Many travelers wonder how the latitudes of Key West, Florida and Hawaii compare. After all, both are known for their warm, tropical climates and island vibes. If you’re looking for a quick answer, here it is: Hawaii lies farther north than Key West. But keep reading to learn more details about the precise latitude coordinates of these two iconic island destinations.

In this approximately 3000 word article, we’ll dive into the exact latitudes of Key West and the major Hawaiian Islands. We’ll look at how latitude affects climate. We’ll also discuss some key differences between being situated at around 24 degrees north versus 20 degrees north latitude. If longitude and latitude coordinates get you excited, read on!

Understanding Latitude and Its Effect on Climate

Latitude, a geographic coordinate that measures the distance of a point on Earth’s surface from the Equator, plays a significant role in shaping the climate of a region. It is crucial to understand the concept of latitude and how it affects the weather patterns and overall climate of different areas.

Definition and Range of Latitude

Latitude is measured in degrees and ranges from 0° at the Equator to 90° at the North and South Poles. The Equator, located at 0° latitude, experiences a tropical climate characterized by high temperatures and abundant rainfall throughout the year. As one moves away from the Equator towards either the North or South Pole, the climate gradually becomes cooler.

For more detailed information on latitude and its specific ranges, you can visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website:

How Latitude Impacts Climate

The position of a location on Earth’s latitude greatly influences its climate. Areas closer to the Equator receive more direct sunlight, resulting in higher temperatures. This is because the Sun’s rays strike the Earth’s surface at a steeper angle, providing more concentrated heat. As a result, regions near the Equator experience tropical climates with hot temperatures year-round.

On the other hand, areas located at higher latitudes, such as the polar regions, receive sunlight at a shallower angle. This leads to less heat reaching the surface, resulting in colder temperatures. These colder regions, known as the polar climates, experience long, harsh winters and relatively short summers.

Latitude and Seasonal Day Length

The Earth’s tilt on its axis as it orbits the Sun also affects the length of daylight hours at different latitudes. This variation in day length throughout the year is most noticeable near the poles and less pronounced near the Equator. At higher latitudes, such as Alaska, there are dramatic differences in daylight hours between summer and winter. In contrast, locations near the Equator experience relatively consistent day length throughout the year.

If you want to explore more about the relationship between latitude and day length, you can refer to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s website:

Understanding how latitude influences climate is essential for meteorologists, geographers, and anyone interested in studying the Earth’s climate patterns. By considering latitude, scientists can make predictions about temperature, precipitation, and other climate attributes for different regions of the world.

The Latitude of Key West, Florida

Precise Geographic Coordinates

Key West, Florida is located at approximately 24.5551° N latitude. This means that it is situated about 24.5 degrees north of the equator. The precise geographic coordinates of Key West are 24 degrees, 33 minutes, and 18 seconds north latitude.

Climate Characteristics

The latitude of Key West plays a significant role in shaping its climate. Being located in the subtropical region, Key West experiences a tropical savanna climate characterized by warm temperatures and abundant rainfall throughout the year. The average annual temperature in Key West is around 78°F (25.6°C), making it a popular destination for tourists seeking warm weather and sunny beaches.

The latitude of Key West also contributes to the formation of tropical storms and hurricanes in the region. Due to its southern location, Key West is susceptible to these weather phenomena, especially during the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June to November.

For more detailed information about the climate of Key West, you can refer to the Weather Channel website.

The Latitude of the Hawaiian Islands

Latitudes of the Main Islands

The Hawaiian Islands are located in the central Pacific Ocean, stretching over 1,500 miles from the Big Island of Hawaii in the southeast to Kure Atoll in the northwest. The latitudes of the main islands vary, with the southernmost point of the archipelago being the Big Island at approximately 19 degrees north latitude. As you move north towards Kauai, the latitudes range from around 21 degrees to 22 degrees north.

Each island has its own unique latitude, providing diverse environments and landscapes to explore. For example, the island of Maui is situated around 20 degrees north latitude, offering breathtaking views from its volcanic peaks and stunning beaches. Oahu, home to the vibrant city of Honolulu, is located at approximately 21 degrees north latitude, providing a perfect blend of urban life and natural beauty.

The latitude of the Hawaiian Islands plays a significant role in their climate and weather patterns. The islands are located in the tropics, which means they experience warm temperatures year-round. However, the latitudinal variation results in different microclimates across the archipelago.

Mild, Tropical Climate

The latitudinal position of the Hawaiian Islands contributes to their mild, tropical climate. The islands enjoy warm temperatures throughout the year, with average highs ranging from the mid-70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit.

