Ah, the legendary rumored ‘green flash.' Most of you have heard of it but have either
not seen one or straight up don’t believe they exist. I can tell you from personal
experience that they do exist and one of the best places to spot one is on any of its
islands in the beautiful state of Hawai’i.
From Scottish to Egyptian myths and legends, the green flash has been a spiritual
mystery since ancient times and is claimed by many cultures to have mystical
powers. In Pirates of the Caribbean, they say a green flash is meant to ‘signal when a
soul comes back from the dead’. It is also commonly described as the ‘green of hope’.
The flash occurs when the sun starts to dip under the horizon and we see a glimpse
of the sun briefly changing color. The colors of the spectrum naturally start to
disappear one by one going from longest wavelength to shortest as the sun sets.
After these colors disappear, you are left with a wave of green- sometimes pulsing
and sometime in the form of a beam. If the air is especially clear, violet and even
blue rays can be seen.
If you're extra lucky, you will see a green flash at sunrise. It will be the first thing you
see as the sun starts to show itself. The colors appear over the horizon in the
opposite order they disappeared at sunset- so green is the first to be seen, then the
rest of the spectrum manifests.
Over the open ocean isn't the only setting to spot one. As long as your horizon is
clear and the sky is clear, a flash can be seen over mountains and even building tops.
Alaska has a good amount of green flash spottings because of its sharp horizons and
still, clear air.
In the right location but still no luck?
Here are a couple of reasons you may not be seeing a green flash:
Imagine, a green flash over a cloud!
A green flash is not a common occurrence in Hawai’i- or anywhere for that matter.
There are destinations with better odds than others, but it’s still a rare and special
event that you may never experience. Nearly perfect conditions are required for this
phenomenon, so don't expect it, but don't give up on it either.
Keep chasing sunsets!