Can you Ski in Hawaii?

Hawaii is the only state geographically located inside the tropics and is a state in the Western United States. It is located in the Pacific Ocean, nearly 2,000 miles from the U.S. mainland. To avoid confusion with the state or archipelago, it is usually referred to as the “Big Island” or “Hawaii Island.” So, the question is: Is it possible to ski in Hawaii? 

Yes, Hawaii is a place where you can actually ski. Most winters, snow falls on Hawaii’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea. On the island of Hawaii, Mauna Kea is a volcano. Its peak is the highest point in the state of Hawaii and the second-highest peak of an island on Earth at 4,207.3 meters above sea level. Mauna Kea actually refers to “white mountain” in Hawaiian.

Mauna Kea Ski Resort

On this mountain, you can ski and snowboard on an area of about 100 square miles. Some people have said that it has the best snow on earth. The “ski area” has a route to the peak that gives access to both the top-notch observatory and skiable terrain. A four-wheel drive vehicle is needed to get to the peak while it is snowing. Riders have three options for their expeditions: they may plan their own, ride with SkiHawaii, or join the social organization Hawaii Ski Club. 

Hawaii Ski Club

This active club, which has more than 100 members, helps its snow-skiing members in leaving the paradise of Hawaii beaches for the paradise of winter snow. This year-round, club offers a variety of outdoor sports, social events, and volunteer opportunities for a fixed amount of $25 for individuals and $35 for families. On the first Thursday of each month, there is a general membership meeting. 

Every Monday night, tennis is played, and Pau Hana (happy hour) happens almost every month. The Hawaii champions are crowned during a slalom NASTAR race that often happens during the week.

Best Time to Ski in Hawaii 


Skiing in Hawaii depends entirely on the weather. In Hawaii, the ski season typically runs from November to July, however this depends on how much snow falls during these months. Many people have discovered that skiing on Mauna Kea is usually best done between January and March. Snow in Hawaii could be unpredictable. There may not be any snow on certain days while there may be an enormous snowfall for skiing on other days. 

No Ski lifts

The lack of ski lifts in Hawaii is one of the main problems with skiing. This means that you need to either hire a guide or rent a four-wheel drive car. Since there is no ski lift, it’s challenging, but some believe it’s worth it because of the view at the top. For many, switching drivers is best. One skier takes everyone to the top before switching the next time. By moving back and forth in this way, everyone can stay safe and ski more frequently.

Rentals for Skiing

The majority of people prefer to rent equipment at Mauna Kea’s base. The average cost to rent boots, skis, and ski poles is $50. The boards and boots for snowboarding will also cost $50. You will need a $100 deposit for either before renting. Although you are always welcome to bring your ski gear, most travelers don’t have enough place in their bags. If you do plan on bringing your own equipment, don’t bring your best or super fancy gear. 


While it can snow on Mauna Kea occasionally and you may ski or snowboard there, there are safety measures. Since it is not a location specifically for these activities, it is not well-maintained. There are lava rocks all throughout the place, and if you are not cautious, you may harm yourself. 

The weather can never be predicted. It may not snow very much on certain days, making skiing there quite challenging and risky. Because of these conditions, this skiing experience will be unlike any other you’ve ever experienced, so take extra precautions while you’re there. 

The route to Mauna Kea will most likely be closed if there is any wind. It’s very cold and extremely windy. Also, you barely have any visibility, which increases the danger. You don’t want to find yourself stranded there without anything, so make sure to pack basics because the weather might change at any time. If the weather quickly worsens, have a bag containing water, clothing, sunscreen, food, and other essentials.

In addition to the safety measures already stated, you should be aware of the air pressure and quality before you go. Snow skiing in Hawaii requires good physical fitness. The air pressure is significantly different from sea level at the top. You probably shouldn’t go skiing in Hawaii if you already have breathing problems since it is quite difficult on top.  The temperature at the peak is often between 25 and 40degrees Fahrenheit. However, it will feel much colder if there is any wind at all.

Capturing It All

Astronomy is another fascinating field of study on Mauna Kea. In fact, some people think it’s among the world’s top observing locations. While you are up on the mountain, there will be a lot of observatory employees who also need respect. Make sure not to interrupt with their time spent working and learning. Ask the other skiers, not the astronomers, if you become stuck or need assistance while you are there.

There is a lot more to this volcano. Hawaiians see Mauna Kea as a holy location that is important to their culture. While you are there, you must show the mountain and the locals the highest respect. Some of the first individuals to ski on Mauna Kea founded the Hawaii Ski Club in 1936. They are no longer allowed to plan ski trips to the volcano, along with all other travel businesses. This plays a significant role since, in their culture, this volcano is respected. 

Snow skiing in Hawaii may be exciting, but be sure you are aware of the risks before you go. If you can handle it, skiing in Hawaii is one of the enjoyable winter activities there. You will never forget your experience skiing or snowboarding in Hawaii.