Rainbows are unsurprisingly considered one of nature’s most beautiful phenomenons. Children and grandparents, cynics and optimists, no-one can avoid being staggered by the sudden appearance of a colossal multi-colored arc crossing the sky. We do sometimes take them for granted, but they’re pretty unbelievable when you come to think about it, aren’t they? Fortunately, some of the world’s best photographers have succeeded in capturing the most majestic rainbows on these breathtaking pictures. If double-rainbows intrigue you, don’t miss #24, #16 and #6!
Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Von Hoffman, Nat Geo Images Collection.
#24. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
This sublime picture was taken in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage site. As you might’ve noticed already, this type of rainbow is rather uncommon, since they’re generally a result of the combination of sun and rain. However, a waterfall’s mist can be just as suitable as the rain, and the outcome is even more impressive!
Photo: Courtesy of Beverly Joubert, Nat Geo Image Collection.
Though these mystical rainbows are pretty awesome, you’re wrong if you’re thinking that they’re the only attraction in this place. This waterfall is in fact considered to be the largest on Earth, because of its 354 ft height, combined with its width of about 5604 ft. Intimidating, right? The glistening sheet of water that falls provides ideal conditions for these type of rainbows to appear.
#23. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.
Most of the times, because of the clouds, we can only spot a small portion of a rainbow. These already represent a picturesque scene, but notorious exceptions like the one seen in this photograph taken in the Grand Canyon provide us a clearer view of its full arc. Wondering about a more scientific explanation of how they’re produced?
Photo: Courtesy of Bill Hatcher, Nat Geo Image Collection.
Rainbows are actually caused by the refraction, reflection, and dispersion of light in water drops, which provokes a spectrum of light in the sky. When the sun’s light leaves the water-drop, the beam is divided into different wavelengths along the spectrum. While observing a rainbow, we can see the red part (the longest wavelength) on the outer side, and the violet one (the shortest) on the inner side.
#22. Iguazú Falls, Brazil.
As mentioned before, huge waterfalls can be a perfect place for spotting a mesmerizing view with a rainbow. The Iguazú Falls, on the border of the Argentine province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Paraná, constitute a clear example of this, hence attracting a swarm of photographers every summer.
Photo: Courtesy of Alex Saberi, Nat Geo Image Collection.
Most of the Iguazú River flows through Brazil, but the majority of the waterfalls can be found in Argentina. Do you want to learn another curious fact? Though Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls may be the largest waterfall, Iguazú is actually considered the largest waterfall system in the world, with about 275 separate drops. Impressive!
#21. Barcelona, Spain.
Barcelona, with almost 2 million inhabitants within its city limits, is one of Europe’s most populated cities. The capital of Catalonia is also a worldwide sensation for tourists, and this is not much of a surprise when considering its unlimited amount of cultural activities, its rich, vigorous history, and its many breathtaking panoramas.
Photo: Courtesy of Photosil, Alamy Stock Photo.
This one was particularly seen in Montjuic, a broad hill, situated to the south-east of the city center. Montjuic is already a great place to visit if you’re traveling through Spain, but imagine being as lucky as this photographer. You’re calmly taking a stroll, enjoying Barcelona’s pleasant summer-time when you notice an eerie rainbow falling from the sky. Can’t say I’m not jealous!
#20. Sør-Trøndelag, Norway.
Yes, it may be hard to pronounce, but this Norwegian county is worth the visit, that’s for sure. Its breath-taking snowy landscapes, mixed with uncommon mammals, makes it a must-visit for nature lovers and explorers around the World. In this picture, a musk ox can be observed, pausing for a deep breath.
Photo: Courtesy of Erlend Haarberg, Nat Geo Image Collection.
One might ask, do animals find rainbows as intriguing as humans do? Do these musk oxen, one of the oldest mammals to inhabit Earth, stop to stare with admiration at these mesmerizing colorful circles? Impossible to know, but the one from the picture seems far from fascinated! Continue to the next slide to see a double rainbow.
#19. Puddle Valley Highway, Utah.
If we are lucky enough, when the sun rapidly comes out after a storm, we’ll be able to appreciate a rainbow intertwining through the blue sky. Red and violet can be found on the upper and lower parts of it, respectively, but this is the other way round in a double rainbow. A double rainbow occurs when the sunlight is reflected twice inside a droplet before leaving it.
Photo: Courtesy of Diane Cook & Len Jenshel, Nat Geo Images Collection.