The latitude also influences the trade wind patterns that bring cool breezes to the islands. These trade winds are a result of the temperature difference between the equator and the poles. The Hawaiian Islands lie within the trade wind belt, which helps to moderate their climate and provide a refreshing atmosphere.

Furthermore, the latitude of the Hawaiian Islands is responsible for the abundant rainfall they receive. As the trade winds blow across the Pacific Ocean, they pick up moisture, which then condenses as it encounters the islands’ higher elevations. This phenomenon creates lush and verdant landscapes, particularly on the windward sides of the islands.

The latitude of the Hawaiian Islands, combined with their diverse topography and oceanic influences, contributes to the unique and breathtaking natural beauty that attracts millions of visitors each year.

Island Latitude
Hawaii (Big Island) Approximately 19 degrees N
Maui Approximately 20 degrees N
Oahu Approximately 21 degrees N
Kauai Approximately 21-22 degrees N

For more detailed information on the latitudes of the Hawaiian Islands and their climate, you can visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website at

Comparing Key West and Hawaii’s Latitudes

Recap of Precise Coordinates

Key West, Florida, is located at a latitude of approximately 24.5551° N. On the other hand, Hawaii is composed of several islands, with the Big Island (Hawaii Island) having a latitude of around 19.8968° N. While both are tropical destinations, the latitudes of these locations place them at different points on the globe.

Climate Similarities and Differences

Due to their tropical locations, both Key West and Hawaii experience warm temperatures throughout the year. However, there are some notable differences in their climates. Key West, being closer to the mainland of the United States, has a humid subtropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. In contrast, Hawaii’s climate is classified as tropical, with more consistent rainfall and fewer temperature variations throughout the year.

Key West’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean also influences its climate, with occasional hurricanes and tropical storms affecting the region. Hawaii, on the other hand, is known for its trade winds, which create a pleasant breeze and help keep the islands cooler.

Comparison of Key West and Hawaii’s Latitudes

To better understand the differences in latitudes between Key West and Hawaii, let’s take a closer look at their precise coordinates:

Location Latitude
Key West, Florida 24.5551° N
Hawaii (Big Island) 19.8968° N

As we can see, Key West is located at a higher latitude compared to Hawaii, which means it is further north. This difference in latitude contributes to variations in climate, daylight hours, and the overall feel of these tropical destinations.

While Key West and Hawaii may both offer beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, and a relaxed island vibe, their latitudes play a role in shaping their unique characteristics. So whether you prefer the laid-back atmosphere of Key West or the diverse landscapes of Hawaii, both destinations have something special to offer.

How Other Factors Beyond Latitude Affect Climate

While latitude plays a significant role in determining the climate of a region, there are other factors beyond latitude that also influence the climate. These factors include proximity to large bodies of water, elevation, and the rain shadow effect.

Proximity to Large Bodies of Water

One important factor that affects climate is the proximity to large bodies of water. Areas close to oceans or seas tend to have milder climates compared to inland regions. This is because water has a higher heat capacity than land, meaning it takes longer to heat up or cool down. As a result, coastal areas experience more moderate temperatures throughout the year. For example, Key West, Florida, which is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, enjoys a tropical climate with warm temperatures year-round. Similarly, Hawaii, with its Pacific Ocean surroundings, experiences a mild tropical climate.


Elevation is another factor that significantly affects climate. As you go higher in elevation, the temperature tends to drop. This is due to the adiabatic cooling effect, where air cools as it rises and expands. For instance, the Big Island of Hawaii has various climate zones due to its diverse topography. The coastal areas have a tropical climate, while the higher elevations of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa experience cooler temperatures and even snowfall. In contrast, Key West, Florida, being at a relatively low elevation, maintains a warm and tropical climate throughout the year.

Rain Shadow Effect

The rain shadow effect is yet another significant factor that influences climate. It occurs when moist air from an oceanic source is forced to rise over a mountain range. As the air rises, it cools and releases moisture, creating precipitation on the windward side of the mountains. However, as the air descends on the leeward side, it warms up and becomes drier, resulting in a rain shadow. This effect can significantly impact the amount of rainfall a region receives. For example, the Hawaiian Islands, particularly the windward side of the mountains, receive abundant rainfall, while the leeward side experiences drier conditions. In Key West, Florida, the absence of significant mountain ranges means it does not experience a significant rain shadow effect.


To summarize, while both Key West and Hawaii enjoy warm, tropical climates, Hawaii’s more northerly position means it experiences slightly cooler temperatures on average. However, many other geographic factors like elevation and proximity to the ocean also influence the climates of these iconic island destinations. Understanding latitude is just one piece of the geographic puzzle when it comes to decoding the subtleties of a region’s climate.

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