the Caribbean or the gulf or most of Florida (as I understand it; only have been to one beach in Florida) because Hawaii doesn't have the benefit of the strong gulf stream (which is also partly why CA ocean temps are much colder than most people believe). Averages are mid 70s in the winter and high 70s to low 80s in the summer and fall. October has the warmest water, but I have never "frozen" when swimming or snorkeling in the winter. However, I do have those "that's a bit cool, must get used to the water" times when I get in and I don't stay in as long in December as I do in September. DH uses a lightweight, short-sleeved wetsuit top all year in Hawaii, but he hasn't needed it in the Caribbean when we've been there.

thunderfox is dead on that for us Californians, the water in Hawaii is never freezing.

beachchick
#5
Estero, FL
500 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
I found the swimming pools at the hotels (at least in Waikiki and Maui) to be "freezing" and went in the ocean to swim in warm water...just my 2 cents.
#6
Canada
5,415 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
OK - been all over the Caribbean - in comparison to the Caribbean the ocean in Hawaii is definitely cooler. BUT it is not freezing. I regularly swim in Georgian Bay at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula - that is is freezing! Hawaiian waters are balmy in comparison. So - whether you will find Hawaiian waters chilly or not depends entirely on what you are used to.
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#7
Canada
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OOPS - double post!
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#8
1,116 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
When I snorkled off of the Na Pali coast in Kauai, I really didn't notice the water to be horrible. I've swam in SoCal and even braved water around SanFran. It's not that incredible bath-water Caribbean liquid gold. I would call it a bit refreshing and takes a few minutes to get used to.
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#9
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
2,104 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
During our recent trip the captain of a boat we were on to Niihau said the water was 78 degrees. Obviously it'll be a bit warmer closer to shore, or cooler in deep water. Better than what we had here at the time for sure, which would be less than 40 in the ocean, under 32 in fresh water.

I think some people think it's cold because even 80 degree water is sapping heat from your body, making you feel cold.
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#10
San Diego, CA USA
259 Posts
Joined Feb 2003
from Honolulu this week. I've been to the Caribbean, the ocean in Hawaii is definately colder, but not freezing like California. You won't need a wet suit unless you go diving or snorkeling in deeper waters. On a overcast day during the rainy season, the water was too cold for me (I like bathtub temps), but I saw plenty of people enjoying the surf in bathing suits. Waikiki beach is shallower so the water was much warmer when I went in on a sunny morning. Mid-June should be very nice. It may be chilly going in, but once in, it will be very warm.
#11
Flagler Beach, Florida
6,905 Posts
Joined May 2006
We were in Hawaii in early June last year. I am from Florida too and thought that the water in Hawaii felt just fine! Particularly loved swimming and snorkeling near the Captain Cook Monument near Kona!
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#12
Arizona
12,511 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by kebboli
Well I heard that it was about 75 degrees but when we snorkeled in Maui a week or so ago it felt dang cold but we were out at Molokini crater but when we swam at shore it wasnt that bad...
First time to Hawaii this year. I'm snorkeling at Molokini end of May. Heard mixed reviews about snorkeling there. How did you like it?
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#13
SoCal
2,327 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
I have snorkeled at Molokini a couple of times and the water is cooler than jumping into the Caribbean or the water in Miami Beach, but much warmer than home.

Once trip to Molokini, lots of fish, not too many people. Next trip, more people than fish.
#14
12,048 Posts
Joined Mar 2001
Originally posted by carmel
When I snorkled off of the Na Pali coast in Kauai, I really didn't notice the water to be horrible. I've swam in SoCal and even braved water around SanFran. It's not that incredible bath-water Caribbean liquid gold. I would call it a bit refreshing and takes a few minutes to get used to.
You are a brave soul. Growing up, I had no problem swimming in Santa Cruz, Monterey, Half-Moon Bay, you name it. Then I became an adult and said to myself, "Self, are you nuts? That water is freezing!" I have noticed that kids don't care, if it's a beach and water to swim in, they're in it. Try telling an 8-y/o beach fanatic that a cold day in December might not be the best time to go swimming on the central coast in CA.

beachchick
#15
3,218 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
Originally posted by beachchick
I have noticed that kids don't care, if it's a beach and water to swim in, they're in it.
My 16 year old son is the biggest baby when it comes to the cold water temperature. When I was a kid, we swam in the Maine and NH ocean. That was cold. My son enjoyed Bermuda in July but we've also gone earlier than that and he didn't like it. When I was in college we had pretty early spring break - February. One year I went to Bermuda and was swimming in the Ocean.

Before I began planning my cruise I always thought Hawaii is close to the equator therefore the ocean is warm. I am not going to share my new found knowledge with my son.
#16
12,048 Posts
Joined Mar 2001
Originally posted by cruizinwithkids
My 16 year old son is the biggest baby when it comes to the cold water temperature. When I was a kid, we swam in the Maine and NH ocean. That was cold. My son enjoyed Bermuda in July but we've also gone earlier than that and he didn't like it. When I was in college we had pretty early spring break - February. One year I went to Bermuda and was swimming in the Ocean.

Before I began planning my cruise I always thought Hawaii is close to the equator therefore the ocean is warm. I am not going to share my new found knowledge with my son.
True, it is closer to the equator than the other US states and it is in the Tropic of Cancer (about where a good portion of the eastern Caribbean "cruise" islands are), but it's that gulf stream that makes all the difference. However, it is warm water compared to a huge portion of the world. I will never, ever, consider surface ocean temps of high 70s and into the low 80s to be "cold." Certainly it is cooler than the Caribbean and gulf. That's very true, so there is definitely a relative warmth issue. OTOH, that gulf stream keeps going up and around the coast of Norway. Their winter surface ocean temps along the south and most of the west coast are often significantly warmer than what we have in CA. In fact, my Norwegian family (I was an exchange student) had a hard time believing that their water could possibly be warmer than ours. They go swimming in the ocean in December (in southern Norway), we most certainly do not ("we" being the people I know; can't speak for all Californians).

It does sound like your son might be a water wimp like my DH is. Best for him to be prepared. Seems to me though that Bermuda's water can get even cooler in the winter than Hawaii's (based on reports from others, not first-hand experience, so I don't know that for a fact).

beachchick
#17
Roseville, CA USA
2,803 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Our last time in Hawaii was end of April 2005. We snorkeled on Maui and in Kona. The water was very cold.

I do water aerobics in the winter in an outdoor pool. It's heated to 82 but it's still on the chilly side. I'm used to being chilled in the water.

After an hour of snorkeling I had to get out, I was too cold and starting to shiver.

A lady who lives on Maui was snorkeling with friends and she had a wet suit. Maybe it's warmer by June.
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