|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 worldwideon 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 sandinstead, 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 arent 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 voga 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.
Click on a region to explore the weather there.
If you are looking for a good time in a sunny resort town, Kailua-Kona is the place to find it. You can enjoy all the familiar conveniences found in any urban town anywhere, with mainland stores like Costco, Wal Mart and Lowes well established here. Or, you can delight in being a tourist on vacation and stay close to the shore, enjoying the beach, the boutiques, local art galleries, dining and cocktails on the lanai, or live music and entertainment. Those familiar with the islands, refer to the Alii Drive area in Kailua-Kona as the Lahaina, Maui of the Big Island. Both places enjoy almost year round warm to hot temperatures, and great visitor shopping, activities and nightlife opportunities right on the waterfront. Showers fall mostly "mauka" (up slope) in the afternoon, with rainfall averaging from 25" in town, to around 30" at the higher elevations with the average temperature holding at 75 degrees. Kona is frequently subject to vog-- the degree of severity dependent on the weather patterns of the moment. If you suffer from respiratory ailments, you will want to consider living north/northeast of Kona, in Waimea, North Kohala or Hamakua.
The Kohala Coast is famous for its classic sunny, tropical vacation weather. With sunshine averaging 357 out of 365 days of the year, rainfall around 7" annually, humidity at 48%, and an average temperature of 78 degrees, it's easy to understand how it became known as the Gold Coast. Here you will find the nicest beaches on the Big Island, and the best tans around! Superior golf courses, located within world-class resort ambiance, only add to the attraction of this part of paradise.
North Kohala is has recently grown to become a very popular visitor destination as the word gets around about the abundance of scenic, cultural and unique adventure experiences available in this off the beaten path region of the Big Island. Dry at the coast and Kawaihae Harbor, with only 7" of average rainfall, the country gets greener and wetter as you proceed north. By the time you reach Hawi (pronounced "Ha-vee"), you are in the lush green country of old Hawaii where sugar cane was king. Elegantly built plantation homes, dotted throughout the area, still stand as reminders of days and ways gone by. Here, rainfall averages from 52" in Hawi, to upwards of 75" by the time you reach the scenic and popular visitor destination of Pololu Valley, at the end of the road. During the rainy season humidity can be upwards of 80%, and here, like most of Hawai'i, elevation makes a distinct difference. It can be warm at the coast and 5 to 10 degrees cooler mauka at the 1600 foot elevations, so be sure to dress in layers. North Kohala still has lots of sunshine, but with significantly more rain than our South Kohala or Kona Coast neighbors.
This classic ranch land is home to the famous Parker Ranch, one of the world's largest. Here at the 2600 foot elevation, you will find chillier temperatures ranging from the low 50's in the winter months, to the low 70s in the warmer months. The annual average temperature is a moderate 64 degrees. Waimea (also known as Kamuela), has both a "wet" side and a "dry" side due to the topographical influence of Mauna Kea, which provides a spectacular back drop to this upcountry paradise. Driving in from the Hamakua you will follow emerald green rolling pastures into the center of town. As you travel out of town, headed down to the coast, you will gradually see the conditions become dry and arid, and feel the temps rise a sign that the beach is not far away! Rain tends to fall in prolonged light mists in Waimea much like the beautiful coastal areas of northern California with the annual average being around 31". It is often breezy in Waimea (downright windy at times) and occasionally, vog can be a factor most noticeably on the dry side of town.
The Hamakua Coast is one of the most breathtaking stretches of coastline in Hawai`i. The coastal road is known as the Hamakua Heritage Highway and begins shortly after leaving Hilo and heading to Waimea, covering some 40 miles of what was once predominately sugar cane lands. Now eucalyptus tree farms line large sections of this fertile land, along with many small specialty farms. Honoka'a town (where the coastline again begins to appear), is next to the famous Waipio Valley where the temperatures average in the high 60s in winter months, to the mid-70s in the warmer months. The annual average temperature for this region is 71.5 degrees. Rainfall is recorded at an average of 86 inches annually, however here, as in many places on the island, elevation and geography have their mitigating, or aggravating, influence. The weather is considered moderate along this gorgeous coast and truly makes for idyllic island living. Hamakua translates in Hawai`ian as Breath of God. Maybe thats why vog is only rarely experienced on this pristine coast?
The East side of the island has rainfall averages of 128" a year! This side of the island is the first to be subject to the moisture laden Trade Winds as they come off the Pacific Ocean. As the weather starts up the elevation of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, rain gets deposited in Hilo. Humidity is therefore higher on average here, and sunnier days are fewer. The winter months are chillier due to the heavy moisture and diminished sunny days. The average annual recorded temperature is, however, 73.5 degrees. It should be noted that this is taken at the airport, where there is no lush growth to hold temperatures down. Still, many swear by the lushness and the old Hawaii feeling that lives on here. As you travel south along the coast, the weather changes just inside Volcano National Park as you then discover the Desert of Ka'u. On the way there, you'll pass through Mountain View, with average annual rainfall of 207" and a recorded average annual temperature of 65 degrees. Mountain View is only 10 miles from Hilo, so this serves as a prime example about how weather can vary in very short distances! This is the side of the island that vog is created on, so it is present the closer you get to the Kilauea Volcano. Hilo can feel its effects if the winds swing north up the coast, though that does not occur here as frequently as it does in other areas, such as Kona.