The Big Island of Hawaii might be ‘big’ for Hawaiian standards, but in absolute measures it is quite small – at the widest point it only measures 95 miles across. However, thanks to all the volcanoes on the island, there are almost no straight roads from one place to the other, and it can easily take 2 hours to cross half the island.
It’s five volcanoes define the Big Island in many ways. The most obvious are the omnipresent old and new lava flows, but also the many climate zones (all but two of all the climate zones of the world are present on the Big Island) and ever changing weather are caused by the volcanoes.
The temperature on Hawaii generally average between 24°C / 75°F and 29°C / 85°F year round. The Kau (summer) on Hawaii stretches between April/May to October, Ho’oilo (winter) fills the other months. There is slightly more precipitation during the winter, but there is no ‘bad’ season to visit Hawaii – and visiting in the winter has some advantages!
In stead of thinking in terms of “Winter” and “Summer”, a better way to plan your visit to Hawaii is to plan according to Peak Season and Off Season. (back to top)
Peak Season on Hawaii
The peak season on the Big Island runs from December to April (mostly visitors from the Northern Hemisphere that escape their winters – the biggest crowd visits the last two weeks of December) and from July to August (when the kids are out of school). March and April also draw some spring break vacationers.
Off Season on Hawaii
The off season on Hawaii runs from May to June and between September and November. Temperatures are great all year round, and the main reason for lower visitor numbers are logistic ones such as school holidays and the habit of people to not even consider taking a holiday in the off season.
The Big Island is far less crowded during the off season, and you will often find way better rates on your flights (100′s of US Dollars!), accommodation and activities. In our opinion, the sweet spot to visit Hawaii is between September and November. Just after the school holidays and before the the winter holidays. Planning your visit during these months will often save you hundreds of $$$/person. (back to top)
Hawaii has a right to the claim of being a little paradise. At most places on the island, it is bound to be picture-perfect weather! Because of the volcanoes in the middle of the island, it might (and will!) also be raining at some spots on the island, but if you wait half an hour, or drive 5 miles in any direction, the sun will probably shine again!
Temperatures on the Big Island average a pleasant 85 F in the summer and 75 F in the winter along the coasts. As you go up higher temperatures can drop. In Volcano it is an average 5-15 F cooler than at the coast (detailed weather summary for Volcano), and if you make it out to the summit of Mauna Kea or Mauna Loa, it might be freezing.(back to top)
The weather conditions can change drastically over the island in a matter of hours, but there is some consistency. The west side (Kona side) is called the ‘dry side’ of the island, and the east side (Hilo side) the ‘wet side’. Both with good reason (detailed weather summary for Kona / detailed weather summary for Hilo)! Rainfall on the Kona side can drop to below 20″/yr at Puako, and an average of 60″-100″ /yr in Kona. On the Hilo side you can expect up to 300+”/yr on the wettest spots, and about 200″/yr in Hilo. Luckily, most of this rain falls during the night, and it keeps this side of the island covered in lush rainforest. (back to top)
If you want to read all the world records the Big Island holds (did you also think Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain of the world?), or are looking for information on the museums and national parks on the Big Island, you can find it at this section.
If you would like to know more about the local grinds (food) of the Big Island, do not forget to have a look here!