Hawaii is the rainbow state – You will see a rainbow in Hawaii, guaranteed! Often associated with hope and happiness, rainbows are truly the colors of paradise. Below we pay homage to this staple of Hawaii and highlight the science behind the beauty.
The Science Behind the Beauty:
Water droplets from rain, sea spray or waterfalls act as little prisms that bend and reflect rays from the sun; this refraction of light results in the beautiful multicolored arc known as the rainbow! Rainbows can only be seen at a precise angle, 40-42 degrees. and the sun always has to be behind the viewer as light refracts back in the general direction it comes from. The colors of the rainbow will always be in order of the wavelength, from longest to shortest: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.
Did you know that nobody sees the same rainbow? According to an article posted on LiveScience, “The light bouncing off certain raindrops for your rainbow is bouncing off other raindrops from a completely different angle for someone else” so it’s creating a different image — basically, no two people can stand in the same exact spot at the same time to view the same rainbow.
Why rainbows are so common in Hawaii: Hawaii is a tropical climate and experiences a rainy season from November to March where showers and misty rain are more common. However, weather is very localized meaning it may be raining where you are, but sunny nearby. This combination of rain storms and the shining sun make rainbows a common sight in Hawaii!
Best Place to View a Rainbow in Hawaii
Rainbow Falls, located in Wailuku River State Park, is an 80 foot tall waterfall. If you visit this stunning waterfall early in the morning, you most likely will see a beautiful rainbow created from the mist of the falls.
Fun Fact: Legends say that the cave beneath the waterfall was the home of Hina, mother of Maui- the demigod of the wind and sea.
Want to know more? Read about the Cultural Significance of Rainbows in Hawaii