Green Flash at Sunset on

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The Green Flash restaurant on Captiva Island capitalizes on the phenomenon known as the "Green Flash." The restaurant is on the bay side of the island, so you wouldn't be able to see the sun set from there. But anywhere on Captiva is a great place to be, so I wouldn't knock it.



I had seen the sun sink into the Gulf as often as anyone else in Florida, I suppose, with the exception of a few fishermen perhaps, or beachfront homeowners. And that's why I was more than slightly suspicious when I read about the GREEN FLASH. When I was about 15 or so, I read somewhere that when the sun sets over the Gulf--just as the sun disappears into the water--there is, on rare occasions, a flash of green light.

I don't remember where I first read it, but I have heard references to the green flash frequently, although I've never met more than a few people who claim to have seen it. Usually in a travel guide or article pertaining to Key West, along with the obligatory mention of Hemingway's house, Sloppy Joe's Bar, and Mallory Square, there is the mention of the possibility of perhaps maybe observing the green flash, if luck is in the wind. I am always skeptical when someone tells me they think they saw it.

So, for nearly 20 years, every time I watched the sun slip into the Gulf I squinted and concentrated and tried to summon the green flash. To no avail. I had decided it was a myth--like the Bermuda Triangle. That's why I was so excited on August 4th, 1994 to actually see the green flash with my own eyes.

On the spur of the moment I decided to drive out to Bradenton Beach to watch the sun go down. I felt I had plenty of time so I took a circuitous route to one of my favorite sunset-watching places: the jetty at Longboat Pass. I stopped at Leffis Key on the bay side of the island and poked around in the mangroves for a while watching the birds catch their dinner. Then I climbed up on Leffis Key's huge man-made hill and saw that the sun was about to do its thing. It looked like it was going to be a spectacular sunset, but I would have to hurry. To watch for the green flash was the furthest thing from my mind. I drove around under the Longboat bridge, parked, and hurried out to the jetty. I was almost too late. Just as I cleared the sea oats, the last third of the fireball was about to disappear.

Then something totally unexpected happened. As the last tiny bit of sun was about to go under, it seemed to double in size and change instantly to a bright lime green.

It was green neon. It was unmistakable. It was the GREEN FLASH.

Return to list of David McRee's articles          

Learn more about the green flash.

Dr. Andrew T. Young's tips on how to see the green flash.