The results of this unlikely phenomenon are two different reflections at different angles. Hence, a fainter, second rainbow, with the order of the colors reversed, can be seen outside the primary arc. See, science can be fun too! If you want to check out an even more distinct double rainbow, don’t forget to keep sliding to #5!
#18. Forollhogna National Park, Norway.
If #20 didn’t convince you enough to immediately book plane tickets to Norway, this picture will. The Forollhogna National Park has some of the most outstanding hikes. A network of trails starts from the peaceful villages, and the quiet, harmonious atmosphere continues along the mountains. Lush valleys with magical rivers and lakes turn this trip into one you’ll never forget.
Photo: Courtesy of Orsolya Haarberg, Nat Geo Image Collection.
Ideal for cycling as well, the national park has a unique atmosphere. When there, a subtle layer of fog may exacerbate the mountain’s epic mystique. Well, now add a rainbow to that equation! The picture that this photographer took looks like it was taken from a science-fiction movie, right? Indeed, a slight glow of a fleeting rainbow might be the perfect ingredient for a mysterious picture.
#17. Honolulu, Hawaii.
One might associate a rainbow with a jungle or a mountainous landscape, but they’re actually pretty common in beachy areas too. Honolulu, the capital of the state of Hawaii, is a clear example, where soaring rainbows cutting their way through the clouds coexist with passionate surfers. Is there a more romantic setting than this one? I don’t think so!
Photo: Courtesy of Deanne Fitzmaurice, Nat Geo Image Collection.
Want to learn some fun facts about Hawaii’s capital? Honolulu actually means “calm port”, and, when considering big cities, you won’t find another as remote as this one. This city ranks among the safest from the US, and if you also consider its ethnic diversity and the spectacular beaches, it’s not surprising that it’s a tourist favorite. Slide on to #9 to enjoy another Hawaiian rainbow!
#16. Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya.
One of Africa’s greatest wildlife reserves, Maasai Mara is the ultimate goal for adventurers and professional photographers. Along with Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, Maasai Mara is one of the most diverse and mind-blowing eco-systems in the world. However, though the thriving wild-life may seem attractive, it’s also scary as hell!
Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Von Hoffman, Nat Geo Images Collection.
Between July and October, an unbelievable amount of majestic species migrate towards the national reserve. These include zebras, gazelles, and wildebeest. But you’re wrong if you suppose that these are the only bewildering animals over there! Lions, rhinos, hippos, and many others roam these lands. But I bet that no picture is as striking as this one showing a pair of lionesses with a fading rainbow at the back.
#15. Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.
You’ll probably agree that most of the times when we’re lucky enough to be outside when a rainbow suddenly emerges, just a small, hazy and unclear portion can be seen. So it’s quite rare to find a perfect picture that shows one with its famous semi-circle shape with such intelligibility, as this photograph which was taken in Alaska does.
Photo: Courtesy of Barrett Hedges, Nat Geo Image Collection.
Prudhoe Bay is actually the northern-most community of the North-American continent. Freezing-cold temperatures predominate all year round (and summer isn’t an exception). The inclement conditions of this region explain why it’s not so visited. Therefore, the tenacity that the photographer probably required to wait and take this mesmerizing picture surely deserves a round of applause!
#14. White Mountains National Forest, New Hampshire.
The landscapes of the White Mountains National Forest range from immense forests to alpine, snowy peaks. It’s without a doubt a top-notch destination if you’re looking for an incredible photo album! Just picture yourself in those dazzling vistas, crossing those imposing trails… Seems like quite an adventure, doesn’t it?
Photo: Courtesy of Darlyne A. Murawski, Nat Geo Image Collection.
The White Mountains National Forest contains 148 thousand acres of wilderness. This vast territory includes a great variety of magical places, including the beautiful routes of the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, and other historic sites. If you do go there, though, stay tuned to the avalanche reports for your safety! Be sure to check slides #12, #9, #6 and #5 for more awesome pictures of rainbows in America.
#13. Donegal, Ireland.
We’ve already been through the scientific explanation of the rainbow-making process, but its origin and meaning varied a lot throughout human history. Rainbows were in fact extremely important in Ancient Greece. According to Greek mythology, Iris is the goddess of the rainbow, thus representing its personification.
Photo: Courtesy of Chris Hill, Nat Geo Image Collection.
The myth states that Iris rode the rainbows with grace to deliver important messages to humanity. Therefore, she was seen as a crucial link between the divine and mortals. This myth is particularly compelling, however, rainbows have sparked rich and numerous interpretations, each varying from one culture to another. It’s crystal-clear that this meteorological phenomenon has fascinated humans for centuries!
