Green Flash Hawaii: How to See It For Yourself

green flash hawaii
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Green Flash Hawaii: How to See It For Yourself

If you’re fortunate enough to experience a beautiful sunset in Hawaii, consider yourself already one of the lucky ones! But, if you have the opportunity (or dumb luck) to see the green flash in Hawaii during sunset, you may want to buy a lottery ticket. You’re one of the few who’ve been lucky enough to experience this incredible phenomenon!

What Is A Green Flash?

A green flash is a phenomenon in which part of the sun looks like it suddenly and briefly changes color. It typically occurs at sunset, but you may also see it at sunrise. It usually lasts only a second or two, which is why it is referred to as a flash. Just like the sun changes to red or orange during sunset, for a brief moment it may also turn green. 

Why Does the Green Flash Occur? 

Let’s get sciencey! The green flash is viewable because refraction bends the light of the sun. The atmosphere acts as a weak prism, which separates light into various colors. When the sun’s disk is fully visible above the horizon, the different colors of light rays overlap to an extent where each individual color can’t be seen by the naked eye.

As the sun sinks into the Pacific, its last light seems to glow green. This Hawaii “green flash,” caused by light refracting in the atmosphere, is rarely seen. 

When the sun starts to dip below the horizon the colors of the spectrum disappear one at a time, starting with those with the longest wavelengths to those with the shortest. At sunrise, the process is reversed, and a green flash may occur as the top of the sun peeks above the horizon.

It is primarily a green flash because more green light gets through and, therefore, is more clearly seen. Sometimes, when the air is especially clear, enough of the blue or violet light rays make it through the atmosphere, causing a blue flash to be visible. However, green is the most common hue reported and captured in photos.

“Where Can I See the Green Flash in Hawaii?”

While there is no optimal condition that will guarantee a green flash sighting, you do want to find the right view to increase your chances. Find a place with a clear view of the horizon in an area that is free of pollution. Hawaii’s clear view of the horizon makes it a great place to see the green flash. 

Check out the best places to watch the sunset on Oahu here!

You are more likely to see a green flash when there is visibility of several miles, almost to the point of the curvature of the earth. A cloudless day is also ideal for spotting a green flash in Hawaii.

Hawaii Green Flash at sunset

Green flash sightings frequently occur at the ocean. This is where more of the atmosphere is visible and the line of sight is virtually parallel to the horizon. Prairies also have the appropriate conditions for a green flash sighting.

In Hawaii, we have low air pollution and LOTS of horizons. That’s why The Aloha State is a great place to see the green flash. If you’ve booked an all-day tour, such as an Oahu Circle Island Tour, through Hawaii Aloha Travel, ask your tour professional if you can stop and see the green flash if conditions allow. If you see it, you can count yourself among the lucky few who have experienced this incredible phenomenon!