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Hawaii, the tropical island paradise in the Pacific Ocean, is a dream destination for many travelers thanks to its pristine beaches, stunning landscapes, and relaxed island culture. But just where exactly in the Pacific is Hawaii located?

Specifically, what latitude are the Hawaiian Islands situated at?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Hawaii’s latitude coordinates center around 21 degrees North. The Hawaiian archipelago stretches across the Tropic of Cancer, with the islands spanning from 18 to 22 degrees North latitude.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deeper into the exact latitude of Hawaii, the location of its major islands, and how latitude affects Hawaii’s climate and seasons.

Precise Latitude Coordinates of Hawaii

Main Hawaiian Islands Latitude

The main Hawaiian Islands, consisting of Hawai’i, Maui, O’ahu, Kaua’i and Moloka’i, lie between approximately 18°54’N and 22°15’N latitude.

  • The island of Hawai’i, also known as the Big Island, sits between approximately 19°30’N and 20°30’N latitude.
  • Maui lies just north of the Big Island, spanning approximately 20°45’N to 21°05’N latitude.
  • The island of O’ahu, home to the state’s capital Honolulu, is centered around 21°30’N latitude.
  • Kaua’i, the northernmost major Hawaiian island, lies between approximately 21°55’N and 22°15’N latitude.
  • Moloka’i sits just south of O’ahu, approximately between 21°05’N and 21°15’N latitude.

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Latitude

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, stretching over 1,200 miles northwest of the main islands, lie between approximately 23°05’N and 28°25’N latitude.

  • Nihoa, the southernmost island in the chain, sits at approximately 23°05’N latitude.
  • Necker Island’s position is approximately 23°35’N latitude.
  • French Frigate Shoals, an atoll with several small islands, lies near 23°45’N latitude.
  • Gardner Pinnacles, two barren rock outcroppings, are located at approximately 25°00’N latitude.
  • Maro Reef, a largely submerged coral reef, sits at approximately 25°25′N latitude.
  • Laysan Island and Lisianski Island, two single islands, lie at approximately 26°00’N and 26°05’N latitude respectively.
  • Pearl and Hermes Atoll, another coral reef, is positioned near 27°50’N latitude.
  • Midway Atoll, home to the Battle of Midway in World War II, lies at approximately 28°15’N latitude.
  • Kure Atoll, the northernmost coral atoll on Earth, sits at approximately 28°25’N latitude.

So while the main Hawaiian Islands span only 3° of latitude, the long chain of Northwestern Hawaiian Islands extends over 5° of latitude across the northern Pacific Ocean.

How Hawaii’s Latitude Impacts Its Geography and Climate

Hawaii’s Tropical Location

The Hawaiian Islands are located in the tropical region, with Hawaii’s latitude being 21°N. This places the islands just north of the Tropic of Cancer. As a result, Hawaii experiences a tropical climate year-round, with warm temperatures, moderate humidity, and consistent trade winds.

Hawaii’s tropical latitude also exposes the islands to plenty of direct sunlight and solar radiation throughout the year. This tropical location results in unique natural landscapes and ecosystems unlike anywhere else in the United States.

Some key geography and climate impacts of Hawaii’s tropical latitude include:

  • Lush green rainforests with waterfalls, valleys, and volcanic peaks
  • miles of sandy beaches surrounded by coral reefs and calm turquoise waters ideal for surfing and water activities
  • A wide variety of tropical plants and animals, including hibiscus, orchids, geckos, sea turtles and humpback whales
  • Consistently warm average temperatures ranging from 70°F in the winter to 80°F in the summer

Mild Seasonal Variation

Despite being located in the tropics, Hawaii does experience some seasonal variation in weather patterns. However, the changes between Hawaii’s winter and summer seasons are relatively mild compared to most other places in the U.S.

Winter Summer
Avg. Temperature 70°F 80°F
Rainfall Higher Lower
Ocean Conditions Cooler water temps, higher surf Warmer water, calmer surf

The mild seasonal changes are mainly attributed to Hawaii’s tropical latitude which minimizes variability across seasons. Even in Hawaii’s winter, frost, snow and sub-freezing temperatures almost never occur except at extremely high elevations on mountain peaks.

To learn more, check out sites like Hawaii Weather Guide and Hawaii Gaga which offer detailed climate facts about the Hawaiian islands.

Differences in Latitude Across Hawaii’s Islands

Big Island of Hawaii’s Latitude

The Big Island of Hawaii, also known as Hawai’i Island, stretches from 18°55′N to 20°15′N latitude. This means there is a difference of 1°20′ in latitude from the northernmost point at Upolu Point to the southernmost point at Ka Lae.

The Big Island has the second highest latitude of all the main Hawaiian islands. This more northerly position results in some parts of the island having a slightly cooler climate than the other islands.

Maui’s Latitude

The island of Maui lies between 20°45′N to 21°5′N, making it very centrally positioned among the Hawaiian islands in terms of latitude. There is only a difference of 0°20′ between the northernmost and southernmost points.

The central latitude results in Maui having a typical tropical climate, with generally warm and sunny conditions year-round.

Oahu’s Latitude

Spanning from 21°15′N to 21°40′N latitude, O’ahu has a difference of 0°25′ from its northernmost point at Kaena Point to its southernmost point at Ka Iwi Channel. With the highest latitude of the main Hawaiian islands, parts of O’ahu have a slightly different climate than the other islands, with greater variability in temperatures.

Kauai’s Latitude

Kauai lies between 21°55′N to 22°15′N latitude, making it the northernmost of the major Hawaiian Islands. With a latitude difference of 0°20′, Kauai stretches further north than the other islands in the chain.

This higher latitude results in some parts of the island having marginally cooler average temperatures than islands to the south.


To summarize, the Hawaiian Islands stretch across an expanse of ocean centered around 21 degrees North latitude. This places Hawaii solidly in the tropics, though its latitude exposes it to some subtropical influences as well compared to places right on the equator.

Hawaii’s position also means the islands only experience minor seasonal differences throughout the year.

Understanding Hawaii’s precise latitude helps illustrate why it boasts such a balmy, beach-friendly climate attractive to so many tourists. But the archipelago’s unique latitude also explains some of the differences seen across Hawaii’s islands in terms of their climates, ecosystems and even cultures.

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