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The Many Climates of Hawai’i Island

December 23, 2009

When most people think of Hawaii, images of swaying palm trees and lush rainforests are probably the first thoughts to enter their minds. More than likely, very few of the visitors  that come to Hawaii Island pack a heavy jacket or winter camping equipment for their time in “Paradise”! If you were a park ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you would probably hear visitors every day commenting on the constant rain and cloudy skies. On the other extreme, if you were a park ranger at Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site you would hear the visitors’ surprise at finding a hot desert environment instead of the lush rainforest they were expecting.

Hawai’i Island is home to an amazing diversity of climate zones. From the “Polar Tundra” regions of the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa to the “Hot Desert” region along the South Kohala Coast. Because of the Island’s terrain and wind patterns, precipitation can range from a mere 6 inches a year to well over 300 inches (all within a matter of a relatively few miles!). So if you are planning on visiting the National Parks of Hawaii Island, come prepared, whether its for winter camping on Mauna Loa in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or a mid-day walk in the desert of Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site!

Pololu Valley within the “Wet Tropical” Climate zone.

Pu’ukohola Heiau is located within the “Hot Desert” Climate Zone.