Weather on the Big Island of Hawaii

If you were to describe the weather on the Big Island in one word, it could only be the word “diverse.” With a wide variety of landscapes, cultures, and climate zones, the Big Island has something for everyone. It is estimated that there are over 18 climate zones worldwide—on the Big Island of Hawaii you can experience 16 of them! Did you know that you can ski on Mauna Kea during the late fall or winter months? Recommended only for the courageous and experienced skier, this is one of the many attractions that draw both visitors and adventurers to the Big Island. Ka'u, at the southern end of the island has a desert, but don't expect to see huge stretches of blowing sand—instead, you will find an open landscape of lava and low brush punctuated by magnificent mountain ranges in the background and gorgeous ocean views with occasional black sand beaches for exploration, if you care to go “off road.” In short, the Big Island of Hawai'i has a bounty of weather and environments for you to enjoy: rain forests, fern forests, pine and eucalyptus forests, high mountain pastures, lush tropical valleys, coastal beaches, wet or dry conditions. If you arenÙt enjoying the weather where you are, hop in the car and within a relatively short distance you can be relaxing at the beach, sightseeing in the horse country of Waimea, or watching the hot molten lava spill from the Kilauea volcano.      

 While the weather here is often unpredictable, we still follow the basic seasonal pattern experienced on the mainland. Winter here can be “winter-like”, especially at the higher elevations, yet because of our diversity of climates, many a Christmas has been celebrated on the beaches of Hawai'i. We are influenced by major weather patterns such as El Nino and El Nina, so we experience both years where the average rainfall is less than expected, or years when it is exceeded. Weather conditions can change in short distances as elevation or proximity to major topographical influences (such as coastal areas or the “saddle” between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa), have their impact. Mother nature is alive and well here, and that is certainly part of the excitement and attraction of being on the Big Island. 

Our “weather report” would not be complete without mentioning vog—a weather phenomenon unique in to the Big Island. In a nutshell, vog is like smog, and is the result of molten lava from the still active Kilauea Volcano interacting with the sea water as it flows into the ocean. The result is a condition much like the smog found in mainland cities. How much vog there is, and where on the island it settles, is often greatly determined by rainfall, general winds and the current activity and flow patterns of Kilauea Volcano. The Kona side (west side) is most susceptible to receiving the vog, via the trade winds, as they sweep across the island from the volcano on the south eastern side of the island. Please refer to the map and the weather reports below, which are descriptive of the most popular destinations on the Big Island.

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