How do the Climatic Conditions on the Big Island effect Big Island Activities and Big Island Tours?

Jan 26, 2022 | General Information

Anyone who wants to enjoy Big Island Activities and Big Island Tours certainly prefers to be blessed with a day of perfect Hawaiian weather. On most days in Hawaii, the weather cooperates beautifully, but sometimes can be unpredictable. Even the weatherman gets it wrong sometimes and Google, too. But the challenge for weather predictions is more complex on the Big Island than most people realize. The weather not only can vary from one part of the Big Island to another at the same moment but vary up and down the same road or mountainside.

For visitors trying to plan their vacations, the good and also perhaps troubling weather news is that the Big Island’s weather patterns are both predictable and unpredictable because it has 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones! Not only are some times of year better than others but different parts of the Big Island will have different weather any time of year and even any time of day.

All of Tom Barefoot’s activity and tour vendors know this very well, where they work and for the island as a whole. We want to make your Big Island Activities and Big Island Tours as enjoyable as possible and help you to arrange tours and activities at the best times in the best places, and also have back up plans in the event that weather takes an unfriendly turn.

We also want you to understand what climate scientists tell us about the Big Island’s climate zones. In fact so many of the world’s climate zones are found on the Big Island that you don’t have to travel anywhere else to experience 11 out of 13 of them without leaving the island. Tom Barefoot’s Tours doesn’t advertise this fact, but maybe we should organize and promote our dozens of Big Island tours by climate zone.

Join one of Tom Barefoot’s 260-mile Grand Circle Island tours and you can see a variety of stunning destinations in most of the Big Island’s climate zones including visits to the Royal Kona Coffee Mill and Museum, Punaluu’s black sand beach, volcano sights, Hilo and on to the Hamakua Coast, cascading waterfalls and much more.

Here are some other examples of Tom Barefoot’s Tours in the 11 climate zones on the Big Island:

Take a Topical Continuous Wet (This is the designation of a specific climate zone. You’ll see others below) tour through Waipio Valley, to the Kalapana and Puna Coasts, Hilo and Akaka Falls. Expect rain because this climate zone receives 300 inches of rainfall annually. For example, Tropical Continue Wet hiking tours on the Big Island include rainforest hikes, eco-tours, waterfall hikes, bird watching hikes, and various wildlife hiking tours and nature walks. The rains of Hilo nurture a lush green landscape that you can see along its back-roads and scenic byways and while visiting historic landmarks, beautiful waterfalls and a family-owned tropical fruit farm.

Join one of Tom Barefoot’s Tropical Winter-Dry tours where you can expect heavy summer rainfall and perhaps occasional morning and afternoon rainfall that is cool due to higher land-surface temperatures strengthened by sea breezes. This is the perfect temperature for coffee growing so your Tropical Winter-Dry tour could include the Holualoa Coffee Belt, where 100 percent of pure Kona coffee is grown, the historic fishing village Milolii, or Kealakekua Bay, home to the Captain Cook Monument and some fantastic snorkeling. You’re in luck! Tom Barefoot’s Tropical Winter-Dry tours include visiting the hillsides of Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanoes, journeying south from Kailua-Kona along the coast to Milolii and Kealakekua Bay and a tour of Greenwell Farms up in coffee country.

The Big Island is one of the only places in the world with a Tropical Summer-Dry climate with the peak rainfall during the winter months. You’ll find a Tropical Summer-Dry climate at Ka Lae, the southernmost point in the United States, Punalu-u Black Sand Beach, south of Hilo, and along the Chain of Craters Road within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. (OK, we admit it, you’ll also find Tropical Summer-Dry climate on Molokai’s Kalaupapa Peninsula and the Peahi and Hookipa beaches on Maui.)

Tom Barefoot’s southern route tours on the Big Island cover Tropical Summer-Dry areas on the Hilo-Puna side of the island. And also head up the Hamakua coast to Akaka Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Waipio Valley through the Tropical Continuous Wet climate zone. You might even experience the rare Tropical Monsoon climate zone that is only found in Hawaii in a 10-mile slice of elevated coastal land in the Hamakua Coastal town of Paauilo near Honokaa. This is a remarkable area marked by towering forests of non-native eucalyptus trees nourished by high annual rainfall, much of which occurs during the summer months.

In all likelihood you’ll visit some of the Big Island’s beaches found in a Hot Semi-Desert climate on the South Kohala coastline, including Kailua-Kona, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, and Kekaha Kai State Parkand Bays. Some of Tom Barefoot’s best snorkeling, scuba and other water activities and tours on the Big Island are located in this Kona coastal area.

The Hot Desert climate zone on the Big Island has an annual rainfall of less than 10 inches as well as temperatures averaging 83°F. But thanks to cool ocean breezes and great views, you won’t mind spending time at the Big Island’s Hapuna Beach Park, Kaunoa Beach, and visiting the Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve for snorkeling, dolphin swimming, whale watching, and perhaps enjoying the waters with manta rays.

Distinct from Tropical Continuous Wet, Continuously Wet Warm Temperate has ample annual rainfall and a four-month period of temperate weather averaging between 50°F and 71.6°F. A climate zone that is distinctly much cooler than the rest of Hawaii, you can enjoy it in various areas of the Big Island, including Waimea, Kalopa State Recreation Area, and the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. (The Kilauea summit area craters and rainforests of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park no longer are your best choices for tours in a Continuously Wet Warm Temperate climate zone on the Big Island.)

With less rainfall and higher temperatures than Continuously Wet Warm Temperate, the Summer Dry Warm Temperate climate zone on the Big Island is characterized by the winter months yielding approximately 70 percent of the annual rainfall at the base of the Mauna Kea and in Mauna Loa natural saddle. Most likely you’ll spend your time heading up Mauna Kea (13,796 ft) on one of Tom Barefoot’s tours to the observatories at the summit. At Mauna Kea’s Summit you’ll also find Periglacial Climate with evening temperatures below freezing, winter snowfall and a tree-less tundra-like landscape. You’ll also find the Summer Dry Cool Temperate climate zone at the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station where four months of temperatures are below 50°F.