#12. Bears Ears National Monument, Utah.
Nobody would deny the arresting beauty of this photograph. The man riding a horse, and those dense clouds add a glorious touch to the panorama. These type of views can be found in Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, which is named after a pair of buttes which are sacred to the Native American tribes from this region.
Photo: Courtesy of Aaron Huey, Nat Geo Image Collection.
The National Monument was established by Obama in 2016, and it’s supposed to protect the public lands by which it’s surrounded. These lands’ size is over 1.3 million square acres. However, the territory has been the cause of controversy, since Donald Trump reduced 85% of it, an oddity in the history of National Monuments in America.
#11. Chapada Diamantina National Park, Brazil.
Here, the fleeting glimpse of this rainbow gives the picture a sublime mystique. It does seem quite unreal as if the view was taken from a fairy-tale, doesn’t it? It was taken in the Chapada Diamantina National Park, in eastern Brazil. This National Park isn’t very famous actually, but its gigantic proportions and unique attractions make it worth a visit.
Photo: Courtesy of Edson Vandeira, Nat Geo Image Collection.
Wondering how big the park is? Well, it covers more than 150 thousand hectares (375 thousand acres). Just imagine the following situation: you’re on a trip to this park with a group of fellow adventurers when you notice a gorgeous rainbow. Suddenly, after taking some on-point shots, you realize that they left you. I wouldn’t like to get lost in that immense park, that’s for sure!
#10. West Fjords, Iceland.
Iceland is well known for its hypnotizing Northern Lights. These surreal, fluorescent lights caused by electricity are a dream for photographers around the world. And, given its other-worldly appearance, it’s not much of a surprise when you think about it. Nonetheless, Iceland has plenty more to offer when it comes to dramatic landscapes.
Photo: Courtesy of Design Pics Inc, Nat Geo Image Collection.
The West Fjords, where a tiny glimpse of this rainbow was seen, fighting and mixing itself with the remaining sunlight, is a large peninsula in north-eastern Iceland. It’s extremely isolated since many roads are usually closed by snow and ice, sometimes for several months in a row. However, the eye-catching cliffs and geothermal pools are more than enough to attract curious explorers. Slide on to #4 to see another amazing picture of a rainbow in Iceland!
#9. Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, Hawaii.
We promised another Hawaiian rainbow, and here it is! Yes, some of you may be scratching your heads at this moment, or asking where’s the damn rainbow. But if you concentrate on the right side of the photograph, next to the whale’s tale, you’ll definitely spot its brief but colorful remaining.
Photo: Courtesy of Ralph Lee Hopkins, Nat Geo Image Collection.
We may not have a clear view of the whole semi-circle, but it’s undeniable that the intensely blue waters, and the photographer’s perfect timing to capture the whale while diving into the ocean add a particular touch to the uncommon view. Thousands of these whales migrate from Alaska to Hawaii during the winter months, where the warm waters offer a perfect setting for them to mate. If this romantic rainbow didn’t help our whale friend with its crush then nothing will!
#8. Sliabh Liag, Ireland.
Sliabh Liag, also called Slieve League, is a mountain in Ireland, and its height is nothing short of impressive. The highest point is about 2000 ft, and other of the highest cliffs can be found here. Additionally, a coastal route offers great viewpoints for photographers.
Photo: Courtesy of Chris Hill, Nat Geo Image Collection.
Here, they can enjoy the sight of the mighty Atlantic Ocean, Donegal Bay, and the Sligo Mountains. In this picture, the rainbow looks like if it’s coming straight out of the water. Just imagine yourself chilling on one of these fantastic viewpoints, putting your favorite track on your headphones, and observing this majestic rainbow. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps!
#7. Chyulu Hills National Park, Kenya.
The Chyulu Hills in south-east Kenya is a mountain range that forms a long, volcanic field. As you may well know at this point, even rainbows as ephemeral and subtle as the one from this picture were more than enough to spark an incredible amount of myths in various cultures. Yes, the Greeks weren’t the only ones with some appealing beliefs concerning this phenomenon!
Photo: Courtesy of Beverly Joubert, Nat Geo Image Collection.
According to Norse religion, the virtuous soldiers who had fallen in battle, and gods, were the only ones who could use or pass across the bridge that a rainbow represented. Yes, according to them, a burning rainbow called Bifrost served as a bridge to connect Earth with Asgard, home of the gods. A really compelling theory, in my opinion! Don’t miss #5 for one of the most unbelievable pictures.
