Hawaiian sunsets: A cliché worth witnessing (and photographing)

Some moments in life just take your breath away. It sounds so cliché, but there is magic in Hawaiian sunsets. Photographer Catherine Opie said, “The biggest cliché in photography is sunrise and sunset.”

Sunset at Anaehoomalu Bay on the Big Island

Sunset at Anaehoomalu Bay on the Big Island

There’s this legend of the Hawaiian green flash—an optical phenomena of a blast of green that occurs right before or immediately after the sun sets. It’s there and then—poof—it’s gone in a split second or two. Intense. Fleeting. Elusive. I can’t say for certain I’ve seen a green flash, but I could easily spend my days trying. I know it exists.


On a visit earlier this year, we caught the most magical sunset at Anaehoomalu Bay—also known as A Bay—near Waikoloa on the Island of Hawaii. The brilliance of the most amazing purple sky I’ve ever witnessed. Shades of red and blue combined to a purple hue like I had never experienced before.


Then, the sky turned a deep and peaceful red and orange.


Someone lucky enough to be a Hawaiian resident told us that over the course of a year she took a photo of every single sunset. That’s 365 days of ever-changing, magical moments. Long before the days of the iPhone camera, she had the images printed and put them in a book. I can only imagine. She told us that some of the best sunsets happen in August. I think this is a good excuse to plan a late summer visit.

These untouched, no filter (and yes, iPhone) photos show the progression over the evening of that sunset. It started out innocently enough. And then…whoa. By the end of the evening, everyone was trying to capture the moment with cameras. People were giddy. A young girl on the beach asked me to take a photo of the sunset and text it to her. If trying to capture the cliché of a Hawaiian sunset is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

A reminder, once again, that the best things in life are truly free.