Geography of Hawaii County, Hawaii

Geography of Hawaii County, Hawaii

Hawaii County, also known as the Big Island, is the largest and most geographically diverse island in the Hawaiian archipelago. With an area of approximately 4,028 square miles, it is larger than all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined. Hawaii County encompasses a wide range of landscapes, from volcanic mountains and lush rainforests to pristine beaches and arid deserts, making it a unique and captivating destination. This comprehensive overview will delve into the geography, climate, rivers, lakes, and other notable features of Hawaii County. See mcat-test-centers for colleges in Hawaii.


Hawaii County is located in the central part of the Hawaiian Islands and is composed of five main volcanoes: Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Hualalai, Kohala, and Kilauea. These volcanoes, formed over millions of years by volcanic activity, shape much of the island’s landscape and contribute to its geological diversity.

Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are the two tallest mountains on the Big Island and are both considered active volcanoes. Mauna Kea, the tallest peak in the Pacific, rises to an elevation of 13,796 feet above sea level and is renowned for its world-class observatories. Mauna Loa, the most massive mountain on Earth, reaches an elevation of 13,678 feet and has been erupting periodically for thousands of years.

Hualalai, located on the western side of the island, is another active volcano, although it has not erupted since 1801. Kohala, on the northern tip of the island, is the oldest of the five volcanoes and is considered extinct. Kilauea, located on the southeastern side of the island, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and has been continuously erupting since 1983.

In addition to its volcanic mountains, Hawaii County boasts a diverse range of landscapes, including lush rainforests, barren lava fields, verdant valleys, and sandy beaches. The island’s eastern side is characterized by its lush vegetation and abundant rainfall, while the western side is drier and more arid.


Hawaii County experiences a diverse range of microclimates due to its varied topography and geographical features. The island’s climate is influenced by its location in the subtropical Pacific Ocean, with generally warm temperatures year-round.

Along the coastlines, Hawaii County enjoys a tropical climate characterized by warm temperatures and abundant sunshine. Average daytime temperatures typically range from the mid-70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit, while nighttime temperatures usually drop into the 60s.

In the higher elevations, such as the slopes of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, temperatures can be much cooler, with average temperatures dropping below freezing during the winter months. Snowfall is not uncommon at higher elevations, particularly on Mauna Kea, where it occasionally blankets the summit.

The island’s rainfall patterns vary significantly depending on location and elevation. The windward (eastern) side of the island receives the most rainfall, with lush rainforests and abundant streams and waterfalls. The leeward (western) side of the island is drier, with less rainfall and more arid landscapes.

Rivers and Lakes:

While Hawaii County is not known for its extensive river systems or lakes, it is home to numerous streams, waterfalls, and freshwater springs. These water sources play a crucial role in sustaining the island’s ecosystems and providing habitat for native flora and fauna.

The island’s abundant rainfall feeds into the network of streams and rivers that flow from the mountains to the coast. Many of these streams cascade down the steep slopes of the volcanic mountains, creating breathtaking waterfalls that are popular attractions for visitors.

One notable river on the Big Island is the Wailuku River, which flows from the slopes of Mauna Kea through Hilo, the largest city on the island. The Wailuku River is known for its scenic beauty and is home to several waterfalls, including Rainbow Falls and Pe’epe’e Falls.

In addition to its streams and rivers, Hawaii County is home to several natural springs and freshwater ponds, particularly in the Puna and Hilo districts. These freshwater sources provide important habitats for native Hawaiian species and are cherished by residents and visitors alike.


In conclusion, Hawaii County, also known as the Big Island, is a land of remarkable geological diversity, breathtaking landscapes, and unique natural features. From its towering volcanic mountains and lush rainforests to its pristine beaches and cascading waterfalls, the island offers a wealth of experiences for residents and visitors alike. With its tropical climate, warm temperatures, and abundant sunshine, Hawaii County remains a cherished destination for those seeking to explore the beauty and wonder of the Hawaiian Islands.