Red Green Repeat Adventures of a Spec Driven Junkie

Big Island - Ecologically Diverse

When I first came to Hawai’i’s Big Island, it blew me away how much nature is on such a small place.

On a place where it would take less than a day to drive around, one can encounter seven of the twelve climates of the world.

Specifically, different ecologies here in broad categories:

  1. Tropical Rainforests
  2. Temperate Forests
  3. Boreal Forests/Taiga
  4. Tropical Savannahs
  5. Temperate Grasslands
  6. Cold Grasslands (Tundra)
  7. Hot Deserts
  8. Cold Deserts
  9. Mediterranean Ecosystems
  10. Wetlands
  11. Freshwater Ecosystems (lakes, rivers, streams)
  12. Marine Ecosystems (coral reefs, deep ocean, intertidal zones, etc.)

What’s on Big Island:

  1. Tropical Rainforests - Found mostly on the windward (eastern) side of the island, where there’s plenty of rainfall.
  2. Dryland Forests - Existing in areas with less rainfall, these forests are found along the leeward (western) side of the island.
  3. Sub-alpine Grasslands - Present on the higher elevations of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.
  4. Alpine/Desert Ecosystems - Found at the summits of the highest volcanoes, where the climate is much cooler and drier.
  5. Lava Flows - New ecosystems are constantly being created on the fresh lava flows from Kīlauea and other volcanoes.
  6. Coral Reefs - Found in the warm, shallow waters off the coast.
  7. Anchialine Ponds - Unique brackish water habitats that are a mix of freshwater and seawater, often supporting rare species.

We live in the more tropical parts of Big Island and within two hours of driving, we would arrive in the arid desert parts of Big Island.


Yes, it’s incredible the ecological diversity here. One of the main reasons we love Big Island.