Hawaii Island, or the Big Island (home to Hog Heaven Coffee), is the only one of Hawaii’s island chain that has 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones, according to Koppen Climate Classification System, the most widely used method used by climatologists to identify and define worldwide climate zones. The fact that Hawaii Island contains 10 of Koppen 14 world climate zones was first reported in the 1978 report, Climate and Water Balance on the Big Island,” written for the 20th anniversary of the island’s Mauna Loa Observatory.
Isn’t it amazing so many climate zones can be found on one isolated island of only 4,028 square miles? What are these climate zones?
- Tropical Continuous Wet Zone: High annual rainfall, temperatures above 65°F, no distinct dry season. On the Big Island, you will find this climate along the Hamakua Coast from sea level to 3,000-foot elevation and from Waipio Valley to Hilo (>300 inches of rain/year) and along much of the Puna Coast. This beautiful zone is where Hog Heaven Coffee is grown, in the deep, rich volcanic soil producing that smooth chocolatey tasting coffee!
- Tropical Monsoon Zone: This rare climate zone has high annual rainfall, mostly in the summer months. This zone is only found in Hawaii in a 10-mile section up the mountainside, coastal area along the Hamakua Coast town of Paauilo which contains forests of non-native eucalyptus trees.
- Tropical Winter-Dry Zone: Heavy summer rainfall, as well as cool morning and afternoon rains because of higher land-surface temperatures strengthened by ocean breezes. Winters are typically dry. On Hawaii Island this climate includes the Kona Coffee Belt, Milolii and Kealakekua Bay.
- Tropical Summer-Dry Zone: Lots of rainfall in the winter months, with drier summer months.Hawaii is one of the only places in the world with this unique climate zone. On Hawaii Island, this climate is found along the southern coast (the southern-most point in the U.S.), Punaluu Black Sand Beach and along Chain of Craters Road within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
- Hot Semi-Desert Zone: Low annual rainfall and temperatures over 65°F, many of these areas contain Hawaii’s most popular beaches (Waikiki, Poipu, Kaanapali). On the Big Island, this zone includes most of the South Kohala coast to Kailua-Kona.
- Hot Desert Zone: The warmest climate zone in Hawaii with temperatures averaging 83°F, less than 10 inches of annual rain, but cool ocean breezes keep it lovely. On the Big Island this zone includes a few spots along the Southern Kohala coast, such as Hapuna Beach, Kaunoa Beach, and Puako.
- Continuously Wet Warm Temperate Zone: Ample annual rainfall with four months of temperatures averaging between 50°F and 72°F. This area is distinctly cooler than most of Hawaii. On the Big Island, this zone is found in Waimea (Kamuela), the summit area of both Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea craters, the rainforests of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kalopa State Recreation Area, and the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge.
- Summer-Dry Warm Temperate Zone: Less rainfall and higher temperatures than the continuous wet warm temperate zone, the winter months provide 70 percent of this zone’s annual rainfall. On the Big Island, this climate zone is found at the camping area at the base of the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa off Saddle Road.
- Summer-Dry Cool Temperate Zone: Cooler temperatures (below 50°F), with occasional snowfall, but likely to have only morning and evening frost, during the four months of winter. This zone can be found at Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station.
- Periglacial Climate Zone: With evening temperatures below freezing, winter snowfall and tundra-like, tree-less landscape. This area is found at the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.
The only Köppen category not occurring on Hawaii Island are the 3 main Cold Continental climates and the Polar Ice Cap zone.
Lucky we live Hawaii with its beauty and diversity and its variety of climates, some of which produce delicious coffee!