Tropical Solstice

Saturday, December 21
Winter Solstice at 7:11am HST – Winter officially begins on Oahu.

7:11 a.m. the sun peaks out 20 mies down the coast near Diamondhead
7:11 a.m. the sun peaks out 20 miles down the coast near Diamondhead

I’m the only runner out with the sunrise. My fellow humans at this dawn are fitness walkers, a few accompanied by dogs. Otherwise, tropical sounds of early morning bird calls and the brush moving with the trade winds are my company.

I’ve planned the morning run to take me to a dead-end street with a view of the coastline a few minutes before the appointed sunrise hour of 7:11 a.m. This day has the southernmost sunrise and sunset. It is also a day with the longest night, and shortest amount of daylight.

Seconds later most of the sun’s view has emerged

If you live in the Hawaiian Islands or have visited during the month of December, you’ve experienced daylight hours that are somewhat longer than those where most of us bundle up like a well-dressed Frosty the Snowman.  In June, there is just over 13 hours of daylight.  In December, just over 11 hours of daylight.  The difference in hours of daylight throughout the year is not as extreme as in the Northeast U.S. where we can be in the late shade of twilight nearing 9:00 in the evening.

Hawaii does not observe Daily Savings Time. Why bother, with such a small fluctuation in daylight hours? All of this to say, that it has an odd feel to be in a place where there is more winter daylight than I usually experience.  That doesn’t stop anyone on this island from joining in the always adapting ancient winter solstice rituals burning candles and stringing lights to celebrate the season.

In a brief minute, the full sun has cleared the horizon.

On this island you must be quick.

On any day of the year both sunrise and sunset send their early alert streaks across the sky. But when the full sun rises from or falls into the ocean of the horizon, it is mere seconds as that full orange ball makes its appearance or disappearance.

photo 1
Boldly shining through heavy cloud cover before the end of day

5:53 p.m. sunset occurs. Shortly beforehand, we pull into a parking lot near the lagoon beside the airport. Not a touristy spot, this lot has a view of cargo planes loading and an airfield surrounded by barb wire.

A last brief flare in the night sky
A last brief flare in the night sky

A few other cars are parked, huge cameras on tripods set up, people ready to chat about the cloud cover obscuring today’s setting sun.

Hawaii says good-bye to another solstice as the sun appears to disappear into the Pacific.
Hawaii says good-bye to another solstice as the sun appears to disappear into the Pacific

As this day with the most darkness and the shortest daylight ends, I’m wishing you light in the dark, friends and family at your side – sweet solitude if that is your desire, memories of the past and dreams for the future, and running during many more sunrises.


    • Running along the beach lightens my heart and strengthens my legs. It’s great. I’m not a walker, but I understand people who have a passion for it much like my passion for running. Thanks for stopping by and linking.

  1. Happy Solstice! I`ve just posted about our ritualistic marking of this special time here In Ireland. I wonder if the ancient Hawaiins(?) had any need to mark it too?

    • I’ll get over to read your post. I love the history of solstice rituals. Ancient people got around this big Pacific with the skies being an important part of that, so it seems likely. Maybe next year, I will know more. Happy running.

  2. Lovely post and photos. As a fellow dawn runner, I can appreciate the solitude and the magic of sunrise. There’s nothing quite like it. I suppose I should add a Hawaiian dawn run to my bucket list.

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