#6. Platte River Valley, Nebraska.
Are those birds pursuing that transitory rainbow? Who knows, but I bet at least one of them is hypnotized by it! This picture was taken in Nebraska’s Platte River Valley, and going back to the photo’s secondary character, an extraordinary natural phenomenon related to birds takes place here every year. Want to know what happens?
Photo: Courtesy of Michael Forsberg, Nat Geo Image Collection.
Well, pay attention because here’s a curious fact: approximately 80 percent of the world’s sandhill crane population reunites each spring along the Platte, an enormous river in Nebraska, before carrying on with the migration process towards the north. Pretty amazing, right? Slide on to #5 if you want to see another fantastic picture!
#5. Big Island, Hawaii.
If you’re looking for an eerie photograph with a dazzling rainbow in it, you’re welcome, because it won’t get any better than this! The dense smoke, the menacing lava, this spooky view could be easily taken from a horror movie. Well, what we’re observing here isn’t all that uncommon of a phenomenon in Hawaii’s Big Island., actually.
Photo: Courtesy of Patrick Kelley Worldwide Photography, Nat Geo-Image Collection.
Yes, the island has 5 volcanoes, and 3 of them are active! In fact, some scientists argue that they’re 7 if you add two underseas volcanoes. Since the Kīlauea and the Mauna Loa volcanoes are still active, the island continues to grow. When blazing lava flows into the ocean, as the picture shows so vividly, the coastline gets reshaped, and as a result of this new land is added. Pretty cool, huh?
#4. Gullfoss, Iceland.
When Iceland is named in a conversation, most people imagine a never-ending sheet of annoying snow, a constant cruel winter and such. But little do they know that this stupendous country also boasts a ton of iconic landscapes, like the Golden Falls of Gullfoss, and that’s exactly where this mesmerizing rainbow appeared.
Photo: Courtesy of Michael S. Nolan, Nat Geo Image Collection.
The Golden Falls of Gullfoss are formed by Hvítá, a chilly river in south-west Iceland. The water calmly flows through the river, until it suddenly falls into a narrow canyon, forming a roaring, magnificent waterfall. This waterfall provides perfect conditions for rainbows to appear, especially when summer’s glowing sun emerges.
#3. Broadford, Scotland.
Broadford is the second largest settlement of Scotland’s Isle of Skye. This peaceful vista is rather common over here: pleasant prairies, picturesque mountains, and vigorously blue skies turn Broadford into a lovely destination. If you’re looking for a calm place to chill out after a stressful semester, we got your back, this is your solution!
Photo: Courtesy of Henk Meijer, Alamy Stock Photo.
However, if you seek a nice adventure in the wild, the mountains from this region offer a great number of hikes too. Can you picture yourself, strolling through the silent woods of Broadford, with a gracious rainbow looming over your head? Check the next slide for another picture of a rainbow in the United Kingdom!
#2. St. Ives, United Kingdom.
St. Ives is without a question one of Cornwall’s most recognized destinations. During the Middle Ages, it was already a really busy fishing port, and it now offers a vast amount of activities. St. Ives boasts numerous art galleries and exhibitions, attracting many talented painters every year to its busy waterfront.
Photo: Courtesy of Helen Dixon, Alamy Stock Photo.
Don’t worry if you’re not an artistic guy though, St Ives also offers a bunch of interesting cafes, pubs, and beaches. What’s not to like about this place, right? Indeed, Porthminster, Porthgwidden, Porthmeor, and Harbour beach, are some of the UK’s most pleasant beaches. Check the last slide to enjoy a fantastic picture of a double rainbow!
#1. Cotopaxi, Ecuador.
Usually, when we’re lucky enough to come across a double rainbow, the second one is almost invisible to the eye, a mere glimpse of another rainbow is all we can observe. That’s why this picture is so epic, two breathtaking, radiant, semi-circles are fully intelligible, decorating a vast field with style and color.
Photo: Courtesy of Stephen Alvarez, Nat Geo Image Collection.
The skilled photographer’s small shadow can be seen too, letting us appreciate his full concentration while taking this picture in Cotopaxi, Ecuador. This is actually the country’s second highest summit, and its most relevant feature is a volcano that’s still volcano. Don’t worry if you’re planning a trip to Cotopaxi though, its last eruption was in 1904!