Does It Snow In Hawaii? Surprising Snowfall Explained

When people think of Hawaii, it’s common to picture beach days with sunny weather and tropical fruit. The last thing on anyone’s min is snow, but does it snow in Hawaii?

Believe it or not, there are certain regions in Hawaii that experience snow. However, this only occurs on the highest mountain peaks that are elevated at heights over 11,000 feet off the ground. For that reason, the only places in Hawaii that get snow are Mauna Loa, Haleakala, and Mauna Kea, which are in Maui. 

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Are you interested to learn more about whether or not it snows in Hawaii? On this page, we’re going to discuss what you can expect during the winter season. Keep reading to learn more. 

Does It Snow In Hawaii?

If you’re planning on booking a trip to Hawaii to escape the bitterly cold weather you face in the winter for a bit, you may be wondering if it snows there too. You don’t have to worry about snow interfering with your trip unless you’re traveling to the peak of one of the higher mountain tops. The only mountains in Hawaii that receive snow are:

  • Mauna Loa
  • Haleakala
  • Mauna Kea

It typically will only snow in these regions during the winter season, which is December, January, and February. However, the snow could occur anywhere between October and April. There have even been years where there were occasional snowfalls during the dry season, which is May, June, July, August, and September. 

Basically, snow is expected in the winter season, but there could be a snowfall in any month because these locations are so high above the ground. When it snows in these Hawaiin areas, there can be high snow drifts. This is because the snow storms often come with high winds. This creates blizzard conditions.

Does Winter In Hawaii Get Cold?

Hawaii is known for beautiful sunny weather year-round. However, that doesn’t include the snowy mountains in Hawaii. Since snow typically doesn’t accumulate on any mountain in Hawaii that is below 9,000 above ground, tourists don’t have to prepare for cold weather when visiting Hawaii. 

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When talking about the blizzard-like conditions that Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, and Haleakala can experience during winter, you may be under the impression that it gets very cold in these alpine regions. The average temperature in the winter months around Hawaii’s mountain area doesn’t usually drop much lower than 64 F (18 C). However, the peaks of the mountains over 9,000 feet will experience below-freezing temperatures.  

That being said, the rest of Hawaii is typically very warm during the winter months. The average temperature in the winter in Hawaii is typically around 78 F (26 C). This is why you won’t find snow anywhere else in the state.

Does Snow Attract Tourists in Hawaii?

Hawaii isn’t known for it’s winter activity. Instead, many tourists leave their snow-covered homes behind for a week or two, to travel to Hawaii in winter and enjoy the beautiful weather. While the mountains in Hawaii that receive snow do have some wonderful tourist attractions, snow activities aren’t on that list.

In fact, the mountains aren’t recommended for leisurely skiing. There are some sections that can be skied on, however, they are only recommended for use by professional skiers. There are no ski lifts and the areas aren’t maintained for skiing. If you are visiting the high mountains during winter, it’s strongly recommended to travel in a reliable vehicle with 4-wheel drive.

Are There Four Different Seasons In Hawaii?

Hawaii is a lot different than the rest of the US. This island state only has two seasons, summer and winter. Summer takes place from May through October, while winter begins in November and goes through to April. That being said, no matter which season you visit Hawaii in, you can expect warm weather.

The main difference between the summer and winter season in Hawaii is that winter brings more rain. However, it’s not a cold rain. Most tourists are comfortable in a light rainjacket when visiting Hawaii in the winter. Kauai gets the most rain throughout winter, so this may not be the best sport to book a trip during the winter months.

If you ever consider visiting Hawaii during the winter months, you should be prepared for rain no matter where you visit. However, you will have better luck seeing more sunny days if you visit a location that’s on the south or west coast of Hawaii. 

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Does Snow Last Long in Hawaii?

It doesn’t snow all season long on the mountain tops in Hawaii. The amount of snow that accumulated and how severe the snowstorm was will impact how long the snow lasts. After a mild snowstorm, the snow could stay on the mountain for around 3 days. However, if there was a blizzard with strong wind and a lot of snow piled up, it could last for 6 days or so. 

Which Region of Hawaii Gets the Most Snow?

There are only 3 regions in Hawaii that get snow. Mauna Kea gets the most snow because it’s located 14,000 feet above the ground. This is the highest mountain top in Hawaii. Not only does it get more snow than Haleakala and Mauna Loa, but the snow is incredibly unpredictable. Mauna Kea could receive a snowfall in the middle of July. 

However, the other two mountain tops aren’t that far behind when it comes to snowfall. Mauna Loa is 13,600 feet above ground, while Haleakala is 10,000 feet high. Even though Mauna Loa isn’t the tallest mountain top in Hawaii, it is considered the largest mountain. That is because this mountain is located on an active volcano dome that is 75 miles long and 64 miles wide. 

Haleakala does receive less snow than the other two snow mountains in Hawaii. This is mainly because the top of this mountain is significantly lower than the other two mountains. 

Does It Snow In Other Regions of Hawaii?

Never say never, and that saying even applies to seeing snow on tropical islands. On average, there are only 3 locations in Hawaii that are known to receive snow on an annual basis. That being said, they aren’t the only areas in Hawaii that have ever received snow. 

  • It is not unusual for mountain areas in Maui to receive the other brush of snow every 5 years or so.
  • In 2019, Polipoli State Park  on Maui Island received a blanket of snow. This mountain only sits 6,200 feet above ground.
  • Wailua Homesteads doesn’t receive snow, but it’s receive the strong aftermath of the winter wind. 

Does It Cost More To Travel To Hawaii In Winter?

During the winter months, people like to book trips to exotic and warm locations. If you’re in the US and don’t want to travel out of country to visit a warm and sunny location, Hawaii is the ideal travel location. However, it’s viewed as a dream travel location by people all over the world, with more appeal in the winter time.

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If you’re planning a trip during peak travel times, such as the Christmas holidays, you can expect to pay more money. You can also expect to py more money if you are booking the trip close to when you plan on traveling. Hawaiin hotels and resorts do fill up during the winter months. When you add the cost of resort stay and airline tickets, the trip could be more expensive.

Winter weather typically won’t spoil a warm Hawaiin vacation. Unless, you are planning to visit a location that’s close to one of the snow mountains, where it can be cooler. Hawaii is known for it’s summer-like weather conditions which attracts a high number of tourists every year when temperatures drop everywhere else. 

Final Thoughts

Does it snow in Hawaii? It does snow in Hawaii, but only in 3 areas. Snow can only accumulate in Hawaii on mountains that are above 9,000 feet. There are 3 mountains in Hawaii that are higher than 11,000 feet above ground, so they receive snow. During the winter, it’s likely to snow in Haleakala and Mount Loa. These snowfalls are accompanied by very strong wind.

On Mount Kea, it will snow during winter. However, this isn’t the only time of the year that snow will occur. Since Mount Kea is 14,000 feet above ground, it can get cold anytime of the year. This mountain top is just as likely to get covered in a sheet of snow in June as it is in December. You can only reach the top of this mountain using a vehicle with 4-wheel drive.

Other areas of Hawaii don’t get snow. In fact, the weather feels like summer all year long. There are only 2 seasons in Hawaii, summer and winter. The winter season doesn’t get cold, but it does get heavier rain. If you’re planning to ravel to Hawaii in winter to avoid storms and snowy weather, make sure you bring a light rain jacket and an umbrella. 


Marta Kovachek
About the author: Marta Kovachek graduated from the university with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.