Hawaii is known as the Rainbow State and anyone who has spent time here knows exactly why.

The Best Rainbows In Hawaii

Rainbows are very common in Hawaii, and though it may seem a silly question to some, we’re asked on a regular basis where to find the best rainbows in Hawaii. We had a look on the internet and spoke to a few people to find out where the best places in Hawaii are to view rainbows as well as how to enjoy them to the fullest.

Rainbow over the town of lahaina on the tropical island of maui, Hawaii

lineHawaiian Rainbow Mythology

Rainbows have symbolism and meanings in many cultures and religions. We all know the myth of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, while some believe that the story originates from Ireland along with leprechauns, others believe that the myth comes from Hawaii itself. The story says that a young boy tried to travel the rainbow roads to heaven, but whenever he got near the end of the rainbow, all he found were pineapple plants.

Hana rainbows

In Hawaiian mythology, rainbows play a very important roll with the Gods. Rainbows are called aneune after the Goddess Aneune. Aneune used rainbows as a road between the heavens and the Earth; she was the messenger between man and the Gods. The rainbows also offered roads for the recently deceased to make their way to heaven.


What exactly are Rainbows?

Rainbows form when sunlight bounces off water droplets in the air. After a rain, small droplets in the air remain, and at the right angle, the sunlight hits the water droplets and the light breaks into the separate colors of the light spectrum. There are three things that need to happen in order for us to see a rainbow:

  1. The sun needs to be at the right angle, low in the sky, and this can either be in the morning or in the evening, depending on which side of the Island you are standing on.
  2. The sun needs to be behind the viewer of the rainbow, a rainbow won’t appear if you are looking at the sun, it will just look a lot brighter and…
  3. There needs to be the right amount of water droplets in the sky.


perfect rainbow


Where To See Rainbows In Hawaii

Many Hawaiians from Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island claim to have the best rainbows, and as every rainbow is unique and will surpass one standard or fail another, it’s difficult to say exactly which of the Islands has the best rainbows.

The great thing about the Hawaiian Islands is that no matter where you go, you are bound to have your breath stolen as Hawaii has the best climate and landscape for rainbows. The great thing about Hawaii and its surrounding Islands is that even if you don’t find the best place to see a natural rainfall rainbow, there are rainbows everywhere.

rainbow eucalyptus

Hana is famous for her rainbow eucalyptus trees while the Wailuku River State Park is well visited for the Rainbow Falls waterfall. As said before, there is much debate surrounding which Island displays the best of Aneune’s work, but one thing is agreed upon among every critic; go high up. Whether you are on the East side in the morning or the West in the evening, a high vantage point is invaluable in rainbow viewing.


Still, Where Are The Best Rainbows?

Oahu has had a lot of local Hawaiians and tourists praising her rainbows with many citing events such as lunar rainbows, rainbows during the nighttime with moonlight instead of sunlight splitting the light, and multiple rainbows being cast at one time.

Rainbow over The Bay

Kauai is known for the multitude of rainbows present because she has more rain than the other islands. Fishermen will tell you that the best rainbows they have ever seen were offshore where only the birds, fish and a few other boats get the opportunity to see them. A few other places to mention for rainbow chasing would be; Haiku, Hilo, Molokai, North shore of Oahu, Hanalei, Paia and Hana. These spots tend to get a lot of rain.


When To Go And How To Capture Them

Rainbows need rain, so the best time to go to Hawaii to view some of the most spectacular rainbows in the world is during the rainy season (winter time). If you are there to capture the moments to share them later, here are a few tips and tricks for getting the perfect rainbow photograph.

  1. Shoot in RAW so that you can get the best options to edit the photograph later. Many photographers make use of editing software like Photoshop or Lightroom to enhance the colors.
  2. Underexpose the photographs using the camera’s setting. By underexposing the photo you can make the best use of the darkness of the rain behind the rainbow and capture sharp contrasting colors.
  3. Make use of a circle polarizer This may seem like a given to some photographers but we all have different styles. It will help to intensify the color along with the underexposure.
  4. Have patience. Rainbows can appear at any moment and then seemingly vanish just as quickly. Depending on the length of your trip, you’re bound to get more than enough opportunities to capture the perfect rainbow photo.
  5. Have your camera ready and on hand so that when the time to shoot does come, you won’t need to waste time fumbling with settings and lenses.

double rainbow Hawaii

Even if you miss the high concentration of rainbows during the rainy season, or are just unlucky and don’t get the opportunities that you wanted, remember that there is another famous rainbow you can enjoy any time of year; rainbow shave ice. Aloha.


Many of the photos here were taken by Hawaii Photography.

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