From Polar To Tropical, Hawaii’s Big Island Has It All

Imagine if you could visit the lush rainforests of Costa Rica, the dry, hot deserts of Arizona, the green rolling hills of Ireland, and the ice caps of Mount Fuji, all in one day.

Hawaii Island, otherwise known as the Big Island, only takes up 4,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean, but it is home to four of the five major climate zones found on the planet. It’s one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world — a place where you can ski on snow and, in a matter of hours, surf in the warm ocean.

According to Pao-Shin Chu, the Hawaii State Climatologist and professor in the department of meteorology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, there are between eight and 11 subclimates on the Big Island. “It’s safe to say,” he told The Huffington Post, “Hawaii has a majority of climatic zones in the world.”

So what’s it missing? The continental climate — which is found in places like Pyongyang, North Korea, Fargo, North Dakota, and Fairbanks, Alaska. (We think you’ll be OK without it.)

Below, take a quick tour through the Big Island’s ecological diversity:


Areas like the historic town of Hilo, on the windward side of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, experience an average rainfall of 130 inches a year near the coast, and as much as 200 inches closer to the mountains. So much rain fuels beautiful waterfalls such as Akaka Falls (pictured above) and lush, wet regions.

lush hilo



Compare Hilo’s nearly-constant rainfall to Kawaihae, on the Kohala coast, which only gets about 6 inches or less every year. Its location on the leeward side of —> Read More