Discover All 10 Climate Zones on Big Island in Hawaii

Mauna-Kea-5a

According to the Köppen Climate Classification System, the world has 5 climate zones; tropical, dry, temperate, continental and polar. These can be broken down into a further 13 subcategories and 10 of those can be found on Big Island in Hawaii. A fabulous way to experience some of the most intriguing landscapes in Hawaii is to discover all 10 climate zones on Big Island. 

1. Humid Tropical Climate; Summer Dry

Punalu’u Beach

Punalu’u Beach

This climate has less than 30mm during summer, and its here you’ll find Punalu’u Beach, home to sea turtles, which drag themselves onto the black sand to lay their eggs. Watch the incredible creatures from a distance, as you immerse yourself in the wonders of the natural world. Drive along Chain of Craters Road through a volcanic landscape of lava fields, out to Holei sea arch, and watch as huge wave’s crash loudly against the black rocks; it’s simply spectacular.

2. Humid Tropical Climate; Monsoon

Hamakua Coast

Hamakua Coast

The monsoon climate covers a tiny area around the small coastal town of Paauilo on the Hamakua Coast. The eucalyptus groves are a sight to see when walking through the towers of the forest with not a sound apart from the whispering leaves and the birds tweeting their chit chat back and forth.

3. Arid and Semi-Arid Climate; Hot Semi-Desert

Kaloko-Honokohau

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

The climate around the coastline of Kohala sees low rainfall and temperatures around 18℃. Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park is where you can take to the trails and follow in the footsteps of the Hawaiian people from long ago, or for the chance of seeing seals lounging on the sand. A white sandy beaches and coastal walks wait in Kekaha Kai State Park, an unspoiled area ideal for exploring the reefs or surfing in the blue-green sea.

4. Arid and Semi-Arid Climate; Hot Desert

Pu’ukohala Heiau

Pu’ukohala Heiau

This is the hottest part of the island with temperatures averaging 28℃. Take a tour along the trails of Pu’ukohala Heiau National Historic Site to see the ruins of the last notable Hawaiian temple or the 233-acre Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve with over 3,000 impressive rock carvings from centuries ago.

5. Temperate Climate; Continuously Wet Warm

05 Volcano Hawaii

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The continuously wet warm climate covers the largest part of Big Island, with temperatures from 10℃ to 22℃ and plentiful rainfall all year round. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will warm things up as you make your way through a geological landscape of active volcanoes, hot spring geysers, deserts, and rainforests; it’s a fascinating area and one that is constantly changing.

6. Temperate Climate; Summer-Dry Warm

Kohala Mountain Road

Kohala Mountain Road

This zone embraces the hillsides and fields along the Kohala Mountain Road and around Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. Temperatures range from 10℃ to 22℃, with around 1.18 inches of rain during the summer months. The most incredible thing to do here is to spend the day exploring Mauna Kea State Recreation Area where telescopes are available for stargazing, with the chance of seeing Saturn and other heavenly bodies.

7. Temperate Climate; Summer-Dry Cool

Mauna Loa

Mauna Loa

With temperatures reaching below 10℃, this zone is cold and visitors will need warm clothes as they explore the region around the frost-covered slopes of Mauna Loa. Climb up to 9,200 ft for more stargazing at Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station where the sunsets can be spectacular. Mauna Kea Silversword Garden is also worth a look for the sword-shaped, silvery green plants, endemic to Big Island which have adapted to the alpine terrain.

8. Ice Climates; Periglacial

Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea

Located around the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, the periglacial climate sees evening temperatures below freezing, with a barren landscape. Take the Mauna Loa Observatory Trail, up to 2,500 feet, to meet the breathtaking view over the Moku’aweoweo crater; you’ll be glad you made the effort.  Discover All 10 Climate Zones on Big Island in Hawaii.

9. Humid Tropical Climate; Continuously Wet

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

With monthly rainfall around 2.4 inches, this is the greenest part of the island. Waipi’o Valley is a fantastic place for scenic drives, with lookouts to gaze out over the stunning landscape. In Kalapana, to watch the lava spills into the sea, causing huge clouds of dense steam to rise up into the sky. Visit Rainbow Falls and go swimming in its cool pools as the water cascades 80 feet from the top; you might be able to see rainbows forming in the mist.

10. Humid Tropical Climate; Winter Dry

Pu’uhonua O Honaunau

Pu’uhonua O Honaunau

The winter dry climate has its heaviest rainfall during the summer months. Visit Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park to learn about ancient Hawaiian history; stroll through palm trees, swaying in the breeze, cross lava and sand to experience life as it was in the past. Boasting art galleries and gourmet food, Holualoa is a must, not only for culture but for the 100% Kona coffee which is grown here; take a moment to savor the aroma; it’s some of the most delicious coffee you’ll ever have.

Gill Morris
Gill Morris
This article was written by Gill Morris, savvy travel blogger at www.asabbatical.com, a solo travel blog of Adrian Sameli. To connect with Gill, follow her on Facebook.

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