Where to chase rainbows? Here are six stunning places to see them

Rainbow over Molokai, Hawaii.
(Maui Visitor Bureau)

There’s no way to guarantee when you’ll see a rainbow — the surprise is part of its magic — but there are plenty of places known for producing them. Here are six standout spots offering stunning rainbows.


“The Rainbow State” is among Hawaii’s nicknames, and the multicolored arcs are even featured on its state license plates. Rainbows are common yearround in Hawaii because of the amount of sunshine and rain the islands receive. Some of the best places for chasing rainbows here include the islands of Kauai, Maui and Oahu. The latter is home to the Manoa Valley, known as the “Valley of the Rainbows.”



A rainbow on a fall day between Whittier and Girdwood near Chugash State Park, Alaska.
(Visit Anchorage)

Although Hawaii and Alaska are opposites in terms of size and climate, they do have rainbows in common. Alaska might be famous for the rainbow trout in its rivers, but the Last Frontier also has some impressive rainbows spanning its wide-open skies. Places to check them out include Kodiak Island and Chugach State Park, east of Anchorage.


Yosemite National Park

Moonbow forms in the mist at the base of Upper Yosemite Fall at about 2AM during a supermoon. Half
Moonbow forms in the mist at the base of Upper Yosemite Fall.
(Brian Hawkins)

You might be familiar with rainbows, but how about moonbows? A moonbow, also known as a lunar rainbow, is a rainbow produced by moonlight instead of sunlight. And one of the best places to witness this phenomenon is Yosemite National Park. Brian Hawkins, a filmmaker and photographer based in Redondo Beach, maintains, a website devoted to the park’s moonbows. He has calculated — based on the position of the moon and other factors — when moonbows are expected: Lower Yosemite Falls on the evenings of May 16-20, and at Upper Yosemite Falls on May 17-19 along with 1 a.m. May 21.



Niagara Falls

Rainbows are more likely at waterfalls because of the constant mist. So you can imagine that likelihood increases with the enormous size of Niagara Falls.

Many of us have seen double rainbows. There’s also the coveted triple rainbow. But what about a 360-degree rainbow? This phenomenon, in which a rainbow is seen in a circular formation instead of semicircle, is known to occur at Niagara Falls. You can sometimes spot a 360-degree rainbow from places high above the falls, such as the Skylon Tower Observation Deck.



A rainbow in western Australia.
(Sean Blockridge)

Australia is full of breathtaking rainbows — in Sydney and Melbourne, Tasmania and beyond. It’s even home to the Rainbow Coast on the southern shores of western Australia. Along the Rainbow Coast, the sun shines out of the north onto rain that comes off the southern ocean — and because of the angle of the sun you can see rainbows throughout the day.



Ireland — also a place where sunshine and raindrops mix — is famous for its rainbows, especially along its coastline.


In Irish culture, rainbows are symbolic of hope and good fortune. So if you’re lucky enough to find that pot of gold hiding at the end of the rainbow, make sure to share it with Mom for Mother’s Day.