Lahaina Noon

“Strong Sun On Brain” Hawaii’s Unique Lahaina Noon Laid Bare

Many things are unique to Hawaii, and this is definitely one of them. Lahaina Noon will occur this year starting on Saturday, May 14, 2023, with the second round of occurrences set to end on July 28, 2023. Yes, it’s hard to believe that it’s already nearly summer in Hawaii! Lahaina Noon is the popular name in Hawaii for the solar phenomenon known as a subsolar point, named in a contest sponsored by the Bishop Museum in 1990. It occurs when the Hawaii sun is at its zenith, directly overhead, and casts no shadow.

Hawaii stands alone in the U.S. as having this special event. It occurs on both sides of the summer solstice when the sun’s rays are most direct and occurs both before and following the start of summer. Additionally, Lahaina Noon serves as a reminder of just how strong the Hawaii sun really is at our location south of the Tropic of Cancer. The word Lahaina translates from the Hawaiian language to mean cruel sun. The traditional Hawaiian name for the phenomenon was “Kau ka lā i ka lolo, a hoʻi ke aka i ke kino,” or “the strong sun rests on the brain, and the shadow retreats into the body.”

Lahaina Noon travels through the islands from south to north, starting Saturday on the Big Island. This only happens in the tropics as the sun doesn’t pass directly overhead in other parts of the world. Only those places located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn experience this effect when there’s overhead sun both before and following the summer solstice.

We’ll cover the dates and times in today’s post and give you some sun protection tips while you watch this yearly tropical solar phenomenon. But first, the lead photo. The “Sky Gate” is an outdoor art installation by artist Isamu Noguchi. It was designed to for observing the event in the most direct way. On other days, the shadows from the art can be seen all over the Honolulu City Hall Lawn. But on Lahaina Noon, the shadow is a perfect circle, directly below.

During Lā Hainā (the old name for Lahaina) Noon, solar noon, or local noon, any vertical object (think telephone poles, for example) won’t have a shadow cast. This is because the further south you are in Hawaii, the earlier and the later Lahaina Noon occurs each year. We’ve enjoyed Lahaina noon at one of the most popular spots, Honolulu Hale’s Sky Gate sculpture.

The phenomenon’s date and time changes from year to year. You can also use this resource to find the specific dates and times at your desired location.

Lāhainā noon in Hawaiʻi 2023 Dates and Times

Lahaina Noon

Here are the dates and times when you’ll find the Hawaii sun directly overhead for locations on different islands:

☼ Haleiwa, Oahu: May 28-29, 12:29 PM and July 14, 12:38 PM

☼ Hana, Maui: May 23-24, 12:21PM and July 19, 12:30PM

☼ Hilo, Hawaii: May 18, 12:16PM and July 24, 12:26PM

☼ Honolulu, Oahu: May 26-27, 12:28PM and July 16, 12:37PM

☼ Kahului, Maui: May 24, 12:22PM and July 18, 12:32PM

☼ Kailua-Kona, Hawaii: May 18, 12:20PM and July 24-25, 12:30PM

☼ Kaunakakai, Molokai: May 25-26, 12:25PM and July 17, 12:34PM

☼ Lahaina, Maui: May 24, 12:23PM and July 18-19, 12:32PM

☼ Lanai City, Lanai: May 24, 12:24PM and July 18-19, 12:33PM

☼ Lihue, Kauai: May 31, 12:35PM and July 11-12, 12:43PM

☼ South Point, Hawaii: May 14, 12:19PM and Jul 28, 12:29PM

☼ Waimea, Hawaii: May 20, 12:19PM and July 23, 12:29PM

Sun warning: 10 tips for Hawaii vacations

Lahaina Noon

While it’s obvious just how strong the sun is here in Hawaii, you’d be surprised how many visitors we see who look painfully burned to a crisp.

Enough sun can make your Hawaii vacation rock. But too much sun can simply ruin your vacation. Doctors say that even a single severe burn can double one’s melanoma risk. And Hawaii’s beaches put you more at risk since the sand reflects 25% of solar rays.

1. Sunscreen hasn’t been proven effective in preventing skin cancer. Covering up is the only thing that works. But we know, who wants to do that? See tips #4 and #6.

2. Zinc or titanium oxide-based sunscreens are still considered the safest and most effective in preventing sunburn. Read our recent article: Hawaiian Sunscreen | Health and Safety Updates. It also includes information about Hawaii’s new sunscreen law, which is now in effect.

3. Choose safe sunscreens applied at two-hour intervals and more frequently in water.

4. Be alert to excessive sun exposure from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM.

5. Don’t forget to apply sun protection to quickly burned ears and lips.

6. Wear a hat and sunglasses.

7. Don’t use old sunscreen that’s been sitting around, perhaps for years.

8. Help protect Hawaii’s precious coral. Chemical barrier (vs. physical barrier) sunscreen can damage Hawaii’s reef system.

9. Drink more water during periods of sun exposure.

10. Research sunscreens for effectiveness and safety.

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3 thoughts on ““Strong Sun On Brain” Hawaii’s Unique Lahaina Noon Laid Bare”

  1. I’m concerned by your comment that “Sunscreen hasn’t been proven effective in preventing skin cancer.” That is simply not true. Just Google the question, and you’ll find reputable sources stating the exact opposite, with strong scientific studies to back it up. For example, the National Institutes of Health states, “Use of sunscreen has been shown to reduce the incidence of both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers. Both the Canadian Dermatology Association and the American Academy of Dermatology recommend the use of sunscreen for the prevention of skin cancer.”

  2. The first thing I pack in preparing for Hawaii just in case. If you do get burned, use Phillip’s Milk of Magnesia by applying to skin just like you would calamine lotion. The magnesium takes the burn out! It is a life saver I learned from a nurse in Maui.

  3. Hi there! My family is going to Hawaii for the first time ever this May 2023. I happened to stumble upon information about Lahaina noon, and I was so excited to find out that it will be occurring in Honolulu the 26th and 27th of May as we are arriving the 24th! Our plans are to view the phenomenon at
    Sky Gate. Can you please tell me, are there any other activities in that area that we should look for when we go to observe Lahaina Noon at Sky Gate? Thank you in advance for sharing your first hand knowledge of the Sky Gate experience!

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